Friday, December 30, 2011

Kicking Off the New Year and January Movies!

Time to ring in the New Year with some movies!

Don’t forget next Wednesday is the next posting for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!
And Saturday is your last chance to enter my giveaway HERE – win a copy of CassaStar and review copy of CassaFire!

Monday is a really special feature, so don't miss it. Wednesday is the ISWG of course, Friday I have BIG announcement and guest post at Laura's site, then Monday I’ll highlight the best and worst of 2011 with a look ahead at 2012. (Yes, I am a busy and scheduled dude!)

Today, it’s all about the dumping ground that is January. As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

3 –

DVD – Contagion I’m feeling sick already

10 –

DVD – MoneyballCould be interesting
DVD – DriveExcellent art-house meets action film!

13 -

The cutthroat underground world of international smuggling - full of desperate criminals and corrupt officials, high-stakes and big payoffs - where loyalty rarely exists and death is one wrong turn away.
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale
Wahlberg battles his old posse the Funky Bunch and only one comes out alive. (And did you notice Kate? Double Kate month!)

The Divide
Survivors of a nuclear attack are grouped together for days in the basement of their apartment building, where fear and dwindling supplies wear away at their dynamic.
Director: Xavier Gens Stars: Lauren German, Jennifer Blanc, Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Eklund, Ashton Holmes, Rosanna Arquette, Courtney B. Vance
This one sounds truly terrifying. Trapped in the basement with only a box of old Christmas ornaments and a stack of National Geographics. The horror!!!

20 –

Underworld Awakening
When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrioress Selene leads the battle against humankind.
Directors: Måns Mårlind | Björn Stein
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, India Eisley
Vampires, werewolves, kick-but action, and Kate. Need I say more? Yes, this will be the highlight of my January movie watching…

Red Tails
A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard.
Director: Anthony Hemingway
Stars: Nate Parker, David Oyelowo,Cuba Gooding Jr.
The story of the Tuskegee airmen is really amazing. Let’s hope they don’t water it down with generic CGI action scenes.

24 –

DVD – Real SteelProbably real dumb, but on NetFlix, I’ll watch almost anything…

27 –

The Grey
In Alaska, an oil drilling team struggle to survive after a plane crash strands them in the wild. Hunting the humans are a pack of wolves who see them as intruders.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Stars: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo
Replace Neeson with Hopkins, Mulroney with Baldwin, and the wolves with a bear, and you have 1997's The Edge.

Man on a Ledge
As a police psychologist works to talk down an ex-con who is threatening to jump from a Manhattan hotel rooftop, the biggest diamond heist ever committed is in motion...
Director: Asger Leth Stars: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell
This could be Worthington’s career on a ledge…

Any of those sound appealing to you? (You know where I’ll be on January 20!) Set your goals for 2012? Just hoping to survive?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Movie Reviews, Ninja News, and the A to Z Challenge!

How was everyone’s Christmas? Mine rocked – so many geek toys – and my wife was thrilled with her gifts. Score one for the Ninja…

I’m back in time to share my reflection post over at the A to Z Challenge blog. What’s the A to Z Challenge? Only the most awesome, largest blogfest of its kind! Started by Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out, the Challenge is blogging the Alphabet during the month of April – posting daily with Sundays off for good behavior. The first year we only had a hundred participants. This year, we had over twelve hundred. Next year – who knows?! Right now, Arlee is featuring reflection posts from this year’s Challenge and today is my post! I also have the honor of co-hosting again in 2012. Want to know more about the A to Z Challenge? Then check it out!

Now a recap, some news, and two movie reviews!

In case you missed my blogging tips for writers, they are now up at Daily Write. Thanks to those of you who came back for the link last week!

The Debutante Ball: Feast of Debut Authors continues this week. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway HERE – win a copy of CassaStar and review copy of CassaFire!

Speaking of CassaFire, Edi’s Book Lighthouse posted the most amazing review I’ve ever read. The one authors dream of receiving. I read it thinking “Wow, I want to read that book. Oh crap, it’s MY book!” Read it and you’ll understand what I mean.

Thanks to all who voted! The Movie411 Awards were announced last week – I won Best Sci-Fi Blog second year in a row. Won’t be three though, as I’m withdrawing my blog to give others a chance. AND – I’m a judge next year! Thanks for the honor, Dempsey.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 
I’ve always enjoyed this series, and with this film, they achieved the perfect balance of action and humor. The inclusion of Simon Pegg ensures some laugh-worthy moments. There are some incredible action sequences and breathtaking locations. The scene involving the Burj Khalifa building is beyond tense. Incredible effects make you believe Cruise is really scaling the side of the world’s tallest building. (Or, maybe he was?) Another great installment in this franchise!

