Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Insecure Writers: How to Find a Writing Group, Contd.

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for The Insecure Writers! The IWSG is an online group created by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers. You, too, can join us anytime!

A briefy (yes, I made up a word) today, in honor of my resolution to stop overwriting so damn much:

I am NOT insecure today. I know - can you believe it??? It's a Christmas miracle. Or, a July miracle. Whatever.

I am NOT insecure this month because I am instead excited, inspired, and feeling accomplished!

Why, you ask? (Go on - ask. No, really. It'll make me happy.)

Because I have a writing group!!!

Some of you might remember me bleating on about this a few months ago, wishing I had such a group. A few of you might even remember that I took a non-fiction writing class this spring - but if you don't, that's OK. I barely remember my own life, much less anyone else's.

Well, I took the class in part to get better at writing personal essays, but also to see if I could find some cool, talented writers who might also be interested in forming a group.

And guess what?? I DID AND THEY DID! Our class is over, but more than half of us decided we wanted to keep going. We had our first meeting last week, and it was wonderful. Productive and inspiring and fun. I can't believe that I found these talented and smart people, and that they wanted to write with me. How lucky am I??

What are you insecure about? Do you have a group that inspires you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dribbles, Drabbles, and CASSA SERIES!

Good morning (or afternoon/evening/late night) my lovelies! It's been a while since I've done one of these dribbly/drabbly/drivelly posts, so I thought, why not today? Whilst perusing my little list today, please make sure to get all the way down to #3, because it's an exciting one...


1. The True Meaning of Spectacular

Every year, I take my father to a Red Sox baseball game - a nice sort of twist on what he did for my brother and I when we were young. Fenway Park is a really unique, historic place, and I always love being there...even when the home team delivers another rotten egg for our viewing enjoyment.

BUT, regardless of what the Sox were (or weren't) doing last night at Fenway, we were treated to a truly spectacular laser show by the sky, lit up in glory over the game (and the lights at the park did their part to make the photo I snapped something special):


The light show lasted a long time, with rays shooting golden, then orange, then crimson into the heavy, low-hanging clouds. It was breathtaking.


2. Writing, What?

I thought I'd be using the months before the onset of twindom to write and write and write, and sort of store up lots of writing time before I have zero time - like people tell expecting parents to shore up on sleep. Turns out my idea was just as flawed as the sleep one. Dammit. 

Know what I'm doing before the onset of twindom? Not writing, oh Lord, no. I'm getting ready for twindom. It's truly astonishing how much preparation and stuff and work goes into two tiny helpless little beings' arrival.

It's all worth it. It's also a bit frustrating. Maybe next week I'll have more time?


3. Alex J. Cavanaugh's Cassa Series Available in Boxed Set!

And now, I'm delighted to help Alex announce that his Cassa books are now available as a boxed set:


Release date - June 22 2015

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 here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZAP5PV4?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00ZAP5PV4?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cassaseries-alex-j-cavanaugh/1122097909?ean=294015196217
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/cassaseries
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25705316-cassaseries

About Alex: Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm.

http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/
http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/
http://twitter.com/AlexJCavanaugh  


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This Is What Addiction Looks Like: Game of Thrones

Note: there's nothing about writing here today. Not a peep. Unless you count the fact that I WROTE this post? No? Right. Sorry. I got...distracted. I'll try to drag myself out of the television for next week. Really, I promise. 

I held out for as long as I could - either four years or nineteen years, depending on if you count from first book publication or TV premiere - but it's finally happened:

I'm drinking the House Stark Kool-Aid. Smoking the Westeros crack pipe. Hooked up to an IV of Blood Magic.

In other words, I've joined the legions of people who are completely, thoroughly, utterly addicted to Game of Thrones.

I'm talking the HBO series, here, not the books: as a proud bibliophile, it's embarrassing to admit, but I've been scared away from the books by the sheer size of the volumes. They're freaking long, OK? And I've always worried that if I started reading them, I wouldn't be able to stop until I'd read all of them, which would takes months and would mean I'd never read anything else, and, even worse, that I'd hit the point of utter desperation so many fans have felt, when they reached the end of the fifth book only to find that George R. R. Martin is the slowest writer the world has ever seen, and realize that they'll have to wait an unbearable, undetermined amount of time before they can get their next fix.

Now that I've started watching the TV show, I know - I was right to be afraid. Because now I reach the end of one episode and find myself thinking, "Well, the next one is only another hour, I can squeeze that in, right? It's just one hour less of sleep." Or, you know, five.

