Monday, January 30, 2012

A to Z Challenge Sign-ups Open and The Grey Review

Some quick news before we dive into the A to Z Challenge sign-ups.

You guys performed a miracle on Saturday! The book trailer for CassaFire had been trailing in fifth place all week - but managed to place third and was featured Sunday at You Gotta Read Videos. Thanks so much to everyone who voted and sent out messages about it – I really appreciate it!

I also saw The Grey this weekend – excellent film. Much more somber than I expected – it’s more of a drama than an action film. The story focuses on the characters and Liam Neeson and cast did a great job. I liked how key character points were revealed slowly through the film. It is very intense with a slight art-house feel to it. A winner!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!! Sign-ups are now open for the A to Z Challenge.

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting the letter of the alphabet every day during the month of April, with Sundays off for good behavior. Since April 1 falls on a Sunday, that will be the day we start with A. Whether you go with a theme or freestyle, your post must match the letter of the alphabet for that day. Add your name to the list and when the Challenge begins, start by visiting the blog immediately after your own. Set a goal – we recommend five blogs a day, more if you are able.

For more information and to stay on top of developments, we recommend you follow the A to Z Challenge Blog and the hosts: Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs, Jenny Pearson at Pearson Report, Matthew McNish at The QQQE, Tina Downey at Life is Good, Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie, DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude, Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse, Elizabeth Mueller, Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs, Karen Gowen at Coming Down the Mountain, and Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small. We also have a Facebook page,, email address, and the Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge.

This is a great opportunity to discipline yourself, grow as a blogger, and make new friends – come join us!

Any questions about the Challenge? Any concerns? Do you have a theme in mind? Let's hear it!

Please go HERE to sign up for the Challenge.

Friday, January 27, 2012

February Movies, Results, and Challenge News

It’s almost February, so time for next month’s movies. Monday is the BIG announcement for the A to Z Challenge - signups begin! And I have a guest post today at the A to Z Blog about that signup list. So if you have concerns, be sure to read it.

Voting ends Saturday at noon for my CassaFire trailer at You Gotta Read Videos. Last I looked I was trailing in fifth place, which is disappointing as the trailer for CassaStar took second place last year. I think I’ve posted about this everywhere possible, so one last round of groveling. If there’s anything you can do to help, this Ninja would appreciate it…

Great discussion Wednesday regarding authors reading their own reviews. Most of you said yes – as long as the author doesn’t respond or have a meltdown. A couple sharp ladies suggested having a family member screen out the junky ones first – excellent idea! (Because reading “This book sucked!” isn’t good for the ego.).

And for those of you who want to know what happens when one becomes a BLOG OF NOTE - a ton of new followers (over 1200 now - whoa!) and thousands of visits per day! Yeah, it’s been a wild week. Thanks again for all the kind words. I'm still stunned.

And now, on to our show! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

February Movies:

3 –

The Woman in Black
Drama | Horror | Thriller
A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.
Director: James Watkins
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciarán Hinds, Emma Shorey
Previews for this one look promising!

Action | Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.
Director: Josh Trank
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Alex Russell, Dane DeHaan
Could go either way. Heard it’s told in reverse like Memento. (Not that it has a chance of living up to that awesome movie.)

10 –

Safe House
Action | Crime | Mystery | Thriller
A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Stars: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Robert Patrick, Vera Farmiga
Promising cast and Denzel IS the man.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Action | Adventure | Family | Fantasy | Sci-Fi
Sean Anderson partners with his mom's boyfriend on a mission to find his grandfather, who is thought to be missing on a mythical island.
Director: Brad Peyton
Stars: Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Vanessa Hudgens
I know it’s geared towards kids, but how on earth did they con Michael Caine into this movie?

17 –

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Action | Fantasy | Thriller
As Johnny Blaze hides out in Eastern Europe, he is called upon to stop the devil, who is trying to take human form.
Directors: Mark Neveldine | Brian Taylor
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Christopher Lambert
Dumb, over-the-top sequel with violence and special effects. Sure, why not?

Any of those movies strike your fancy? Ready to sign up for the A to Z Challenge on Monday? (Don't forget to visit the A to Z Blog today.) Any other opinions on reviews? Wonder if I ever sleep...?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Honors and Controversy

Today I have the honor of an interview with Charity Bradford. She asked some questions about writing, my books, and a little about me. So, for your amusement, I invite you to visit her SITE.

