Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 A to Z Challenge List Open, What Are the Kargrandes, Share Your Thoughts Bloghop, and Ninja News

If you are a self-published author, you need to check out a new site called Reedsy. They connect authors with professional editors, illustrators, etc. They also have a blog packed with tips and information, and today I am visiting that site as a guest of Ricardo Fayet, co-founder of Reedsy. Please drop by!

Special thanks to those of you who took the time to listen to my guitar piece last week. You are greatly appreciated! If you missed it, I posted a snippet of me playing Marillion’s Easter.

Kargrandes Update!

New clue today at What Are the Kargrandes? Every Monday is a new piece of information about the Kargrandes from my upcoming book, Dragon of the Stars. Any ideas yet? Know how they are connected to the Dragon?

Sample Tweets for this week:

What are the Kargrandes? Third clue up this week- #whatarethekargrandes @alexjcavanaugh

Can you solve the mystery – what are the Kargrandes? #whatarethekargrandes #scifi @alexjcavanaugh

And in other book news, I’d like to thank Lily Eva Blake for her wonderful review of CassaFire!

Ninja News – New Releases

This Wednesday at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site is none other than author Medeia Sharif! Want to know how she went from parting from her agent to four books in one year? Check it out Wednesday and find out.

Ashes Burn Season 1: Ashes Away by Tyrean Martinson
Comes out January 28 and you can pre-order it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Fade Into Me by Charity Bradford
Charity will be a guest here on February 9.

Woven by David Powers King and Michael Jenson
Comes out January 27!
David will be a guest here on February 11.

The Seventh Man by Lisa-Buie Collard
And you can enter to win a free book!

Evening of the Dragonfly by Mary Montagues Sikes

Twice in a Blue Moon by Cate Masters

Share Your Thoughts Bloghop

Hosted by Jamie Ayres to celebrate the release of 18 Thoughts, the third installment in the My So-Called Afterlife trilogy.

Each person participating will post a thought (belief) that has defined their life, their way of thinking. Post up to 18 if you’re feeling adventurous and post any time between Jan. 21 and Jan. 28. I’ll pick 2-3 winners each day.

I’m going to give you the one belief I live my life by:

I believe God rules and God reigns, His son Jesus Christ died for my sins, and I live under the tenets of grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness.

(And on a lighter note, I also believe speed limit signs are merely suggestions!)

The 2015 A to Z Challenge List is Open!

Please read and follow the sign-up instructions outlined below so you sign onto the list correctly!

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, 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.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE

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.

Blogs must be on an open platform – no Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. – and comments enabled.

To streamline legitimate blogs from advertisement blogs, the Co-Hosts will be visiting each blog on this list throughout the Challenge. Blogs on the list showing no activity once the Challenge starts or miss five days in a row will be removed.

Please note your blog name and number in all correspondences. Remember that as blogs are removed, your number will change.

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. See the first few blogs on the list for examples. However, if your blog has adult content, you MUST mark it (AC) or it will be removed from the list. Codes are as follows:


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 Challenge Blog.

For more information we recommend you follow the A to Z Challenge Blog and the hosts:

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
Nicole Ayers @ The Madlab Post
Author Stephen Tremp
Heather M. Gardner
AJ @ Naturally Sweet
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian
Matthew MacNish @ The QQQE
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
S. L. Hennessy @ Pensuasion
C. Lee McKenzie @ The Write Game
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
Susan Gourley @ Susan Says
John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing
Lisa Buie-Collard, Author

We also have a Facebook Page
Email address is
Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z

Sign up at the A to Z Challenge Blog and join us for a month of alphabet fun!

Know What Are the Kargrandes? See some new books you want? What thought or believe do you live by? And are you joining us for the A to Z Challenge, the most awesome blogging event of the year? (Please do – it’s a lot of fun!)

Don’t forget to visit Reedsy’s blog.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Zombie Influences with Loni Townsend, Ninja Plays Marillion’s Easter, WhatAreTheKargrandes, Predestination Movie Review, and Ninja News

Rocking into Mordor today! But first…

I am excited to welcome author Loni Townsend as she talks about zombies. And her list of zombie influences rocks!

First off, a big thanks to Alex for letting me on his blog today.

In This World Bites, Michael gets bitten by a zombie. So naturally, I should be able to come up with my top ten zombie movies, right? Turns out that I haven't actually seen ten zombie movies. But I've compiled a list of media that impacted me in some way while writing This World Bites.

