Monday, July 29, 2013

Featuring Bassan From Cassa Storm &The Write Club

Visit Alex Cavanaugh's Great Blog.

I always love to hear what kids have to say about their lives and the world they live in, so I'm really excited about having Bassan, Byron's young son, here today.

Hi Bassan. I've read CassaStorm and feel as if I've visited Tgren. Can you tell everyone what your home planet is like, so they can understand where you live?

Good day, Lee. A lot of Tgren is desert, although there are areas of vast lakes and grassy plains. Where I live, there’s a lot scrub brush, except near the river. We grow most of our crops near the river. Our buildings are made of stone and clay, with lots of windows to catch the breeze. Of course, I live on the Cassan base with my parents, and all the buildings are of Cassan design. Still really dusty though. Makes me sneeze sometimes.

Nice to know that even in the future Kleenex is a necessity. :-) 

You have a wonderful mom. What's she like?

Mother is wonderful! She always makes time for me and we play games and stuff. She almost never gets mad, either. Of course, I don’t want to make her mad. Sometimes I worry when she and my father are flying. I don’t want to lose them.

They have a lot of responsibility for your planet's safety. I can see why you worry. 

I know you've had some problems with other kids because you're half Tgren and half Cassan. Tell us what's it's like being different from the others.

Most days it’s no fun. I attend classes with the other Cassan children and sometimes they call me a half-breed. My best friend Drent is half Tgren, but no one messes with him. Wish I was tough enough to stand up to the bullies.

Some things like bullies and intolerance never change. I'd hoped those kinds of things would be long gone from our galaxies. Guess not. 

Your dad's famous. What's it like being the son of a famous Cosbolt pilot?

It’s really awesome what he did during the Vindicarn War, but it makes me feel awkward. I’ll never do anything as great as that. I don’t even like to fly.

We all have our place in our worlds. I'm sure you'll find yours.

What do you want to be when you're grown up?

I want to work on the alien ship that’s buried in mountains next to our city. It carried my ancestors to Tgren! I want to know more about the ship and those people.

 See? When you grow up I'll bet you'll be a great scientist and make amazing discoveries for all the inhabitants of these worlds.

Is there anything you’d like to change about your life?

I wish I could fit in better. I wish people respected me like they respect my father. I’m not even sure he likes me that much.

That's hard, but when I met your father in the book he seemed like someone who had deep feelings for his friends and family. He just didn't show them very much. 

If you could send a message back to a planet called Earth, say about 2013 or so, what would you tell them about your time?

They need to be prepared, because they aren’t the only ones out there. And not everyone is nice, either.

I'm passing this along. It's a great heads up for this century.

Thanks so much for coming here today, Bassan. It has been very interesting to talk with a young representative from the future. You're amazing!


Book three, Cassa Storm, finds Byron facing a galaxy-wide war that could end life on all of the planets. In this stage of his life, Byron has more to fight for than ever--his mate, Athee and his son, Bassan. Facing his greatest challenge, Byron must convince the diverse and warring races to sign a peace agreement if he's to save his world and his family. However, the the final step in securing peace will put him and his son in terrible danger.

I liked how the racial conflicts propelled much of the plot in this story, driving home a message that's relevant to our own world and giving the book an interesting texture.

At the center of the family theme, is the coming together of father and son. Byron learns of his son's isolation as a mixed race child and Bassan learns of his father's love and belief in him.  READ MORE

CassaStormCassaStorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews


Have you voted for your favorite entry in the WRITE CLUB? It's hard to choose, but very interesting to read the entries this year. 

I'll be celebrating some small things on Friday! Hope you'll join me and the others in this Celebration.

Friday, July 26, 2013

How You Can Celebrate Small Things and Raise Your Amazon Rankings

Thanks to Scribblings of An Aspiring Author
I'm celebrating Getting Reviews as one way to improve your sales and your ranking.

Have you tried STORY CARTEL to ask for reviews?  I just put ALLIGATORS OVERHEAD up on their site. The basic listing is free with an option to pay for more book exposure in their newsletter. You give reviewers a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. I added a chance to win 3 $10 Amazon gift certificates, but you can also add an autographed copy of your book. I'll let you know how or if this works.

Another way to boost your Amazon number is through short stories, small stories with BIG meaning burrowed inside. I think they're harder for me to write than novels because I have to pack a lot in and do it in a small space. Most of the short stories I celebrate are those that require me to interpret, not escape. If I'm lucky I can have a bit of both. And those with a bit of both are the kind I try to write. It has been a challenge, but I've managed to publish two short stories, and I hope I've succeeded in tantalizing the readers' interpretive talents and also let them escape if only for a while.