I had a huge surprise Monday night when Jennifer Hillier notified me via Twitter that my blog was an official BLOG OF NOTE! That really blows me away. I am really humbled.

I was also really honored when this book came in the mail on Tuesday - Yvonne Lewis’s new book, Written From the Heart. It’s finally available for purchase here in the USA and I’d ordered it last week. Yvonne is such a sweet person, a really giving and loving spirit, and I’ve often referred to her as my online Mom. And here’s another reason why I was so stoked to get her book:

Yes, that is my name on the back of her book, like it means something! I was just as excited to see it on her book as I have been on my own. Yvonne, thank you for this gift – you are truly an amazing person.

Before you go, I’d like to toss a couple controversial and hot topics at you. Feel free to chime in with your opinion.

Should an author read reviews of his own book?

Elana Johnson posted about this last week. Her view was that reviews are for readers not authors and we shouldn’t ever read them. (Because at that point, we can’t change the book anyway.)

I think we should read them. Sure, we’ll be bummed by negative reviews, but we can learn from those - they can reveal where we lacked and what we need to work on in the next book. They can also guide us as we write the next book – what do the fans want? And of course, the good ones just plain make us feel good!

If I hadn’t read reviews for CassaStar, I wouldn’t have known I needed more detail, depth, and world-building. I also wouldn’t have known how much fans wanted a female character!

What do you think?

Now for the other tough subject. This one is huge:

Patriots or Giants – who do you have winning the Super Bowl?

I am still groveling for votes for CassaFire’s book trailer at You Gotta Read Videos. (And the groveling isn’t a pretty sight.)

And don’t forget to visit the awesome Charity Bradford.

You are now free to leave your opinion and move about the Internet!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Reviews and Ninja News

Thanks for commenting on my guest post on blogging tips and CassaFire news at Susan Roebuck’s site last Friday, and for making Brinda Berry feel so welcome here.

Some really important announcements today but first the reviews:

Underworld: Evolution

A reviewer on JoBlo’s site said it best – if you’re a fan of the first three, you’ll dig it. (Which means if you hate the series, I doubt this movie will change your mind.) It’s not a great movie, but I was entertained for the duration.

This movie was on a smaller scale and probably with a smaller budget – but you couldn’t tell from the special effects. It also had a storyline that was touching and intricate involving Selene’s daughter. It had kick-butt action, with fights, chase scenes, and explosions (including exploding lycans.) And of course – it had Kate Beckinsale, looking as stunning as ever! My quest this year is to find Selene’s outfit and convince my wife to wear it around the house. (Wish me luck.)

Attack the Block

This British alien invasion movie was also done on a small scale with a virtually unknown cast. The movie opens with a teen gang in South London robbing one of their neighbors. (Over the course of the film, they manage to redeem themselves.) The gang kills a strange looking creature and soon find themselves defending their block against vicious aliens.
This movie was a load of fun! It’s a fun monster movie in the same vein as Tremors with even more action and humor. The actors are great – their banter hilarious - and the aliens effective. It’s colorful in language but not excessively gory.
If you’re looking for something fresh and new, rent this movie for action and laughs!

Now on to the news…

Sign ups for the A to Z Challenge open in one week! Don’t forget the video challenge/contest.

Mark at Aloha, and Hi! from Hawaii is co-writing a memoir about a singer who lost and then regained his voice. He is hosting a giveaway for singer Donald Braswell which includes several CDs.

Melissa Sugar is hosting the Get Fired Up Blogfest and encouraging others to mentor and help a struggling blogger. One of the prizes is a Kindle Fire! Read about it HERE and HERE.

If you’re getting ready to set up a book tour, Spunk on a Stick’s Tips has some great tips.

If you’re looking for some awesome writing tips, Mooderino at Moody Writing always posts the best.

Jessica Bell’s book, Twisted Velvet Chains, is now just ninety-nine cents at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Big thanks to Helen Ginger at Straight From Hel for her review of CassaStar this weekend. Another science fiction convert!

