Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CassaFire Tour Day Three, News, Facts, and Music Trivia

WOW! Just wow! You guys were so awesome yesterday with all of the Catch Fire! posts. I think I got around to everyone but let me know if I missed you. I think I set a record for blogs visited yesterday. But I was truly humbled and honored by all of the support and encouragement. You don’t realize just how special it was to see CassaFire featured everywhere. And the comments were just incredible. Really, I'm just Alex! Just one lone Ninja doing his best. Thank you! Special thanks to Julie and Rek for their touching posts.

Today’s stop is with Isis Rushdan.

I met Isis last year and she burst onto the scene with a bang. I’ve never seen anyone gain a loyal following as quickly as Isis. She’s had a lot to deal with the past two months but she’s ready to host the Ninja today. So please stop by and say hey to Isis!

Don’t forget that everyone who comments here on my blog over the next two weeks will be entered to win this cool prize package from my publisher:

Ninja News

Special thanks again to Edi’s Book Lighthouse for hosting me on my release day. I’m glad everyone enjoyed the banter between me and my characters.

Stephanie at Scribbler to Scribe posted an excellent set of guidelines for requesting book reviews.

Randy at Not The Baseball Pitcher posted a wonderful review of CassaFire.

EJ Wesley reviewed my book trailer. Which I had nothing to do with, but it’s still awesome he reviewed it.

And since Google Friends Connect is about to vanish for some of you, I’d like to recommend Linky Followers as another option. I already have it in my sidebar.

Random Ninja Fact

I look really awful in hats!

Trivia Time – Music

Going old school! (Because I pulled out a really old music trivia game for these questions.)

1 – Name the first AC/DC album to feature singer Brian Johnson.

2 – Where was Cheap Trick’s live album recorded? (Theater and country)

3 – In what movie did Black Sabbath’s The Mob Rules appear in 1981?

4 – Who writes most of Rush’s lyrics?

Any other awesome news? Know the answers to those trivia questions? Did anyone else see the freaky, fiery crash at the Daytona 500 Monday night? Still wondering if I sleep…?

Don’t forget to go visit Isis Rushdan!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CassaFire’s Release Day and Second Tour Stop!

CassaFire is officially available today!!!! Let the Catch Fire party begin.

I never thought I’d see the release of one book, let alone TWO. A big thanks to those of you who are participating in the Catch Fire! Blog Party. You guys are awesome. (And the five winners of a copy of CassaFire are listed below.)

Today’s tour stop is Edi’s Book Lighthouse!

I am very honored that Edi would host me on my release day. I found his blog a few months before CassaStar’s release and he gave my first book a positive and honest review. We’ve continued to visit each other’s blogs, and I consider him a special blogger buddy and supporter. Edi, I really appreciate you!

He has a very special party going on all day at his blog, including a giveaway of CassaFire and a most unusual interview – Byron, Athee, and Mevine interviewed ME. The results are amusing, so be sure to visit Edi’s site.

Don’t forget that everyone who comments here on my blog over the next two weeks will be entered to win this cool prize package from my publisher:

Today is the Catch Fire Blog Party, celebrating the release of CassaFire! The goal is to help CassaFire “catch fire” on the best seller charts and achieve the success of the first book, CassaStar.

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

“This sequel to Cavanaugh's first novel, CassaStar, delivers on the promise of its predecessor, combining military action sequences and political intrigue with strong, memorable characters. Reminiscent of the action-driven stories of Robert A. Heinlein's early fiction…” - Library Journal

Available today!
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats
Available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Amazon Kindle

Trivia Answers
1 – Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell appeared in what 1989 action film? Tango and Cash
2 – Marlon Brando won an Oscar for his performance in what film? On the Waterfront and The Godfather
3 – What was the password used to break into the government’s computer system in 1983’s WarGames? Joshua
4 – Movie quote – name the film: “If you build it, he will come.” Field of Dreams

Catch Fire! Blog Party giveaway winners:
Charity Bradford
Stephen Tremp
EJ Wesley
Suze at Analog Breakfast
Chuck at Apocalypse Now

Congratulations and thanks for making today awesome!

