Monday, August 25, 2014

News to the Page, Goodbye Dear Tina, Movie Trivia Answers, and Ninja News

I have the awesome Julie Musil here today!

I also have a special tribute to a dear blogger buddy who is no longer with us…

From the News to the Page

I remember the moment when inspiration struck for my latest YA release, The Summer of Crossing Lines. I was watching the local Los Angeles news. A small white pickup truck led police on a high speed chase, and by the end of the chase, two teens were splayed out on the freeway. Spotlights shone down on them as cops moved in. A cache of weapons had been found in their truck.

My writer brain went into overdrive. That news event became a major scene in my book.

How can authors steal “ripped from the headlines” events and make them story-worthy? Try asking these questions:

Who are these people?
How old are they?
Where did they get those weapons/bruises/ratty shoes/extra children?
What led them to that point in their lives?
What happens next?

Once we’ve brainstormed intriguing answers to these questions, we can take a regular news article and build an entire story around it. If you’re watching a crazy news event you may first wonder, Who in the heck would do that? and then you could think, My character, that’s who.

Have you ever based a story on a real-life news event? Which one? Did you add it to the beginning, middle or ending of your book?

Julie Musil writes from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her YA novels The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire are available now. For more information, or to stop by and say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
Find The Summer of Crossing Lines on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

Ninja News

Today’s Themes that Rocked the Challenge features Rhonda Albom who posted AmaZing Photos from around the world. Check it out at the A to Z Blog.

Found a cool site called Book Goodies and already have CassaStorm listed. (Still need to fill out the interview.) But I think it’s something a lot of you guys could benefit from using, so check it out.

Michael Di Gesu is putting together an anthology to benefit Melissa Bradley and Gilda's Club Chicago, an organization that helps women fight cancer. See his site for details. You can also click on the big button in my right sidebar to donate directly to Melissa.

Out now in print and eBook – A Sawmill’s Hope by David Silexare

Sean McLachlan got to attend the seventy-second world science fiction convention, WorldCon. He shared this photo and you can see many more and read about WorldCon in his article at Blackgate.

Out now – The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

80’s Trivia Answers

1 – What city did the LA Clippers move from in 1984? San Diego
2 – This band’s debut single was Goodbye to You. Scandal
3 – This famous actor played Chris in the soap opera Another World. Brad Pitt
4 – This MLB manager managed a National League (Phillies) and an American League (Indians) team in the same season. Pat Corrales
5 – Robert De Niro said the line ‘Sarrano’s got the disks’ in what movie? Midnight Run
6 – Comedian Sam Kinison released a remake of what Trogg’s song? Wild Thing

Goodbye Dear Friend

Many of you saw this on Sunday – we lost a very dear member of the blogging community on Saturday, Tina Downey. She was a huge part of the A to Z Challenge Team and her blog was called Life is Good because she really believed it. Tina experienced some health challenges this year - you can read what happened at her blog.

What I want to share isn’t what Tina did or even who she was to everyone online. Many of you knew her and realized how much she touched the lives of others. She leaves behind kids and a husband, and I can't imagine the pain they are enduring. I could not go on without my wife. But that's not what I want to share.

What I want to share is what Tina meant to me.

Tina was more than a friend. She was like a sister. She was the rock of stability. Within the A to Z Team, I always said Tina was the one who held us together. Which is why it’s so hard to think that glue is gone. Her wit and whimsy are silent. Never again will I get a long, snarky, no-holds-barred email from Tina, one that makes me chuckle for hours afterwards. Right now it feels like a really deep void. I’ve lost blogger buddies in the past, but this time is the worst.

I’ll make it no secret I loved and adored Tina, and I shed tears for her and her family this weekend. She told me once that I was as real to her if not more so than any real-world friend, and I felt the same way about her. If I had to count the blogger friends on one hand whom I trusted as the dearest friends on earth, Tina would've been one of those people.

I know you’re with the Lord now, Tina, but I am really, really going to miss you. I hope your family leaves your blog in place so we can continue to enjoy the wonderful stories you shared over the years. I promise to keep giving my all to the A to Z Team, although I am certainly no super glue. Not like Super Tina.

You’ll always rock, Tina. And we’ll meet again one day.

Have you based a story on real life events? Can you contribute to the cancer anthology? Get any of the trivia right? Did you know Tina? Feel free to share your thoughts here...