So now I'm sleep deprived and running behind on a ton of tasks (not good, considering what's coming up in my life,) and even when I'm not watching TV it's still ruling my life. I'll be cooking dinner or working with client, and think, "Hmm, what's Tyrion going to do about [insert life-threatening dilemma here]?" Or, "Oh god, I can't get over it! I keep seeing the scene where [insert important, beloved, heroic character here] died, over and over again."

I was going to write more, but, you know, EPISODES TO WATCH.

See?? I'm sacrificing social and recreational activities, and my relationships and work are suffering. I really am addicted.

OOOO the theme song is playing! Gotta go!

Do you watch Game of Thrones? Read the books? What are you addicted to these days?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Guest Post: Chrys Fey's Ghost of Death and Witch of Death

Man, I've been featuring a lot of books on the ole blog recently, haven't I? It's a pleasure and a lot of fun - and yes, with the impending arrival of twindom, it's also a delight to hand the reins over to someone else, and let them ride us both off into the sunset while I busy myself installing medicine cabinets, picking up baby gear hand-me-downs from generous friends, and cleaning out our closets.

Oh wait, was that one of things I wasn't supposed to admit? Oh. Oops. Hmm, does pregnancy brain only affect the partner who's pregnant? What's my excuse, then? 

Umm...oh dear. I may not have one. 

Well, then, let me just come out and say I am DEE-lighted to feature Chrys Fey here today, not only because she's giving me time to paint the nursery, but MAINLY and MOSTLY because she's a great blogger friend and a prolific and talented writer. Take it away, Chrys!


Thank you for opening your blog to me, Liz, so I can share my newest short story, Witch of Death, with your lovely readers. :)


Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the moon. When I realized the moon followed me in the car, I thought it only did that for me and that I was special. I thought the man on the moon was my friend. I used to talk to him in whispers from my bedroom window. I even pretended he was my boyfriend. Hey. I was eight. Don’t judge me! :P

The point is, the moon had been of deep fascination to me and now it’s a constant source of inspiration. In Witch of Death, a witch commits murder during a full moon. In Ghost of Death, the moon has an even bigger significance. Before my MC, Jolie, dies, she sees the moon and recites the lullaby “Goodnight Moon,” a bedtime story I loved.


Here’s a cute animated version narrated by Susan Sarandon:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yu_g5x3ZoQ

QUESTIONS: Do you remember Goodnight Moon from your childhood? Do you like the moon?


Blurb:

Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost can...by stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.


Excerpt:

With the sound of her mom’s grief wafting up to her, Jolie came to terms with her present state. I’m dead and now my mom knows it. She eyed the door in front of her. She hadn’t yet walked through a door, but if her hand could pass through metal then she knew she could move through wood.

If I have to be a ghost then I’ll be a damn good one. All across the afterlife I’ll be known as the Ghost of Death! And I’m going to start by walking through this damn door!

She would’ve taken a deep breath to brace herself if she could have, so she mentally pumped herself up instead. You can do it! Easy-peasy. Nothing to it. And she took a step forward. Solid matter slipped around and through her form. On the other side, a familiar site confronted her: a black and white bed, the bright green shag carpet in the middle of the room, and a white desk.

Stepping up to her desk, Jolie eyed her ancient desktop computer, the one she used before her dad gifted her with a laptop when she announced she was accepted to the local university. Wanting to send out the first ever tweet from the afterlife, she pushed the button to bring the device to life, but her finger poker straight through it. Resigning to her Twitter-less fate, she moved toward the full-length mirror hanging on the wall. She saw nothing. Not even a shimmer in the air hinted at her presence.

Being a ghost sucks!


Book Links: 



Also available: WITCH OF DEATH



Blurb:

Detective Reid Sanders doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but when he’s faced with a crime scene that defies the laws of nature, he has no other choice but to start believing. And solving a magical murder involves working with a witch.

Liberty Sawyer embodies the look of your classic evil witch, so, it’s no surprise when she uncovers the murderer is a witch that she becomes Reid’s number one suspect. If she can’t convince him otherwise, more people could lose their lives to dark magic, including her.


Book Links:






BIO:

Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes and 30 Seconds. She is currently working on the sequel to Hurricane Crimes that’ll serve as book two in the Disaster Crimes series.

When Fey was six years old, she realized her dream of being a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida where she is waiting for the next hurricane to come her way.

You can connect with her on Facebook and her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers!


Author Links:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Insecure Writers: New World Order

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for The Insecure Writers! The IWSG is an online group created by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers. You, too, can join us anytime!