Patricia (author pm terrell) gave me the All Around Wonderful Blog Award. Thank you, Patricia!
I am passing it along to:
LisaAnn at Kicked, Cornered, Bitten, and Chased
Patsy Collins
Marta Szemik

And finally, voting opened Saturday evening at You Gotta Read Videos for the best book trailer submitted the month of January. CassaFire is number ten and yes, I will grovel for votes. CassaStar came in second last year, and since prizes this year include free advertising on their websites, I’d really like CassaFire’s trailer to be in the top three. Go vote HERE

And if you haven’t seen the trailer for CassaFire, created by my awesome publisher, Dancing Lemur Press:

Seen either of those movies? Entered any of the blogfests? Planned your A to Z Challenge posts? Vote for my trailer? I will grovel… 

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Allure of Sci-Fi... and other Ninja things

Special treat today! But first…

I have a guest post over at Susan Roebuck’s, with blogging advice for authors and some reveals about CassaFire. Head over when you are finished here. Not now! When you finish...

I was a little absent yesterday due to my job (I guess I really don’t get paid to blog – damn) and working on my next book. Yes, I have a detailed outline and I’m stoked!

Voting for your favorite book trailer starts SATURDAY at You Gotta Read Videos and CassaFire is one of the trailers! Please vote. I’ll even grovel and throw in Hot Tamales…

And here’s the answers to the movie quotes, which many of you got:
“The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” The Usual Suspects
“I call it blood, detective. I suppose you’ll write it up as ‘graffiti.’” The Crow
“Anything else that’ll keep this elevator from falling?” “Yeah. The basement.” Speed

Now to our main attraction, the lovely Brinda Berry, author of The Waiting Booth. She’s going to share with you two of my favorite things – movies and science fiction. (Awesome beyond words!) Hit it, Brinda!

While growing up, I read tons of romance books. I started out with the Harlequins and then progressed to the bodice-ripping, historical romances that I had to hide from my parents. The stories were good, but I can't tell you the names of 99% of those types of books I read. Then I began reading some science fiction. Did I read science fiction books first or fall in love with all the science fiction movies during that age? Chicken or the egg. It doesn't matter. All I know is I read my Star Wars paperback several times and dreamed of running away with Han Solo. Here are some great movies that influenced my interest in sci-fi.

1977 - Mark Hamill played Luke Skywalker and was simply scrumptious. My real obsession was with Harrison Ford. Who needs to read a romance when you have all that sexy banter between Han Solo and Princess Leia?

1977 - Steven Spielberg wrote and directed this masterpiece. I can still hear that tune in my head. Da. Da. Da. Da. Daaa. Richard Dreyfuss became a star with his portrayal of a man obsessed with a UFO.

1979 - I cannot believe this movie was so scary and made with the limited technology available in 1979. No CGI needed on this baby. Sigourney Weaver as Ripley made being a tough woman very cool and feminine.

1982 - Back then, I was already in love with Harrison Ford, so I had to see it. Have you seen this movie? Just thinking about it makes me ask myself why I don't own it. It's now on my shopping list. I love the cyberpunk elements in this film. Director Ridley Scott can do no wrong.

1983 - I had no interest in computers in 1983, but this movie may have peaked my curiosity. Matthew Broderick portrayed an intelligent high school student who connects to the NORAD command center. Hey, he was Ferris Bueller, and I wanted in on whatever he was cooking up for the day.

These movies made me want to imagine adventures about traveling in space and getting up close and personal with technology. It's where my sci-fi interest began. What started it for you?

The Waiting Booth
A missing boy, government agents, an interdimensional portal…Mia has one goal for her senior year at Whispering Woods High—find her missing older brother. But when her science project reveals a portal into another dimension, she learns that travelers are moving in and out of her woods in the most alarming way and government agents Regulus and Arizona are policing their immigration. Mia’s drawn to the mysterious, aloof Regulus, but it’s no time for a crush. She needs to find out what they know about her brother, while the agents fight to save the world from viral contamination. But when Regulus reveals that he knows Mia’s secrets, she begins to wonder if there’s more going on than she thought…and if she was wrong to trust him…

Buy The Waiting Booth at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, and at All Romance eBooks.
View The Waiting Booth Book Trailer
And find it on Goodreads.

