Monday, July 27, 2015

Breaking Epic Fantasy Rules, RiffTrax Images, Cherished Blogfest, Movie Review, New Releases, and Ninja News

Today I welcome author Misha Gerrick!

Top Ten Reasons to Love and/or Hate My YA Epic Fantasy Series

Thanks so much for having me over, Alex!

My books break a lot of YA Epic Fantasy “rules”, so after a bad review from someone who didn’t get the book, I’m telling everyone which rules I broke. This way can decide whether you’ll take a chance on the series or not after I warned you/told you why this series is uniquely awesome.

Reason One: My book starts with a dream. Pretty much because everyone kept saying “DON’T START BOOKS WITH DREAMS.” Actually that’s not true. Callan’s dreams are actually vitally important.

Reason Two: You read that right. Dreams. As in plural.

Reason Three: You know how the chosen one or high king never seems to be a girl? I have five guys and one girl telling the story, but the girl tells more than half of it for two books.

Reason Four: There is no chosen one.

Reason Five: My main characters are teenagers in some highly stressful situations. They neither speak nor act like they’re in church.

Reason Six: I used a lot of tropes

Reason Seven: And turned most of them on their heads.

Reason Eight: The story-line in The Vanished Knight might not feel quite as epic as you might be used to, and the things that tie everything together are very subtle.

Reason Nine: The Vanished Knight ends on a HUGE cliffhanger. Some might argue it makes you have to buy The Heir’s Choice. Which is why I was nice enough to publish the two simultaneously.

Reason Ten: I worked under the assumption that Young Adult Epic Fantasy readers are smart enough to keep up with the story, which has (without my intending it) been compared to Game of Thrones by three quarters of my beta readers.

Bonus Reason: I’m not sorry about any of it.

The Vanished Knight
The entity living inside Callan’s soul orphaned her at age eleven…
Find it here: Goodreads, Amazon, Apple, and Barnes and Noble

The Heir’s Choice
After discovering her parents had kept a whole world secret, Callan races to discover her past…
Find it here: Goodreads, Amazon, Apple, and Barnes and Noble

Misha Gerrick has been creating stories long before she could write and is currently going after her dream of making a living as a writer.
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New Releases!

I had the honor of reading this first book before its release and I promise you, Robyn does not disappoint, both with her humor and her raw honesty.

Available today –
Woman on the Verge of Paradise by Robyn Alana Engel

Though offered a contract on her first attempt at publication, this rogue new author decided to do it her way.

“It’s a powerful glimpse into one woman’s quest for happiness. Robyn will yank on your heartstrings one moment and then tickle your funny bone the next. Hang on for the ride!”
-Alex J. Cavanaugh, Author of the best-selling Cassa series and Dragon of the Stars

She’s 4 feet, 8 inches of heartfelt ferocity, and nothing can stop this post-pubescent spitfire from claiming her fairytale—not jarring tragedy, not penile incompetence, not even the explosive demise of a new marriage. Not until Robyn finds her happily ever after…alone.

Buy it now at Amazon!

Precious Atonement by Melissa Maygrove
Western Historical Romance

Ruined women don’t hope, killers don’t dream, and the dead don’t feel pain.

Find it here: Kindle, Amazon paperback, Nook, and Goodreads

Gabriel (Path of Angels Book 4) by Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine

The end is in sight...

Find it on Amazon and Goodreads

Ninja News and Movie Stuff

Liz at Laws of Gravity posted a link to a perception test online. I’m not the most perceptive person in the world, so I was stunned when I scored Flawless Perception! Try it yourself HERE.

Movie Review – The House at the End of Time
After strange things start happening in the house, Dulce’s husband is killed and her son taken by supernatural forces. Imprisoned for the crime, she returns to the house many years later and strange things begin again.
From Venezuela, this film was four and a half stars on NetFlix (stunning since NetFlix reviewers are harsh), so I gave it a shot. And I was impressed!
This film is a blend of horror, drama, science fiction, and mystery. Told in flashbacks between the two timelines, we see the mystery both unfold and deepen as connections are made to the house and the family. It’s an atmospheric piece with unnerving horror elements as opposed to shocking ones.
I can’t say too much without revealing the story. But I thought this was an excellent film and truly unique. If you’re looking for a film with atmosphere, intrigue, and light on horror, rent it.
Highly recommended!