Happy June, everyone! Here in Crazytown Boston, after an unseasonably hot and summer-y May, June has decided to remind us how grateful we should be for summer by reverting back to late winter. It's 40 degrees and pouring. I had to turn the heat back on in my house. Delightful, isn't it?

Sigh. That's New England, peeps.

BUT that's not why I'm feeling insecure. Irritated and chilly, perhaps, but not insecure.

No, the reason that I'm super-charged on insecurity this month is that my life is on the verge on changing, irrevocably, forever and ever. You might say it's on the verge of exploding. You might say that and many other shocked and shocking things, because - wait for it - at some point this summer, I am going to become a parent.

Nope, not pulling your leg. My wife is expecting twins - TWINS! - in August. Or, as is the case with twins - TWINS! - whenever the hell they decide to get here. Personally. I'm rooting for full-term, late August, and I do tell them this every night, but I have a feeling this might just be my first exercise in parental futility.

Yes, this is why I've taken a few protracted blogging breaks. Yes, this is why I gave away mountains of books, killing a small piece of my soul in the process (oh I do so love exaggeration.)

And yes, this is why I am freaking the bleep out right now.

There are the standard parent insecurities (not just, will I screw up my kids? But really, how badly will I screw them up?) plus the twin - TWIN! - insecurities (how will I ever have enough hands to feed/clothe/bathe my children? Will I ever sleep, ever ever again?) and on top of all of that, there are the writer-parent insecurities (is it possible to be creative when I'm a sleep-deprived-writer-zombie? Will I have to wait until I'm geriatric to start writing again?)

There are so many insecurities. Because hello, twins! TWINS!

I am also of course over the moon, overjoyed, over-ecstatic, over-excited, and over-many-other-things. But this is the Insecure Writers Support Group, not the Happy Writers Support Group. Who needs a support group to be happy, anyway?

Truth be told, I am both joyful and insecure-ful...which is probably just about right. Oh yes, and if I suddenly and inexplicably disappear from the blogosphere for a few weeks, well, now you'll know why.

How do you juggle family/writing time? Were you able to be creative when your kids were little? What are you IWSG-ing about this month?


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Reverse Shelfie

I've had a rough week.

It's hard to talk about, but gosh...sigh. I want to try.

I took picture, a sort of twisted sad reverse shelfie, so you can see what I mean:




Those are all books. Moreover, those are all books that I voluntarily got rid of.

I know what you're thinking: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

I KNOW! I can't believe I did it, either. It was like a fit of madness came over me or something. One minute I'm a normal hoarder book-lover with lovely teetering stacks of books on all my shelves, and the next, I'm some kind of crazed clean-freak with an unreasoning vendetta against biblio-clutter, and a bloodthirsty drive for organization. 

In all seriousness - wait, who am I kidding? I can't be serious; I'm too busy waxing melodramatic over the fate of my books. 

Alas. It sort of did have to be done. We don't have a large space, and our shelves were so overcrowded something really terrible happened: we didn't have room for any new books.

I will admit, though, that it's possible I didn't deal so well with the culling process. I may or may not have cried a little. I also may or may not have had a last-minute panic attack and started grabbing books indiscriminately from the bags in an attempt to 'rescue' them. 

In the end, though, the vast majority made it out of the house and into the donation piles of some local charities, so at least I can hope they're going to good, loving homes. 

And now...we have room for new books

I knew there was a silver lining in there, somewhere,

Do you ever clean out your book piles? Or do you keep every book forever? Have you taken a shelfie?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bookish Thoughts, And Nicki Elson's Vibrizzio!

Hey everyone, I had this great idea for a post today, about books. SHOCKING, right? Me, write about books? I know, but I think it's important to stretch ourselves sometimes, and really step outside of our comfort zones. Be brave. And write about books.

Well, I will write about books (I'm not sure why I feel the need to continue emphasizing that) but not til next week, because this week I am FINALLY getting my butt in gear and featuring my blogging buddy Nicki Elson. I say 'finally,' because her new book has been out for weeks and I missed the official blog tour and I am a lame, lame friend. 

SO, without further ado (although I do like an ado), here's Nicki!

Wait, wait, just kidding. First let me say that you really need to read the excerpt she has here, but please do so without sipping or eating anything while you read. Because you will blow it out of your nose when you start laughing. I am not joking - there may have been a coffee/nose incident when Nicki sent this to me. Maybe. I'm just saying, be careful.

NOW, here's Nicki!


If you read this blog, then I know you've had practice at following trains of thought, yes? Liz is great about letting us know where her brain waves have taken her—which is just one reason I love stopping by. So would you like to know how I arrived at the excerpt I’m going to share with you today?