BIO: Brinda lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She’s terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality.

Find Brinda at her Website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

What movies inspired you, science fiction or otherwise? Which ones have stayed with you over the years? Any scare the crap out of you?I know I won't be scared this weekend watching Underworld: Awakening!!!!

Still wondering about progressive rock or how I’m able to remember movie lines?
Then stay tuned…

Don't forget to visit Susan Roebuck’s, site!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Contests, ORIGINS, Pop Culture Answers - and More!

Over at the A to Z Challenge blog is a big announcement regarding our video challenge/contest! See the site for rules and guidelines.

David Powers King just hit five hundred followers, and to celebrate he’s hosting a giveaway!

Only two more days to enter the Goodreads Giveaway for CassaFire and don’t forget to sign up for the Catch Fire! Blog Party for more chances to win.

I’m happy to announce the ORIGINS blogfest!

The brain child of DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude, I’m proud to be a co-sponsor along with Katie Mills aka Creepy Query Girl and Matthew MacNish at The QQQE.

On Monday, February 13th, post your own origin story. Tell us all where your writing dreams began. It could be anything from how you started making up stories as a child, or writing for the school newspaper, or even what prompted you to start a blog. How about stories about the first time somebody took an interest in your writing, or maybe the singular moment when you first started calling yourself a writer. It all started somewhere and we want you to tell us your own unique beginnings.

Sign up below!

And now, the answers to the Pop Culture Trivia, with a couple new ones for you…

Quote – name the movie: “Three weeks, twenty papers, that’s two dollars.” Better Off Dead
What now famous actor was killed in his bed in A Nightmare on Elm Street? (1984) Johnny Depp
What actress appeared in Less Than Zero, Twister, and The Lost Boys? Jami Gertz
In True Romance, who plays Christian Slater’s vision of Elvis? Val Kilmer
Quote – name the movie: “You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?” Pulp Fiction

What famous guitarist for Ozzy was killed March 1982? Randy Rhodes
Where did the band White Zombie get its name? From a 1932 movie called White Zombie
Milton Berle was in two of Ratt’s music videos – what was the connection? The band’s manager was Berle’s Nephew
What album spent a record-setting 778 weeks on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart? Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
Who was the hot blonde in the video for the Grammy winning song, Rosanna, by Toto? Cynthia Rhodes

Before it was a hit series, The Simpsons debuted as a short skit on what FOX show? The Tracy Ulman Show
Which actress replaced Shelly Long when she left Cheers? Kirstie Alley
What award-winning two hour show parodied other movies from 1988 to 1999? Mystery Science Theater 3000
Director Michael Mann produced what TV series, later directing the film version? Miami Vice
What actor was on Saturday Night Live, hosted two TV shows, Monday Night Football, and even hosted a game show? Dennis Miller

Bonus Game question:
What is the best-selling game console ever? Playstation 2

How’d you do? Want a couple more? Guess these movie quotes:

“The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

“I call it blood, detective. I suppose you’ll write it up as ‘graffiti.’”

“Anything else that’ll keep this elevator from falling?” “Yeah. The basement.” 

Know any of those answers? Signing up for the blogfest? Know any other events around the blogging world? Still waiting for me to explain ‘progressive rock?’

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pop Culture Gone Wild!

Thought we’d do something to kick-start those brain cells.

It’s time for some pop culture trivia!

Come on – it will be fun. Bet you know at least one answer. Everything focuses on the 80’s and 90’s.

Speaking of 80’s, Nicki Elson is hosting a blogfest on February 10 – I’ll Tumble 4 Ya – name your 80’s crush. (And I’ll tell you right now, it was NOT the Culture Club!!!!)

And we are looking for guest posts from past and coming participants over at the A to Z Challenge blog. Contact Lee or any of the co-hosts if you are interested.

Now, on to the trivia!


Quote – name the movie: “Three weeks, twenty papers, that’s two dollars.”

What now famous actor was killed in his bed in A Nightmare on Elm Street? (1984)

What actress appeared in Less Than Zero, Twister, and The Lost Boys?

In True Romance, who plays Christian Slater’s vision of Elvis?

Quote – name the movie: “You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?”


What famous guitarist for Ozzy was killed March 1982?