When I contributed Premeditated Cat to the anthology of short stories, The First Time, I did it because I wanted to see if I could write to a deadline and a theme that someone else set out.

When I contributed Into The Sea of Dew to Two and Twenty Dark Tales, I did it because I wanted to see if I could write a retelling.

I discovered that I could accomplish all of that. Whew! What I didn't discover until later was that I could boost my Author Ranking on Amazon by being included in these anthologies.

If you check your profile on Amazon Authors Central, you should see the list of your books. Be sure all of them are included. Don't forgot those anthologies with your stories. Amazon ranks you in different categories. Some of these you might not even write in, but if you're in an anthology that's included in this category, you will be, too.

Now that's a reason to celebrate, isn't it?

Here's the list of others who are celebrating the SMALL things this week. Stop by. Say hi!

Monday, July 22, 2013

How A Few Tricks Can Keep the Momentum Going on That New WIP

Strategy Part II: Continuing from PART I

When I'm trying to get started and I'm a little scared that I might not be able to keep the momentum going I resort to a few tricks.

Sometimes I write against my usual habits. So, for me, that would be to do absolutely NO description. I try to put everything into dialog or action.  Or I work at nailing the emotional moment with internal thought or an expressed desire. Sometimes this strategy stretches my brain out and makes me see possibilities I hadn't before.

In Sliding on the Edge I'd written all kinds notes about my MC's lifestyle: her crummy apartment, the seedy part of town she lived in--tons of description. I loved it all, but I couldn't think of starting my book with any of it. 

Then I wrote two words. They expressed her internal fear. Not one bit of description. Amazingly enough this is how the book began. Something's wrong. 

Another little trick I play on myself is to write what the character wants more than anything else. 

Here's a start to one of my young adult WIP's. I'm still fiddling with this, but I'm getting closer to where I think this book should start.

After the hanging, Catherine made one vow. She’d clear Pa’s name. She’d have him buried in sanctified ground. Until she’d done both of those things, she’d not rest. And she didn’t. Then Jonah arrived, but over a hundred years too late.

Action, especially if I can combine character, helps me with my starting point, too. Here's how I've decided to begin the sequel to Alligators Overhead, my first middle grade novel.

Pete rolled his bike across the porch and down the ramp, slow and quiet. Once he got to the sidewalk, he straddled the seat and shot off to Weasel’s. After being grounded for almost a week Pete needed a Weasel fix. Mostly he needed to tell him about the mess he was in and get him to figure out how to read the mysterious note. That note might be exactly what he needed to get out of trouble.

Any tricks up your writerly sleeves? I'm always looking for more ideas. Actually, I need all the help I can get. :-)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things, Especially Your Puddings

Thanks to VikLit for this Challenge

Some of you will remember this post from the AtoZ CHALLENGE this year.

And you may remember Hilary's post on her blog POSITIVE LETTERS-INSPIRATIONAL STORIES about Pond Pudding, a 199 year old recipe that set me off to experiment with creating this frothy concoction.

Well my first attempt was a success and I shared the pudding with some friends which led to the question of how high should you go to make this pudding the best frothy delight ever. And now we have the results of the highly scientific experiment that came from that discussion. (wine was involved)

The First Pond Pudding: 4 1/2' from top of stool to spout

The Stool #1

The Second Pond Pudding: 6' from top of ladder to spout

The Ladder #2

The Scientist Carefully Measuring Attempt #2

The Third Pond Pudding: 13' from top deck to lower deck

Intrepid Scientist with Teapot


#1 Very Frothy. Very Tasty. Spatters: Minor, but sticky.
#2 Very, Very Frothy. Very Tasty. Spatters: Needed hose to clean deck.
#3 Extremely Frothy. Very Tasty. Spatters: Amazing. Needed power washer to clean deck.


1. Forget #2 and #3. You get the same taste, just different froth from 4 1/2' than you do from 6' and 13' and clean-up is easier.

2. Drink less wine with friends while discussing Pond Pudding.

Celebrating SMALL THINGS today? These people on the Linky are, so stop by and see what they're celebrating.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How To Start Writing That Next Book and Not Lose The Excitement

Getting Started 

on your next story is always exciting, but sometimes it can be frustrating. If you're anything like me, you dither a bit about how to start. My mind blurs with questions about just what I can write to capture the readers' attention and make them want to continue into my story.