News, random facts, and trivia will continue tomorrow. Remember to leave a comment to be entered for the prize package.

And a BIG thank you to everyone who has supported me these past two years and to all who pushed me to write a sequel. This Ninja is humbled and eternally grateful for your encouragement! Now, go visit Edi’s Book Lighthouse!

Monday, February 27, 2012

CassaFire Tour Day One, News, Trivia, and Contest

Day one of the party and tour – and today’s tour host is the lovely Ciara Knight!

I began following Ciara last summer, and the day after I found her blog, she began her “Did I Notice Your Book” series. Much to my amazement, her first book selection was CassaStar. Ciara is also an author with two amazing books to her name. She’s an awesome and special friend, so I hope you take the time to visit her.

Don’t forget that everyone who comments here on my blog over the next two weeks will be entered to win this cool prize package from my publisher:

Ninja News

Roland Yeomans, an amazing writer and author, posted a most incredible story involving me with a hangover and kidnapped by Mark Twain. Thank you, Roland for the incredible honor of appearing in one of your stories!

Someone in my BBTCafe Yahoo group posted this site for Twitter - WhoUnfollowedMe. Wonder who’s following or not following you? You’ll be amazed how many followed to get you to return the follow and then immediately unfollowed.

The Golden Eagle is hosting her Evil Genius Blogfest today.

We’re still hoping for a thousand A to Z Challenge participants by March 1. Details and sign up HERE

I only cared about one category last night - and thankfully, Rango did win Best Animated Film at the Oscars!

Random Ninja Fact

I hate to fly!

Trivia Time – Movies

1 – Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell appeared in what 1989 action film?

2 – Marlon Brando won an Oscar for his performance in what film?

3 – What was the password used to break into the government’s computer system in 1983’s WarGames?

4 – Movie quote – name the film: “If you build it, he will come.”

Answers tomorrow!

Let me know your best guesses. Even if you don’t know, comment for a chance to win the CassaFire prize package. Feel free to comment on last night's Oscars as well. And then go visit Ciara Knight!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Final Countdown...

And no, I don’t mean that crappy 80’s song by Europe! The 80’s science fiction movie would be all right though.
Actually, it’s more like the countdown to Alex’s meltdown…

But I have a really cool surprise for you guys!!!

First, thanks to everyone who visited Ray Gun Revival for my interview this week. It didn’t go up until almost noon, so check it out if you missed it. Many thanks to author Bryan Thomas Schmidt for interviewing me and reviewing CassaFire!

Next, HUGE thanks to Jeremy at Retro-Zombie for the cool CassaFire banners! One at the top and there’s another at the bottom of my blog. If you need any stylish artwork, Jeremy is your dude. You can also win a Zombie Pencil Holder from Jeremy! Visit his SITE for details.

Lee has put out the call – a thousand participants signed up for the A to Z Challenge by March 1! If you haven’t signed up yet, you do NOT want to miss the biggest blog event of the year. Details and sign up HERE

Don’t forget February 28 is the Catch Fire! Blog Party! I sent out information earlier this week, so if you signed up but didn’t receive an email, let me know. There’s still time to sign up for a chance to win one of five copies of CassaFire:

Now, the surprise!

Next week kicks off my two-week/ten stops blog tour for CassaFire. I have some awesome guest stops planned, some with giveaways as well. But the party won’t go dark here! During those ten days, in addition to telling you where to find the Ninja that day, there will be:

Daily Ninja News
Pop Culture Trivia
Random Ninja Facts


For everyone who comments here during my two-week tour, you will be entered to win this cool prize package from my publisher:

Is that not awesome? I want a CassaFire tote bag and mug! Not that I drink coffee. Or tea. But I do like hot chocolate.

So there you have it! Ready for two weeks of Ninja partying? Ready to test your pop culture knowledge? Ready to place bets as to whether I sleep or not next week? Ready to watch the meltdown…? (Cleanup on aisle three!) 