Where did the band White Zombie get its name?

Milton Berle was in two of Ratt’s music videos – what was the connection?

What album spent a record-setting 778 weeks on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart?

Who was the hot blonde in the video for the Grammy winning song, Rosanna, by Toto?


Before it was a hit series, The Simpsons debuted as a short skit on what FOX show?

Which actress replaced Shelly Long when she left Cheers?

What award-winning two hour show parodied other movies from 1988 to 1999?

Director Michael Mann produced what TV series? (He later directed the film version.)

What actor was on Saturday Night Live, hosted two TV shows, did Monday Night Football, and even hosted a game show?

Bonus Game question!

What is the best-selling game console ever?

Give me your best answers! Winner gets the right to strut his or her pop culture geekness for a week. Runner up gets… a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Naked Ninja and Other Random Facts

I wonder what that title will do to search engines?

Let’s start with some interesting random rumors and facts.

NiNoCon, an online writer’s conference, is being hosted by Dojo Ninja Master herself, Ali Cross. The conference is scheduled for Saturday, February 4, so hop on over to Ali’s site for the details.

This week, Stephen Tremp unveiled the cover for his next book, Opening. Looks awesome, Stephen!

The iPad 3 does not have an official release date yet, but the rumors are it will be sometime in February. Will I be buying an iPad 3? Heck yes! And I’ll probably get the iPad 4 when it comes out as well. (Rumored for October.) Pretty soon I’ll have an iPad for every room in the house.

Also rumored coming out soon is Diablo III – finally! Diablo II came out in 2000. The wait between Starcraft and Starcraft II was ten years – the wait for Diablo III is going on twelve years now. Come on, people! I’m dying here.

They are working on a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Yes, you read that correctly. Pirates of the Caribbean: We Want Another Billion Dollars.

Most of you probably heard about the Bronco’s miracle win over the Steelers this past weekend. Here’s something you may not have heard though. Tim Tebow used to wear John 3:16 on his person when he played for the Gators. Now, I don’t think God really cares either way about football. But Sunday night, Tebow threw for 316 yards, averaging 31.6 yards per pass, and the viewer index for the end of that game was 31.6%. Pretty wild, huh?

Now for some naked Ninja. Not really, though. I’d scare myself!

Earlier this week, Elana Johnson asked how everyone was doing with their timelines. It suddenly dawned on me that my timeline ended October of 2010. My goal was to see CassaStar published and that was it. Now I have a second book coming out soon and I’m working on a third. How the heck did that happen??? I’m so not ready for all of this…

Many people have commented that I sound really young. Fooled you – I wish! I’ve still a little ways to go, but the next big milestone in my life is the big five-zero. Getting old sucks…

I look at the list of those who’ve signed up for my Catch Fire! Blog Party and I’m just in awe. I don’t even recognize some of the names! It won’t be on the same scope as Talli’s launch party, but hopefully enough people will participate to make a difference. (And if you want to sign up, go HERE for details – the party includes a giveaway of five copies of CassaFire.)

And finally, do you ever stop and wonder what would’ve happened had you never started writing? Or never started blogging? I would’ve missed a whole world of amazing friends who have changed my life.

What would you have missed?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Best of the Best and the Rest

We’ll start with the rest!

Thanks to everyone who visited my two guest posts this week. Sorry if I shocked anyone with my blogging hours. That’s what it takes to keep up with my blogger buddies. You guys are awesome – how could I not keep up?

I’ll be co-hosting another blogfest – details next week. And yes, I will host one of my own soon! It’s been ages since the Worst Movies Ever Blogfest and I have something really cool planned for later this spring.

The trailer for CassaFire went live at You Gotta Read Videos on Tuesday – voting opens later this month. I’ll keep you posted.

Special thanks to Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out for his review of CassaFire on Monday. I’ll take the 4.99999 out of 5.0, Lee – thanks!

And we have a special video announcement at the A to Z Challenge blog today.

Now on to the best!

Instead of just a “Best of 2011” list, which everyone else has already put together, thought I’d do my favorites, some honorable mentions, and a look ahead to this year.

Favorite movies – where else did you think I’d begin?

Super 8
Fast Five
Captain America (I know you love that, Melissa!)
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II
Source Code
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

Honorable mention goes to Drive and Hanna – not favorites, but two excellent films.

