Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Catch Fire! Blog Party - CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh Launches

Today I am delighted to be taking part in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Catch Fire! Blog Party, which celebrates the publication of CassaFire, his sequel to CassaStar. The goal of the party is for CassaFire to "catch fire" on the best sellers chart and achieve the success of his first book, CassaStar.

I was fortunate enough to read an early draft of the opening to CassaFire, and I can tell you it promises to be just as thrilling, exciting, and moving as CassaStar.

I met Alex through blogging and can honestly say he is one of the kindest, funniest, and most supportive people I've met. I genuinely want his novels to be a success, not only because he is one of the coolest writers I know, but because he can write. If you haven't read CassaStar, I urge you to - you won't be disappointed. In fact, I'll wager you will be ordering CassaFire not long after.

Here's the awesome CassaFire Book Trailer to tickle those tastebuds:

Have I tempted you into reading it yet? Still want to know more?

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. 

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available today!
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Want to win a copy and more? Alex is doing a blog tour from February 27 through March 9, and anyone who comments on his posts during the tour can win this special package from his publisher:

How cool is that?

So what are you waiting for? CassaFire is available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and Amazon Kindle. Don't forget to launch yourself over to Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and follow his journey.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales and TV Series

It's not often I start watching a new television series and think, wow. Grimm is one of them. The premise behind the show is simple - the characters from fairy tales actually exist, albeit living their lives disguised as humans, and the Grimms are members of a family who can see these monsters and fight them.

The show starts with the lead character - a Grimm - not knowing his family inheritance. Throw in strange visions, a dying aunt, a trailer full of lethal weapons and ancient notebooks, and a job as a detective, and you have the ingredients for a great series. The casting is spot-on and the dialogue perfect. The show is dark and and there is violence throughout, but there are moments of humour and they work well. In fact one of my favourite characters is a lycanthrope who brings these lighter moments.

Each episode is loosely based on the characters from a fairy tale, but don't expect to watch Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks and the Three Bears. They are just the inspiration. However, I have to say after just two episodes I'm already thinking of buying a Grimm Brothers anthology. The series is that good.

Have you watched Grimm? If you have, what did you think of it? What was the last series that gave you a wow moment? Have you read any of the Grimm Fairy Tales? With over 200 of them, where would you recommend someone start?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Dreaming of Sleep . . .Literally

I'm still editing my first draft of Dreaming of Sleep, and hoping to have completed the second draft soon. Of course the problem with editing a novel in which humans no longer sleep, and the main character is doing his best not too, is that it makes you tired. It also makes you want to dream a lot. I love dreaming; especially lucid dreaming, where you are aware you're dreaming and are able to affect the course of the dream. I'll be doing a whole post on the subject shortly, a long with a teaser from Dreaming of Sleep.

Other than working on my WIP, I haven't got anything else to update you on. Hang on a minute . . .didn't I register with Star Trek Online this week? Yes. And will I soon be able to create my own characters and 'explore, discover, and engage' in the Star Trek universe? Yes. Science Officer T'Moss reported for duty on board the USS Devon at around 11pm yesterday.

In the meantime, how about an operatic version of the Wrath of Khan to make you smile, laugh, or cringe, depending on your tastes?

So, what strange new worlds have you been exploring in the last week, both awake and sleep?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

What was your last book surprise?

Whilst catching up with my blog reading this week, I discovered a book I'd never heard of that left me squealing in delight. The Golden Eagle's Tuesday Teaser post featured this book by Martin Greenberg and Issac Asimov.

 I want this book.
Did you hear me?
I want this book.
Still not loud enough?
I want this book!

What was the last book you'd never heard of and were surprised find existed? Did you manage to get a copy? Did it live up to your expectations or where you left disappointed?

Whilst I've got your attention, pop over to author Tahereh Mafi's blog for a chance to win one of six signed books bundles. All six are stunning prizes.

As always, I'd love to know what you're thinking and what's going on in your part of the world.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Origins Blogfest - How It All Began

There is no WIP Update today, as I am taking part in the Origins Blogfest hosted by the super-cool DL Hammons over at Cruising Altitude 2.0 .

For this blogfest participants were asked to do the following: On Monday, February 13th, you should post your own origin story.  Tell us all where your writing dreams began.  It could be anything from how you started making up stories as a child, or writing for the school newspaper, or even what prompted you to start a blog.  How about stories about the first time somebody took an interest in your writing, or the teacher/mentor that helped nudge you along and mold your passion, or maybe the singular moment when you first started calling yourself a writer.  It all started somewhere and we want you to tell us your own, unique, beginnings.

So, where did my passion for both reading and writing fiction begin? What is my origin story?