*And as a side note, I'm sick! I get sick once every five years and today I came home feeling like crap. Was supposed to do a book festival on Saturday, but doubt that will happen now. Better feel goo by Tuesday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ninja News, March Movies, and an Interview

I was honored to do an interview with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, award-winning author of The Worker Prince. Bryan runs his own blog here, but my interview today is at Ray Gun Revival. He also read and reviewed CassaFire, giving it four stars. Thank you, Bryan!

For those of you who need help turning off word verification, J A Bennett posted very easy directions.

Laura Josephsen’s new book came out – Rising, Book I: Resistance – congratulations, Laura! She’s currently doing a blog tour so check her site for details.

Jeremy Bates has a book coming out in May and his publisher has twenty copies up for grabs at Goodreads. Congratulations on White Lies, Jeremy!

And now, here are your March movies! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

2 –

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Animation | Family | Fantasy
A 12-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.
Directors: Chris Renaud | Kyle Balda
Stars: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms
They veered away from the original story – why does that not surprise me?

9 –

John Carter
Action | Adventure | Fantasy | Sci-Fi
Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter a princess who is in desperate need of a savior.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Bryan Cranston
Please don’t let Disney mess it up…

19 –
DVD – Tintin

20 –
DVD – The Muppets

23 –

The Hunger Games
Action | Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the latest match.
Director: Gary Ross
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks
Not high on my list but I think a few people here are excited about this one…

30 –

Wrath of the Titans
Action | Adventure | Fantasy
Perseus embarks on a treacherous quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus, who has been targeted for capture by his traitorous son, Ares, and his brother, Hades.
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Stars: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Rosamund Pike, Ralph Fiennes
It can’t suck as bad as Clash of the Titans. Can it?

Any of those movies strike your fancy? Still holding out for next month? More excited about The Muppets? Any other exciting news? (Yes, I am well aware of what happens next Tuesday!)

Don’t forget to check out my interview at Ray Gun Revival!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Making Great Connections

I am a guest today over at Lisa’s Flash Fiction. Well, not really me – Byron is the guest. He’s the one being interviewed. So please stop by for his sometimes serious, sometimes snarky answers.

Since I ended my followers series with connections, today I thought I’d give you examples of making good ones. (Because Friday is the big kick-off tour announcement and it’s really damn cool!)

Making great connections…

Through good humor
Being a comedian online shouldn’t mean being rude or offensive. One can be funny with style and manners. No one does this better than Jesse. (Copyboy) Nothing is really sacred on his blog, but his posts are always tongue in cheek – and his comments are positive and supportive. Jesse is an awesome blogger buddy and he searches the Web for those unique items so we don’t have to!

Through effort
Sometimes we don’t relate to someone right away. I read Roland Yeomans' posts often but rarely left comments. His posts were deep, and often I wouldn’t grasp the full meaning in one read. I realized that if I was ever going to make a friend, I had to put forth extra effort – even if it meant reading his posts twenty times! Considering the wisdom I gather every time I visit, I’m now proud to call Roland a friend.

Through time and consistency
I’ve been friends with Arlee Bird Arlee Bird longer than anyone. Through two (soon to be three) A to Z Challenges, numerous blogfests, and many features, he’s been a steady and consistent buddy. We’ve maintained contact through blogging and emails, and I’d trust him with anything. No matter what happens, I know Lee always has my back!

Through love
That’s right – love! And I can think of no better example than Yvonne Lewis. I met her during the first Challenge and she possesses such motherly love. Providing a blurb for her latest book meant the world to me. Yvonne’s beautiful words would be missed; hope she never gives up. She will always be my online ‘mom.’

Through mutual interests and admiration
It’s not difficult to find others who share our interests, but add mutual admiration and it’s awesome. Not everyone relates to my tastes in movies, music, and genre, but Rusty Webb understands. He’s also a sheer genius when it comes to writing a compelling story. (Something he tells me as well but I don’t believe him!) The man with a wicked sense of humor still owes me a beer and I intend to collect one day.