Spielberg does a pretty good stupid horse film. Visually impressive and sentimental, it’s also very intense. And at two and a half hours, it’s a bit too long for the intensity. However, it’s an amazing journey this horse goes on, changing hands and sides many times, with a strong message of bravery.
Be sure to check out the A to Z Challenge blog today!

Have you already entered my contest? Read the blogging tips and review from Heaven? Seen either of those two movies? Watched Drew Brees break Dan Marino's passing record? Ready for Friday’s preview of upcoming January movies? That’s right - January 2012!! Are you ready for another year?!?!?!?!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Movie Reviews! Free books! Ninjas on Holiday!

Dogs and cats, living together – mass hysteria!

And this Ninja is going on holiday. (Rusty don’t panic when you don’t see my regular posts.) I won’t post again until after Christmas, although I will be lurking…

My guest post is now up at Daily Write, offering tips for writers who blog. Damyanti must think I know what I’m doing!

Today it’s my turn at the Debutante Ball: Feast of Debut Authors! 

Before I dive into all that, I’ve got a couple movie reviews for you. Yeah, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Like the first film, this movie is a lot of fun and full of great humor. The action set pieces were solid and I enjoyed the cat-and-mouse game between Holmes and Morarity. And of course, the interplay between Holmes and Watson is priceless. Another solid entry and I can’t wait for another Sherlock Holmes movie! Between this and Iron Man, Downey is set for life.

Arthur Christmas 
The perfect Christmas movie for the kids, old and young! It was cute and laugh out loud funny. Really sweet spirit and message about dedication to a belief and to family. From the creators of Flushed Away and featuring the voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, and Bill Nighy. I actually liked it better than The Muppets. Take the kids and go!

Now the main feature! The Debutante Ball: Feast of Debut Authors is three weeks of giveaways – and today, I’m the highlight.


To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…
Few options remain for Byron, a talented young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude. Slated to train as a Cosbolt pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life. Much to his chagrin, Bassa, the toughest instructor in the fleet, takes notice of the young pilot. As war brews on the edge of space, Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive. Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Available in all eBook forms and at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon UK.

If sucked into CassaStar… I’d be Byron. (I mean really, who else who I be?) If made into a movie, Byron would be played by Chris Pine.

The Giveaway- (Because I’m not telling you all of this for nothing!)
Copy of CassaStar 
Review copy of CassaFire, due out February 28, 2011 – see five star reviews on Edi’s Book Lighthouse and Fantasy Nibbles!
Bookmarks, postcards, and stuff, courtesy of my publisher

To enter-
Leave a comment - must be a followers
Tweet this giveaway for a second entry (hashtag #CASSA)
Blog about this giveway for another entry (please let me know if you do!)

Open through December 31, 2011 – Winner announced on January 4, 2012

Even if you have a copy, it would make an awesome gift. (Or doorstop, although it’s not that big.)

Comment and don't forget my Ninja tips at Daily Write!

Everyone have a wonderful, blessed Christmas - however you celebrate the holidays!

Any one else see Sherlock Holmes? Following the Debutante Ball? In need of writer blogging tips? Catch the movie quote at the beginning of this post?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja Vu Blogfest - A SyFy Classic!

DL Hammons of Cruising Altitude fame, along with several others, is hosting the Déjà vu Blogfest today!

Before I jump into the blogfest, just a reminder – this is the last weekend to vote in the The Movie 411 Awards! I’m up for Best Sci-Fi Blog and Best Blog Post for The Worst Movies Ever Blogfest and I’m not above groveling. Need help with Best Post!!! Don’t forget to vote for my buddies Cinemarvellous! iZombie! Melissa’s Imaginarium and MsMariah’s Space Blog-yssey

I did tie for Best Writing Blog over at A Peek at Karen’s World. Tied with Jennifer Hillier! Damn, I should’ve lost by a landslide. Jennifer is just so amazing.  Thanks, Karen!

On a sad note, has anyone heard from Ellie Garrett? She was taking a short break to write, but Jeremy and I have both sent emails and she hasn’t responded!

The Debutante Ball: Feast of Debut Authors continues with stops at Joseph Beekman December 16 and Pendragon Innmen December 17. Then on Monday, it’s my turn. Lots of cool things to win!
And now on to the blogfest!

When DL announced the Déjà vu Blogfest, I knew instantly which post I wanted to select. My older followers will remember I’ve done play-by-plays of some of SyFy’s more craptastic movies, but none beat this cinematic marvel:

I give you - Sharktopus – A Play By Play. Enjoy!