10. The Grudge - The image of the babysitter wandering down the street with a missing jaw is forever engrained in my mind.
9. Warm Bodies - Who doesn't love a love story?
8. Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides - It's on Wikipedia, so it must count, right?
7. Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Alright, so they aren't zombies...
6. Serentity - My friend assures the Reavers count as zombies
5. Video Game: Left 4 Dead - Fighting off zombie hordes with friends? Sounds like a good time.
4. The Mummy - Zombie bugs!
3. Game: Plants vs. Zombies - BRAINS!!
2. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night - Yes, it's cheesy, but his sidekick, Marcus, played a lot into my imagination
1. Zombieland - By far, my most favorite zombie movie of all time.

My friend insists I must watch the Resident Evil movies. Do you have any other suggestions for me?

Loni Townsend
Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.
Find her Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

What Are the Kargrandes?

Thanks to everyone who spread the word about the special site for Dragon of the Stars, What Are the Kargrandes?

Remember that there is a new clue and piece of the puzzle every Monday morning up until release day. So, check it out today!

Several of you asked about pre-written Tweets. Yes, something I should’ve done last week! Below are a couple you can use and save – adjust as necessary. Thanks!

What are the Kargrandes? New clue every Monday! #whatarethekargrandes @alexjcavanaugh

Solve the mystery – what are the Kargrandes? #whatarethekargrandes #scifi @alexjcavanaugh

Rocking Into Mordor

The moment you’ve all been waiting for – I have one minute of me playing Marillion’s Easter. I wanted to pick a more complicated song than what my band plays and it took me many tries to get it right. Here you go – listen to it while you read the rest of the post! (Or watch on You Tube)

Movie Review

Staring Ethan Hawke as a time-traveling Temporal Agent. His final assignment involves tracking down a criminal and bringing in a new recruit.
Where to begin? This movie is a total mind-mess. Think Memento and Looper. I can’t tell you much about the film without giving it away, and you need to discover the twists and turns for yourself.
It’s a quiet, slower-paced film. Reviews online are mixed, so it’s either a love it or hate it kind of film.
Ethan Hawke and the other leads do a fine job in their roles.
You want a film that will make you think, and possibly blow your mind, this is it.

Ninja News

Roland Yeomans has a new site - Return of the Last Shaman. If you’re into weird occurrences in the natural world, he offers some cool stuff.

Lisa at Flash Fiction posted her Annual List Of Possible Topics For the #AtoZChallenge. If you’re still searching for a topic, check out her suggestions.

Found a new website - Indie-Visible
We define “Indies” as those authors who independently publish books with skillful handling of all phases of the writing and publishing process. Our PubHub is where Indies can access expert advice and trustworthy freelancers, and ultimately build their dream teams to help them write, edit, proof, publish and market high quality books.
Thanks to Leandra J. Wallace for the tip!

New releases!

52 Likes by Medeia Sharif
Find Medeia – YA and MG Author
Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

The Anime Way by Nigel Mitchell
The next book in the TOONS series.
Find it on Amazon


What zombie things have influenced you? What are the Kargrandes – any clues yet? Have you seen Predestination? Need some topic ideas for the A to Z Challenge? And now you’ve finally heard me play – what did you think?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, January 12, 2015

What Are the Kargrandes? Plus Ignore the Captcha, Movie Reviews, A to Z Challenge, Dragon News, and Ninja News

The special site for Dragon of the Stars is open -

The site is just one page with two images that rotate every seven seconds. Every Monday morning, a new clue will appear, and a piece of the puzzle will fall into place, all the way up until the day before Dragon’s release.

This is where I need your help – spreading the word about the site on social media. For Twitter, the hashtag is #whatarethekargrandes. I’ll be sending out Tweets and posting on Google+ - please feel free to share there and elsewhere.

What are the Kargrandes? You’ll find out on April 7!

Dragon of the Stars is now available for preorder on Amazon! It will soon be available for pre-order at other book sites, so keep watching. Today is also the last day of the Goodreads giveaway.

Thanks for all of the amazing comments last week for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! And the introductions were awesome. It was cool to read a little bit about each member. (If you missed it, add your introduction to February’s post.) It’s always so amazing to hear how many of you find IWSG your favorite post day. You guys rock!

And thanks to everyone who visited my interview with Chrys Fey - AND went back to comment on my very first blog post! It doesn’t look so lonely and unloved now.

Ignore the Captcha!

Did you know you don’t have to fill out the Captcha letters OR check the box saying you are not a robot?

That’s right – you can just ignore them and hit publish comment!

Thanks to The Happy Whisk and Father Dragon Al for pointing out that trick.

I will be going back to the pop up box soon!