And so many other ways to connect! I have movie buddies like George and Melissa; science fiction writing buddies Jeffrey and M. Pax; joking buddies Robyn and Gail; happy buddies Talli and Nancy; and my greatest supporters Chuck and Edi. I hate to leave anyone out, but my list of special friends is long. Let me just say I thank God for each and every one of you!

How meaningful are your connections? Who encourages you? Who do you admire, respect, and trust? Who has YOUR back?

Don’t forget to visit Flash Fiction! Byron is waiting…

Friday, February 17, 2012

Changes!!! And Followers Part Three

I have the honor of a feature over at TBR today! Run by Cate Masters, “TBR highlights books you haven't yet read but would love to.” Cate features three new authors a week through a series of interviews, so it’s a great place to meet new writers. She’s worked really hard to build up the site, so please visit TBR today. I promise my answers are interesting! Well, maybe just amusing…


I’m sure everyone has noticed the change in word verification. “Prove you’re not a robot.” I’d just like to prove I’m a human being! I’ve never complained about the old word verification, but if you use this, please consider either turning it off or switching to blog owner approval on all comments. I'll buy you a box of Hot Tamales!

And Twitter changed its look as well! I think it’s better, but I won’t know until I can find everything again.

Followers Part Three

I never planned to do a whole series on this, especially as I don’t feel like an expert or anything, but everyone has seemed to enjoy it. Again, this is just one humble Ninja's opinion...

When it comes to followers, it’s not the numbers, it’s the connections that matter.

Easy for you to say, Alex – you have over 1300 followers!

But I wouldn’t have 1300 followers if I hadn’t learned to make connections with some of those followers. Note I said some, because there is no way to connect with all of them. I couldn’t even visit all of them in one week. (I think somewhere around 500 followers you realize you can’t visit everyone anymore.)

You can’t gain followers just by following a bunch of blogs. Friendship is a two-way street. Find those with whom you share a common interest and start to build a friendship by commenting. Be genuine, encouraging, and show you really care.

Your blog needs to be an inviting place as well. Others need to be able to relate to you on some level. It can be fun or informative. (Or both!) And your blog posts shouldn’t just be statements – they should encourage others to join in the conversation. Plus you need to interact with your commenters.

You gain followers by supporting and championing others. You gain followers by being a friend and a positive influence in the lives of others.

And if you want even more, visit my post from last month You Can’t Reach 1000 Followers by Being a Jerk.

Not everyone will become a friend. That’s all right though! Sometimes we just don’t click with someone. Maybe they are really negative or moody. Maybe they like to rant about others. Who knows! But if you don’t connect, move on to the next blogger.

And just to show how important connections are, here’s a comment from Wednesday that made me smile:
TL Conway said... I had strong first impressions of popular bloggers (yes, including yourself, truth be told!). Not necessarily bad impressions, just beliefs that you all were too busy to talk to/interact with a small beans blogger like me. I'm SUPER glad to say my first impression was completely wrong!
(I'm popular? When the heck did this happen?!?!?!)

I’ve made so many awesome friends here. I admit, I am to the point where I can’t visit every blogger buddy every day. But I do try to keep up with my friends so I don’t miss when something special (or tragic) happens in your lives. You guys matter to me!

Are you making connections? Are there certain bloggers who are special to you? (Couple of mine will get a surprise on Monday!) Ready to kill the new word verification? Or are you still twitching from Killswitch Engage’s music…?

Don’t forget to check out TBR!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ninja News and First Impressions

Ninja News 

First, a big thank you to everyone who participated in the Origins Blogfest! I’m still making the rounds, but there were some incredible stories.

Amy Lunderman has a new book release – Persona! Congratulations, Amy!

Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich came out yesterday! Find Cherie at her blog, and Defying Gravity on Goodreads and on Amazon. Congratulations, Cherie!

Has anyone heard about the Knicks’ point guard, Jeremy Lin? This kid’s story is amazing. He graduated from Harvard and went to the Warriors for one year. He ended up with the Knicks and they were considering dropping him. Then a player injury sent Lin onto the court, and he scored 25 points in a win over the Nets. Lin is the first player EVER to score more than 20 points in his first five starts. And he's scored more points in the first five games than ANY other player! He is also a born-again Christian and is being touted as the NBA’s Tim Tebow. (His Twitter profile says to know Him is to want to know Him more.) Lin is definitely one to watch!