My thoughts while watching Sharktopus, recorded by the minute. 

3 min – The “ding” of the elevator sounds just like my microwave oven chime. 

7 min – They didn’t waste any time with pesky details like plot or exposition. 

10 min – Roger Corman must have pictures of Eric Roberts with a donkey or something. 

13 min – Roberts isn’t even trying. I think he’s cold-reading the script from cue cards. 

15 min – Hot woman on beach – the movie is getting better. 

16 min – Oh wait, Sharktopus killed her. Movie sucks again. 

19 min – Not so attractive woman goes bungee jumping. I’m okay with her dying. 

30 min – Various shots of sun-soaked, bikini-clad hotties flashes across the screen. This should be the centerpiece of the film. 

37 min – Sharktopus attacks sunbathers. The CGI is so bad I find myself growing nostalgic for a guy in a big rubber suit. 

42 min – A man tells Roberts there’s something on TV he has to see. I’m pretty sure it’s not Sharktopus. 

44 min – The lead actress’s voice keeps shifting from British to American. She must’ve studied at the Kevin Costner Robin Hood School of Acting. 

51 min - Is there enough alcohol in the house to get through this movie? 

62 min – Pretty sure Roberts is drunk. Lucky bastard. 

64 min – They should rename “SyFy Saturday Night” to “SyFy Saturday Craptacular.” 

73 min – The upside to being eaten by Sharktopus: you don’t have to sit through the rest of Sharktopus. 

80 min – A pirate radio DJ mocks Sharktopus and is devoured. This is a life lesson, people! 

83 min – Sharktopus just pantsed some guy. That was… awkward. 

93 min – No really, Roberts is hammered. The guy was on a three-day bender shooting this film. 

98 min – The movie just morphed into a Puerto Vallarta travelogue. Or a bad Bollywood film. Not sure which. 

107 min – Roberts is killed by Sharktopus and there was much rejoicing. 

110 min – Our hero now intends to run over Sharktopus with a minivan. Hope he’s insured. 

122 min – Sharktopus is arrested on tax evasion charges. Movie over. 

Now you don't have to waste two hours of your life! You can thank me later... 

Visit Cruising Altitude for the list of participants.

Anyone else suffer through this craptastic film? Following the Debutante Ball: Feast of Debut Authors? Want to know what you can win here on Monday? Going to see Sherlock Holmes this weekend? Still wondering what the hell is a Sharktopus…?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Major Ninja News!

No, the Ninja Captain has not changed rank – I just have a lot of cool stuff for you guys today.

First, I have the honor of a guest post at Melissa’s Imaginarium! Melissa is awesome in every way possible, so please visit her. And Thursday is her birthday!

The Debutante Ball: Feast of Debut Authors continues! December 13 was Regan Guerra, December 14 is Melissa Pearl, and December 15 is Joseph Beekman. Lots of cool things to win!

Our very own Talli Roland has a new book out – Build A Man! Yeah, I know you ladies would rather do that then deal with us… Talli is the most supportive and cutest English-Canadian you will ever meet, so go say hey!

One of my most favorite blogger buddies, Yvonne Lewis at Welcome to My World of Poetry, has a new book -“Written From the Heart” Yvonne has worked SO hard on her second book and so many things went wrong in the process. Please stop by and congratulate her and check out her book!!!

Voting is still open for The Movie 411 Awards.

The most successful author I know is Milo James Fowler at In Media Res. He’s sold dozens of short stories this year, and that is due in part to his participation in Write1Sub1:

Once upon a time, Ray Bradbury was a struggling young writer in love with the craft. He wrote a short story every week, polished it up, and submitted it to a magazine. Rejection letters flooded in, mainly due to his prolific number of submissions, but there were also acceptances along the way, and they inspired Bradbury to keep doing what he loved: telling stories as only he could.

This year, over 150 writers decided to follow in Mr. Bradbury’s footsteps by joining Write1Sub1. Some have written and submitted a new story or poem every week, and some have done so every month. So far, more than 40 participants have had their work accepted by over 100 different markets—from Twitter fiction to pro-paying, SFWA-qualifying short story markets—and we've cheered each other on every step of the way. But we've also been there to commiserate with disappointments and rejections, because that’s what Write1Sub1 is all about: community. We're dedicated to creating high-quality written works, and we're determined to submit them until they find good homes.

It's never too late to join as either a weekly or monthly participant, and Write1Sub1 RELOADED is only a few weeks away: 1/1/2012!