And just because I wanted to share some more RiffTrax shots with you:

The Cherished Blogfest

Hosted by Damyanti, and Dan Antion, Paul Ruddock, Peter Nena, and Sharukh Bamboat.

I’m going to give you three things:

My most cherished in this world is my Lord and Savior.

Next most cherished is my wife. She’s my best friend, a great supporter, and keeps me very happy.

After that, I will go with an item. Several in fact – my guitar collection. I own several high-end guitars and they are a joy to play. I’m blessed I had the opportunity to learn guitar and can now play in a Christian band.

(And I’ll add a fourth thing – my friends, including you guys!)

What do you think about breaking all those fantasy rules? Picking up any of the cool new releases? Have you seen The House at the End of Time? And what is your most cherished thing?

Monday, July 20, 2015

The State of Sci-Fi Shows, Ant-Man Review, Movie News, Mini-Alex, and Reading Ambitions

I’m back from vacation! And it was awesome…
I’m also over at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group with guest blogging tips.

Movie News

Ant-Man Review
I’m happy to say the state of the Marvel Universe is alive and well!
Ant-Man is a quirky superhero and the film could’ve gone many directions. (Most of them wrong.) But in very capable hands, it turned out to be a great time at the theater.
Paul Rudd is the lead with Michael Douglas guiding him into the role of Ant-Man. They both do a fine job with their characters.
The film is full of humor and many laugh out loud moments. Rudd brings the right amount of comedic behavior to his character, and some of the side characters have hilarious lines.
The special effects are great and they took full advantage of Ant-Man’s ability to change sizes. This also worked amazing in the action sequences.
Typical Marvel, you get two extra snippets at the end. So stay until the VERY end for the best one.
This film was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a while and in my top three of the year.
Highly recommended!

Expendables 3 Review
I dig good action movies, but something about this series hadn’t clicked with me yet. The first one was ‘all right’ and the second one stretched even my ability to suspend disbelief. So I went into this one with low expectations.
And I have to say, I really enjoyed it. (Third time’s a charm I guess.) This one was more of what I thought the series should be like with all of those action stars. And it was a lot of fun.
To give you an idea of the cast – Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson (who plays the bad guy), Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Antonio Banderas (as a really quirky character), Kelsey Grammer, and more.
Recommended as a NetFlix watch.

World Wide Box Office

Just to give you an update on some movies released this year –

#4 – Jurassic World - $1,513.5 million
#5 – Furious 7 - $1,511.7
#6 – Avengers: Age of Ultron - $1.393.5
#91 – Minions - $625.8
#144 – Inside Out - $490.2
#166 – San Andreas - $459.8
#246 – Mad Max: Fury Road - $366.6

I’m still stunned Jurassic World is doing so well. I enjoyed it once, but it’s really not that good. Not $1.5 billion dollar good.
Minions has already soared ahead of Inside Out and will likely be the biggest animated film this year.
And while Fury Road deserves more than that, it was enough to green-light the sequel. Awesome! Bring on the bat-crap insanity.


Mini-Alex would like to remind everyone to pick up their Insecure Writer’s Support Group t-shirt!

Designed by the very talented Jeremy Hawkins, it’s available at the NeatOShop.
(And sorry, Mini-Alex did not go on vacation with me, so no photos of him being carried off into the woods by bears.)

Reading Ambitions

I’m a slow reader, which really sucks as I have so many books I want to read, including those by blogger buddies. So my goal for the rest of the year is to get to at least one book by every one of you. I doubt I’ll make it, but I’d like to read at least ONE book by each of you. Yes, it will probably be the shortest one, but that’s better than none!

Wish I could teach my clones to read…

The State of Science Fiction Television Shows

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

As I was recently watching an episode of Killjoys, I was left wondering what happened to the good science fiction shows of my younger years.

If I have to point the finger at one culprit, it appears the tipping point began with the latest incarnation of Battlestar Galactica. It was a show that featured a fractured team, full of backstabbing, deceit, and treachery.

And apparently this has become the template for current science fiction shows. From Stargate: Universe to Defiance, Dark Matter, and Killjoys.

It’s sad this dark, nihilistic attitude has seeped in from real life and permeated our entertainment. What happened to optimistic science fiction shows? Like SG1 and Star Trek? Gone now are the days of likeable characters you could root for and teams who stuck together to solve problems.

I just hope that this attitude doesn’t creep into great franchises like the Marvel movies. If it does, I’ll just stop watching those as well.