Movie reviews

The Wolf of Wall Street
I’m not sure of the purpose of this film. Don’t do a ton of drugs without expecting something to go wrong eventually? If you are looking for a movie with redeeming values, this is NOT it.

Latest Schwarzenegger film and it’s really violent. Certainly one of the bloodiest films I’ve seen in a long time. Plot was disjointed and odd. It’s passable if you just want mindless gore.

Favorite Album and Book of 2014

You got my favorite movies last week – this time, I’ll just give you one of each.

Favorite album was Voyager – V.
Every time I listen to it, the music sounds fresh.

And these books didn’t come out this past year, but that’s when I began reading the series – Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law. The man is a master with character development. Excellent fantasy series!

Ninja News

At the A to Z Blog today is Sharon Arthur Moore with her theme of all things food related.

The 2015 A to Z Challenge sign up list opens in two weeks! Are you ready for the sixth Challenge? I have my theme and the basics for each letter already picked out.

Available now!
Loose Corset by Christine Rains
Her blog tour is already in progress and you can win some cool, custom geeky dice.
Check it out!

SC gave me the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Thank you! I’ve received it before, so I won’t list my seven things.

Rocking Ninja


I hope to have a recording of me playing guitar next Monday. I have selected Marillion’s song Easter, a favorite of mine.

Because yes, I do intend to simply rock into Mordor!

Can you help with the #whatarethekargrandes campaign? Did you know you could ignore the Captcha? Seen either of those movies? Ready for the A to Z Challenge? And who’s ready to see me rock into Mordor..?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Plus January Movie Preview, Goodreads Giveaway, New Releases, and Snarky Blogfest

The lovely Chrys Fey is kicking off the new year with an interview and feature, and I am her first guest! Please visit her site to learn some interesting things about my blog and posts.

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 Elizabeth Seckman, Lisa Buie-Collard, Chrys Fey, and Michelle Wallace!

We asked IWSG members to introduce themselves today. Here’s mine:

I work in web design, graphics, and technical editing. I’m also a guitarist in a band. Online I’m the Ninja Captain, founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and an A to Z Challenge co-host. My genre is space opera and I’m author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm. My next book, Dragon of the Stars, comes out April 7. And I never even wanted to be an author…

It looks like everything is falling in place for the release of Dragon of the Stars. My publisher sent out review copies and is sending a lot of promotional material to upcoming science fiction conventions. My blog tour is mostly set. And I have a secret project I’m working on with my publisher that involves a website and a grassroots movement. When it’s all set, I hope to get help spreading the word.

And there’s another Goodreads giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dragon of the Stars by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Dragon of the Stars

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Giveaway ends January 13, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

New Releases!

Sudden Secrets by C Lee McKenzie
Find it on Amazon
Enter the Goodreads giveaway

This one came out last year, but it slipped in under the radar…
Rainbow: Poetry & Prose by Hank Kaykuala

Sarcasm, Snark, & Sass Blogfest

Hosted by LG Keltner, who is celebrating three years of blogging.

On Friday, January 9th, 2015, give me a post that celebrates something sarcastic, snarky, or just satisfyingly sassy. You can give me an example from real life, a favorite film or book, or you can give me an original piece of fiction. The sarcasm can either be well understood, or hilariously misunderstood.

Here is my snarky offering:

Hey, Johnny Football!

Eddie Munster called.

He wants his haircut back. 

January movie preview

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

9 –

Taken 3
Ex-government operative Bryan Mills is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.
Director: Olivier Megaton
Stars: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
They’re going to tone it down for Taken 4. Someone will take his sandwich from the lunchroom.

16 –

A man is released from prison to help American and Chinese authorities pursue a mysterious cyber criminal. The dangerous search leads them from Chicago to Hong Kong.
Director: Michael Mann
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang, William Mapother
The preview looked cool until I saw it was directed by Mann – then it looked uber-cool!

A young English boy befriends a talking bear he finds at a London train station. A live-action feature based on the series of popular children's books by Michael Bond.
Director: Paul King
Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent
Why wasn’t this released over Christmas? Would’ve been perfect timing.

23 –

Art dealer Charles Mortdecai searches for a stolen painting that's reportedly linked to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.
Director: David Koepp
Stars: Johnny Depp, Olivia Munn, Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow
Just when you thought a Depp character couldn’t get more cartoonish or annoying…

What are your writing insecurities today? Did you introduce yourself? Entering either Goodreads giveaway? Feeling snarky? And what films do you want to see in January?