First Impressions

The first time we see or hear something new, we instantly form an impression. But is that first impression always accurate? Or the truth? Do we go far enough to find out?

Let me give you an example. Watch just the first fifteen seconds of this video. (It takes ten seconds for the song to begin, and for some of you, that additional five seconds will be enough!)

The official trailer is HERE - sorry, it didn’t allow embedding.

Now some of you probably thought that was scary. Admit it!

But the truth about that song? It’s called Rose Of Sharyn by Killswitch Engage. The band is secular, but they are all born-again Christians, and the lyrics of their songs reflect this despite the fact they sing metal. Jesus is often referred to as the “Rose of Sharon” and the lyrics are someone singing to Jesus:

What would I give (What would I give), to behold
The smile, the face of love?
You never left me (You Never Left Me)
The rising sun
Will always speak your name

It won't be long, we'll meet again
Your memory is never passing
It won't be long, we'll meet again
My love for you is everlasting.

I mourn for those who never knew you…

The song takes on a new meaning now, doesn’t it? You still might not like it, but your impression has probably changed now.

Now think about things you’ve seen and people you’ve met that your first impression eventually changed. And all because you took the time to go a little deeper…

Anyone care to share a first impression that changed? Maybe a movie? A book? A person? Have you been following Jeremy Lin? Ready to go jam some Killswitch Engage? I know I am!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest, Movie Review, & Valentine's Day

It’s time for the Origins Blogfest! I am honored to host this blogfest with DL Hammons, Matthew McNish, and Katie Mills. We are to describe the origins of our writing – where did it all begin? The sign up list is below if you care to join the fun. Be sure to visit others participating in the blogfest. That’s why we do blogfests!

Where did it all begin?

In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth…

Oh wait, too far back! I’m supposed to start with the origins of my writing.

I’m sure by now you’ve read some really amazing origin stories of writers inspired by deep and meaningful events in their lives and by a passion to write and express themselves.

My inspiration’s not so deep.

I watched a ton of TV and movies - Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Buck Rogers… I also read a lot of superhero comics and books by Alan Dean Foster and Terry Brooks. I played D&D. I’m sure some Saturday morning cartoons factored into the equation as well.

I began writing because some of the adventures I’d imagined weren’t available in any of these formats. I penned a few short stories, jotted down some ideas, and even wrote a partial, crappy novel. It wasn’t really a passion, just a way I could channel my imagination. (And avoid boring stuff like homework.)

Writing faded before college though. It was never my goal to become a writer or an author so I forgot about it. It wasn’t until decades later I picked up that crappy novel. The story sucked but the characters were strong, so I decided to rewrite my tale of two brothers in a war.

And the rest is history!

Now, aren’t you all inspired?

Be sure to visit others participating today!

Movie Review

Finally saw it this past weekend, and it was no more than what previews promised. It was impressive for the size of budget (read: tiny!) and the characters were realistic. I think we can expect more good things from this director, as he made the camera angles fresh. (Although I do hope it’s the last found footage movie for a while.) It was good and captivated me while watching it, but the film wasn’t earth shattering nor did it stick with me for long.

And guys – don’t forget Valentine’s Day on Tuesday! You may not be as fortunate as me (I have a wife who says don’t get me anything and she means it) so don’t mess up and forget. Ladies, may there be chocolate or wine involved. Or if you’re Talli, both!

What’ the origins of your writing? Or your passion if it’s movies or something else? Have you seen Chronicle? Did you remember Valentine’s Day? If you vanish, we’ll know you didn’t…

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ninja News, Tumble Blogfest, and Followers Part Two

Did you guys miss me this week? Sorry, I unplugged for a while. Needed a break and I wanted to complete my guest posts for my blog tour.