What do you think about this shift in attitude and do you like it? Is it really a good message for people to hear - that there's no hope? What happened to the joy of watching and the fun?

Who else saw Ant-Man this past weekend? Willing to give Expendables 3 a shot? Do the box office figures surprise you? What are your reading ambitions for the rest of the year? And what do think about the nihilistic attitude of shows these days?

Don’t forget to visit the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

And if I have new followers that I haven’t yet followed back in return, please leave a comment! The Google Friends Connect widget is being a pain and I can’t find blogs through it right now.

Monday, July 13, 2015

RiffTrax Sharknado 2 Review! Plus Minions Review, How Often Should You Blog, Box Office Results, and Ninja News

RiffTrax Live – Sharknado 2 Review and Feature

On July 9 (with an encore presentation on July 16), the RiffTrax crew tackled a classice – Sharknado 2.

I felt bad for the guys. Apparently, something was wrong with the Belcourt Theater in Nashville. All three were drenched in sweat before the movie even began.

Preceding the film was a short – Why Do I Need Parents. (Or something really close to that title.) It was hilarious and had a great Bruce Wayne reference.

Sharknado 2 was funny even though it was a tough movie to riff. How do you come up with jokes for a movie that’s intentionally trying to be terrible? But the gang was up for the challenge, and the Al Roker poop jokes kept me in stitches.

All in all, another solid effort from RiffTrax! And their next show in October promises to be even funnier when they tackle the film Miami Connection.

As always, before the show began, they ran a series of humorous slides. Below are some of the best ones.

Minions Movie Review

Kevin, Stuart, and Bob set out to find an evil master to serve to save their tribe.
It’s the Minions from the Despicable Me series. If you go to this film expecting more than silly fun, you will be disappointed.
The Minions spend the film doing what they do best – being cute, bumbling, mischievous, innocent creatures. There are a lot of visual jokes and silly one-liners. You’ll pick up just enough of the Minion gibberish to know what they are saying.
The special effects are sharp and the 3D adds to the bright and colorful film.
The film is light and the storyline a bit on the thin side. There’s no real message other than revealing what the Minions did before they found Gru. There’s a chance you won’t remember it a month from now, but you will have had a good laugh for an hour and a half.
Fun for adults and kids, just plan for silliness.

Box Office Charts Bonanza

Minions broke records in several countries over the past few weeks and made over $115 million dollars here in the USA. Can you imagine what they will do in merchandising?

Meanwhile, the top movies on the All-Time World Wide Box Office chart has changed a bit over the past few months. While Avengers: Age of Ultron was expected to be near the top, both Furious 7 and Jurassic World were surprise contenders.
As of Sunday, the top of the billion dollar club looked like this:
1 - Avatar;$2,788.0
2 - Titanic;$2,186.8
3 - Marvel's The Avengers;$1,518.6
4 - Furious 7;$1,511.6
5 - Jurassic World;$1,465.8
6 - Avengers: Age of Ultron;$1,388.5
Despite Jurassic World’s steam, I’m not sure it will pass Titanic, and it certainly won’t pass Avatar.

Ninja News

Over at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site, author Dianne K. Salerni talks about getting school visits.

Today is Themes That Rocked the Challenge at the A to Z Blog, and I am featuring Chrys Fey and her disasters theme.

My final tour stop didn’t go up until Tuesday, so if you missed it, visit Bull Spec for how to write another story after a series ends.

New Release that’s NOT for the kids!
Profanity Granny's Confessions by Pat Hatt
Find it on Amazon

How Often Should You Post on Your Blog?

Two weeks ago, I posted about the best time for blog posts HERE. According to the research, early morning Eastern time was the best and nighttime Eastern time the worst. You guys weighed in with your thoughts, some saying content mattered more than time.

Last week, Holly Sinclair posted on when is the best day to blog. Her research said that Wednesday was the best day, although some in the comments said Monday.

Now – how often should you post on your blog?

Pushing Social had this to say on frequency – monthly makes your blog look abandoned, weekly is better but many do that and you’ll be fighting for reader attention, when you feel like it the worst, and every weekday the best.

The Blogpress said that it was better to have two posts a week that were informative than several that were sparse. They said daily posting is good for traffic, but only if you can maintain that pace with quality posts. And ultimately, consistency was far more important than how often.

Now, I think a lot of this depends on what you are blogging about, plus what you are trying to accomplish and what you can manage.

