Monday, August 29, 2016

CassaFire on Audio, Kubo and the Two Strings Review, September Movie Preview, Anyone Can be a Reader, and Monday’s Music Moves Me

CassaFire on Audio!

When I got back from vacation, I got the news that CassaFire’s audio book went live last week.
I’m really stoked for the second book of my series. In listening to the samples, not only did the narrator do a tremendous job, but everything about this story flowed so well.

Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. Keeping a promise to his fallen mentor, he now serves on an exploration vessel. The detection of alien ruins sends them to the distant planet of Tgren. Are the ruins a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassans. To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers. Forced to train Athee and further develop her flying aptitude, Byron’s patience is strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

“…delivers on the promise of its predecessor, combining military action sequences and political intrigue with strong, memorable characters. Reminiscent of the action-driven stories of Robert A. Heinlein's early fiction…” - Library Journal

Find CassaFire on audio at iTunes, Amazon, and Audible.

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

This isn’t a movie. Kubo is a work of art.
The stop animation is breathtaking. It’s beyond Aardman Animation or any stop motion you have ever seen. Blended with a touch of CGI, the animation comes alive.
The story is also beautiful. As with most Japanese tales, the elements of spiritualism, love, and loss are present. This is a deep and meaningful story; a drama with touches of humor. This is not a film for small children.
It’s shame this movie isn’t doing better. It’s definitely a contender for Best Animated Film.
Highly recommended!

Anyone Can Be a Reader

Author Ciara Knight reached out to me about a cause dear to her heart – dyslexia. She and her son both struggle with dyslexia.
Nicole Zoltack is here to share how you can assist those with dyslexia.

I’ve always been a reader. I was one of those kids who would hide a book in her textbook and read during class. I’d read while on the bus or while eating or in the car. Anywhere and everywhere that I could get the chance.

My husband didn’t grow up a reader. It’s tragic, really. I didn’t understand how he didn’t enjoy escaping into other worlds unless it was through movies or TV. Along came Harry Potter, though, and during the lulls between movies, I talked him into reading the books. And then one year for Christmas, I got him a gift that was more for me than him–A Song of Ice and Fire books. We both read them, and if he can read those tomes of George RR Martin’s, I think it’s safe to say I’ve successfully converted him into a reader.

I wish that everyone could experience the joy and love of reading, so when I saw Ciara was looking for authors to donate a story to help out a school specifically geared to students with dyslexia, I didn’t think twice. This isn’t the first time I’ve written for charity (and it won’t be the last) and I think the biggest draw for me was that these kids who struggle with letters will be able to have the help and guidance they need to become lifelong readers too.

Has dyslexia affected you or someone you know? Comment below and you’ll be entered to win your choice of one of my ebooks.

LOVE AND GRACE - Romance for the soul, a gift from the heart.

All proceeds benefit GRACEPOINT – A School for Dyslexia.

Pre-Order links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo

Monday’s Music Moves Me

Hosted by Xmas Dolly.

My choice today is Katatonia – Serein.
This band has been around forever and every new release gets better and better. They deserve some attention.

September Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for September! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

9 -

The story of Chesley Sullenberger, who became a hero after gliding his plane along the water in the Hudson River, saving all of the airplane flights 155 crew and passengers.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Tom Hanks, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Aaron Eckhart
I really like going to the movies when I have no idea how it’s going to end.

23 -

The Magnificent Seven
Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio
I’d write this off as just another unnecessary remake if not for Washington and Pratt.

30 –

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.
Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Asa Butterfield, Allison Janney
Is this an X-Men prequel?

Deepwater Horizon
A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Director: Peter Berg
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Dylan O'Brien, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell
I really like going to the movies when I have no idea how it’s going to end…

And yes, had a great time on vacation. Went camping with friends. (In a super nice trailer with all the perks – the only way I’m going camping.)

Mini-Alex went along, but sadly he never made it out of the trailer. (Yeah, my fault – I forgot!)

Have you seen Kubo? Want to do something to help Gracepoint? What music moves you today? Which movies strike your fancy? And are you into audio books? (And willing to give CassaFire a try…?)

No post next Monday due to Labor Day. (Spending the day with friends.) Will be back on September 7 for IWSG post day and the announcement of the IWSG Anthology Contest theme!

Just a reminder - last week I had a guest spot at the Parallels site, discussing the value of What If?

Monday, August 22, 2016

RiffTrax: Live – Mothra! Plus Animated Firefly Trailer, Writing Inspiration with Mark Noce, and Ninja News

I’m a guest at Parallels site on Wednesday. My topic - At the Heart of What If? (Post is live now!)

RiffTrax Live – Mothra

RiffTrax: Live put on another great show!