David Powers King co-founded Ink Pageant, a parade of blog posts for writers!

We want to help writers improve their craft and reach their goals.
We're not alone. There are scads of authors and aspiring writers out there willing to help each other, and they're willing to share advice through their blogs. We want to help bring it to you and make it easy to find.
Ink Pageant has a few other purposes. You can share recommended reading or sell your books through your profile page; announce book signings, conferences, and other events; and share movie or book reviews. Most importantly, posts you submit can be put in front of an interested audience, benefitting them and bringing your blog a little extra traffic.
Right now their December giveaway is an in-depth 10 page critique from Eschler Editing – check it out HERE

See some good books? Ready to tackle Write1Sub1? Join Ink Pageant? Head about to explode from all the news? Now, go visit Melissa’s Imaginarium!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Ease of Making a Book Trailer - NOT!!!

Today I have something that will rock your world – an awesome author and the premier of a brand new trailer. Ciara Knight is here to share her experience of creating a book trailer. (And after reading it, I’m really glad my publisher does all the work!) If you’ve created your own trailer, you’ll understand. If you haven’t, well I hope this doesn’t scare you into a quivering pile of goo…

I’m so excited and nervous about this book trailer. I mean, maybe if it’s good enough I’ll be accepted into Alex’s Ninja Army! Hey, I can dream, right?

I have to admit, designing and creating my first book trailer was an interesting experience. You see, I’m always full of crazy ideas, it’s the execution I struggle with.

First off, I thought I’d contact a local art school to see if one of the students would be interested in creating a book trailer for me. I ended up with a few responses and even met someone for lunch to discuss it, but even the students wanted a LOT of money to create what I wanted. I came home to Mr. Knight and told him about what I’d have to pay for a book trailer and he laughed for about five minutes. Okay, so first brilliant idea squashed.

I did some research and came up with my second brilliant idea, I’ll do it myself. Hey, my heroine in The Curse of Gremdon, Arianna, isn’t scared of anything. I decided to channel my inner Arianna and go for it. Why not? I mean, I can figure it out. I’ll buy a book or something. What could be so difficult? We already had Adobe Premiere Pro, so I was set.

After about eighteen hours of watching You Tube instructional videos I knew how to create a new project, import, and use some of the special effects. Great! I was set. I grabbed my husband’s HD video camera and headed for a hike near our home. Oh, did I mention my knee and foot were swollen. No worries, if Arianna can battle hideous creatures with nothing more than a dagger, I could make it through a hike. I gimped for a mile using the monopod as a walking aid (don’t tell Mr. Knight about that) and set up for some great footage. Of course, I had to choose a day that every hiker in the southeast was out. Finally, I take the PERFECT video, hobble all the way back to my car, and return home for a couple of ice packs.

My husband pulls the video in and we discover the monopod did absolutely no good. It looked like I’d been on a caffeine high when I took the video. Hope is not lost because Mr. Knight says that he might be able to stabilize the video in Adobe, so I get to work creating my awesome book trailer. Ten hours later, I’ve got my video in there, I’ve learned how to make it look like the woods are changing to fall, then make it go dark. I’ve pulled in images. Hey, it’s looking pretty good.

Mr. Knight arrives home and says, “The video needed to be stabilized first.” Um…seriously? Geesh, maybe this entire book trailer thing wasn’t such a great idea. No, I’m not going to give up. Arianna would never give up so easy. I wait for hubby to stabilize the video for me, because he knew how and I didn’t have eighteen more hours to watch You Tube instructional videos.

The next day I pull up his video and it looks great. I spend all day, while my little monsters are at school, working on the trailer. Mr. Knight arrives home that evening and takes a look. “Well, I think we need to start over.” At this point I realize I’m not Arianna and it’s probably a good thing, because if I had her dagger in my hand I might have harmed my husband.

The next day Mr. Knight started over and spent all of his day off working on it for me. At that point I realized I’m nothing like Arianna, but we did have one thing in common. A great hero to watch our back.

I hope you like the trailer my awesome husband helped create. Although, I still think I’ll be able to do the next book trailer without his help. Seriously.

Now that I think about it, Mr. Knight might be the one accepted into Alex’s Ninja Army.

Author bio: Ciara is happily married and enjoys family time. She has learned to embrace chaos, which is a requirement when raising three boys, and utilizes the insanity to create stories not of this world including: Fantasy, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, and Young Adult Biopunk. Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She's backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.
Follow Ciara here: Website and blog Facebook Twitter Goodreades

Questions for Ciara? Or her Ninja husband? Have you created a book trailer? Are you terrified to try now…?  