I am once a week except during the Challenge. I know quite a few of us who are once a week. There are many who are three times a week. Some are daily. It all depends on what works best for the blogger. But that range seems to be the best. (And there are exceptions, like The Geek Twins who post geek news twice daily on weekdays. That is a perfect range for them.)

With the exception of Insecure Writer’s Support Group post day and during the A to Z Challenge, once a week works best for me. I can pack a lot into one post and be set all week. Plus I don’t want to post on days I can’t visit others. With as many followers and commenters as I have, committing to do that more often is really tiring. (Which is why I am exhausted by the end of IWSG post day and really wiped out by the end of April.)

So, how frequently should someone post? How frequently do you post?

Did you see RiffTrax tackle Sharknado 2 last week? (If you missed it, you can go on July 16.) Did you see Minions? Does the box office surprise you? And how frequently should a blog post?

I am leaving July 14 for a vacation in the mountains and will be gone all week! I will check in every morning, visiting a couple blogs, returning comments, and checking emails. But otherwise, I’ve promised my wife I will stay offline. If anything really awesome happens in my absence, send me an email so I can mention it next Monday.

Monday, July 6, 2015

RiffTrax Live This Thursday! Plus LG Keltner’s Silent Soliloquy, Movie Reviews, Question of the Month, This is How I Work Bloghop, and Ninja News

Special Reminders!

RiffTrax: Live – Sharknado 2 is this Thursday! If you’ve never seen a RiffTrax show, this is an awesome opportunity. Get your tickets HERE

Final tour stop! I am visiting Bull Spec and contributing to their column, The Hardest Part. My topic - Starting a New Story After Finishing a Series. It's live now!

LG Keltner and A Silent Soliloquy

First of all, I’d like to thank Alex for letting me stop by today. It’s awesome to be here, and I promise not to break anything! I’d like to talk a little bit today about how the films I watched as a kid influenced my writing.

When I was younger, I used to watch all kinds of movies with my dad while eating copious amounts of buttered popcorn. Anthology-style shows like Creepshow and Heavy Metal were among my favorites.

Fast forward to last year. I had a handful of stories and an idea. That might sound like a corny first line from an autobiography, but it’s true. I started to notice commonalities between the stories. Dystopian societies, personal secrets, feelings being used against people, etc. Before I knew it, they were all coming together in my mind, and I had to write the story.

A Silent Soliloquy isn’t exactly an anthology story. In fact, I’m not quite sure how to describe it. There’s a narrator, and it is without a doubt her story. The other stories that have been woven into the narrative are her own accounts of the lives of others. While my story may not be quite like films like Creepshow and Heavy Metal, I credit them with its existence. Watching those shows when I was younger allowed my brain to see the connections that were there and gave me the courage to make the story happen. They infected me with their creative genius.

I’ll take an infection of creative genius over a real-life zombie apocalypse or super flu any day.

Now, who has the popcorn? I’m hungry.

Purchase Links: Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords
Add it on Goodreads
Find L.G.- Blog, Twitter, and Facebook

Ninja News

Thanks for all the congratulations for making The Best Sci-Fi Books’ The 21 Best Space Opera Books. I still can’t believe CassaStar was number four!

Special thanks to my co-hosts and all the participants of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The heartfelt posts spoke for themselves and if you’re not part of this, please consider joining us.
Remember the point of the group is to encourage one another, so please visit others on the list and return comments of those who visit you.
I’ll be looking for co-hosts for the fall, so if you’d like to help out, let me know. Every co-host has said they really enjoyed the experience – trust me, it is a lot of fun on the hosting side!

Out now!

The Miracle Girl by TB Markinson

Purchase it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Amazon CA

Movie Reviews

Dracula Untold
With poor reviews, I thought it would be atrocious, but it was much better than anticipated. Just don’t put too much thought into the history or it will fall apart.
Luke Evans (Bard in The Hobbit) was really good in the role.
It was a nice twist to turn Dracula into an empathetic character just trying to save his family and country. Also had some good action sequences.
Worth a rental!

The title should’ve began with ‘Muppets After Dark’…
Granted it’s supposed to be a comedy, but they could’ve put more than $1.99 into the special effects.
The fact that it was trying to be funny both helped and hurt the film. And there was nothing horrific about it.
Did I mention the puppet beavers…?
I’d wait until RiffTrax got a hold of this one.

Question of the Month

Hosted by Michael at A Life Examined.
"What are three things that you'd do tomorrow if you weren't blocked by fear?"