Be sure to visit Chrys Fey!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Hobbit and Ragnarok Movie Reviews, Movie Inspiration with Stephanie Faris, Top Films of 2014, Blogger Issues, and Ninja News

Welcome to 2015! I enjoyed my holiday break (so did Mini-Alex) but it’s good to be back. 

To kick off the first post of the year with some movie inspiration, please welcome the talented and beautiful Stephanie Faris!

Inspired by the Movies

I used to write romance. My specialty was the fun romantic comedies that were popular in the 90s and early 00s but seem to have fallen out of favor in recent years. Except one place. Hallmark’s cheesy movies.

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for those movies. Before Christmas, I discovered a wealth of Hallmark movies on YouTube and indulged in day-long marathons while I worked. I realized something as I was enjoying one sweet romance after another: romantic comedy heroines have quite a bit in common with the young girls in my middle grade novels. They’re spunky, idealistic, and they want to make a difference in the world.

Some writers are inspired to write by the latest superhero blockbuster or dystopian teen angst story, but not me. I’m inspired by idealistic women who have their flaws but always mean well. Think Meg Ryan in just about every movie she did in the 90s. Or Kate Hudson in her romantic comedies of the early 00s. We fall in love with them because they aren’t perfect. We fall in love with them because we can relate.

So if you cringe every time Hallmark advertises its 25 Days of Christmas or you’re thankful every day Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston are now too old to play quirky young women, you might not like 25 Roses. Although my main character Mia does have a bit of Robin Hood in her—giving chocolate roses to the kids in her school who never receive them on Valentine’s Day. Everyone loves Robin Hood, right?

Find Stephanie at her Blog, Twitter, and Website
25 Roses comes out January 6 – find it on Amazon

Ninja News

This Wednesday, we invite all Insecure Writer’s Support Group members (Bloggers and Facebook members) to post an introduction of yourself. Include it with your regular IWSG post (please keep it to one hundred words or less) or post it Wednesday when prompted at the Facebook IWSG.

Dragon of the Stars is on two new lists at Goodreads - Can’t Wait Sci-Fi and Fantasy of 2015 and Excellent Space Opera. So if you’re looking forward to it or you’ve read and enjoyed it, please hop over and vote. Thanks!

You might not know this, but Trisha @ Words and Stuff is a singer and you can hear her on Rotting Apples’ new album, The Falling Sound.

New Books

Fight the Greek Bite by Pat Hatt

Across the Ages by RaShelle Workman

Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley
Her first - congratulations, Rebecca!
Grudge by JL Campbell


Recent changes with Blogger have resulted in a new annoying feature–the I Am Not A Robot button. It appears you can now turn off Captcha (check–many of you still have it on) but that button is always there. I’m not a fan of the embedded comment box (because I have to keep scrolling up and down, answering comments) but it’s the only one without that annoying button.

And speaking of comments–did you know that once you hit two hundred, that’s all that appears on the page? You have to either show the next batch (with a pop-up comment box) or Show More (with embedded) to see the rest. So your comments on my last post weren’t eaten–they were just hidden.

Movie Reviews

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
The movie wasn’t necessary, but I’m happy with any chance to return to Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth! No, this will not be an unbiased review. I loved the first five Middle Earth films, and I loved this one.
The movie showcases what Jackson does best. The one battle encompasses most of the movie and it’s spectacular. Plus we are so invested in the characters at this point and really care what happens to them.
It’s a bittersweet ending for several reasons, including the fact it’s the last venture into Middle Earth.
Highly recommended!

This Finnish film is what I’d call a hidden gem. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s done really well.
Set against the backdrop of Viking mythology, the film begins with a quest that that takes a turn for the worse.
The scenery and cinematography are stunning. The acting is solid and the special effects are also very good, especially considering the tiny budget.
A ‘Watch Now’ on NetFlix, with subtitles.

My Favorite Movies of 2014

There were some excellent films last year, especially in the superhero category. Here are my top favorite movies of 2014 and their grosses:

1 – Guardians of the Galaxy (Currently $773 million dollars worldwide)
2 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($714 million worldwide)
3 – X-Men: Days of Future Past ($746 million worldwide)
4 – Edge of Tomorrow ($369 million worldwide)
5 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Currently $723 million worldwide)
6 – Godzilla ($525 million worldwide)
7 – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($708 million worldwide)

Sadly, Guardians was not the highest grossing film of 2014. For reasons unknown, Transformers: Age of Extinction made $1.087 billion dollars worldwide. Go figure!

What were your favorite films?

Did everyone have a good Christmas and New Year’s? What movies inspire you? Picking up some new books? Annoyed with Blogger? Have you seen the last Hobbit film or Ragnarok? And what were your favorite films of 2014?