Debutante Ball: Feast of Debut Authors kicks off today – twenty days of prizes! I’m participating next week and today it begins with Elizabeth Mueller.

Yvonne Lewis at Welcome to My World of Poetry has a new book coming out today! More on “Written From the Heart” on Wednesday. Congratulations, Yvonne!!

The Movie 411 Awards I’m up for two awards, Best Science Fiction Blog and Best Post for the Worst Movies Blogfest. (And it’s a close race for the Best Blogpost.) Don’t forget to vote for my fellow blogger buddies: Cinemarvellous! nominated for Best Design, Best Gossip, and the Gold Award. iZombie! nominated for Best Horror. Melissa at Melissa’s Imaginarium nominated for Sexiest Female. MsMariah’s Space Blog-yssey nominated for Best Newcomer.

You are now free to comment and move about the blog!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Does Anyone Speak Baenglish???

We meet some really awesome people online. I’ve made some good friends in the past two years. Today’s guest is really special. Edi has been such a great friend and supporter. He lives in Germany, so it’s doubtful we’ll ever meet in person, but I imagine we’d have a great time discussing books, movies, and life over a couple beers. He runs Edi’s Book Lighthouse and covers everything from new releases, book reviews, movie news, and other oddities. If you’ve not made Edi’s acquaintance, then you are missing out.

So I’m turning over my blog today to Edi, with no requirements other than a dash of humor. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!


I do not know what devil has ridden Alex to ask me to write a guest post on his blog. And to be honest I do not know what devil has ridden me to agree.

Of course I wanted to know what kind of guest post Alex had in mind. When I read his answer I blacked out ......

Alex wanted something funny because that is what people like.


everyone knows that to write something funny is one of the most difficult tasks. It gets even more difficult when you know that I'm not a native English speaker. I'm one of these boring and dry Germans who need rules and laws for everything. My favorite words are CONCEPT, PLAN, LIST, DEADLINE, PUNCTUALITY

In my regularly job as a programmer in a European team I can tell you that my colleagues hate and love me at the same time when I use one of the words above.

Beside that I'm ediFanoB - when you read it backwards you get Bona Fide - the guy behind Edi’s Book Lighthouse which is a sometimes strange book blog.
Edi likes to read, write and post in BAENGLISH. You do not know BAENGLISH? It is the wonderful mix of British English and American English which gives you the opportunity to use and invent words as you need them.
Even I'm a runaway (I think you use this strange word advanced in this case) BAENGLISH speaker and reader I have sometimes problems to understand jokes and gags. It gets worse when I try to tell jokes. I have a mastership degree in killing jokes.

Are you still there, pressing your nose against the screen? Incredible! I thought you fell asleep while reading the onomatopoeia of a quirky German.

So you have to read the rest of this post where I will explain what kind of gags I like, about age and of course a book recommendation. Its all Alex' fault!

I hope I really frightened you with my superlunary good idea to torture you with a brutal long and absolutely boring harangue about age, jokes and recommendation. Doesn't it sound familiar compared to sex, drugs and rock and roll?

I do not have problems to talk about my age. My avatar shows a female archer but I'm male.
Last year I entered Area 51 and since last summer I'm a B-52 pilot. You do not know what to Google? Try to find your age in areas, products, bands, songs, recipes , ...... I'm sure you will find something that fits. I look forward to your comments. It is sad that child can't write. So nobody will mention Twin Peaks…

Did you ever think about how life will be when you will be 70+? The older I get the more I think about it. But since I started to read a certain book series I'm no more longer afraid about getting older.

Imagine and apartment complex where most of the inhabitants are 70 and older. Imagine a group of women living in this complex. And finally imagine that this group of women founded a private eye agency.
I talk about the Gladdy Gold series by Rita Lakin. Gladdy and her girls are all young at heart, grounded, eccentric golden agers. Beside all the problems coming along with getting older they have a lot of humor and enjoy life. And it is a real life where even good friends can die.
No day is like the other even they have daily routine. Smart and sassy herione Gladdy with her incredible gladiators solve their cases in mostly unexpected manner. Of course the mysteries are not that difficult but the unbelievable presence of humor let you follow the story without any break. I still put a smile on my face when I remember walking frame races in shopping malls or sentences like "I don't like beans. They give me the gas." 

Even if you prefer to read science fiction and fantasy I highly recommend to give the Gladdy Gold series by Rita Lakin a try. I promise you, you will laugh out loud and aging will be no more longer a problem.

Oops! I think its high time to get my acts together before I get a sending-off for a far too long post.