Due to Labor Day, I won’t be posting again until September 3 for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I hope you’ll stop by then, as we have an incredible announcement for our three year anniversary.

Monday, August 18, 2014

RiffTrax – Godzilla, 80’s Trivia, Women’s Bodies, Monuments Men Review, and Ninja News


I hit the road Thursday night to see a live broadcast of the RiffTrax guys tackling 1998’s Godzilla. And as always, it was worth it!

It’s not a truly awful film, but it was incredibly cheesy. Some of the effects don’t hold up well, either. And no, that was definitely NOT Godzilla. (Although the babies did look a lot like velociraptors.)

If you’re a fan of RiffTrax (or Mystery Science Theater 3000) it’s a lot of fun going to see one of these films on the big screen. They do a live performance at one theater and broadcast it to many others across the US. Being surrounded by other fans while Mike, Kevin, and Bill make fun of the film is an incredible experience.

They also show slides before it begins – enjoy!

Ninja News

This Wednesday at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site is the amazing Angela Ackerman! You don’t want to miss it.

Author Sean McLachlan is having a sale – on August 18-19, Radio Hope will be only $2.99 on Amazon and Scavengers is free August 18 at Amazon.

Check out the book trailer for Loni Townsend’s 38 Seconds at her site!

Snatched in Gullybrook by Kim Van Sickler is out now.

Fight the Beard of White by Pat Hatt is available.

Milo James Fowler’s latest short science fiction story is out, Memory Lane. You can purchase it on Amazon OR to get a free copy, sign up for his newsletter, The Crew.

Next Ninja blogfest – Underrated Treasures Blogfest
On Monday, September 22, post about your favorite unknown –
Post about one or all four – dealer’s choice!
Sign up HERE

Last Monday was Father Dragon Al’s birthday! I’d volunteered to go pillage and plunder with him, but there were stipulations…

Women’s Bodies

Stephanie Faris posted about the trend in a women’s body image, which included skinny ankles and the thighs not touching. After I left my comment (where I stated I preferred healthy curves) the truth of the matter hit me.

Men don’t care!

We don’t care if your thighs touch. We aren’t measuring ankles. Yes, looks are what attracts us to a woman, but it’s more about does she have a pretty face and some nice shapely curves. And after that, is she a nice person and fun to be around. (Because if not, that negates the physical stuff.)

So ignore the media, ladies. We don’t care.

Hope that clears things up.

Movie Review

The Monuments Men
A group is tasked with rescuing stolen artwork from the Nazis during World War II.
An interesting aspect of history, although don’t go expecting historical accuracy.
The plot was all right, although non-existent at times, and the pacing occasionally glacial. There were some good and funny scenes, just nothing coalescent enough to make a great movie.
See it for the cast, because they got some great actors for the roles.
Worth a NetFlix rental.

Trivia Time!

80’s trivia – enjoy!

1 – What city did the LA Clippers move from in 1984?

2 – This band’s debut single was Goodbye to You.

3 – This now famous actor played Chris in the soap opera Another World.

4 – This MLB manager managed a National League (Phillies) and an American League (Indians) team in the same season.

5 – Robert De Niro said the line ‘Sarrano’s got the disks’ in what movie?

6 – Comedian Sam Kinison released a remake of what Trogg’s song?

Answers next Monday!

Anyone else seen a RiffTrax movie in the theater? Picking up new books? Signed up for the blogfest? Seen The Monuments Men? Know any of the trivia? And what’s your thoughts on women’s bodies? (Please keep it PG13) 

I also updated my blogroll - if you're a regular here and don't see your blog listed, please let me know.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Next Ninja Blogfest! Plus Golon the Grumpy Dwarf, Movie Reviews, IWSG and Thoughts, and Ninja News

A lot happening today! Hope the recent shift to less promotional stuff and more fun stuff, including movie reviews and a bit about me, is to your liking.
If not, Mini-Alex will play his guitar until your ears bleed...

Golon the Grumpy Dwarf

Today I welcome Golon from Jack Lewis Baillot’s latest novel, A Test of Loyalty, Book Two. He’s a dwarf with an ornery streak and his party is on a quest to save Prince Lachlan. We had some fun with the interview…

Are you any relation to Gimli?
Who is Gimli? Is this some kind of trick question? Is it because our names are kind of the same? I have a feeling this is something I should understand and my Author is laughing at me for not doing so. She laughs at me a lot though, so it is hard to tell the cause of it.