Quit my job.
Join a rock band and hit the road.

And sorry, Michael – I could only think of two things!

This is How I Work Bloghop

Hosted by MsMariah at A Space Blogyssey

What apps can you not live without? ITunes and Google Maps
What is your favorite blogging app? I just use Google
What gadgets (besides your phone) you can't live without? My iPad and my guitar pedals
What lifehacks make your life easier? Metal music is my lifehack – put it on and I’m a working machine!
Where do you get your news? USA Today
What are your favorite social media apps? Twitter
How do you blog? Once a week posting and lots of visiting
What is your day job? I work in web design, graphics, and technical editing. And I get to blog from work!

What sparked one of your book ideas? Can you co-host the IWSG this fall? Have you seen Dracula Untold or Zombeavers? How would you answer Michael’s question? What are some of your favorite apps? And who else is going to see RiffTrax: Live on Thursday?

Don’t forget to visit Bull Spec!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Plus Best Time for Blog Posts, New Releases, and Ninja News

Double shot today!
I am visiting Roan Publishing with The Importance of Community – How to Get Involved and the Unicorn Bell with What If?
Special thanks to Terri and Liz for those opportunities.

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 Charity Bradford, S.A. Larsen, AJ, Tamara Narayan, Allison Gammons, and Tanya Miranda!

I wanted to point out that the awesome Julie Flanders wrote an article for College and Research Libraries News about some of the best websites for writers, and she listed the IWSG site! Thanks, Julie.

Thanks also to everyone who helped announce the boxed set of my trilogy, CassaSeries! (And if you’ve read all three books, the series could use with some love on Goodreads.)

At the moment, I’m working on a short story that will take place after Dragon of the Stars. Truedessa has read the book three times and she told me it was because she was hoping for a different ending for Aden and Tamsin. So I am writing one for her that promises some happiness in their future.

And finally, this just blew me away. Thanks to Edi at Edi’s Book Lighthouse for finding it. The Best Sci-Fi Books site listed The 21 Best Space Opera Books and CassaStar was number four. FOUR!!! Ahead of Dune and Ender’s Game. In reality, no way, but it was really awesome to see.

Be sure to visit other members of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

Ninja News

Thanks also to Edi for this one – Dark Roasted Blend listed the World’s Strangest Theme Parks. (That site always has the wildest stuff.)

The the WEP-Write...Edit..Publish Bloghop is back!
Hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee, this is a fun monthly event you don’t want to miss.

Damyanti is hosting a blogfest on July 24, 25, and 26 – The Cherished Blogfest.

MsMariah at A Space Blogyssey is hosting a blogfest – This is How I Work Blogathon. The deadline is July 20 to join and post.

Liesel Hill gave me the Creative Blogging Award.
Thanks, Liesel!
I’m passing it on to Pat Hatt and the Cat at It’s Rhyme Time.

New Releases

Hands by L. Ashley Straker (Known to the blogging world as Ash-Matic.)
A novella
Find out more about the book HERE and purchase it Amazon

A Taste of Pain by G.B. Miller
For an autographed copy, visit his site HERE

When is the Best Time for a Blog Post?

I’ve always heard that it was best to post around 5:00-6:00 am Eastern. I thought I’d do a bit of research and found some interesting stats.

According to the Huffington Post:
70% of users say they read blogs in the morning
More men read blogs at night than women
Mondays are the highest traffic days for an average blog
11am is usually the highest traffic hour for an average blog
Comments are usually highest on Saturdays and around 9am on most days
Blogs that post more than once per day have a higher chance of inbound links and more unique views

From the graphic, it appears that the lowest times are in the middle of the night for those of us in the USA. 12:00–4:00 am are the worst. However, I’m not too sure about the highest comments coming on Saturdays. (Mine come on Mondays, except for IWSG Wednesday.)

Kissmetrics had a great graphic, breaking down times and readers. They also stated:
The average blog gets the most inbound links on Monday and Thursday.
The average blog gets the most inbound links at 7am Eastern Time

Bang for the bucks, I’m sticking with my 5:00 am Eastern Monday postings.

When do you see the most comments and visits?

What are your writer insecurities today? Signing up for any of the bloghops and fests? Picking up some new books? And when do think is the best time for blog posts to go live?

Don’t forget to visit Roan Publishing and the Unicorn Bell!

Happy Fourth of July to my American friends!