Alex, I hope you do not regret your invitation to write a guest post. The comment section will tell you and me if it was a good decision.

Let me close my post with the words I use on my blog:


I have no regrets! Questions for Edi? Want to know about Germany? Or books? Or speculative fiction reviewing? Be sure to visit his awesome site, Edi’s Book Lighthouse And does anyone speak BAENGLISH???

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

So many good things have happened in the last year. My first book’s release and eventual rise on Amazon’s Best Seller chart. The scheduled release of my second book next February. Over a thousand blog followers. The success of the IWSG.

Will all of that change me? Will I have to change who I am if that success is to continue?

I’ve tried to remain humble. After all, I’m still just Alex. I’m an average writer with a movie, music, and science fiction obsession. I’ve done nothing really special. I’ve just been me.

And I want to continue being me. I don’t think I’d be where I am today if I wasn’t true to myself. I certainly wouldn’t be here if not for my friends and fans! For you, I want to remain true. I want this blog to stay the same – an informative celebration of your achievements. It’s your growth and success that fuels the fire.

So, here’s hoping I’ll remain just Alex!

I do want to mention that The Movie 411 Awards is now open for voting!!! I’m up for two awards, Best Science Fiction Blog and Best Post for the Worst Movies Ever Blogfest. (Remember that blogfest? And the voting is really close for that award.)
But I really want my Ninja Army to support my blogger buddies who are also nominated:
Cinemarvellous! nominated for Best Design, Best Gossip, and the Gold Award. Nebular is such an awesome friend and he runs a top-notch movie site.
iZombie! is nominate for Best Horror. You may remember Jeremy when I featured his book, Chatterbox.
Melissa at Melissa’s Imaginarium is up for Sexiest Female. Melissa’s had so many challenges lately – she really needs a big win.
MsMariah’s Space Blog-yssey is up for Best Newcomer.
And A Life in Equinox is up for Best Action.
If you haven’t voted yet, please go vote for my awesome movie buddies!

And Friday I have a special guest, one of my very best blogging buddies in the world...

Now, what’s your insecurity today?

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Big Idea, Cursing, and a Ton of News

I have the honor of a guest post at Sommer’s Tell Great Stories today! It’s all about the BIG IDEA. She is an awesome writer and motivator, so stop by after you’re done here…

The Movie 411 Awards are now open for voting!!! I’m up for two awards, but my buddies Cinemarvellous, Melissa, iZombie, and MsMariah are also up for awards and need your vote. Nebular’s Cinemarvellous is in the running for three awards including GOLD. I don’t care if you vote for me but please vote for my awesome buddies!!!

I was also asked to contribute an article to The Specusphere, an online magazine for Australian writers. It’s called The Long Road to a Surprise Best Seller, describing how CassaStar became an Amazon Best Seller a year after its release. Actually, it’s more of my best guess!! Anyway, I was really honored that they featured my article.

Fantasy Nibbles reviewed CassaStar this weekend and I couldn't be more pleased with the review! Thanks so much.

Some awesome new books:

Ground Rules by Cate Masters came out last week.

Marta Szemik’s Two Halves also came out last week. It’s available at Amazon

Congratulations, ladies!!

Other cool happenings:

Jamie’s Mithril Wisdom just celebrated two years of blogging.

MaineWords is holding a 200 followers giveaway.

My buddy TS at The Non Review just celebrated two years of blogging and is almost to 300 followers.

Jen at Unedited is competing in the My Heroine Tournament as Hermione and she needs our help to win the fight!

And Reid Kemper is hosting a Blog Swap Blogfest.

Jenna at Meandering in a Field of Words gave me the Great Comments Award.
I have so many awesome buddies who always comment! But I decided to limit it to five who stop by here every single time:
Nancy Thompson
Suze at Analog Breakfast
Laila Knight
Robyn at Life by Chocolate
Christopher at Socially Awkward

Recent posts by David Powers King and Michael Offutt tackled cussing in books. I thought that would make a good topic for a CassaFacts post.

I don’t mind cussing in books if it fits the story and the characters. I recently read The Lies of Locke Lamora and there was a fair amount of language – but the characters were low-life thieves, and as the story progressed and they became more wordly, the cussing decreased. So it fit.

Another example is Game of Thrones. There’s some cussing but it fits. Now Spartacus… that is SO over the top! I’m not sure why they even bother with proper sentences.

So, how much cussing is in CassaStar and CassaFire? Well, how much cussing do you see on my blog? In my books, it’s probably even less. And here’s why:

I write science fiction space opera. Like Star Wars. Now, how much cussing is there in Star Wars? It just doesn’t fit my genre.