Japanese monster movies are just ripe for the picking, so there were lots of great lines.

And of course, the pre-movie show was just as good:

Between Two Fires and Inspiration

Thanks Alex for having me here! My debut novel Between Two Fires comes out tomorrow (August 23rd) with St. Martin’s Press, and I’m super excited to share it with all of you! It’s a medieval Welsh story of a young woman named Branwen who must marry a man she’s never met in order to save her people. I know what you’re thinking. Uh, why Mark are you writing a story about a sixteen-year-old girl set in medieval Wales? Bear with me.

I’ve always been inspired by strong heroines, both in fiction and in my own life. What really drew me to writing this story was also the fun of blending fantasy elements within a historical fiction framework, much like The Mists of Avalon, The Witch’s Daughter, and Wolfskin. I think I hit the mark square on the head with that one, because two of those bestselling authors have given me really positive quotes after reading my book (and well the first one’s no longer with us, so you can’t blame me for not getting her approval). Needless to say, the entire work was definitely a labor of love.

I’ve already got the sequel in the publisher’s hands, and have a book tour I’m kicking off for the next few months where I’ll be signing and talking about my novel in person. Thanks again Alex for having me on your site today, and to all you Ninjas out there keep reading and keep writing!

Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King…

Release Date: August 23, 2016
Find Between Two Fires at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Indie Bound, and Thomas Duanne Books
Find Mark at website, blog, Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn and Google+

Ninja News

The next post date for the IWSG is September 7. The question of the month - How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

Don’t forget that’s also the day we announce all the details and the judges for this year’s IWSG Anthology Contest!

The Storytime Blog Hop is scheduled for October 27.
See Juneta Key’s site for all the details.

New releases:

Dragons of the Barbary Coast by Roland Yeomans

Find it on Amazon

Wordsplash Hodgepodge by Joanne Faries

Find it on Amazon

Breaking Through (Breaking #3) by Juliana Haygert
Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes
Breaking Free (#1) is FREE this week!

Animated Firefly Trailer

My buddy Liz at Laws of Gravity featured this animated Firefly trailer last week, and it’s too cool not to share.

Here’s what Blastr had to say about it:
Artist Stephen Byrne has put together a teaser trailer for a Firefly animated series we really, really wish existed. The art looks great, and he does an awesome job of getting the look of the world and the characters just right. All your favorites are here, and there’s even a heartbreaking little cameo from Wash (R.I.P.). Byrne has been teasing looks at his little art project the past few years, but this is by far the most complete look he’s offered up yet.

Yeah, don’t you wish that was real…?

Have you been to a RiffTrax: Live show? What movie would you like to see them riff? What inspires your stories? Anyone chomping at the bit to know the theme for this year’s IWSG Anthology Contest? And would you watch an animated Firefly show?
Don’t forget to visit the Parallels site!

I will be on vacation Thursday through Sunday, so I’ll be responding to emails and replying to comments only those days.

Monday, August 15, 2016

New Rogue One Trailer, Self-Help by L.G. Keltner, Rio Olympics, CassaStar Audio Book Winners, and News

Movie News

New Rogue One Trailer!

JoBlo posted this picture of Aquaman wielding a guitar on set for Justice League. Aquaman just got even cooler in my eyes!

Last week, Blastr confirmed – there will be a fourth Chronicles of Narnia film. Producers are in place and someone is working on the script of The Silver Chair. The first three films made $1.6 billion, so it’s about time they worked on finishing the series.

Self-Help by L.G. Keltner

Thanks for letting me stop by your blog, Alex! It’s great to be here!

Writing the Self-Help 101 series has been an enjoyable experience. The first novella Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family takes place during Christmas. This latest novella Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury focuses on the 4th of July. The third novella is coming out late next month. The last one is in the planning stages, and I hope to have it out before the end of the year.

After writing these books, I thought it would be fun to share with you some books you can rest assured I will never sit down to write.

Self-Help 101 or: How to Do Your Taxes at the Last Minute (I’d be so out of my depth and bored trying to write such a thing I fear it would kill my love for writing.)

Self-Help 101 or: How to Say the Right Thing in Any Social Situation (I am such a socially awkward person that any advice I attempted to offer would be disastrous.)

Self-Help 101 or: How to Quit Drinking Caffeine With Minimal Human Suffering (I could not write such a book, nor could the main character Dani from this series. We’re both too dependent.)

Self-Help 101 or: How to Remain Calm When Someone Tells You Science Fiction is Stupid (I’ve had people tell me this before, and no, I wasn’t able to remain calm.)

What self-help book could you never write?