Favorite albums – all rock/progressive rock, which should come as no surprise!

In Flames – Sounds of a Playground Fading
Dream Theater – Dramatic Turn of Events
Mastodon – The Hunter
3 – The Ghost You Gave to Me
Serenity – Death and Legacy

Favorite Games – because I am a computer game junkie.

Orcs Must Die
(I lead a double life – Orcs during the day on my laptop, Skyrim at night on my Xbox!)

Favorite books – and I so dig reading books on my iPad!

Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman

Honorable mentions – Karen Walker’s Following the Whispers (never read a memoir before and hers was just amazing) and Rusty Webb’s unpublished novel (don’t stop until you find a publisher, dude!)

And since this post is growing long, I’ll just give you the movies I most want to see this year –

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson can do no wrong! Yes, I will totally geek out at the end of the year for this one.)
Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan can do no wrong either.)
The Avengers (This will be just EPIC!)
The Cabin in the Woods (Joss Whedon rocks.)
Prometheus (High hopes for another Aliens ride.)
Underworld: Awakening (Favorite vampire/werewolf series. And of course, KATE!)
John Carter (Please don’t screw this up, Disney.)

Now, you tell me – what was your favorite movie/album/game/book in 2011? What movie do you most want to see this year? Curious about the upcoming blogfests? Still trying to figure out what ‘progressive rock’ means?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ninja News Overload! And a Humble Thanks.

Overload definitely describes last week. You guys are awesome!

Today I have the honor of a guest post at Lucy’s site, Moonlight Gleam. She is a real sweet person, bubbling with energy. If you can, please pay her a visit.You even get to hear from Byron!

Want some real Ninja secrets? Want to know how many hours I devote to blogging? If you missed my short interview at Laura B. Writer’s SITE on Saturday, then you need to check it out.

Tuesday the video for CassaFire will be posted at You Gotta Read Videos. This site pits twenty videos against one another in competition. I’ll let you know when voting opens. I’ll try not to grovel, but no promises…

Someone told me on Friday I needed to move this higher (it’s at the bottom of my blog) so I thought I’d just post it here. My publisher is giving away five copies of CassaFire on Goodreads…

Goodreads Book Giveaway

CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh


by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Giveaway ends January 20, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Yes, this Ninja really is everywhere…

Now on to the news!

Cassie Mae at Reading, Writing, and Lovin’ It! is hosting “Is it Getting Hot in Here? Blogfest” on Valentine’s Day. If you’re feeling hot and bothered, this might be for you!.

First edition of the Vine Leaves Literary Journal went live on Friday! Jessica Bell has put SO much work into this project, so check it out.

Karen at Coming Down the Mountain kicks off the Big Blog Tour for Celery Tree today! She has worked on this project for a year now and is so excited!

Cate Masters began a new site called TBR, “Meet the authors who’ll make your list grow.”

I was nominated for a Top Writing Blogs Award from eCollege Finder, an education resource representing accredited online institutions. Really! Must have me confused with another Alex…

Sean McLachlan at Civil War Horror had a new book, “The Night the Nazis Came to Dinner, and Other Dark Tales," and it’s priced at 99 cents.

And it’s time for the Amazon Novel Breakthrough Award contest! Head on over to Michael’s site, In Time, for full details.
Finally, I’d like to offer a most humble thank you. Last week was utterly amazing and it was all because of you guys. For these wonderful things, I give my thanks:

* For your response to last Monday’s post. (I worried about that one.)
* For helping all four of my blogger buddies reach a thousand followers.
* For your incredible posts for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. There were some really heartfelt posts and many of you rallied to offer encouragement. I think I managed to visit everyone on the list, but if I missed you, please forgive me.
* For your appreciate of the IWSG. I started it for YOU.
* For your enthusiasm for the A to Z Challenge. It really is an amazing event.
* For the sheer amount of comments you made! I’m still blown away…
* For the kind words, encouragement, and friendship

For all of that, this Ninja says thank you. I am here to serve. And sometimes amuse!

Don’t forget to visit Moonlight Gleam today and Laura B. Writer if you missed Saturday’s post.