Should I launch right into the scene where we meet the young boy in Afghanistan? He's a main character. His journey is central to the plot.

Or should I start back in the idyllic setting where another main character has a rose garden and dreams of his first trip to Afghanistan where he will be a teacher?

No. No. Let's go to that other MC--the one the rose garden guy will meet on his journey--the one who has only football on his mind when he meets and falls in love with a girl who's a USAID worker heading to Afghanistan.

But there's the romance!  I should start here because this is inciting incident, right? This is where Francesca breaks up with Enrico because he's so selfish. She's girl on the rebound when she meets that football guy . . . .

By now my head's in a twist. If I'm not careful I could wind up dumping the whole concept and going for hike. I've done that. But wait! I can start. I just have to have a strategy. Here's some of mine.

Strategy Part 1

First I take a few deep breaths to untwist my synapses; then I choose one of the story elements that excites me: maybe it's the interaction with another character or the environment. I might write about how a character in this element looks or acts. I might write a few lines of dialogue to "hear" the voice.

I might even write a single scene and not even think about where I'll finally use that scene in the story. All I care about is Getting Started.

I love to write description--you know the stuff you have to cut and cut and finally dump all together--so I do that. I've been known to write pages and pages of nothing but setting. Other times I go on and on about the character's childhood. I know I won't see that in the story, but I'm creeping up on my starting place. I'm finding out  more and more about the characters, where they live, how they interact with others, what makes them tick. These are my messy pages. Really messy.

The best part is after I know where I want to start, I don't have to come up with those perfect opening lines just yet. The killer lines will come. They'll fit the story in tone and engagement because they will have grown from the heart of the story.

Do you have a strategy for when you're stuck with Getting Started? Share, please. I have some more ideas and I'll post those next Monday. If I find other techniques for getting over this blank page problem, I'll put them in as well. I'll probably need them in the future.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Small Things Hop and Hop and Hop!

Thanks to Scribblings of An Aspiring Author

It's Friday again. It's time to CELEBRATE THE SMALL THINGS that aren't really small at all. They're the things that make up our lives, minute by minute. They're the things that make us smile or pause as we rush into the big things just ahead. They're the things that, if we aren't careful, slip past and are lost to us. Too late. Gone! I missed the moment. I missed my chance to CELEBRATE.

So this week I didn't miss them. Here they are.


A visit from one of my favorite creatures. Annie came to show me her new outfit.

I tweeted and posted on fb about SK Anthony's beautiful COVER REVEAL. It's great isn't it?

I tested my theory about HILARY'S SPLENDID POND PUDDING. I'll be posting the results soon.

My First Pond Pudding Event During the AtoZ CHALLENGE 2013
Double drat about the toes!

Be sure to share your SMALL THINGS and visit the others in this CELEBRATION!

Monday, July 8, 2013

How to Get the Most from Your Award -The Write Club 2013

The other day when SAMANTHA MAY, our exceptional college blogger, awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award, I started thinking about why these tokens are important and how bloggers who receive them can make the most from them.

Why bother getting and giving AWARDS?

They show an appreciation for each other.
They often encourage us share more about ourselves that is fun and interesting and build stronger connections.
They give us a chance to create a backlink to a blogger and backlinks are important to optimize web visibility. READ MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BACKLINKS.

What should you do to get the most out your AWARD?

I like to thank the blogger who has passed the award to me, so I leave that in a comment.
I also try to post about the award as soon as possible.
I notify the blogger when the post goes live and send them a permalink.
I always backlink to them.
I pass the Award on.

So here's my VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD response. This is hard part, but here I go with
7 things about me!

1. I hate talking on telephones. Really.
2. I'm a shower singer. It's the only place I sound good.
3. I'm not a party animal.
4. I tend to be the hermity type.
5. I wanted to be an actress--kind of at odds with being hermity, isn't it?
6. I also wanted to be an archaeologist, but that was when I was ten and before I understood I'd have to go into tombs.
7. I've created a special AWARD for Gary Pennick. It's the SADOTY. See below.

Thanks Samantha and I'd like to pass this on to MARCIA HOEHNE. This is a different version from the one you have, Marcia.