Find L.G. at her blog
Find Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, CreateSpace and Goodreads

Rio Olympics

We’ve been enjoying the Olympics this past week. Watching athletes who are the best of the best stretch to do even better is inspiring. I do the row machine at the gym, so watching the women race and the pace they set was just amazing. Track and field is in full swing now, with another week of awesome events. Some of the highlights for me this past week:

Michael Phelps has now won twenty-eight medals, twenty-three of them Gold. That is just mind-blowing. We'll never see another athlete like that in our time.

Swimmer Katie Ledecky – they say she is the greatest swimmer right now. The woman beat her own world record for the Gold in the women’s 800m freestyle, coming in ahead of the Silver medalist by twelve seconds. Twelve! Just think how great she’ll be in four years.

Our women’s gymnastic team obliterating the competition for the Gold. (They said their team score was the equivalent of a dozen touchdowns ahead.) Then Simone and Aly securing Gold and Silver in the individual all-around was icing on the cake. I still swear those girls have springs in their feet.

Women’s beach volleyball. Need I say more? (But I will, because it’s impressive that Kerri Walsh Jennings just might win her fourth Gold medal.)

Swimmer Simone Manuel winning a Gold and breaking the World Record, a historic moment. There are just so few African-American swimmers.

Our men’s team is struggling a bit, but our women’s basketball team is killing it and should sweep for the Gold. They also scored over a hundred points in their first three games, the first time any basketball team has done that at the Olympics.

Ninja News 

Pat Hatt had no book release last week. The writing community was shocked and Amazon’s stocks dropped. The Cat could not be reached for comment.
However – Pat has been doing a series poking fun and featuring his blogger buddies. And he got me last week, right down to my own blog post format. Visit Pat Hatt and prepare to be amused!

New Release-
Cruising for Murder by Elizabeth S. Craig
Find it on Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo

And the winners of a CassaStar audio book are…



Excited for Rogue One? What about another Narnia movie? What self-help book couldn’t you write? And what highlights of the Olympic games have you enjoyed?

Monday, August 8, 2016

CassaStar on Audio and Giveaway, Suicide Squad Review, Best Writing Support Network, and Ninja News

CassaStar Available as an Audio Book!

I got the news from my publisher last Wednesday afternoon – CassaStar is now available as an audio book!

It is really wild to hear someone read my book. The narrator did a great job with both story and getting the names right. (If you’ve ever wondered how Ernx is pronounced, he nails it.) And of course, nothing highlights mistakes or growth as a writer more than hearing the story. It’s all good though.

To purchase or hear a sample:
iTunes, Amazon, and Audible

To celebrate, I have two copies of CassaStar on audio to give away!

Where to Find the Best Support Network for Your Writing by Stephanie Faris

I remember the first time I sat in a room with other writers. I could finally talk to real people who did exactly what I enjoyed doing. Those were the pre-Internet days, so it was in-person meetings or nothing.

Soon after, Windows 95 came out and everyone had a computer. I discovered the Internet not long after joining Romance Writers of America. There was no Facebook or Twitter but RWA had listservs. All day, you had these interesting posts coming into your email. I learned so much in those early years but most importantly, I felt like I was a part of a community.

There are so many options for writers now, it can be difficult to figure out exactly where you fit. In the blogosphere, there are thousands of aspiring writers but how do you find them? One of the best things an aspiring novelist can do is join the Insecure Writers Support Group, which requires you to post the first Wednesday of every month. Browse the sign-up list and read other blogs on that day and chances are, at least a few aspiring writers will check out your blog, as well.

If you write in a specific genre, you may find forums and Facebook groups specific to that industry. For children’s writers, there’s a closed group called Children’s Authors and Illustrators on Facebook. Romance writers will find Romance Writers, Readers, Bloggers, & Reviewers, which is also on Facebook. If you don’t see a group specific to your interests, ask around on Twitter and someone will likely have a suggestion.

But for those starting out, I can’t speak highly enough about the in-person experience. Check for a writer’s group near you. Also join professional organizations that represent your genre (RWA, SCBWI, Mystery Writers of America) and check for local chapters that meet.

It may take a while to find your group but once you do, you’ll be well on your way to being a happy writer. You’ll be amazed how much better it feels to write when you can vent your frustrations to someone who understands.

Stephanie Faris is celebrating the release of Piper Morgan Joins the Circus and Piper Morgan in Charge!