Well, Liz lives in Boston (her tidbits about living in the city are another thing I enjoy here), and though VIBRIZZIO is set in Chicago, there’s travel involved, including a trip to Boston. So I started thinking about that city … which naturally led me to tea—y’know because of that pah-tee in the haa-bah—and instead of landing in Boston, I plopped right back in Chicago at the Drake Hotel for high tea.

I write love stories, and I know many in the world of romance want 100% of the focus on the heroine and hero, but I write what I want to read, and I like to see how the main character interacts with a variety of people—family, friends, coworkers. Then reviewers make comments like the one below and I know I’m not alone:

“The other characters really bring life to the story. They’re not just background. It becomes clear how Lyssa’s friends and family have shaped and continue to shape her.”

Maybe what I really write is women’s fiction. I love my heroes, but the story I’m really telling is the girl’s.  To truly know her, we need to meet the important people in her life. Today, I introduce you to Lyssa Bates’ mum, Penny, in an excerpt from VIBRIZZIO.


* * *

"Keith and I broke up.”

It was good Penny had already set down her teacup; otherwise, stained water would’ve gone flying with the dramatic rush of her hand to her chest as she gasped loudly enough that the diners in the immediate vicinity glanced in her direction.

“It’s just a breakup, Mom. Calm down.”

“Well, do you think you’ll be getting back together?”

“I … I don’t know. I don’t think so. Look, I know you really liked him, but it became clear that he and I didn’t understand each other, so it seemed best to split.” Penny nodded and her hand slowly made its way down to the table, where she absently ran her fingertips along the rim of her saucer.

“When you say you didn’t understand each other, do you mean sexually?”

Pressing her lips together with pressure so fierce it could form diamonds, Lyssa gave a curt shake of her head. “It was a lot of things, Mom.”

“Oh.” It was one those ohs that came packed with layers of meaning—none of which merely meant oh.

Let it go, Lyssa told herself. Talk about the tea or talk about the weather. Maybe encourage her to go on for an hour about Jessica’s homemaking prowess, but do not give in to her bait. It was a battle Lyssa rarely won. “Why did you automatically assume that sex was the problem?”

Penny’s eyes went wide with feigned innocence. “It was only a question. No need to get shrill.”

Was she shrill? Lyssa looked down and saw her fingers bent like talons, holding her balled-up napkin in a death grip. Willing herself to relax, she released the napkin and spread it across her lap. “I’m sorry, but … why did you immediately go there?”

“No reason.” Penny lifted her porcelain cup to her lips. Before taking a long sip, she murmured, “It’s just that you’ve always been a bit of a prude.”

Lyssa's fingers choked the napkin again. Had any other woman in the entire history of everything ever been accused of being a prude by her own mother? She decided to meet blunt with blunter. “So you’re still disappointed I wouldn’t go with Jess and the other seniors to the suck-off-the-football-team parties?” For effect, she lifted her wrinkled napkin and dabbed at the corners of her mouth.

“That is not what was going on, and maybe if you’d been more social, you would’ve been asked to a prom.”

“You wanted me to social myself out for a date to prom?”

Penny tilted her head in the way that said she’d have none of her daughter’s nonsense. “What I want to express is that I understand what it’s like to be uptight in the bedroom. Your father and I … ”

Oh dear God.

“ … but once I loosened up and agreed to some of the things he’d been asking me to try … ”

Oh God, no! These weren’t random words popping into Lyssa’s mind—she was actually praying. Please, make it stop.

It wasn’t stopping, and Lyssa did her best to block her mother’s words and focus on something—anything—else in the vast room. Her eyes darted about, failing to find purchase anywhere, and the distinct syllables that formed the word “testicles” in her mother’s nasally voice cut through her rising panic. Her eyes stopped on the gleaming flatware resting conveniently on the white linen tablecloth. She momentarily considered stabbing forks into her eardrums, but that’d only stop the noise; she’d still be able to read those lips that didn’t stop moving.

“ … and there’s something very gratifying about causing a man to lose control like that … ”

Lyssa instantly decided on the ultimate superpower Keith had always wanted her to choose. She’d pick telekinesis, and she’d use it to snap off one of the harp strings and levitate it over. Then she’d wrap it around her mother’s throat and squeeze. Squeeze until Mommy turned blue. Squeeze until that larynx could never again spew its torturous revelations.


* * *


I, uh, might have a bit of a latent violent streak that leaks into my writing every once in a while, ehe.

Thank you so much, Liz, for having me over and letting me share a piece of the Vibster w/ your followers. I hope you enjoyed it. Have a fabulous Humpday, everyone!