Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ninja News, Wednesday Movie Quote, and the A to Z Sign-up List is OPEN!!!

I discussed nosh with two hungry pups at The Life of a Novice Writer yesterday. If you missed it, check it out. Those pups like to talk to any author with nosh!

Ninja News!

Thanks to Stephen, Mark, Elise, and CM for hosting the Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest on Monday. So sorry, I still wasn’t able to get around to all of the participants AND all of my blogger buddies the past two days. Epic Ninja fail…

Jamie at Mithril Wisdom and Allison at Geek Banter are hosting the Level Up! Blogfest. “On February 20th, talk about a game you play or used to play; tell us how it works and share your love of the game with the rest of us. It can be any kind of game you like, from World of Warcraft to Hopscotch, from Monopoly to Blackjack and everything else in between. Tell us what you love about that game.”

Kimberly at Art of Infiltration shared twenty-two books she enjoyed reading last year (or wanted to read this year) with her seventh grade class. She said the kids were excited about three books – Possession by Elana Johnson, 18 Things by Jamie Ayers, and CassaStar. Whoa!!! Kimberly, that made my week.

With all of the books being published, I wanted to highlight another published artist. Ella at Ella’s Edge is a poet, photographer, and master craftswoman. If she can envision it, she can make it. Ella has had many of her beautiful pieces featured in magazines, and this past December she had several in Somerset Studio Gallery and Somerset Life. Ella, you are talented beyond words!

Liz Fichera’s latest book, Hooked, is available today. Congratulations, Liz!

Wednesday Movie Quote

Today’s favorite movie quote theme is “Light Fantasy.”

My favorite: (Double today!)

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya, You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

“Have fun storming the castle!”

Both from The Princess Bride.

What is yours?

A to Z Challenge Sign-ups Open!!

Sign-ups open today – but read first before entering your name!!

The A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. We recommend short posts, turn off Word Verification, and visit five blogs (or more) a day beginning with the one after yours on the list.

This year there are categories for those looking for like-minded blogs. Select ONE category code and enter it after your blog’s title/name. The code applies to your blog, not your theme for the Challenge and is purely optional. However, if your blog has adult content, you MUST mark it (AC) or it will be removed from the list. Codes are as follows:

2. BOOKS: (BO)
3. FILM : (FM)
6. CRAFT: (CR)
7. ART: (AR)
8. MUSIC: (MU)
14. GAMING: (GA)
19. HUMOR: (HU)
20. TRAVEL: (TR)

Be sure to grab the badge and display it in your sidebar so we know you are participating and link to the A to Z Blog.

You’re A to Z Hosts are founder Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out, Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Tina Downey at Life is Good, DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0, Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie, Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse, Matthew MacNish at The QQQE, Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small, Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs, Livia Peterson at Leave it to Livia, L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick, and Nicole at The Madlab Post.

This is the fourth Challenge. The very first one changed my blog forever! Are you ready to join us in the greatest blogging event ever?

Enjoy Monday’s blogfest? Joining the game blogfest? Follow the talented Ella? What is your favorite light fantasy movie quote? Joining us this April for the A to Z Challenge? If you have ANY question, please ask. I am a co-host and here to help. And do you have a theme…?

Don’t forget to visit The Life of a Novice Writer!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Liesel Hill and Action Movie Villains, Major Ninja News, A to Z Sign-ups Coming, T-Shirt and CassaStar Winners, and the Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest

The awesome Liesel K. Hill is visiting today as part of her tour for Persistence of Vision. It has a fascinating premise and comes out Tuesday, January 29. Liesel blogs at Musings on Fantasia and she’s here to discuss action movie villains.

Top 5 Ways You Know You’re an Action Movie Villain

A few months ago I saw the amazing film Skyfall. May be the best Bond film I’ve ever seen (not that I’ve seen a lot of the older films). There’s a scene in the film where Bond chases Silva (Javier Bardem’s excellent villain), leaping over heavy machinery, sprinting across rooftops and lots of other Bond-y stuff. Eventually they run through the subway. At that point, Bond loses sight Silver. Until he glances to his left. Silver has left a door open, though which Bond follows. It made me smile. I mean, a guy as smart and determined as Silver just happens to leave a door open behind him? Maybe it’s just the innate idiocy of villains, but it got me thinking about attributes of action movie villains. They actually aren’t that hard to pick out of a crowd.

Top 5 Ways You Know You’re an Action Movie Villain:
1 - You think everything is funny! “I’m winning.” Huh-huh-huh. “People are dying.” Huh-huh-huh. “My arm hurts.” Huh-huh-huh.
2 - Just when it looks like you might win, you do something hair-brained like forgetting to shut the door behind you or not figuring out who the true owner of the Elder wand is. I mean, if you’re going to be villainous, shouldn’t you at least try to pull Cs in problem-solving class?
3 - You believe things that have happened to you in the best are awesome excuses for murder, rape, plunder, and all-around world domination. Let’s face it: everyone’s got a sob story, but most people don’t become douche bags. You, on the other hand…
4 - You’re creepy. No really! Stop for a minute to evaluate your own creep factor. Do you, for example, breathe really loudly (hol-puh, hol-puh), sport a detachable jaw (like Silver), practice a smile that’s insincere and just a bit too wide, or have a habit of licking your fingers and smoothing down your eyebrow hairs? If you are guilty of these or any similar quirks, I hate to break it to you my friend but YOU…are creepy.
5 - You have an overwhelming and inexplicable drive to pit yourself against awesome, heroic guys (or gals). I mean seriously! Anyone who honestly believes they can take on the likes of James Bond and win must have repeated third grade at least twice. Tell me I’m wrong!