Whew! Ready for a blogfest? Participating in the Amazon Novel Breakthrough Award contest? How about the A to Z Challenge? Feeling thankful as well? Are you exhausted just from reading all of this?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Awesome Stuff and the Big Announcement!

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!There were some awesome posts, including this funny one from Mark and a touching and inspirational one from Youngblood. I’ve tried to visit as many as possible and I’ve also cleaned up the list a bit, eliminating those who aren’t participating.

I also had a very funny surprise visual review of CassaStar from Jesse at Not Worth Mentioning. Thanks dude, it was hilarious!

Saturday, January 7, I have a guest post with Laura B. Writer. She is a marketing consultant who critiques writer/author blogs during the week and conducts interviews on the weekends. So stop by and say hey on Saturday!

But today’s main event it the April 2012 A to Z Challenge!

First – what is the Challenge?

This amazing month long blogfest was created by Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. If you subtract Sundays from April, you then have 26 days--one day for each letter of the alphabet. (This year April 1 is on a Sunday, so we will start on that day.) Using this premise, you start beginning April 1 with a topic themed on the letter A, then on April 2 another topic with the letter B, and so on until you finish on April 30 with the letter Z. This will be the third annual A to Z Challenge!

The purpose of the Challenge is to blog almost daily following the alphabet – and to make friends. Yes, many gain blog followers, but as those who’ve participated in the past will tell you, the real treasure lies in making new friends.

I was a last-minute entry to the first A to Z Challenge. I think Lee is still laughing at the comment I made when I decided to do it. There were about a hundred of us and I was randomly selecting entertainment stuff that began with the corresponding letter. (For Q, I posted about Q-Bert and the movie "Q" – lame!) But I made some great friends in the process, including the wonderful Yvonne Lewis and Ella.

Last year, Lee enlisted the help of several co-hosts and I was honored to be among those bloggers. Were we blown away when almost thirteen hundred participants signed up! (And for those of you who were overwhelmed last year, we have a plan for this year.) I had a theme this time and featured two blogger buddies each day whose blogs corresponded with the letter. It was an awesome month and I made a ton of new friends.

Now we are gearing up for the April 2012 A to Z Challenge and signups begin January 30. But today’s big announcement is the introduction of this year’s hosts:

Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs
Jenny Pearson at Pearson Report
Matthew McNish at The QQQE
Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie
Tina Downey at Life is Good
DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude
Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse
Elizabeth Mueller
Damyanti Biswas at AmlokiBlogs
Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small

We are armed and ready!

To keep up with other announcement regarding the Challenge, please follow the A to Z Challenge Blog.

This is one of the most amazing challenge you will undertake and one of the most rewarding – join us!

Are you planning to participate? Were you a part of last year’s event? Did you make some new friends? What awesome things happened to you as a result of the Challenge? This Ninja would like to know…
And if you have a second, scroll to the bottom of my blog - I completely forgot my publisher was doing this!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by Monday for my "You Can't Reach a Thousand Followers by Being a Jerk" post and followed my four blogger buddies! I’m happy to report that Matthew and Jesse both went over a thousand and Roland and Nicole are REALLY close! (And you guys boggled my mind with a record-setting two hundred plus comments – whoa!)

I've also been updating my Awesome Authors page. If you are one of my regular blogger buddies and you have a book out NOW, please make sure I've included it in the list.

And I’ll announce the winner of my giveaway! But first, today's insecurity…

Eventually, every author gets zapped. Doesn’t matter how good or bad your book, eventually you’ll have to face negative reviews. Nothing erodes away at confidence like a downer review:

“Its average. Nothing remarkable, nothing to write home about. The story is so flat and basic.”

“Totally a rip off of Star Wars.”

“This formulaic space opera aspires to be a bildungsroman for its petulant hero, but it confuses the archetypal with the clichéd.”

Yes, those are real comments and reviews about CassaStar. Enough to give any author a complex, isn’t it?

How do you handle it? Here are a couple things I keep in mind:

A reader who doesn’t write probably doesn’t understand how difficult it is to write a book. We need to give them the best of course, but even crap takes effort.

Maybe they are just negative people who feel it's their duty to complain and point out faults in others.

Writers who don’t have a published book yet haven’t experienced a bad review themselves. They might not understand how much a poor or average review hurts.