Ninja News

The video contest for the A to Z Challenge continues! Be sure you check the A to Z Blog every day for tips and news.And TODAY I have tips on selecting a theme for your posts!

Lynn Rush revealed the cover art for her upcoming release, Awaited. You can find it here on Goodreads. Looks awesome, Lynn!

Don’t forget the Origins Blgofest is next Monday! Sign up HERE

Sean McLachlan’s book, A Fine Likeness, is on sale at Amazon for $2.99 through Valentine’s Day.

I’ll Tumble 4 Ya Blogfest

Hosted by Nicki Elson, Suze, and M. Pax.

Who was your 80’s celebrity crush?

Back in the mid 80’s, when MTV still played music videos (the nerve!), several videos for a band called Heart caught my eye for one reason, and one reason only:

Nancy Wilson!

She was smokin’ hot, played the guitar, and had a beautiful smile.

And the sexy outfits they put her in didn’t hurt either…

Who was YOUR 80’s crush?

Followers Part Two

Since my post on handling followers was so popular, thought I’d continue with how to get followers. Again, instead of a ‘how to,’ this is just what I’ve found works the best. There will probably be a part three as this stuff is the mechanics.

Follow other bloggers. (60-80% will return the follow. Really helps if you go back and leave a comment as well! However, don’t follow a bunch of blogs just trying to get people to follow you back – that’s shallow and lame.)
I gained between five and twenty new followers a week this way.

Participate in platform building groups.
I gained quite a few followers through the BBT group two years ago, and many of us are now part of the BBTCafe Yahoo Group.
I also participated in Rachel’s campaign last fall. I followed everyone in my genre, although I think only about fifteen followed me back.

Do a guest post on another blog
Depending on the size of the blog, this has resulted in five to fifteen new followers.

Participate in blogfests
I’ve joined them and hosted several of my own. (The latter gains a few more followers.) Usually I’ll get between ten and thirty new followers this way.

Be selected a Blog of Note
Yeah, over a hundred new followers from that honor!

Participate in challenges
Namely the A to Z Challenge! So many new blogs to explore – it really is the most effective way to gain followers. Don’t believe me? Know how many I gained last year? Over 350! (Which is nothing compared to Lee, who gained well over 600.)

But all of these followers won’t mean anything if you don’t connect, interact, and build a friendship.

Bet you can guess what part three is all about!

And yes, I just realized I'm over 1300 followers now. Whoa...

Any other news? Do you have an 80’s crush? Know of other ways to gain followers? Seeing a good movie this weekend? Can I come?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Digging the Low-Budget Films!

Today I am letting author Stephen Tremp take over and trash my blog with some low-budget movies. But don't worry - I invaded HIS blog today with an old, neurotic post of mine. So jump on over when you've finished here.

Hi everyone, and welcome to the second stop of my Grand OPENING Tour! And an enormous thanks you to Captain Ninja Alex for having me here today. Thanks Alex!

During a low point while writing OPENING, I took a break to research low budget films that made it big, some even receiving iconic, cult figure status. This was just the diversion I needed to give me back my vision and my hope and inspired me to do something really really big. It helped get me on track and finish my book.

Hence, my Low Budget Films That Made It Big List. Sorry, but no Sharktopus. (Damn! - Alex)

American Graffiti (1973) Budget: $777,000 (estimated) Gross: $115,000,000 (USA) An almost 9,000% return on investment must have made Universal Pictures extremely pleased, especially since they only took on the project after it was turned down by 20th Century Fox, United Artists, MGM, Columbia Pictures, and Paramount Pictures.


Clerks (1994) Budget: $777,000 (estimated) Gross: $115,000,000 (USA) This independent film reached out to a generation of slackers, spotlighting two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof. I've worked at a 7-11 in a previous life and can relate.

Fargo (1996) Budget: $7,000,000 (estimated) Gross: $60,611,975 (Worldwide) Love this show regardless of the most annoying accent in the human language. Ya! I think the wood chipper was nominated for supporting actor.

Halloween (1978) Budget: $320,000 (estimated) Gross: $60,000,000 (Worldwide) Who needs character development? Did you know the original budget was so low the actors wore their own clothes and Jamie Lee Curtis was paid $8,000?