So, if you encapsulate one or all of the above traits, you may be ideally suited to the (short and bitter) life of an action movie villain. Support groups held every other Thursday at the WTF Rec Center in New York. For more info, call 1-800-2BIFF-IT.

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Find Liesel and her series on Her Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads

Ninja News

Tuesday I’m appearing at Shelly’s The Life of a Novice Writer. Be sure to stop by as I discuss nosh with two hungry pups.

Rick at The Writer and the White Cat just announced a new magazine that focuses on young adult science fiction, Beyond Centauri. You can get a copy at White Cat Publications.
Rick also blames me for sending him down the science fiction path. Guilty and proud of it!

One of Milo James Fowler’s Captain Quasar stories is featured in the upcoming anthology, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera for a New Age. It features authors such as Mike Resnick and Dean Wesley Smith, and pre-orders and donations will help fund the book.
Milo also posted the perfect definition of space opera and why he enjoys it, and I couldn’t agree more.
Congratulations, Milo!

David Powers King just signed a publishing deal with Cedar Fort Publishing! He and co-author Michael R. Jensen will see the release of Woven, a young adult fantasy, in November of this year.
Congratulations, David! Your life will never be the same…

And as for Friday’s question, yes, it really was like comparing apples to oranges and it’s almost impossible to say which is ‘better.’ Not surprising, the voting was pretty much split anyway.

A to Z Sign up opens Wednesday!

The sign up list will be posted here Wednesday morning, along with a brief description of how the Challenge works. It’s the biggest blogging event of the year and you don’t want to miss it. We also have tips posted at the A to Z Blog.

Ninja Army T-shirt and CassaStar Winners!

Winner of a copy of CassaStar - Yvonne Lewis!

Winner of the Ninja Army t-shirt - Julie Dao!

Congratulations, ladies!!

Thanks again to Jeremy Hawkins for designing the t-shirt. You can purchase Ninja Army and others at NEATORAMA.

Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest

Hosted by Stephen, Mark, Elise, and CM.

So, allow me to re-introduce myself…

I’m Ninja Captain Alex.
Author of Amazon Best Sellers CassaStar and CassaFire (CassaStorm comes out this September)
Founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (which posts every first Wednesday)
Co-host of the A to Z Challenge
Musician and guitar player (I play in a band)
Movie geek and NetFlix junkie
Devoted husband and Christian
Basically I’m just a dude trying to support his friends any way possible

And I may or may not have clones…

Also for my new followers, let me introduce you to Byron - this is the book trailer for CassaFire. Yes, I still think it rocks!

Do you think you’re an action movie villain? Picking up Rick’s new magazine or Milo’s anthology? Ready for Wednesday’s sign A to Z sign-up? (Don’t forget it’s also movie quote day – light fantasy.) Visiting the Netorama shop? And how would you introduce yourself?

And if you’re reading this on Tuesday, stop by The Life of a Novice Writer.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Retro Zombie and a Ninja Army Giveaway, Ninja News, Celebrating the Small Things, and Which is Better…?

Today I have the honor of welcoming one of my very best blogger buddies, Jeremy Hawkins from Retro-Zombie!

Jeremy is a returning A to Z Co-Host, an author, and an amazing artist – he’s responsible for my awesome new header. He’s involved in a lot more things than that though! And not only is he here to tell you about it, Jeremy comes with a cool surprise and a giveaway.

Howlin’ Wolf… Ninja Contest and Me!

Welcome to my nightmare and to the voices I have in my head… thank you to Alex for letting play in his blogger pool.

You all might know me, but do you know what I do with my time… well I am hoping to share the light. You might have been to my Retro-Zombie and or my Horror Directory, but have you been to Howlin’ Wolf Record’s site? Well I will give you the short version it started five years ago, it didn’t really have a purpose until the start of last year. This is where good friend Wall Crumpler [Owner of Howlin’ Wolf] contacted asked if I had plans for this site… so I become the voice for this independent record label. We review films, bands, book/authors, scores/soundtracks and have had some great interviews… really stuff or people I think you should know about.

Last year in December 2012 we had just a hair under 10,000 visitors compared to 2011 which sadly was 300-500, lame…I know. I just get to do what I love to do and that is films and score/soundtrack (do I need to tell you the difference)? So many great people out in the world, I just hope to share a percent… so please visit “The Howlin’ Wolf” and say hello!