Suicide Squad Review

Not a perfect film, but a lot of fun.
It begins after the death of Superman and group of criminals are pulled together as a desperate line of defense. Will Smith heads up the gang as Deadshot, providing a strong performance and a human connection. So does Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, adding a bold and touching quality to the crazy. Jared Leto takes the Joker role and makes it his own. And the Enchantress is one creepy character.
Lots of action and a much lighter tone than Batman v Superman makes for a fun ride. While the Suicide Squad is comprised of anti-hero villains, this isn’t Deadpool – like the comic, it’s very much PG-13. Where the film does suffer is its scattershot editing. I have a feeling the director’s cut of this one will also be better.
Internet conspiracy theorists started a rumor that Disney is paying reviewers to write negative reviews for DC properties. If you go to Rotten Tomatoes, the average difference between user ratings and critics is 10-20%. For Suicide Squad, it’s almost 50% - users 74% and critics 26%. (Batman v Superman is just as lopsided.) Over at the IMDB, it’s the same lopsided story. So, you have to wonder if the rumor is true… (And despite the critical hate, the film shattered the August opening record with $130+ billion dollars.)
A little uneven but quirky and quite fun. Unlike ID: Resurgence, I do want to see this one again! Recommended.

Ninja News

Today’s Themes That Rocked the Challenge feature at the A to Z Blog is Cherdo on the Flipside and her awesome theme of Favorite Characters, Favorite Lines.

New release:
What is Life?
An anthology by GB Miller

Thanks to everyone who participated in the IWSG last week and my awesome co-hosts. I can’t get to everyone, but I do try to visit those who visit me and the new members.
September 7 is the next post date and we’ll be announcing the IWSG Anthology Contest details!

Do you have a support network for your writing? Have you seen Suicide Squad? Ready for the IWSG Anthology Contest announcement? Are your books in audio? And who wants to hear how Ernx is pronounced in CassaStar…?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, August Movie Preview, Batman v Superman DVD Review, Favorite Beach, and New Releases!

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 Tamara Narayan, Tonja Drecker, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Lauren @ Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders!

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

If you count the very first thing I actually finished, then I can proudly say it was published!

Of course, there was a complete rewrite before that, but it’s still the characters and basic idea.

I also have a complete outline now! I guess I need to start that writing thing.

And we’re one month away from announcing the next IWSG Anthology Contest!

Question of the Month

Hosted by Michael at A Life Examined

“What’s your favourite beach?”

I thought long and hard on this one. I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t have a favorite beach. I’m not a beach person. I prefer the mountains over a hot, sandy beach. Mountains are less crowded. And I’m less likely to see someone in a string bikini who has no right to be wearing one…

DVD Review – Batman v Superman

I reviewed it here when it came out in theaters, saying it was flawed but I still enjoyed it. We picked up the extended version on DVD and watched it this weekend. And wow, what a difference!
It’s still dark and Lex Luthor miscast, but – everything is now fleshed out and makes a lot more sense. There’s more scenes showing Clark’s research into the bat vigilante and how people are afraid of Batman. Luthor’s plan to frame Superman is more fleshed out, in both the beginning sequence in the desert and the bombing of the senate. There were so many little things that just made for a more complete story.
It pushes the run time to three hours, but the results are worth it!

New Releases!

Hunter’s Moon by Roland Yeomans
Buy it on Amazon

Pat Hatt has three new Tarsier Man books!

A Hire with Fire
On Amazon

A Bot Rippin’ Plot
On Amazon

A Shower of Power
On Amazon

Short Stories for on the go by Tessa Castello (Nicola Burggraf)
Buy it at Amazon

Under a Brass Moon
A Steampunk and Science Fiction Anthology
Featuring Ethereal Coil by S.A. Larsen

Coming soon from my fellow publishing house author!

Cling to God: A Daily Devotional by Lynda R Young

Release date: October 18th, 2016
Published by Freedom Fox Press

Cling to God in the chaos of life…

August Movie Preview 

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for August! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

5 –

Suicide Squad
A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency.
Director: David Ayer
Stars: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, David Harbour, Jared Leto, Cara Delevingne
Hopefully DC can find the balance between drama and humor because this does look batcrap crazy.

12 –

Pete’s Dragon
The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.
Director: David Lowery
Stars: Karl Urban, Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley
This is not the Pete’s Dragon I grew up with. That’s either a good or a bad thing.

19 –

Kubo and the Two Strings
A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.
Director: Travis Knight
Stars: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei
Great animation but the humor in the trailer is cringe-worthy.

The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Stars: Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer, Sofia Black-D'Elia
Redoing an iconic film sounds like a bad idea. No surprise that the trailer confirms it.

26 –

Mechanic: Resurrection
Arthur Bishop thought he had put his murderous past behind him when his most formidable foe kidnaps the love of his life. Now he is forced to travel the globe to complete three impossible assassinations, and do what he does best, make them look like accidents.
Director: Dennis Gansel
Stars: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh
The sequel nobody asked for to the movie nobody remembers…

Where is the first thing you ever wrote? Have a favorite beach? Want to see the improvements to Batman v Superman? Picking up some new books? And what movies are you interested in seeing this month…?