If you are Grumpy, then which Dwarf is your brother?
I am only grumpy around Elves...and hermits. And certain princes. And sometimes my brother. Oh, right, there is more to this question. This I understood because I looked it up. He would be the one they call Dopey.

What are some of the ways you like to annoy people?
I mostly just taunt their cooking skills, and their race. Elves are easy to annoy. Just insult their bows and their gardens.

Do you think Dwarves are represented fairly in literature?
While looking up the Grumpy reference I discovered the tale he is from and I do not think that was an accurate representation. As a general rule, we don't sing cheerily when we go off to work. What is called Tolkien's work, however, is accurate.

What's your weapon of choice?
I don't have just one. I use an ax a good deal of the time but I would be lost without my short sword. Therefore, I have to say both.

Do you like Dragons?
I am pleased to say I have never met one. I have heard they do exist, but I question that as they have become more of legends, and one can never really trust a legend.

And tell us what you really think of your brother....
Ahem...well, since he isn't here. He annoys me, as only younger brothers can, but I would be truly lost without him. He has been my constant companion since the time he could walk and he does ensure my life is always interesting as he finds ways to drag me along on some of his wilder adventures.

And since that is the last of the questions, I will bid a fair well, and a thank you.

Jack is an Author. Basically, run. She's not impossible, just a bit unlikely.
Find A Test of Loyalty Book Two on Amazon

Ninja News

Today’s Themes that Rocked the Challenge features Andrew Leon, who posted about abandoned places. Check it out at the A to Z Blog.

Released last week – Shear Trouble by Elizabeth Craig

Available now - Trench Raiders by Sean McLachlan

Movie Reviews

(Space Pirate) Captain Harlock
Harlock and the crew of the Arcadia battle the Gaia Coalition in hopes of returning to Earth and saving mankind.
Visually stunning – some of the best computer animation I have ever seen.
In typical anime fashion, the storyline is convoluted. This was compounded by the subtitles when all I wanted to do was watch the graphics. However, it’s really unique and worth slogging through the story for the visuals alone.

I Frankenstein
Mercifully, it was short – not counting ending credits, it clocked in at 1:21.
An A list cast heads up a D- story with C+ special effects.
Apparently Angels take the form of gargoyles to battle demons. (Who only live a couple blocks away – how convenient.) I won’t go into how Frankenstein’s monster is horseshoed into this nonsensical plot. But it wasn’t good.
Skip unless you’re a glutton for punishment.

Open Grave
Man wakes up in pit of bodies with no memory and finds a nearby house with five others who also don’t remember who they are. There are no phones, no cars, and deranged people running about.
This is a unique twist on zombies, as they aren’t really zombies but infected with a disease that destroys the mind. It’s more of a mystery as the six characters try to piece together what happened. Lots of tension and definitely not a feel good film.
Worth a NetFlix rental.

IWSG and Ninja Thoughts

Last week’s IWSG was awesome, as always!

Special thanks to my co-hosts and to Marta Szemik and L. Diane Wolfe – those two ladies have not missed a single post day since the IWSG’s inception. (The only other person who hasn’t missed is me. That would look really bad if I missed a post!)

There were some amazing posts. As writers, we are all unique in our style. I started writing down my thoughts as I read the posts Wednesday:

Someone talked about remembering why she started writing in the first place. I know why I started, but I don’t know how to stop.

Most people edit in layers. I work on everything with each pass. Yes, I fix typos and grammar mistakes in sections I might later delete. They distract and annoy me if I don’t.

I’m a really lazy writer. If I didn’t set word count goals and deadlines, I’d never write anything.

Crap, I take a long time to put together an outline. Most people are on their second and third drafts by the time I start my first.

I really want to go see Guardians of the Galaxy again…

Wait, I probably wasn’t thinking that when I was reading. But I do plan on seeing it again this weekend!

What were some of your thoughts?

Underrated Treasures Blogfest!

Because it’s been ages since I hosted a blogfest! Time for some fun.

Everyone has a favorite movie or band that no one else has ever heard about. For whatever reason, they remain undiscovered and underrated. Now is your chance to tell the world about this obscure treasure!

On Monday, September 22, post about your favorite unknown –


Post about one or all four – dealer’s choice!