So I mentioned a contest you may have noticed a new badge to Alex’s site… well you would see a “NINJA ARMY” [thank you, Elise Fallson] t-shirt. Want one? Be the 10th caller… kidding Alex will choose one of you lucky commenter’s here [if in the US, no problem… not most likely a gift card] to the NEATORAMA’s site. Also look around it’s my store see the great and powerful art/designs I have made.

Any Questions, come on just one?
-Jeremy Hawkins

Jeremy, you the man!

And while we’re giving away a Ninja Army t-shirt here, over at the Howlin’ Wolf Records Blog, we are giving away a copy of CassaStar. Double your chance to win something! (Winners will be announced on Monday.)

Ninja News

Laura at the Daily Dodo scared of heights – but she is jumping out of a plane for charity! She is raising money for Life Works, an organization that works with young people with disabilities. Click HERE to donate. We want to see her jump!

The Bookshelf Muse is celebrating five years, a million hits, and 20,000 copies sold of the Emotional Thesaurus! They are giving away a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 10 ebooks. (And much to my surprise, CassaStar is one of the choices.) To enter, see their SITE.

Robin at Your Daily Dose just brought back her HERE'S TO YOU THURSDAY video dedications – and she was kind enough to dedicate one to me. Thank you, Robin – you rock!

Thanks to everyone who jumped in with a movie quote on Wednesday! This is the official badge if you want to post a quote on your own blog. Every week, I will post the topic for the next week. January 30, it’s “light” fantasy. (Just so you know, LOTR is NOT light fantasy.)

The A to Z Challenge sign ups open next Wednesday! I’ll have a full description of what the Challenge is all about posted as well. Hope you can join us as we rock the blogging world for a fourth time.

Jamie Ayres’ book, 18 Things, is available now! Congratulations, Jamie. And I’ve had fun reading the entries for your 18 Things Blogfest.

Special thanks to Christine Rains for her review of CassaFire this week. Glad you enjoyed it, Christine!

Celebrate the Small Things

“Celebrate the Small Things” is hosted every Friday by VikLit.

Today I am celebrating the fact I learned not one but two new songs this week on my guitar. Actually I had three days to learn and perfect them. Including a solo. No pressure!

I was also informed by my publisher that the cover art for my next book, CassaStorm, would be ready by mid-February. Stoked to see it! I wonder if I should do a cover reveal? What do you guys think – would you sign up to reveal my next book’s cover?

Which is Better…?

And we’ll end with a round of which is better, just for the fun of it.

Which is better?

Star Trek or Star Wars?

And why?

Keep it civil, people! We all want to live long and prosper here. And yes, that should give you a clue as to who I would select, so no flaming.

Any questions for Jeremy? Ready to pick up a Ninja Army or other T-shirt? Excited about the news? Prepared for next Wednesday with your quote and to sign up for the A to Z Challenge? What small thing are you celebrating? And which is better - Star Trek or Star Wars?

Be sure to visit The Howlin’ Wolf - check it out and maybe you'll win a copy of CassaStar!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ninja News, Michael Pierce and Susy Asylum, Jessica Bell and The Book, Movie Trivia Answers, and Favorite Science Fiction Movie Quote

Ninja News

Misha Gericke is hosting a monthly Paying Forward Award with great prizes. Some awesome people nominated – and big thanks to someone for nominating me for Most Encouraging Blogger! Visit her site for the list and then send your selections to her via email. Thanks for hosting this award, Misha!

The Geek Twins had a “Caption This” contest and they chose my suggestion.

Thanks Maurice and Nigel!

Cover Reveal!

Coming Soon - the anticipated sequel to Michael Pierce's PROVEX City.

SUSY Asylum
The Lorne Family Vault, Book 2
by Michael Pierce

In SUSY Asylum, there is no release. There is no escape. No hope. In SUSY Asylum, the patients come face-to-face with their mirrors, locked away with the other halves of themselves who are thirsty for more than blood. Or so says Commodore Chaos.

Oliver and Desiree are introduced to the writings of the mysterious blogger, Commodore Chaos, when they return to Provex City to indulge in what the sublime city has to offer. The blogger claims the Lornes are collecting people venturing between the higher planes of awareness and locking them away in their mythical asylum. But are these legitimate concerns for inter-plane travelers or just the ramblings of an anonymous conspiracy blogger?

Oliver looks to the city as his only connection to his father while Desiree looks to the city as an escape from the torment of losing her best friend—again. Provex City is a wonder of beautiful treasures, entrancing them to continue returning. But behind the beauty, wolves have continued hunting Oliver, a boy who is still mostly unaware of his importance in the rebellion.

Oliver’s belief is waning. Desiree will not always be by his side. Mr. Gordon will not always come to his aid. Oliver finds himself alone, forced to confront his biggest fears, fight his inner demons, and face the very cold reality that no one is coming to save him.

Welcome to SUSY Asylum.

Cover Art by Sketcher Girl Studios and the awesome Vic Caswell!

Now Available!

Ever wondered how a five-year-old girl perceives the world? Then you definitely need to get your hands on THE BOOK, a novella by Jessica Bell.

