Monday, December 15, 2014

Guardians and Other Geek Gifts, Star Wars Holiday Special, Merry Christmas from Mini-Alex, Battle of the Bands, New Book Releases, and Ninja News

I have a guest post at MJ Joachim’s Writing TipsJuggling For Writers. Want some tips on how to juggle it all? (And they don’t involve tennis balls or clones!)

I’m also posting today at the IWSG site - Where to Find a Great Book Cover Artist. Some great samples and lots of links, so check it out.

Last Minute Geek Gifts

We watched Guardians of the Galaxy DVD in 3D this past week – such an awesome movie! (If you haven’t seen it, just buy the disc.)

Since Dancing Groots are nowhere to be found right now, I thought I’d give you some last minute alternatives.

From Stylin Online - a Guardians of the Galaxy Star Lord Blaster.

From Pop Vinyl - Pop! Marvel: Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket.

Think Geek had a ton of gift ideas, including hundreds of Star Trek items.
Including this Borg Fridge, ready to assimilate your beverages.

Think Geek also had a long list of Star Wars gifts.
How about a Han Solo in Carbonite Shower Curtain?

Maybe Dr. Who is your thing instead.
Want to play some Dr. Who Yahtzee?

Fantasy isn’t forgotten at Think Geek either – they even have Game of Thrones gifts.
Can I interest you in a Game of Thrones Dragon Egg Canister? (Sorry, dragon not included.)

The Star Wars Holiday Special

Lucas would prefer this remained buried, but the RiffTrax guys dug up an old VCR tape, complete with bad commercials from this 1978 ‘special.’

And it is ‘special,’ as it provides serious competition to Manos: The Hands of Fate and Plane 9 From Outer Space for the worst movie ever made.

You get Chewbacca’s family, Art Carney, Bea Arthur, Jefferson Starship, and the stars of Star Wars. The main storyline is trying to get Chewbacca home to his family for Life Day, but there is so much padding and strange elements, you’ll soon forget the movie has any meaning. The film goes from too childish for kids to really risqué with Diahann Carroll as a singing holographic prostitute.

The 1978 commercials are just as horrific.

Download it at RiffTrax and watch it – if you dare…

Ninja News

We need IWSG co-hosts!
If you can co-host in January, let me know – we need two more.
And if you could co-host in February or March, leave a comment as well.

I was honored to find Dragon of the Stars on Beauty in Ruins’ list of most anticipated science fiction books of 2015 – top pick for April. Thanks, Bob!

LG Keltner is celebrating her third blogging anniversary on January 9 with a Snarky blogfest! See her site for details.

New Releases

People of Foxwick and Their Neighbors
By Cherie Reich
Find it on Amazon, iTunes, and other sites.

Vitamins and Death
By Medeia Sharif
Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible…
Purchase from Prism Books or Amazon

Hope for Her (Hope Series Book #2)
By Sydney Aaliyah Michelle
Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others.

By Melanie Schulz
Find it on Amazon

Battle of the Bands

Welcome to Battle of the Bands! Founded by Stephen T McCarthy and Faraway Eyes. You know the routine – pick your favorite.

Since it’s Christmas, you’re getting Christmas music – Muppet style!
Here are two very different versions of Jingle Bells from our felt-covered friends.

Merry Christmas!

With the holidays coming, I will not be posting again until January 5. I will be lurking, although the week of Christmas, probably not much.

I make no secret that I am a born-again Christian, and Christmas is the celebration of the birth of my Lord and Savior. I will spend the holidays with family and friends, grateful for the precious gift God gave us.

Mini-Alex and friends would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, and holiday greetings to all!

Any of those geek gifts fit someone on your list? (Or do you want it for yourself?) Ever watched the Star Wars Holiday Special? Can you help co-host the IWSG? See any good books? Which version of the song is your favorite? And what are your plans for the holidays?

Don’t forget to visit MJ Joachim’s Writing Tips and the IWSG site!

Monday, December 8, 2014

RiffTrax Live: Santa Claus – the Experience! Plus Writing Habits, BOTB Results, and Ninja News

I am visiting the incredibly talented, successful, and uber-resourceful Elizabeth S. Craig today. I’m discussing the ultimate in networking opportunities and the new IWSG book. Please stop by!

RiffTrax Live – Santa Claus!

