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!

Monday, June 29, 2015

July Movie Preview, Reviews – BoxTrolls and Transformers 4, and Ninja News!

Today I am visiting long-time friend, author Elizabeth Mueller! Want a glimpse into the life of a Ninja and how I balance it all? Visit Elizabeth to find out. (My guest post is live now!)

Movie Reviews

Caught up on some films that were released last year.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
A bounty hunter is after the Autobots… oh, who cares? This is the fourth movie in a franchise that has made close to four billion dollars. Plot doesn’t matter.
My expectations were really low. And the film really wasn’t bad. Over the top on occasion, both with story and melodrama, but otherwise a serviceable entry in the series.
Here’s where the movie tanks – its length. Just before the two hour mark, when a pivotal event signified the end of the film, I checked the time remaining. Fifty minutes. What? That’s right – this is the never-ending movie. Wow, could this have used some editing.
The special effects are really cool. If you are into Transformers, you will dig this. If you’ve got three hours to kill, worth a rental.

The BoxTrolls
A boy raised by underground collectors has to save his friends from an evil exterminator.
Based on a book by Alan Snow, this tale has all the qualities of a Roald Dahl story. It’s quirky and the adults are idiots while the kids are smart.
There are so many messages in this movie: accepting others, breaking out of your shell, the value of family, coveting, etc. None of them are slammed in your face, though.
The Claymation is amazing. Few studios use it anymore (like Aardman Animations) and the color and style here are amazing.
While the film isn’t a hundred percent, I guarantee it’s one of the most original animated tales you will ever see.
Recommended when you are ready to see something unique and odd!

Ninja News

Al Penwasser made a video for Bones: The Movie about his best friend. The man is a creative genius. Or completely nuts. Either way, it’s hilarious.

Indie Author Pride Day July 1st 2015 on Social Media! For details, visit Lyons Book Promotions.

Great opportunity for self-published authors – Self-E. Get your books into libraries. Visit Elizabeth S. Craig for details.

Reading Alley is now open! This site helps authors deliver their books to readers for reviews. They are having a grand opening special, so check it out.

Available now!

Masked Kiss by Christine Rains

Dice & Debauchery series

Find it at Ellora’s Cave Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads




July Movie Preview

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

3 –

Terminator Genisys
John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.
Director: Alan Taylor
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke
The trailer looked awesome – sadly, the early reviews have not been good. Think it’s time to terminate this series.




10 –

Minions
Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.
Directors: Kyle Balda | Pierre Coffin
Stars: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton
The best part of the Despicable Me series gets their own film – prepare for silly fun and another onslaught of Minion merchandise.

Self/less
An extremely wealthy man, dying from cancer, undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body's origin and the organization that will kill to protect its cause.
Director: Tarsem Singh
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Goode, Ben Kingsley, Natalie Martinez
Been done before and considering the director’s track record, the stars will wish they’d been transferred into a healthy movie.

17 –

Ant-Man
Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Director: Peyton Reed
Stars: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell, Michael Peña
Will this superhero be a hit or will someone step on him?



24 –

Pixels
When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.
Director: Chris Columbus
Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage
Adam Sandler. Enough said. Dinklage needs to keep his day job, at least until Martin kills him.


Have you seen either The BoxTrolls or Transformers 4? Taking advantage of Indie Pride Day, Self-E, or Reading Alley? Looking forward to any of the movies in July? And are you ready for Wednesday’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group?

Don’t forget to visit Elizabeth Mueller!

Monday, June 22, 2015

CassaSeries is Available! Plus Cherie Reich's Favorite Monsters, IWSG T-Shirt, Monster Trivia Answers, and Ninja News

CassaSeries releases today! But first…


I am visiting Beverly Stowe McClure at Story of a Writer with a short piece on the best and worst of writing.


And the super talented Cherie Reich joins us here today!


Cherie Reich’s 5 Favorite Horror Monsters/Villains

1. Pennywise from Stephen King’s It. A clown with very, very sharp teeth. Can we get any scarier?

2. Big Jim Rennie and Junior from Stephen King’s Under the Dome. I loathed them in the book, almost as much as Umbridge from Harry Potter. They were cruel, manipulative, and downright evil. I must admit I like them more in the TV series, although Big Jim is still quite manipulative and evil.