"Jessica Bell’s surprising risks with language capture a child’s clear vision in a world of adult heartbreak. Indelible. Courageous." ~Thaisa Frank, author of Heidegger's Glasses and Enchantment

This book is not The Book. The Book is in this book. And The Book in this book is both the goodie and the baddie.

Bonnie is five. She wants to bury The Book because it is a demon that should go to hell. Penny, Bonnie’s mother, does bury The Book, but every day she digs it up and writes in it. John, Bonnie’s father, doesn’t live with them anymore. But he still likes to write in it from time to time. Ted, Bonnie’s stepfather, would like to write in The Book, but Penny won’t allow it.

To Bonnie, The Book is sadness.
To Penny, The Book is liberation.
To John, The Book is forgiveness.
To Ted, The Book is envy.
But The Book in this book isn’t what it seems at all.

If there was one thing in this world you wished you could hold in your hand, what would it be? The world bets it would be The Book.

Available at all major retailers in e-book and paperback, including Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Alien Movie Trivia Answers

1 – Yes, she knows it’s a multi-pass! The Fifth Element
2 – Look, I have one job on this lousy ship. It’s stupid, but I’m going to do it, okay? Galaxy Quest
3 – What the hell are you? Predator
4 – Somebody in this camp ain’t what he appears to be. Right now that may be one or two of us. By spring, it could be all of us. The Thing (1982)
5 – I hope you’re not going to take your skin off, because I really like skin on a woman. Cocoon

The Wednesday Movie Quote

Every Wednesday will be Movie Quote Day for a certain genre. You can post on your own blog or just leave your favorite quote here.

Today it’s futuristic science fiction.

My favorite:

From Blade Runner – “I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.”

What’s your favorite? Next week – light fantasy.

Excited about Michael's new book? How about Jessica's? Did you get the trivia right? (A couple of you got all of the answers!) And what is your favorite science fiction movie quote?

Don't forget to visit Misha Gericke to vote!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ninja News, Polar Night by Julie Flanders, My Favorite Martian Blogfest, and Alien Movie Trivia

Today is the My Favorite Martian Blogfest!

It is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day, honoring a man who had a vision and a dream.

Ninja News

In two weeks, I will finally announce the subject of my next blogfest. So, keep saving March 18 – it will be a fun and easy blogfest for everyone!

Started a year ago by Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius, Vine Leaves just put out its fifth issue! They are taking submissions and hiring as well. Check it out on Jessica’s SITE.

Don’t forget the contest Tim Knight is hosting at HeroPress. The "Design-a-Monster" competition runs until January 31 and is in celebration of his six-year blogging anniversary. There are some cool prizes involved (including copies of my book) so check out the details HERE.

Are you persistent? Do you have the right attitude? Then read what Milo James Foster at In Media Res had to say on Sunday:
"Beneath the Surface" was the first short story I submitted for publication, way back in the summer of 2009, and it's been on a long journey ever since. Rejected 24 times over the past three years, held for consideration by the likes of Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, and NewMyths, it finally found a place to call home in the new Arcane anthology.
This story never would have been published if I'd given up after the first, fifth, or fifteenth rejection. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Believe in yourself. Believe in your work. Cool stuff will happen. Every rejection letter is just a permission slip to send your story where it really belongs!

Teresa at Fangirl Next Door sent me this – it’s a podcast interview with Jeff Heimbuch, author of It’s Kind of a Cute Story. The book is about Rolly Crump, one of the original Disney imaginers, and one of the last people alive today that worked directly with Walt himself. Listen to it HERE

Cover Reveal

Polar Night by Julie Flanders
Available February 7 from Ink Smith Publishing

When Detective Danny Fitzpatrick leaves his hometown of Chicago and moves to Fairbanks, Alaska he wants nothing more than to escape the violence and heartbreak that left his life in pieces. Numbed by alcohol and the frozen temperatures of an Alaskan winter, Danny is content with a dead-end job investigating Fairbanks' cold cases. That all changes when a pretty blond woman goes missing on the winter solstice, and Danny stumbles upon some surprising connections between her disappearance and that of another Fairbanks woman three years earlier. Forced out of his lethargy, Danny sets out to both find the missing woman and solve his own cold case.

The investigation points Danny towards Aleksei Nechayev, the handsome and charming proprietor of an old asylum turned haunted tourist attraction in the Arctic town of Coldfoot. As he tries to find a link between Nechayev and his case, Danny's instinct tells him that Nechayev is much more than what he seems.

Danny has no idea that Nechayev is hiding a secret that is much more horrifying than anything he could ever have imagined. As his obsession with finding the missing women grows, Danny finds his own life in danger. And when the truth is finally revealed, the world as he knows it will never be the same.

Find Julie here – blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

My Favorite Martian Blogfest

Hosted by several bloggers, including Maurice and Nigel at The Geek Twins,, Just a Dash of Geek, and Liesel at Musings on Fantasia - post about your favorite alien!