Writing is a form of art, and our book won't appeal to everyone.

Maybe it’s not that person’s style of read.

The reviewer doesn’t have a stake in the book.

Maybe that person was having a really bad day.

Perhaps there is just enough constructive criticism from which to learn and make the next book better.

Finally, there are always the really great reviews we can go back and reread:

“…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

Yeah, I think I’ll live!

So, if you're an unpublished writer, be prepared. Less than stellar reviews will happen. Remember, it's just one person's opinion. If you believe in your work and it's the best you can do, then that's all that matters.

Or just remember Bill Murray’s chant from Meatballs: “It just doesn’t matter! It just doesn’t matter!

And now, drum roll please… The winner of a copy of CassaStar, review copy of CassaFire, and other cool stuff is…

Carol Kilgore at Under the Tiki Hut!

Congratulations! Email me your address and I’ll forward it to my publisher.

Thanks to all who entered – the amount of entries blew me away!

What’s your insecurity today? Have you received a negative review? How did you handle it? Did you make a voodoo doll of the reviewer? Someone should sell those - he’d make a fortune!I'll take the bildungsroman one please.

Monday, January 2, 2012

You Can't Reach 1000 Followers by Being a Jerk

Happy New Year and I have a special feature today!

I know The Social Network told us we can't reach a million friends without making a few enemies. While that may be true, in the blogging world, you won't reach thousand followers by being a jerk.

All right, what do you need to be then?

You need to be an encourager. You need to congratulate those who are succeeding and support those who are struggling.

You need to give back to the community. You cannot take without giving.

You must be positive. No one wants to be around someone who is negative.

You must be consistent. You cannot be sweet and endearing in one forum while being rude elsewhere. When things don't go your way, you must maintain an even temperament.

You must be genuine. Your reasons for blogging cannot be self-serving. You are here because you genuinely want to connect with others. You are not here just to promote your product, book, site, or service.

You respect others and do not steal their joy. You don't bash another’s work, beliefs, or efforts.

You are humble. You realize you did not get here by yourself, but through the support and belief of others, and by grace.

You speak ill of no one. You understand karma and good will towards men.

You have earned the admiration of many. You understand that with much power comes much responsibility. And you are mature and wise enough to act appropriately.

And why am I telling you all of this? Because four of my blogging buddies are about to hit that milestone, and each more than qualifies:

Matthew at the QQQE
Matthew is the epitome of giving back. His site is dedicated to helping others improve their query letters. Matthew also participates in and creates blogfests designed to help others. Even on his down days, Matthew is still uplifting and genuine. He sees the bigger picture, which includes his impact on the future of many writers. Matthew does not take his responsibility lightly he is a true friend to many.

Copyboy at Not Worth Mentioning
His real name is Jesse, and his site is not for the faint of heart. There is some crude humor and no sacred cows. Or urinals. Or bizarre Amazon products. However, his comments are always positive, genuine, and thoughtful. Jesse really does care about his fellow bloggers, and it shows. He even designed a site called Bloggerdise that links products, authors, and bloggers together. Don't let his edgy humor fool you – Jesse has a heart of gold.

Nicole at Where Fantasy and Love Takes Flight
This fantasy author is about his down to earth as you can get. She has the wisdom of maturity with the sweetness of innocence wrapped in one package. Nicole is always sharing and giving to others. Right now she even has a Christmas Critique Giveaway, something she generously offers every year. Everything about her reflects peace, stability, and a place of refuge.

Roland at Writing in the Crosshairs
Roland is a writer who resides on a level far deeper than most of us will ever reach. He could easily be one of those authors who is haughty and aloof. Instead, every post is a gift of inspiration. He strives to give what he has learned to others. He is currently giving away all profit from the sale of his books to the Salvation Army, an organization that helped him when he was a child. Roland possesses a truly giving spirit.

These four friends of mine are amazing. They are all so close to a thousand followers, they can taste it. If you do not follow these bloggers, I’d highly recommend you get to know them. You just might learn some things about being a genuine person.

Do you follow these bloggers? Do you know anyone else who fits this description? Who? Tell the world – and be sure to tell them.

(And remember Wednesday is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group posting and the announcement of my giveaway winner.)