While I don’t mind reading it, I could never write something that was curse-word heavy. It would just bother me, as I do feel my writing is a reflection of me.

I think back to the books I read when I was younger. Adult fantasy and science fiction rarely had anything inappropriate in the content, so I was allowed to read it when I was a child. My passion for reading came from books such as The Sword of Shannara. I wanted my books to be appropriate for young people as well. I wanted a kid who loves Star Wars to be able to read CassaStar as well.

And finally, while I’ve read plenty of books that used cussing excessively, I have never read a book and thought “You know, if the author had just dropped the F-bomb a few times, it might’ve been a good story.”

So I ask you guys – did I make the right decision with my books?

Now, go check out my guest post at Tell Great Stories and vote for the The Movie 411 Awards!

Friday, December 2, 2011

How Not to Screw up the Jesse James Legend

Today I have a new twist for you – Civil War horror and Hollywood! Think that’s an odd combination? No, it’s the perfect blend for a guest post from my buddy Sean McLachlan at Civil War Horror. I’ll let Sean explain…

Why my novel can’t screw up the Jesse James legend any worse than Hollywood

People don’t really spin in their graves. If they did, Jesse James would take off like a helicopter, rise from his Missouri resting place, and soar over the treetops to a fabled, far-off land where Hollywood directors actually read history.

I’ve seen lots of Jesse James movies. They’re all terrible. Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter is one of the ten worst horror films ever. Not surprising, given the title. Brad Pitt’s The Assassination of Jesse James is fairly accurate except for being filmed in Canada. Where were those snowy mountains and pine forests when I lived in Missouri? Plus the homosexual tension between Robert Ford and Jesse James was an odd addition.

Then we have Jesse James as the Outlaw and Jesse James under the Black Flag, starring none other than Jesse James, Jr. He should have become a bandit like his father, because he sure couldn’t act. Nor could the director direct. Or the screenwriter write. Produced in 1921 as silent films, in 1930 they were hacked up, spliced together, and a poor-quality narration was added. It flopped, both in 1921 and 1930.

It wasn’t hard for my Civil War horror novel, A Fine Likeness, to do better. Jesse’s a minor character, yet manages to steal every scene he’s in. That’s a legend’s privilege. Originally I didn’t plan on putting him in but I wanted Bloody Bill Anderson, a bloodthirsty Confederate guerrilla who led a deadly group of cutthroats. Frank and Jesse James rode with him, so I couldn’t exactly ignore their presence.

In one scene, based on an actual skirmish, the brothers rescue one of my protagonists. Actually they rescued a real, not fictional, guerrilla. That’s the only liberty I took with their story.

I took more liberty with Bloody Bill. He’s less of a cherished legend and more of an icky sidenote to history. Changing his story wouldn’t anger anyone except staunch Neo-Confederates, and I really don’t mind offending them. So I changed Bloody Bill to suit my needs. For example, there’s no evidence he ever used his extensive collection of Union scalps for magic rituals, but if anyone in 1864 worshipped a Chaos demon, it was him!

I’m surprised such a colorful character hasn’t starred in any movies. Perhaps I should write screenplays. Bloody Bill vs. Batman! The Torched Bridges of Madison County! Bloody Bill Scalps the Muggles! Yeah, I’d fit in over in Hollywood.

You can find A Fine Likeness at Amazon and Amazon UK
Visit Sean at his blog, Civil War Horror

Any questions for Sean? Any questions for Jesse James? (Be weird if he answered, wouldn’t it?) Think your story is better than anything out of Hollywood? Or it at least sucks a little less…

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last Movies of the Year!

Yes, it’s time for December movies. Less than a month to Christmas! Nobody panic.

Before I dive into the movies, a couple quick announcements and reminders:

S.A. Larson’s picture book story is in a publisher’s competition and it would be really cool if you could go vote for her! Visit her SITE for details. Kelly Polark’s piece is also in the competition! Too many awesome writers...

Never thought about posting a link for CassaFire, but for those who’d like to add it to your Goodreads TBR shelf, go HERE.

My blog is a finalist in Karen's Blog Awards! You can vote now at A Peek At Karen’s World I'm under Favorite Writing Blog. (Ironic, huh?)

And the next installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is in one week! You guys have amazed me with your posts and the support you’ve shown to one another. Hopefully it keeps growing so that more writers can benefit.

Now for the December movie releases. As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

9 - 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 
In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons.
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy
Oldman is such a cool actor… 

16 - 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris
Downey is perfect as Holmes – can’t wait for this one! 