I’m going to be a rebel and select two! Ninjas are just sly that way…

Ronon Dex from Stargate Atlantis
He is a Satedan and his home world was destroyed by the Wraith. He became a Runner and eventually joined Sheppard’s Atlantis Expedition team.
Ronon is proficient with weapons, a warrior, and a bit unpredictable sometimes. In other words, he is just badass! I’d want him on my team for sure.

T’Pol from Enterprise
She was the first Vulcan officer to serve long-term on a human vessel. She started as an observer on the Enterprise and then requested an extension. Eventually she resigned from the Vulcan High Command and accepted a position from Starfleet.
T’Pol is incredibly smart, ice cold, and smoking hot. I’d want her on my team as well.
(And yes, mostly because she is smoking hot!)

Visit the hosts for a list of participants or to join the geeky alien fun!

Who is YOUR favorite alien?

Alien Movie Trivia

And in honor of our alien blogfest, some quotes from films featuring aliens.

1 – "Yes, she knows it’s a multi-pass!"

2 – "Look, I have one job on this lousy ship. It’s stupid, but I’m going to do it, okay?"

3 – "What the hell are you?"

4 – "Somebody in this camp ain’t what he appears to be. Right now that may be one or two of us. By spring, it could be all of us."

5 – "I hope you’re not going to take your skin off, because I really like skin on a woman."

Entering Tim’s contest or submitting to just ONE more magazine now? Excited for Julie’s book? Who is YOUR favorite alien? And know any of the movie quotes?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Squatting with Author Sean McLachlan, Christine Rains’ The Dragonslayer, Ninja News and Mini-Alex, and How to Use Google Reader

Today I have the honor of hosting my buddy Sean McLachlan, author and traveler, in what may be the most unique guest post ever. For those of you about to embark on a vacation overseas, you need to pay attention. Take it away, Sean!

A Beginner’s Guide to Squat Toilets


Alex let me take over his blog today to talk about something dear to my heart—adventure travel. There’s a lot to get used to when you’re on a road trip to Ethiopea or visiting Iraq. Strange food, strange customs, learning a few hundred words in the local language, all are challenges to adapting to your new surroundings.

One adaptation I had to make early on was learning how to use a different type of toilet. The squat toilet is more common worldwide than the seat toilets we’re familiar with in the West, and it takes a bit of getting used to.

The easy part for guys is peeing. Good aim is all you need. Avoid the temptation to write your name—an Iraqi bathroom is not a snowdrift.

For more, um, solid affairs, you need to squat. Drop your pants or hike your skirts and do a deep knee bend. You’ll find that things fall into place much more quickly than if you’re sitting on a Western toilet. It’s also more hygienic. The only thing that touches the latrine are the soles of your shoes. No need to practice your origami skills in making a toilet paper seat so you can use the gas station bathroom.

Traveler’s tip: drop your pants enough to keep your change from pouring out your pocket, but keep them high enough that they don’t touch the floor.

Once again, aim is essential. You’d think people who use squat toilets every day would develop a marksman’s ability to hit the bull’s-eye, but you’d be wrong. The area around the bowl often looks like a dog walkers’ park. At the border post between Iraq and Kurdistan, one outhouse had gotten so bad that I couldn’t even enter. Filth piled on filth as one patron after another was forced to squat ever closer to the door, until I swear the last couple of people who used it must have squatted outside and left their mark on the threshold.

There are disadvantages to squat toilets even when they’re used properly. You won’t get much reading done, and elderly and infirm people often need to be helped. Still, the squat toilet is found in the majority of countries and if you want to travel beyond North America and Europe, you’re going to have to practice your deep knee bends.

Sean McLachlan writes for the travel blog Gadling and is the author of numerous history books. He also has a novel out titled A Fine Likeness, set in Civil War Missouri. Learn more about him at his Amazon author’s page and blog.

Sean, think I will be checking out the toilets before I travel now, thank you! 

The Dragonslayer

1303 – The Dragonslayer (The 13th Floor series, #3) by Christine Rains
Paranormal romance
Release date: February 13th, 2013

On the rooftop of neighboring building, dragonslayer Xanthus Ehrensvard fires at his target, Governor Whittaker. How he missed the shot, he doesn't know, but fleeing the scene, he picks up an unwanted passenger. Gorgeous reporter Lois King saw Xan's face, and she believes it's the story to make her career. Except he can't let her walk away knowing what he looks like. Xan has to show her the Governor is a bigger threat to the world than he is.

Xan knows dragons never went extinct. They evolved with human society, taking on mortal forms, and slithered their way into positions of great influence and power, just like the Governor. But it's no easy chore proving to someone that dragons still exist, and even more so, they're disguised as famous people. Xan must convince Lois or find another way to silence her. An option, as he gets to know her, he likes less and less.

After all, dragonslayers are no longer celebrated heroes but outlaws. Just as the dragons wish it. But this outlaw must make a plan to slay the dragon or risk its retribution.

Find Christine here: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Ninja News

Michelle is celebrating two years of blogging and Elise one year with the “She Said What?” caption contest. Congratulations, ladies – it sounds like fun!