Underrated Treasures Blogfest signup -

What did you think of Golon? Seen any of the movies? What were your thoughts on last week’s IWSG? And who’s ready to share some underrated treasures…?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Plus Genre Smashing with Tara Tyler, Marvel Movie Trivia Answers, and Ninja and Alex 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 Sarah Foster, Joylene Nowell Butler, Lily Eva, and Rhonda Albom! Please stop by and thank them for helping today.

The IWSG admins will have a really cool surprise for you guys on the three year anniversary next month – don’t miss it!
And at the Facebook IWSG, we’re dropping Saturday and moving News and Promo Day to Friday.

As for my insecurity today…

I sent my latest manuscript to my critique partners Tuesday night!

After making all the adjustments suggested by my test readers and fine-tuning it a few more times, it was ready. I’m happy with the writing. (Yeah, after three books, I’m finally getting a handle on this grammar and structure thing.) Now, will the story be good enough? Was the original idea, sparked from a song’s storyline, really enough to sustain a novel length story?

All I can do is wait…

Be sure to visit others on the IWSG list!

Genre Smashing

I'm trying to keep this short - it is IWSG day after all. I'm very happy to be here at Captain Ninja Rockstar Alex's megablog talking about...

Sci Fi and Fantasy - Why are they smashed into one big genre?

The major genres in a bookstore are...


How can they do that? Sci Fi makes me think of robots and space adventures, Star Wars or the Matrix! And Fantasy is totally about faeries, magic, and kingdoms, like the Hobbit! How can they callously throw Sci Fi and Fantasy into one genre??

Well, here's my theory. The biggest element that separates these two from the others is they are both out of this world! Literary fiction, mystery, romance, and thrillers are "realistic" fiction, usually based in a setting of the here and now (or historical). Sci Fi and Fantasy are prodigies of imagination, inspiring infinite possibilities, without the limitations of reality. Writers of Sci Fi and Fantasy stretch the minds of readers. And we usually incorporate pieces of the other genres, too. The fantastic magical or technological settings set them apart!

That and the fact that if they split them into two genres, the sections would be much smaller...

Do you all have any theories of why Sci Fi & Fantasy are grouped together? Out of the top five, which is your favorite genre?

Thank you so much for having me on this busy day, Alex!
NEW! Try this BEASTLY SURVEY and find out which beast you are!
(And don't forget to enter the new August giveaway!)

by Tara Tyler

Available at Barnes and Noble ~~~ Amazon
Add it to your GOODREADS list!

Find Tara -
Ninja News 
Melissa Bradley has been battling cancer and all the crappy stuff that goes with it for the past few months. The bills are huge and Melissa is struggling. A friend of hers set up an account at Go Fund Me for people to make donations. If you know Melissa and are able, she could really use some help.

Joy Campbell is hosting the Who’s Your Hero Blogfest on October 20. See her site for details.

Available now - Queen of Hastinapur by Jai Joshi

Book Trailer!
Induction Day ... Book 2 in the Butterman Time Travel series by PK Hrezo

Alex News

Voting is open for a few more weeks at the EFestival of Words AwardsCassaStorm is nominated for best science fiction, so if you enjoyed it, please register and vote HERE

Jeremy Hawkins is doing a Summer of T-Shirts series, and on Tuesday he featured my favorite t-shirt. Do you think you know what it is…?

And the awesome Stephanie Faris graced me with the Wonderful Team Member Award. Thanks, Stephanie!

The list of those who have worked hard to support this community is long, but I’m just going to focus on one person. Tina at Life is Good is the kick-butt heart and soul of the A to Z Challenge Team. She keeps the rest of us in line with tough love. And this past month, she was in the hospital for over two weeks and is still trying to recover. Plus Monday was her birthday. Tina, we love you, we miss you, and you are awesome.

Movie Trivia Answers

Marvel movies!
1 – Vampire trilogy - Blade
2 – Actor who started in one series and then hit it big with another series – Chris Evans (Fantastic Four-Avengers)
3 – Blind superhero - Daredevil
4 – In X-Men 3, Jean Grey becomes…Phoenix
5 – Worst rated film of the past twenty years – Elektra (10% on Rotten Tomatoes)

More trivia coming soon!
And movie reviews.
And maybe it’s time I announced another blogfest…

Do you know why the genres are smashed together? Signed up for Joy’s blogfest? Who do you think is a wonderful team member? Get any of the trivia right? And what is your writing insecurity today…?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review, Interstellar Trailer, Marvel Movie Trivia, Music to Write By with MJ Fifield, and Ninja News

I have an interview with Richard P. Hughes for his “What I like about where I live” feature today!

Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy

Best movie of the summer!

The Guardians are part of the Marvel universe, but this felt more like Indiana Jones meets Serenity rather than a superhero film. It harkens back to those fun 80’s movies and I sported a big grin for the duration of the film.

The movie hits all the right notes. The action is well paced, the humor spread evenly, and the sentiment shines at the right moments. The five characters come from troubled backgrounds (well, we assume Groot does – he only speaks four words) and grow as they learn to come together as a team.

The banter between the characters is priceless. Think Serenity and Firefly. Each has numerous funny lines and humorous situations. Rocket (the raccoon) pulls off some of the best one-liners. (But the funniest scene involves the interior condition of Peter Quill’s ship. And fortunately, it will go right over kids’ heads.)

They are backed by a great supporting cast. Stan Lee has his cameo, Del Toro returns as The Collector, and even Rob Zombie has a role. And – we finally get to see Thanos!

Overall, it’s one fun and satisfying ride and now my second favorite Marvel film. And from the setup, I predict we will see the Guardians in the third Avengers film.

Highly Recommended!

Music To Write By

Please welcome the awesome MJ Fifield!

I like creating playlists for my WIPs. I know I’m getting serious about a WIP when I start compiling a playlist for it. But I have one playlist that isn’t WIP-specific. It’s called “Mood Music” and when people have seen that particular CD lying around, their minds immediately go somewhere they shouldn’t.

It’s not that kind of mood music. What it is is instrumental music in which I get lost, melodies that make me see and feel my characters. It’s what I listen to when I need to find that deep, often elusive, writing zone.

Today, I thought I would share with you some of the soundtracks which help me do that.

The Lord of the Rings (composed by Howard Shore)—Sweeping and epic, and everything a fantasy soundtrack should be. From the very first track to the last, this is perfect music to get me in the mindset to write. Standout tracks include: The Bridge of Khazad Dum and The Riders of Rohan.

Battlestar Galactica (composed by Bear McCreary)—Unless Joss Whedon is involved, I’m not much for shows set in space. The Battlestar Galactica reboot became the exception—and the music was part of the reason why. The main title music is gorgeous, but my standout track here is Passacaglia.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (composed by Jeremy Soule)—A video game soundtrack to a game I’ve never played. Fortunately, Pandora Radio introduced it to me, and I knew instantly that I had to have it. Standout track is From Past To Present.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Score (composed by Christophe Beck)—From the television show. I particularly love Slayer’s Elegy, Sacrifice, and The Loneliness of Six. There’s another track not on this collection, though, and that’s The Final Fight by Rob Duncan, which appears in the series finale. That track always helps me with—you guessed it—fight scenes.

Game of Thrones (composed by Ramin Djawadi)—The newest addition to my Mood Music collection. I can’t deny how it makes me feel. Just beautiful, inspirational music. Standout track: Winterfell from season two.

Have any music you like to write to? Please let me know because I’m always on the hunt for new additions to my playlists.

Thanks for having me here today, Alex!
Pick up Effigy on Amazon

Ninja News

Rereleased! Snapshops by Patricia Lynne
Find it at Amazon, Goodreads, and Smashwords

Ali Cross announced the date and location for Indie ReCon Live - Sandy Utah, October 10-11th. Get all the details at Indie ReCon Live

George from Cinemarvellous now has a Facebook Page. If you are on Facebook, please ‘like’ his page.

Shag Carpet Toilet by Al Penwasser now available in print!

Had to share this picture Ellie Garratt posted of Ninja Alex with Beaker!

And don’t forget that Wednesday is Insecure Writer’s Support Group post day!

Interstellar Trailer

In case you missed it last week – an awesome new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Now I’m getting excited for this film!

Movie trivia

Marvel movies – easy trivia! (All answers are Marvel movies.)

1 – Vampire trilogy

2 – Actor who started in one series and then hit it big with another series

3 – Blind superhero

4 – In X-Men 3, Jean Grey becomes…

5 – Worst rated Marvel film of the past twenty years

Answers on Wednesday!

What music inspires you to write? Any news strike your fancy? Excited for Interstellar? Know the trivia answers? Ready for Wednesday’s IWSG post? And who else saw Guardians of the Galaxy…?

Be sure to visit Richard P. Hughes!