Last week the RiffTrax crew – Mike, Bill, and Kevin – took on a film for the holidays: Santa Claus.

It was no ordinary holiday movie, though. This Mexican film was directed by someone who grew up in the carny business – and it shows in the weirdness of the story. What little story exists, anyway. The devil sends his minion Pitch to thwart Santa’s plans, but fortunately Santa has senile old Merlin and creepy mechanical reindeer to help him. (Folks, you can’t make this stuff up unless you’re on some really good drugs.)

As always, it was hilarious, and Mike, Bill, and Kevin had no trouble making fun of the film. If you’ve never seen a broadcast of the show, you need to catch the next one!

Blogger buddy Susan Kane got to go see the show as well last Thursday, which was her birthday!

Before the show, they present a series of slides. Here are some for your enjoyment! 

Ninja News

At the A to Z Blog today is Cat Starr from Astral Traveller and her theme of travels around the world.

This Wednesday, the IWSG site welcomes the amazing Sylvia Ney as she discusses the benefits of writing for small markets.

For her IWSG post last week, Chrys Fey wrote the most awesome and hilarious poem, ‘Twas the Night Before IWSG Day!

Thanks to everyone who downloaded the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond!
And it's finally free on Amazon!

And thanks to MJ Joachim who review the IWSG book last week.

New Releases

Blogvengers, Zombies with Powers
By Pat Hatt
Pat has been featuring this twisted tale of cats, zombies, Darzin, and his blogging buddies (including me) on his site for the past few weeks – and it’s hilarious! Pick it up on Amazon

Digging In, second in the Trench Raiders series
By Sean McLachlan
Pick it up on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords

Out today!
Claudia Must Die
By TB Markinson
Amazon and Goodreads

Battle of the Bands

The results of last week’s Battle of the Bands and the song Cars, with my vote going to Fear Factory:

Gary Numan - 21
Fear Factory (featuring Gary Numan) – 12

Gary Numan beat… Gary Numan. Ironic, huh?

Writing Habits – Before and After

Last week, Rachna Chhabria posted about not having enough time to write. She noted ‘I read somewhere that a writer gets the maximum amount of time to write their first book, after that there are sundry things occupying a writer’s life space: book tours, book signing events, author interactive sessions etc.’

That got me to thinking about the way I write now as opposed to pre-publication. It took me almost a year to write my first book. (Not counting edits.) The three books since that time have taken two to four months for the first draft.

And of course now, I do have author duties and an online presence that takes a chunk of my time.

Looking back, I realized that first book was written in sporadic, stolen chunks of time. The other three were written during dedicated blocks of time. The big difference, despite the extra demands on my time, was my focus. I knew I had to get them done and set aside three-five hours to write every single night no matter what.

So, that’s how my writing habits have changed. Have yours changed?

Anyone else catch RiffTrax last week? (Or had the misfortune of seeing that film without RiffTrax’s help?) Catch Chrys’ post? Downloaded the IWSG book? Getting some new books? And have your writing habits changed?

Don’t forget to visit Elizabeth S. Craig!

And not posting again until next Monday, so see you then. 

And - switched to embedded comments to get rid of stupid word verification.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Riff Trax Live, December Movie Preview, and Ninja News

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.

My awesome co-hosts today are Heather Gardner, T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins!

First, thanks again to everyone who contributed to and downloaded The Insecure Writer’s Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond.
You can download it for free (almost) everywhere - Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords

Between preparing for the IWSG’s book release and my own book, Dragon of the Stars, I’ve been securing a lot of guest spots and setting up promotional stuff. I was grateful for a few days off around Thanksgiving last week. I needed that break!

I have seven dates set already for blog stops next April and need a few more. There are a couple big science fiction sites I’d like to secure, but getting the attention of those sites is sometimes difficult. I’m not a big name author with an agent, so despite the success of my previous books, I get overlooked. I’m sure some of you know what it feels like to be mid-list or lower author and struggle the same way. (At least I hope it’s not just me.

I’m also trying to come up with other marketing ideas. I have an idea for the A to Z Challenge that will include information about my book. There’s a possible campaign that will involve Twitter and maybe a website in the works. Plus my publisher wants to do an ad campaign for CassaStorm next March. (I think I just need two more reviews on Amazon to make it happen.)

Yeah, it’s a bit overwhelming! You guys feel that way when it comes to marketing?