Suze, over at Subliminal Coffee is hosting False Start Fridays the last Friday of January and February. If you're a writer and have shelved material that sparked a beginning but stalled in its orbit -- an unpublished short story, a lone chapter, an outline, some ideas sketched somewhere on the infamous napkin -- dig out your buried treasure, dust it off and let her know you're ready for an encouraging audience for it in all its false start glory!

Misha Gericke at My First Book is holding a monthly Word Master Challenge. This month – “How Not to Write a Novel Beginning.” In less than 300 words, write the WORST beginning you can possibly write. The funnier and more creative you are, the better. Post your worst beginning by the end of January and enter the direct link in the Linky List on her blog. Winner and new theme will be announced on February 8.

Andrew Leon is holding a Great Chocolate Contest! Write a short story based on the Imagination Room (found in his book, House on the Corner) and submit it to him by February 6. The winner will receive a box of the best chocolate in the world.

I realized I hadn’t taken Mini-Alex anywhere, so I took him outside to show him something that gives me great joy – a dead lawn. Why? Because when the grass is dead, I don’t have to mow it!

And that’s my “Celebrate the Small Things” for VikLit.

Hopefully Mini-Alex will attend a Super Bowl Party in a few weeks…

Google Folders

First, if you’ve never used Google Reader to follow blogs, you’ll need to go there:

All the blogs you’ve followed through Google Friends Connect will appear there. To organize them into folders, left click on the little arrow (that will appear) at the end – you will see an option to create new folder. (And once you’ve created folders, the names will appear and you can just add the blog site to the folder.) And when you follow blogs that don't have GFC, you can just copy their address and subscribe directly in Google Reader.

How you organize them is up to you! I have one (very large) folder titled “Buddy” that are blogs I check every day. I also have specialty folders for movie and book blogs. The remaining bloggers I place in folders for different days of the week. (On Saturday, in addition to my Blogger Buddies, I visit those in the Saturday folder.) I also have folders for new followers and after a few weeks, I move them to the appropriate folder.

That’s how I am able to keep up with my blogger buddies!

If you have any questions – just ask!

Any questions for Sean about squat toilets? (Or was that more than you ever wanted to know?) He’s traveled the world, so you can ask about any country or culture! Excited about The Dragonslayer? Ready for some contests or False Start Fridays? Think I need to take Mini-Alex out more often? And any questions about using Google Reader?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What is the A to Z Challenge, 2013 Golden Globes and Critic’s Choice Awards, Ninja News, and More Pondering and Blog Questions

What is the A to Z Challenge?

It’s posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

There were one hundred of us for the first Challenge in 2010. Last year, over 1700 participated. And on January 30, the list will open for signups for this year’s Challenge.

For a more detailed account than that, visit the A to Z Blog.

That first Challenge changed my blog forever, so I hope many of you will join us this year!

The Golden Globes and Critic’s Choice Awards

Last week, I made my predictions in certain categories for the Academy Awards. Since the Golden Globes and Critic’s Choice Awards often foreshadow the Oscars, thought I’d show you where the awards fell in the categories I selected:

Golden Globes -
Best Picture, drama – Argo
Best Director – Ben Affleck, Argo
Best Actor, drama - Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln / Best Actor, comedy or musical - Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Animated Feature Film – Brave

Critic’s Choice Awards –
Best Picture - Argo
Best Director - Ben Affleck, Argo
Best Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Supporting Actor - Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Best Animated Feature - Wreck-It Ralph

My predictions for the Oscars:
Best Picture - Lincoln, but Argo would be cool.
Best Picture - I picked Spielberg, but note that Ben Affleck is not even nominated
Best Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Animated – anyone’s game

And at this point, it really is anyone’s game.

And I would like to point out that Looper won Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie at the Critic’s Choice Awards – yes!!

Anyone want to take a guess on who will win the Oscars now?

Ninja News

Lynn Rush’s latest, Tainted, is available now. Congratulations, Lynn!

Stephen, Mark, Elise, and CM are hosting the Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest on January 28. Many new bloggers joined the community last year, and this is a chance for us to re-introduce ourselves to our followers. Visit any of their sites to sign up. (And Stephen suggests keeping it to one hundred words. That’s easy!)

JL Campbell is doing something special to celebrate her upcoming release – The Love…The Second Time Around Celebration dovetails with the theme of my-soon-to-be-released novel, Retribution. Help me celebrate by submitting your most interesting stories of people taking another shot at a relationship.” It’s February 1 – see her SITE for details.

Patsy Collins’ new romance is out – A Year and a Day. You can purchase it on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Congratulations, Patsy!

18 Things by Jamie Ayers will be released on January 24 – and she’s holding a huge celebration: “Beginning January 17th until release day, January 24th–I’ll be hosting the What Are Your 18 Things Blogfest. All you have to do is blog about things on your bucket list.” And the prizes are amazing! Check it out HERE

Yvonne Lewis posted a special thank you poem for me for directing people to her new site and look at the image she chose for it. Yes, I am a video game. Thank you, Yvonne!