MST 3000 The Movie (1996) It doesn't get any better than this! Born from the Saturday morning cult-classic, Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo are still forced to watch the most hideous of stinker movies. Oh, has anyone seen my interociter?

Reservoir Dogs (1992) Budget: $1,200,000 (estimated) Gross: $2,832,029 (USA) Tarantino helped helped make indie films mainstream with this pop-culture masterpiece. Tarantino made careers for some actors while revitalizing those of others.

Rocky (1996) Budget: $1,100,000 (estimated) Gross: $225,000,000 (Worldwide) My all-time favorite sports movie and still inspires me today. Is there a better theme song to get you up and ready to do something great? I don't think so.

SuperSize Me (2004) Budget: $65,000 Worldwide Gross: $29,500,000 Did we really need a documentary into America's obsessive consumer culture to tell us eating fast food is anything but healthy?

  The Blob (1958) Budget: $248,000 Grossed: $12,000,000 A young jobbing actor named Steve McQueen was tapped for the lead and offered a choice: he could take a $3,000 fee upfront or get 10 percent of the gross box-office. Figuring The Blob would be just another creature feature, he opted for the former. Bummer. The movie grossed an astounding $12m, which would've earned McQueen $1.2m and set him up for life (back in the day).


I hope you had as much fun with this list as I did. Feel free to agree, disagree, or add a movie or two of your own in the comments! And remember, you don't need a huge budget to hit it big!

Stephen Tremp is author of the recently released suspense thriller OPENING, the second book in the BREAKTHROUGH series. You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs for $1.99. OPENING is available for download at: Amazon for $1.99 Smashwords for $1.99

Have you seen those movies? At least one? Come on, Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie is a classic! All right then, YOU name some low-budget winners then! And don't forget to visit Stephen's SITE for a glimpse at me two years ago...

Friday, February 3, 2012

How to Handle Blog Followers

I have the honor of an interview with Anne Gallagher at The Piedmont Writer. Anne is a fantastic author and one of my awesome critique partners. She asked some really interesting questions, so please visit her site today.

Thanks again to all who posted for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group this week. The struggles and triumphs were very moving and you guys showed such great support for one another. Always remember the purpose of the IWSG – to share, encourage, and make new friends. I’d hate to see the integrity of this group damaged by mockery or abuse.

Since I’m often asked how I handle so many followers, I thought it would be a great topic for today. It’s not really a ‘how to’ as much as just how this one lone Ninja gets it done.

If someone follows me, I follow back. (The exception being a spam site or not in English.) Sometimes the icon in the Google Friends Connect doesn’t lead to a blog, so I can’t return the follow. If that person leaves a comment, then I can find him! (Or her, as I seem to be in the minority here. Although I have no objections to being surrounded by women!)

Once I hit two hundred followers, I had to devise a system and started using Google Reader. I created folders for my blogger buddies (regular commenters), specialty sites like movie or book reviewers, and divided the rest among the days of the week. I also created a file called new followers. Those blogs remain there for a few weeks until I see what happens and then they are moved to a permanent folder.

How many blogs are in my blogger buddies folder? See my blogroll to the right? That is maybe two-thirds of them? (And right now I am having issues with the blogroll. Once it hit two hundred, it wouldn’t let me add or remove any more, so I may scrap it this weekend and make several smaller ones.)

So my daily routine is blogger buddies first, then new followers, then specialty blogs, then the day of the week, and then comments from the previous post.

As you can well imagine, it keeps me busy! Yes, there are days I don’t make it through my whole routine. Throw in a blogfest or the IWSG and I’m really challenged.

However, I do try! You guys are really amazing; following me and commenting when there are so many other blogs out there. For that, I owe you my best!

Any questions? How do you handle your followers? And does anyone have a time machine, because I could sure use it!

Don’t forget to visit Anne at The Piedmont Writer.

Finally, I leave you with a very short clip. This the Muppet’s response to Fox News claiming they have a liberal agenda – hilarious!