3. The aliens from M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. These aliens are no E.T. or Alf. We may be their cattle, but at least we have water on our side. Strangely, I could have sworn I saw one in real life when I was a child (years before I watched the movie).

4. Michael Myers from John Carpenter’s Halloween series. My mom said she’d seen the movie while pregnant with me. I wonder what that says about us. Heh. I’m a big fan of the Halloween series, and my former housemate and I would spend hours discussing our theories about Michael Myers. No matter how slow he walks, he’s very persistent. Just be sure to cut off the right head, okay?

5. Jason from Friday the 13th series. A mother’s love can bring her creepy son back to life. Just be sure to stay away from lakes and cabins. And I have to admit seeing Jason beating one girl in a sleeping bag with another girl in a sleeping bag was the most memorable moment in Jason X.

What’s your favorite monster/villain from a horror book/movie?

A monster hunts us. After hibernating for a decade, it’s ravenous. We long to stop this nightmare, but the end of the road is far. There is no waking up once a legend sets its sights on you.

Purchase Once upon a Nightmare: A Collection by Cherie Reich at Amazon. From June 22-28, the collection is only $0.99!

Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction author and library assistant living in Virginia. Visit her website and blog for more information.

Ninja News

Nigel Mitchell posted about a Hemmingway app that can be used to improve your writing.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group t-shirt is available now! Designed by the very talented Jeremy Hawkins, members can now show their support and commitment to the group.

Purchase your IWSG shirt at the NeatOShop.








New Releases:

Summer Vacation Devotions by Tyrean Martinson includes fifteen devotions for families having fun on summer vacation and center around God's Word and activities like car trips, camping, building sandcastles and cooking s'mores. The author earnings will go to Peace Rehabilitation Center in Nepal to fight human trafficking.
Available as an eBook and paperback.

Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets
Featuring a story by Leandra Wallace
Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

A Faerie’s Secret by Rachel Morgan
Book Four in the Creepy Hollow Series
Find it at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords

Movie Trivia Answers

1 – Hellraiser 1997 - Cenobites
2 – Reign of Fire 2002 - Dragons
3 – Near Dark 1987 - Vampires
4 – Lake Placid 1999 – Giant Crocodile
5 – Battleship 2012 - Aliens
6 – Deep Blue Sea 1999 - Sharks

Available today!

CassaSeries
By Alex J. Cavanaugh
ISBN 9781939844118
Price - $5.99 eBook boxed set
Science fiction/adventure (FIC028010) and science fiction/space opera (FIC028030)

The Amazon Best-Selling Series!

CassaStar - Few options remain for Byron. Slated to train as a Cosbolt pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth to his instructor, Bassa. As war brews on the edge of space, Bassa must make a decision that could decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission destined to stretch their abilities to the limit?

CassaFire - Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters behind him, the detection of alien ruins sends him to the planet of Tgren. Forced to train a Tgren named Athee and deal with an eager young scientist, he feels invaded. Tensions mount as the ruins reveal a potential weapon, plunging him further into the chaos. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

CassaStorm - Commanding the base on Tgren, Byron watches as a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the planet. When the war hits Tgren, it triggers nightmares in his son. The ancient alien ship begins transmitting a deadly code and the probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago returns. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

Find it at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Goodreads


What is your favorite monster? (Mine would be Godzilla.) See some cool new books? Picking up the IWSG t-shirt? Get any of the trivia right? And if you’ve never read the trilogy, CassaSeries is a great bargain!

Don’t forget to visit Beverly Stowe McClure!

Monday, June 15, 2015

CassaSeries, Jurassic World Review, RiffTrax on At Midnight, Movie Trivia, and Ninja News

I’m back from vacation! Did you miss me?
Today I am visiting Karen Lange with outlining tips and how to avoid a messy first draft.

CassaSeries

My publisher has put my Cassa books into an eBook boxed set and it is slated for release June 22, 2015! You can pre-order it now.