More Blog Questions and Ponderings

Thanks for suggestions for the blanks in my manuscript last week. It probably would be better if I left a place holder for each name rather than a lot of blanks. Of course, that all depends on whether I write another book…

Why do some people never respond to comments? Most of you said you did visit the blogs of those who leave comments on your own, but why do some people never visit commenters?

Some of you asked about using Google Reader and how to do folders – I will post about that very soon! (As you can see, I am running out of room…)

And finally - commenting times. Now, I know there’s a time difference. But some of you are up at midnight during the week commenting! Don’t you people sleep? 10:00 is my bed time – no way I could stay up that late. (Even my clones are tired.) You guys must be Energizer Bunnies or something.

Ready for this year's A to Z Challenge? We're already posting tips at the A to Z Blog. Surprised by the Golden Globe or Critic's Choice winners? Care to change your Oscar predictions? Excited about the new books and blogfests? And what about commenting? And you late night commenters? Do you sleep?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Michael Offutt and Oculus, Libby Heily and Tough Girl, Ninja News, and Your A to Z Challenge Hosts!!!!

A lot to cover today! (Promise my posts will be much shorter during the A to Z Challenge.) First we kick off with friend and fellow science fiction author, Michael Offutt, who is here to entertain, amuse, and tell you why you need to buy Oculus, his latest book.

Steve Jobs would want you to buy Oculus

My earliest memory of board games started with Monopoly. I think that’s why my protagonist likes games too (don’t tell fans of hockey that it’s just a game). A little bit of us always shows up in our characters, right? Don’t answer that, but please indulge a few paragraphs of my insanity.

“My number on the squad is 11,” Jordan might say. “It’s my favorite, but this isn’t Craps. And three doubles in a row is bad, at least by the rules I play. If I say I’m a player, and I’m lucky is that a double entendre? I’m the lucky one, and this is not the third roll.

“I landed on Alex Cavanaugh’s blog with the dog. I always play the dog. It doesn’t shed and is all shiny out of the box. And Alex’s blog is Free Parking. You can’t argue with that. Ninjas never charge for parking. Not when they can slash your tires with a sword and can make you pass go without collecting $200. Do you have any idea how much that is in Ramen noodles?

“But it isn’t the happiest day of my life. That’s when I won $10 at a beauty contest. For a guy that’s pretty special. For a fake character in a real book, that’s redder than Emma Stone’s lips on Oscar night. And it’s doing pretty good. Shortly after that though, Kolin went directly to jail. Sometimes them’s the breaks. I feel bad for him…well partially bad. At least there’s no soap to drop and the menacing scowl behind the bars is just drawn on. You don’t want to drop the soap in a fake paper jail. The fake paper inmates have a tendency to shove you into one of the Fifty Shades of Grey books. For a fictional guy, that’s almost as bad as sitting through The Notebook.

“Still, there’s part of me that sheds the water works. I never liked that utility anyway. Water works are best done by chicks, right? But if you disagree, that’s fine. I won’t charge you if you give me your get out of jail free card. We all know you put out to get out, but your secret’s safe with me. I’m a black hole of secrets. Just remember, I see through you.

“Oh! You landed on Chance. I wonder what you’ll get. I guess that page is still unwritten. I hope you win $10 at a beauty contest. Then you could buy my story and feel validated at the same time. But don’t take it from me. Take it from Steve Jobs. ‘Oculus’ means ‘eye.’

“And anything that starts with “I” (iPad, iPod, iPhone) just has to be cool, or I’m not a character worth his ink. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.”

At least…I think that’s what Jordan might say.

Investigate more about Oculus HERE
Find Michael here: Blog, Website, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Tough Girl now available!

Tough Girl by Libby Heily

Danger lurks everywhere in eleven year old Reggie's world—from the bully next door to the unwanted attentions of a creep at school. Raised by her mentally ill mother, Reggie is left to fend for herself in a rough neighborhood. She escapes in daydreams, battling aliens with her alter ego, Tough Girl.
When Reggie's mother disappears, her fantasy life spirals out of control and starts to invade reality. She is hunted by a creature of her own design, and even Tough Girl is not strong enough to stop him.
Will Reggie survive long enough for her mother to return, or will her dream world take over?

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords.

Libby’s book tour also kicks off today, so check her site for tour stops!

Ninja News

For those of you who’ve followed the wonderful Yvonne Lewis, she now has a new blog. Someone was stealing her poetry and she had to make some changes. You can find this delightful lady now at Yvonne’s Poetry Corner

M Pax, Suze, and Nicki are hosting the Back From the Future Blogfest on March 1. These ladies rock, so check it out.

VikLit at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author has started a new weekly meme – Celebrate the Small Things. Every Friday, Vik invites participates to mention something they want to celebrate that week, no matter how small. See her site for details.

Annalisa and Kyra are hosting the Imaginary Friend Bloghop on February 1. If you had an imaginary friend, check these charming ladies’ sites for details.