This is a special NON-AWARD for a select few--probably only one blogger actually. But the first in a very short line to receive this NON-AWARD is The Man Challenging His Inner Critic. Will he dare step up to snag this NON-AWARD? Will he be able to embrace the true meaning of SADOTY (Super Award Dodger Of The Year)? If he does either, there are RULES to follow:

1. He must never pass it on.

2. He must never reveal ANYTHING about himself. Penalties are heavy if he does.

3. No Linkbacks are allowed. Ever.

4. It self-destructs almost immediately after being claimed. Stand back.

(My apologies to Penny for the cat, but it seemed appropriate for this NON-AWARD.)


Thanks to D.L. HAMMONS

Friday, July 5, 2013

How Paying Attention To Small Things Can Jazz Up Your Story

Thanks to VikLit for this great Idea

JULIE MUSIL posted something on her blog the other day about taking a notebook to her son's football camp and noting details. She wrote about the location, the artificial turf, the weather and Powerade stations where players could get a quick hydrating drink.

She wrote about the people around her--what they wore, their haircuts, the way their moms and dad watched or read or talked on their cell phones.

Small details about sights and sounds and activities.


There's nothing like being able to recreate a real life scene in your fictional one, and Julie's details are exactly what will help do that.

So today, while you're celebrating small things, take a notebook along with you and write down some of them. When you're in the middle of a scene, read those details and see which ones will Jazz Up your story and bring it to life.

Hope you'll stop by some other blogger sites and see what they're celebrating this week.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How This Insecure Writer Still Writes and More!

Another first Wednesday is here (thanks to ALEX CAVANAUGH for the idea) and another opportunity to explore what it means to be a writer with insecurities and literary warts and many times a sore bum.

For me there's not a lot of glamour. There's not a lot of cheering crowd moments. There's not a lot of money pouring in from mega sales of my books. So what is there that keeps me showing up to the page?

I guess I do it because I love words and the challenge of working them into a pattern to express my ideas. Then there's the pleasure of seeing my thoughts down in a form that is less ephemeral than my conversations. I guess those are two of the reasons. And sometimes it's just exciting to read something I've written and think it's worthy of the time, the paper and the ink.

What keeps you going, insecurities and all? Or maybe you don't have insecurities. How do you manage to keep from that?


Put JULY 8 on your calendars because the first round of this year's WRITE CLUB starts. What a great way to get feedback from your fellow writers. We have DL HAMMONS to thank for this super idea. Has anyone entered? Will you go to the submissions and vote this year?


Oh, and do you have any nominations for MISHA GERICKE'S Paying It Forward? Check out her BLOG for the details. I've nominated two of my favorite bloggers.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Miscellany Featuring Books, Indie Writer Help Line, Summer and Write Club


(Pilot error confession: This posted a week early, so if you think you read it, you did, but I caught the problem early, so give me points, okay? Also there's more that's new. One thing is this SPOTLIGHT. I didn't expect it to happen until much later, but here it is today! Then a GIVEAWAY went up. Forgot about that one until this morning. Arrg. Summer is going at warp speed.)

This book doesn't need promotion from me, but it deserves attention, so I'm going to post about it today. A Thousand Splendid Suns stunned me with the vivid portrayal of life in Afghanistan. Hosseini (The Kite Runner) captures the essence of this country, its people and the history from the Soviet occupation to Taliban domination and beyond. There are scenes that are very difficult to get through because of the cruelty, but so riveting in their prose that you must read them. I will never forget the story of the two women caught up in the turmoil of their world. I highly recommend it.

Indie Writer Help Line

I stumbled on this great piece by Ron Vitale and wanted to share it. Here's how he starts. If you want to read more, I've included the permalink above.

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

I will be up front and as transparent as I possibly can. The self-publishing industry is volatile, difficult to predict and more time consuming than I ever anticipated. But, fear not, it's not without hope. What is truly important is to have realistic expectations. If you're looking to make it rich fast, then, yes, abandon hope. If you understand that you'll be putting in years of work and that you'll need to build your platform and brand over several years writing at least three books, then you're in the realm of reality.


I got a little carried away with my squash planting this year. I have a sea of squash and my family has already yelled "No more squash anything!"

Ever resourceful, I now pick and stuff squash blossoms. The revolt has been quelled. Who can ever get enough of those tasty morsels filled with cheese?

Hope you signed up for the Write Club.

Anybody read A Thousand Splendid Suns? Comments? Tell Ron I sent you if you stop in and read his post. It's worth your time. Want a few squash? Did you sign up to vote or enter the Write Club? How miscellaneous is this?