Be sure to visit others on the IWSG list!

Riff Trax Live!

Thursday, December 4, at a theater near you – Riff Trax Live: Santa Claus!

Broadcast live from Nashville, TN and playing in hundreds of theaters across the nation. If you loved Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or if you just want to know what it’s all about) go HERE for details.

I saw them in person last month and it was amazing. (If you live in Nashville, see if tickets are still available.) I’m seeing the live broadcast this time and will give a full report next Monday. How could I miss Santa and the devil, together again? Yes, such a classic children’s tale… NOT!

Ninja News

Hart Johnson has a cool idea that involves bloggers, authors, and reviews – and a mutual benefit to all. Check out her site for details.

Available now –
The Trouble With Faking
By Rachel Morgan

December Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for December! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

12 –

Exodus: Gods and Kings
The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver
Why the hell can’t someone do a Bible story that’s true to the source material? This film starts with Moses having delusions and God played by a creepy child. That’s offensive and wrong on so many levels. Not a chance I will give money to this film…

19 –

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Bilbo and Company are forced to be engaged in a war against an array of combatants and keeping the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth.
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett
The end of the trilogy promises to be epic! Jackson has pulled so much together for this final installment and created a much bigger story.

Night at the Museum: The Secret of the Tomb
Larry spans the globe, uniting favorite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever.
Director: Shawn Levy
Stars: Robin Williams, Rebel Wilson, Dan Stevens, Ben Stiller
The first two were surprisingly good. Plus it has Williams in his final role.

26 –

The Interview
Dave Skylark and his producer Aaron Rapoport run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show "Skylark Tonight." When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
Directors: Evan Goldberg | Seth Rogen
Stars: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan
So sue me – I think it looks funny! And I’m not even a fan of Rogan’s films…

What are your writer insecurities today? Did you download the IWSG book? Seeing Riff Trax Live? And what movies strike your fancy this month…?

Monday, December 1, 2014

IWSG Book is Available! Plus Penguins of Madagascar Review, Battle of the Bands, and Ninja News

A lot happening today!

The Galaxy Express has a special feature on CassaFire, including an amusing and very short excerpt. If you want to know a little more about the book and sample the story, check it out.

I’m a guest at Thoughts in Progress discussing the IWSG and the IWSG book.

Which is available NOW!!!

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond

Tapping into the expertise of over a hundred talented authors from around the globe, The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond contains something for every writer. Whether you are starting out and need tips on the craft of writing, looking for encouragement as an already established author, taking the plunge into self-publishing, or seeking innovative ways to market and promote your work, this guide is a useful tool. Compiled into three key areas of writing, publishing, and marketing, this valuable resource offers inspirational articles, helpful anecdotes, and excellent advice on dos and don'ts that we all wish we knew when we first started out on this writing journey.

ISBN 9781939844088
235 pages, FREE
IWSG sites – website, Facebook, and Facebook Critique Circle
Find the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads.

Thanks to everyone who contributed and to my IWSG Admins who worked so hard to put it together. This was a huge project, but we wanted to celebrate three years of the IWSG right and highlight its blog and Facebook members in the process. We hope you’ll find some great information within the pages and spread the word about this awesome book.

You guys rock!

Movie Review

Penguins of Madagascar
The penguins are up against Dave the octopus who wants revenge and to rid the world of cute penguins.
Yes, I was drug to see this film. (By my wife who completely enjoyed it and has already announced she wants it on video – the first animated film she’s wanted this year.)
It’s a lightweight film with fast action and LOTS of silliness. Not the most memorable movie, but much better than Madagascar II – and certainly an entertaining hour and a half.
Lots of crazy puns, great animation, and a simple plot that moves quickly.
You could certainly do worse that watch the stupid penguins movie!

Ninja News

Karen’s 2014 Blog Awards are now open for voting. There are some awesome blogs in the running for each category, including the IWSG for best writing! If you think the site rocks, please vote.

Battle of the Bands

Welcome to Battle of the Bands! Founded by Stephen T McCarthy and Faraway Eyes. You know the routine – pick your favorite.

First up is the original version by Gary Numan from 1980:

Next is the remake by Fear Factory. This super-cool video also features Numan:

Vote for your favorite version.

Anyone else see the stupid penguin movie? (At least it was better than the stupid owl movie.) Vote in the blog awards? Which version of Cars is your favorite? Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday? And are you downloading the IWSG book?