And the next book in Christine Rains’ series The 13th Floor is out now. She’s on tour for The Alpha, so check out her site for tour stops.

This Year’s Challenge Hosts!

I am honored to be a co-host again this year for the Challenge. The very first Challenge in 2010 changed my blog forever and I am in debt to Lee for creating this amazing event. There were only a hundred of us that first year, and now there are thousands. I hope that everyone can join us this year!

This year we have ten returning hosts and welcome Livia, Diane, and Nicole to the team!

Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out
Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Tina Downey at Life is Good
DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0
Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie
Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse
Matthew MacNish at The QQQE
Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small
Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs
Livia Peterson at Leave it to Livia
L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick
Nicole at The Madlab Post

Keep abreast of Challenge news by following the Blog, following on Twitter - @AprilA2Z, or reading our Twitter Newspaper. You can also send us an email - infoaz2013@gmail.com

Any questions for Michael? Have you purchased Oculus or Tough Girl? Signed up for the upcoming blogfests? Ready for this year's A to Z Challenge? And did any of your football predictions come true? (Denver crashed and burned and Seattle blew it - told you my picks were suspect!)

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 Academy Awards - Nominations and Predictions, Ninja News, and Questions Regarding Blog Visits and Writing

2013 Oscar Nominations and Predictions

Most of you have seen the list of nominees, so I’ll just focus on a couple categories and my predictions. And if you thought my Super Bowl predictions were suspect…

As for overall nominations, Lincoln leads the pack with twelve. Life of Pi is next with eleven, then Argo with seven, and Django Unchained with five. Even The Hobbit has three nominations. And might I add it’s rare I like so many of the nominations. That will make some of the categories even more difficult.

Best Visual Effects has three likely candidates out of five - The Hobbit, The Avengers, and Life of Pi. I’d be happy with any of them winning, but I’m giving the edge to Life of Pi for the amazing CGI tiger.

For Best Cinematography, I’m going with Django Unchained.

Best Animated Film doesn’t really have a strong contender, so it’s anyone’s game.

For Best Director, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln. (And Ben Affleck was robbed – no nomination for Argo here.)

In the category of Best Supporting Actor, we have five strong entries, most notably Alan Arkin from Argo, Tommy Lee Jones from Lincoln, and Christoph Waltz from Django Unchained. Again, I’d be happy with any of them, but edge goes to Waltz for his captivating performance.

For Best Actor, no contest - Daniel Day-Lewis. He WAS Lincoln.

I’ve seen four of the nine Best Picture nominees - Lincoln, Argo, Life of Pi, and Django Unchained. And here is my big prediction – Lincoln is going to sweep most of the categories, including this one. If Lincoln starts gaining momentum early, and especially if Spielberg wins Best Director, then Best Picture is a lock.

The last time I was right in my Best Picture prediction was 2007 and No Country For Old Men, so I think I’m due!

What are your predictions?

Ninja News

ML Swift started the The Progressive Book Club: A unique blog hop that's an online book club and meets the third Wednesday of every month. Visit his site for details.

My publisher always keeps me updated as to which Science Fiction Conventions they are sending promotional materials for bags and giveaways. And I had to laugh at the one coming up next weekend – Rusty, dude, you have your own Con! Rustycon is January 18-20 at the SeaTac Marriott Hotel in Seattle, WA. I think Rusty should get free admission and special VIP treatment…

Questions and Ponderings

Usually my posts are so full of news and announcements I don’t get time for this stuff!

How does everyone visit blogs?

Through Google Reader? Your blogroll? Comments from the previous day?

I start with my blogger buddies folder in Google Reader, then check a couple other folders, and then check comments for someone I missed. (Sometimes it takes me until the second day to visit commenters.)

Thanks to those who visited my discussion on outlining with M. Pax on Wednesday. There were a couple interesting questions and I’d like to boggle your minds with my answers.

Nancy Thompson asked: I’m curious how you write outline. Is it handwritten or done on the computer? Is it free firm or true outline style? How many pages of outline are typical & how many pages of text do you produce from a page of outline?

First one is handwritten, and then the remaining versions are on the computer so I can add to them. Free form. Printed out, my outlines are three to five pages long. And the outline for CassaStorm was over four pages and produced 82,000 words, so I guess around 20,000? Maybe I need to write even longer outlines…

Johanna Garth asked this after reading that I don’t name secondary characters until later: So now I’m curious how the characters are referenced in the first draft. By letters, numbers??

By blanks. Lots and lots of blanks! Yes, it’s interesting when I finally do select names (usually just before my test readers and critique partners see it) and try to place them in the correct spots…

And if that doesn’t puzzle you, here’s another one – I don’t divide my manuscripts into chapters until the very end. Yes, I send them to my publisher that way – sans chapters. (To my credit, there are breaks!)

Anybody else wait until the last minute to divide up a manuscript?

What are your Oscar predictions this year? How many of the nominees have you seen? Joining the Progressive Book Club? Going to Rustycon? How do you visit blogs? And anyone else share my strange writing style?