CassaSeries
By Alex J. Cavanaugh
ISBN 9781939844118
Price - $5.99
Science fiction/adventure (FIC028010) and science fiction/space opera (FIC028030)
Find it here – Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Goodreads



Movie Review -Jurassic World

The fourth installment starts with a theme park built on the same island as Jurassic Park, complete with a main street, petting zoo, rides, and thousands of visitors. All havoc breaks loose when a deadly hybrid dinosaur escapes.

Let’s face it – no matter what they do, they will never capture the magic that was Jurassic Park. Yes, the park is now a functioning theme park, the special effects are great, and the new dinosaurs are fearsome. But the genie is already out of the bottle…

Chris Pratt is the best part of the film as a kick-butt raptor trainer. He proves he can lead films and do a diversity of roles.

While it’s always fun to return to the Jurassic world, and who doesn’t dig seeing dinosaurs running around, this film did have issues and some plot holes. It shouldn’t be a leave your brain at the door kind of film, but if you’re going to enjoy it, you’ll have to.

My biggest issue was a lack of contingencies should one of the dinosaurs escape. They said the hybrid had an implant that would zap her if she got to close to the main park, and yet other escaping dinosaurs seemed to lack this. Plus with this kind of park, there should be more backup than a few guys with tranquilizers.

My other issues was with the sphere ride and how riders could just take the ball anywhere. Now, I’ve been to enough theme parks to know that almost all rides are on tracks and the rider does not control anything. Letting patrons roam around the valley as long as they wanted with really big dinosaurs around seemed like a bad idea. (And it was.)

There were numerous other issues I won’t go into, like flat characters and plot details that went nowhere.

I really wanted to love this film, especially after seeing the good reviews, but I’d have to place it as my third favorite behind Jurassic Park and The Lost World. It was better than the third, but not by a lot.

Leave brain at door and watch just for the big dinosaurs and Chris Pratt.

RiffTrax on At Midnight with Chris Hardwick

The RiffTrax guys – Mike, Kevin, and Bill – appeared on the show on June 9. It’s a ‘game show’ that has contestants coming up with funny lines to go with situations, images, and hashtags.

It was the first time those three had been on Comedy Central since Mystery Science Theater 3000 was cancelled.

And it was hilarious!

Mike had some of the best one-liners:

#worstrealityshow – Are You Taller Than a Fifth Grader?

Scene with teen boys running into villain in an S&M mask – Oh no, we wandered into Andy Dick’s backyard!

The host mentioned he couldn’t hear Kevin’s voice without picturing Tom Servo. When Kevin offered a very raunchy one-liner, Chris said that had erased the image forever.

Bill won the game with a line that I can't really repeat here...

Watch it streaming at Hulu

Ninja News

There is a huge giveaway of adult and young adult books happening this week! It starts Tuesday, and a couple of my books are included. See Jessica Therrien’s site for a full list and to enter. Open until June 30.

Available Now -
Roses Are Red by JB Kantt
Buy it at Amazon US and Amazon UK

Movie Trivia

Answers from last week:
1 - This 1975 movie with Doug McClure took place during WWI and involved a German sub finding a place called Caprona. The Land That Time Forgot 
2 – This 1969 film was half Western and involved a T-Rex. The Valley of Gwangi
3 – This 1988 animated film spawned many, many sequels. The Land Before Time
4 – This 1997 movie involved two groups of people with different agendas on an island with dinosaurs. The Lost World
5 – This 1993 film was produced by Roger Corman, spawned two sequels, and starred Diane Ladd. Carnosaur

This week, an easy one – name the monster or creature in these films:

1 – Hellraiser 1997
2 – Reign of Fire 2002
3 – Near Dark 1987
4 – Lake Placid 1999
5 – Battleship 2012
6 – Deep Blue Sea 1999

Answers next Monday!


Did you see Jurassic World this past weekend? Anyone catch the RiffTrax guys on At Midnight? Get any of the trivia right? Know the monsters this week? And anyone want to help me announce the release of the CassaSeries trilogy next week?

Don’t forget to visit Karen Lange!