Be sure to visit Thoughts in Progress and The Galaxy Express. See you Wednesday for the IWSG posting!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cool Geek Christmas Gifts, How I Miss You Blogfest, and Ninja News!

Cool Christmas Gifts for the Geeks in Your Life

Christmas is just one month away! Don’t panic – I found some cool, geeky stuff that Santa can bring…

Dancing Groot – only $9.99 from Toys R Us

Star Trek t-shirts – only $28.64 from RedBubble

Captain America Minion iPhone case – only $7.05 from Ali Express
(And they have a lot more Minion super heroes.)

The Ewoking Dead t-shirt – only $15.00 from

Pre-order for 2015
Melting Nazi from Raiders of the Lost Ark candle – only $31.29 from Firebox

And of course, retro t-shirts from Jeremy Hawkins’ Neat-O-Shop, including the Better Off Dead hamburger and the Ninja Army!

Ninja News

At the A to Z Blog today is Joss from Dreaming of Publication, talking about her theme for the Challenge – dogs!

It’s time for the second annual Holiday Food Drive! Started by MJ Joachim and the late Tina Downey, MJ is continuing the tradition with Jeremy Hawkins again providing the graphic. Check out how you can participate HERE and at the Effectively Human Community on Google+.

Are you a self-published indie author? Then you need to check out this giant list of indie book reviewers – over five hundred! Courtesy of laekanzeakemp.

Want to know what it’s like to be a full time writer? Then you need to read this post by Steven Symes.

Thank to everyone who has added Dragon of the Stars to their Goodread lists and voted for it in the Most Anticipated Science Fiction of 2015 list. It’s climbed to number three!

New releases!

Tarsier Man – A War Like None Before
By Pat Hatt

Dead Wrong
By Patricia Stoltey

By Angela Brown

How I Miss You Blogfest

Hosted by Andrew Leon, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Matthew MacNish

The bloggers you miss and the ones you would miss.
List one to three bloggers you really miss.
List one to three bloggers you would really miss if they stopped blogging.
And then go let them know!

The three bloggers I miss are…

Mark Means at Left and Write
Mark still posts now and then, but not at the same pace he used to post. The dude is a cool geek and I miss the geeky updates. Plus his A to Z Challenge themes always rock.

Old Kitty at Ten Lives and Second Chances
One of my first blogger buddies was Old Kitty. She’d post photos of her cat Charlie, now joined by Gumtree. It’s been many months since she posted and I really miss her. No one is as upbeat and positive as Old Kitty.

Tina Downey at Life is Good
I couldn’t do this list without mentioning Tina. I think about her often and there is still this void where her snark and humor used to reside. There are people you can’t imagine being gone, can’t imagine dying, and that’s what I always thought about Tina. I know she’s having a grand time in Heaven, running through the sunflowers, but the world is just a little bit dimmer without her light. Love you and miss you, Tina.

People I would miss if they stopped blogging:

This was tough! I’d miss all of you. Rather than play favorites, I thought I’d list three people who might not realize how much I’d miss them…

LG Keltner at Writing Off the Edge
LG, you are a fellow science fiction geek and writer, and you are so faithful to your friends. You always have the best A to Challenge themes and have dedicated yourself to the IWSG. (And you’re one of my best co-hosts.) You would be sorely missed, so don’t ever quit!

Ivy at The Happy Whisk
Ivy, I count on you for my daily laugh and chuckle. We’ve followed each other for years and I enjoy both your posts and our email banter. You paused in your blogging once before, and it really sucked. Don’t do it again. You are indeed Wonder Woman. And you always make me laugh.

Heather Gardner at The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Heather!!!! If I ever posted and there wasn’t an ‘Alex!!!’ in the comments from you, I’d send out a search party. You are one of the funniest, snarkiest, most spirited and strong-willed people I know. You rock the A to Z Team, keeping us in line. You’re such an awesome supporter and someone I can count on a hundred percent. You’re also one of my best friends. You ROCK!

Who do you miss? Who would you miss?

See some geeky gifts you just have to buy? Joining the Holiday Food Drive or picking up some new books? And who do you miss and who would you miss in the blogging world…?

I will be traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday, so I’ll be very sparse here online Wednesday through Saturday. To all my American friends, have an awesome Thanksgiving!