23 - 

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol 
The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name.
Director: Brad Bird
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton
It looks cool and I’ve enjoyed all of the M:I movies so far.

The Adventures of Tintin 
Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock's ancestor. But someone else is in search of the ship.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig
The animation looks stunning! One of two Spielberg movies this December.

(Daniel Craig is also in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - busy man!) 

25 - 

The Darkest Hour 
In Moscow, five young people lead the charge against an alien race who have attacked Earth via our power supply.
Director: Chris Gorak
Stars: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella
This has the quirk factor going for it. 

War Horse 
Follows a young man named Albert and his horse, Joey, and how their bond is broken when Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War One. Despite being too young to enlist, Albert heads to France to save his friend.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis
Somehow, I have a feeling my wife will drag me to see this one. We saw the last stupid horse movie… 

Which movie catches your eye? Still playing catch-up from November? Or is there a special Christmas movie you plan to watch this month? One can never see A Christmas Story too many times…

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dreams and the Muppets

Everyone have an awesome Thanksgiving? Finish your Nano project? Invent teleportation over the weekend? (Send me a private email if you did!)

I have some announcements and a movie review for you today.

First, Amity at Dreams are my Reality is celebrating her three-year anniversary of blogging today! And, I was honored when she asked me to contribute a few words to the event. My short tribute to Amity is now up at her site, accompanied by an even longer introduction that is really, really sweet. If you don’t already follow Amity, you need to visit Dreams are my Reality today!

Michael at In Time is hosting a one year blogaversary and (almost) five hundred follower celebration. Amazon gift cards, people! Get with it and go follow now!

I confess, I was a slug this past weekend. Outside of some eating and football games, I did nothing. Well, I did spend Sunday trying to figure out why our oldest computer died. Think the mother board ate itself. That’s never good. Seeking the help of a friend today and if we can’t fix it, there’s only one solution. Buy a new computer. That’s right – force me to purchase another geek toy! Damn I have such a rough life…

But, I did get out to the movies this weekend! That’s right, it was The Muppets for me.

The movie started out a little slow, but once they crossed that fourth barrier and let the audience in on the movie, it picked up. From that point, it was a trip down Muppet and the 80’s memory lane. Not sure how much anyone under the age of thirty-five will dig this movie, but Generation X and older will appreciate the nostalgia. As always, the story has a sweet spirit and positive message. Best parts for me were Jim Parsons (Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory) as Walter’s human counterpart and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) as the drummer for the evil Moopets.

And I watched Super 8 again on DVD. Damn that was a great movie!

By next weekend I hope to catch Arthur Christmas.

You guys see any good movies? Finish your NaNo project? Have a computer meltdown?

Don’t forget to visit Amity at Dreams are my Reality

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Long Weekend News...

Lots of cool stuff happening! And Thanksgiving for my American friends. Food, family, and football – the essentials to a comatose day of overindulgence. 

All nominations for The 411 Movie Awards must be in by November 28! I’ve been nominated for Best Science Fiction Blog and Best Blog Post (for the Worst Movies Ever Blogfest.) But, it’s only the top five nominated blogs who go on to the voting stage. No groveling, but I would be really thankful if you clicked over and nominated me. 

And don’t forget these awesome sites, also in the running for an award or two:  
Cinemarvellous! GOLD! Nominate George’s site for the Gold Award and Best Design

DL at Cruising Altitude, along with several co-hosts, are holding a Déjà vu Blogfest

“On December 16, re-post your favorite blog offering or one that never received the exposure it should have.” 

I already know which post I’ll select – do you? 

This is also the weekend for three family-friendly movie releases. I’m not ashamed to say I will be seeing the Muppet movie. It’s part of my childhood. A part I’m not letting go of just yet! No laughing – I’ll have to sic Animal on you. 

Arthur Christmas also intrigues just because it’s from Aardman Animations. (The people who created Flushed Away, Wallace and Gromit, and Chicken Run.) Ladies, you can swoon over James McAvoy’s voice – he’s Arthur! 

And since it’s Thanksgiving weekend, here’s my short list of things for which I am grateful: 
My wife 
My relationship with Jesus 
My job 
My home 
My friends, including all of you
The case of Hot Tamales I’ve requested from Santa for Christmas 
(And a new guitar would be cool as well!) 

Your turn – what are you grateful for? 
Don’t forget The 411 Movie Awards nominations. 
And the Déjà vu Blogfest. 
And Muppets! 
Don’t make this Ninja go all Animal on you…(Bet some of you would like that, wouldn't you?)