I've always had a vivid imagination. One of the side-effects of being in the foster-care system is that you were constantly dreaming up tales about your parents coming to retrieve you or your real parents being somebody rich and famous. You spent hours telling other children these stories and listening to theirs. I was also fortunate to be placed for a while with a foster family who believed reading and writing were key skills for a childs development. Flash cards, spelling tests, and reading activities were a daily activity. We visited the library every week. All of this meant I developed a passion for writing and reading.

But I did not even consider writing fiction until my late teens, after I read The Stand by Stephen King. It was my first King novel and after finishing it I asked myself for the first time, 'Could I write a book?'. I decided the answer was yes. Horror wasn't my chosen genre, though. It was always going to be science fiction, which I also developed a passion for with the same foster family. Every Thursday I was allowed to stay up late to watch Star Trek. Other programmes followed, such as Dr. Who, Battlestar Galactica, and Space 1999. I was and still am crazy about anything sci-fi. My very first story was about an intergalactic hooverman who cleared space debris. Yes. I know. It was bad. But I loved it.

There you have it. Now you know how my love of writing began. How about yours? What is your origin story?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Tumble 4 Ya Blogfest

Whilst reading Alex J. Cavanaugh blog today, I stumbled upon this little gem and could not resist.

Hosted by Nicki Elson, Suze, and M. Pax.

So, who was my 80s celebrity crush?

In one word. Bowie. There really could have been no other answer. Modern Love. Lets Dance. China Girl. Bowie romping naked in the sea at the end of the China Girl video. I need say no more. Take it away, David.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Do you design mock covers?

One of my worst forms of procrastination is designing mock covers. Sometimes they are for novels and other times for short stories, and even though I should probably be writing instead, I get a creative buzz from searching for pictures and writing suitable captions. It somehow helps to solidify the novel or short story, making the idea more concrete in my mind.

For both of my works in progress I have designed and printed mock covers. They will probably look nothing like the real cover, should I be fortunate enough to see them published, but I have them framed and on the wall above my writing area. They remind me of what I'm pushing for - a published novel.

Do you create mock covers? If so, how helpful have you found them in inspiring and motivating your writing? If not, will you consider designing a mock cover in the future or are you leaving it to the professionals once you've got a publishing contract?

As always, I'm interested to know your thoughts.

Monday, 6 February 2012

WIP'ing the Word Count

Before I update you on my WIP, I need to tell you about my problems with Hotmail. Last week I went through every comment and replied to them as I always do, by sending an email back to the commentor. I thought all was going well until I discovered a lot of them had been sent to the same email address, and not who they were intended for. A few swear words were uttered, I can tell you. So, if you either a) received several emails from me that made no sense or b) didn't receive a reply to your comments, I apologise. I have no idea how many of you did get my emails or what the solution to the problem is. I'll let you know if I manage to resolve it.

Now on to my WIP Update:

The problem with re-reading first drafts, as I have done in the last two weeks, is you find a lot that needs cutting, and down goes the word count. Suddenly your precious 90,000 words become 83,798 words. You also note all the scenes, dialogue, and description you should have written, and theoretcially up goes the word count. You slice, dice, and then cajole a few more words into existence. So maybe we should call editing 'WIP'ing the word count'? What do you think?

Putting humour aside, one of the most important lessons I have learnt whilst editing is that you should trust your instinct when it comes to cutting or re-writing. What was your first reaction to a word, line, paragraph, or scene? If your instinct said it doesn't work then it doesn't. If it said it isn't good enough, it isn't. Always trust your first reaction. You have the answers within you.

Now this might sound contradictory but another important lesson is to keep everything you cut, especially if it's a scene. You may just change your mind. You may want that line or scene for another piece of writing. Or you might not have been paying full attention to your instinct when you cut it and later regret not keeping an earlier version. Keep everything. You'll thank yourself one day.

So, what important lessons have you learnt whilst WIP'ing the word count?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Should a writer EVER give up on a story?

I wrote a short story called Last Ranch On The West around 12 months ago. It was intended for Wicked East Press's Dead Rush Anthology (last submission date 28th February this year). Since writing the first draft I've written three different endings, cut scenes, rewrote scenes, but all the while been unhappy with it. I can't give you concrete reaons for my unhappiness; I just don't think it works. My gut instinct tells me it's lacking something - that magic spark that turns an okay story into a great one.

So, after 12 months of uneasiness, should I try another edit or admit defeat and press the delete button? Should a writer ever give up on a story? Or are there other ways to establish what isn't working and how to remedy it?

As ever, I'd love to know your experiences, thoughts, and advice.