Tuesday 28 February 2012

Alex J Cavanaugh's CassaFire Launch! Join the party!

I'm sorry I have to post early due to commitments! 

Today (well, er, tomorrow in the States, so hold off buying until tomorrow!) is the Catch Fire Blog Party, celebrating the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh! The goal is to help CassaFire “catch fire” on the best seller charts and achieve the success of the first book, CassaStar. There’s also a special package of prizes being given away at the author’s blog (copies of CassaFire, CassaStar, tote bag, mug, and bookmarks) as well as book giveaways during his two-week blog tour. See Alex’s site for details: http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/

Alex's blog tour, runs from February 27 through March 9 – and anyone who comments on his blog posts during that time can win a special package from his publisher: copy of CassaFire and CassaStar, a large tote bag, and a mug. The Twitter hashtag for the party is #CatchFire

The Catch Fire! sign up form closed 9 pm EST Monday night, February 27, so Alex could draw the winners. He will list those five people on his blog post sometime today. Remember, you must post the Catch Fire! information on February 28 in order to win. (Otherwise, he’ll be forced to draw another name)

Now let's hear about Alex's novel...

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

Book trailer available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa6VINRGtyE.

It is always exciting when author/bloggers launch new books. I sincerely wish Alex every success for CassaFire. I'll leave you with the very excellent book trailer...

Friday 24 February 2012

#RomanticFridayWriters - Challenge No 32 - My flash fiction - The Perfect 9.5

There are many opportunities to write offered on the internet - blogfests, competitions, memes and more. RomanticFridayWriters is just one of these opportunities. Every second Friday, a group of writers practise their craft by writing to prompts, reading everyones' stories and offering critiques when asked. Members find writing to stimulus gets the creative juices fired up, and editing to 400 words helps make every word count. If you haven't already, I hope you will read some of our stories.

Each week there is a Featured Writer chosen. Last week it was jointly shared with two amazingly-talented writers, Madeleine Maddocks from Scribble and Edit and Erin Kane Spock.

I hope you enjoy my story, inspired by a visit to Madrid, Spain, in 2011.

The Perfect Dance

The women danced. Their dresses, bodices decorated with jewels, shimmered in the semi-dark. The movements began slowly, the dancers moving like fish floating across a luminescent ocean. Soon the slow dance became a crescendo of whirling, twirling patterns across the barn-like room. This was excellence, the best of the best.

He cast his eyes to the stage. The musicians stood tall, their faces gleaming, sweat dripping from their black curls. They played the trembling guitars, stroking the strings with a thrumming like a thousand fluttering winged birds, softer now, then louder. Their white shirts were blue under the light, their tight black high-waisted trousers gleamed and shone. Their cowboy boots were glittering glass as they stamped to their own beat.

Mirrored lights swirled over the dancers, silvering the sequins on the flounces of skirts as the frills vibrated with the dancers’ steps. It was a kaleidoscope of red, purple, yellow and white, checks, polka dots, stripes. He counted the heavy, clacking beats as the black dancing pumps met the timber floor, shaking the room. A hundred shoes in perfect time as the dancers followed the thrum of the five flamenco guitars.

But there was only one dancer on the floor who set his blood boiling.

Her auburn ringlets, her lithe body clad in a slash of brightest red, her waist an invitation for a man to span with joined fingers. His Angelique. Her lower body kicked yards of frills, revealing slim legs in satiny black stockings. Her arms held above her head, the clicking fingers, were a perfect sculpture of beauty and tension. His eyes followed her every movement. How could he fault her? Did she miss a beat? No, every call of the sobbing guitars was met, every whirl perfection, every stamping foot in perfect timing.

Soon it was only a competition between two – Angelique and a fiery redhead who looked imperiously at the judge’s table each time she shimmied by, daring them to eliminate her. She was perfection herself, her body screamed. Find a fault if you dare! I’m the perfect 10!

Angelique was asked to leave the floor. How could they send her away? Only he saw the tear she brushed from her eye. He half stood in his seat, mortified.

‘9.5!’ The judges score his Angelique.

‘They might give you a less than perfect score,’ he thought to himself, ‘but to me you’re the perfect 9.5.’


Word count: 400 ish. FCA.

*Photo taken and edited by L'Aussie Images.
 (Lucky enough to be inspired by a night of
 flamenco dancing in Madrid, Spain, in 2011.)

I hope you enjoyed my story and that you will visit some other writers who're writing to this challenge. Click on the links below...

Here is an excellent youtube video on flamenco dancing:

Wednesday 15 February 2012

National Year of Reading 2012 and it must be time for a book review again - Afterwards, by Rosamund Lupton.

It is National Year of Reading 2012 in Australia which means an intense focus on reading for the whole country. Studies show that Australians read more per capita than any other nation. That's not hard to believe when I walk around the city - every second person has their nose in a book (print or kindle.) Excellent.

There is voting to find the best Australian book of the year, Picture Book displays and workshops, Indigenous Writing and more. I linked to the site above if you want to read more.

Meanwhile, reader extraordinaire, myself, has already devoured about 10 books since January 1st, heading for my goal of 100+ books again. I've read Gardens of Delight by Erica James, two more books in Nora Roberts' Irish Trilogy, another Jane Green novel and Goldengrove, by Francine Prose (whose prose is amazing) and more...Print books are still my favourite, but I have about 3 e-books on the go by some amazing blogger authors such as Francine Howarth, Roland Yeomans and Anne Gallagher

So I thought I'd post a book review to kick off my National Year of Reading 2012. Was hard to choose, but Afterwards is my hot read so far...

by Rosamund Lupton (Goodreads Author)
From Goodreads:
There is a fire and they are in there. They are in there...

Black smoke stains a summer blue sky. A school is on fire. And one mother, Grace, sees the smoke. She knows her teenage daughter Jenny is inside. She runs into the burning building to rescue her.

Afterwards Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her children from the person who's still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love.

Rosamund Lupton is one of my latest favourite literary authors. I first came across her poetic writing when I read her debut novel, Sister, a chilling tale set in London. (I reviewed Sister here...)

Afterwards is also a chilling tale, but this time the reader enters a world where two disembodied spirits are the protagonists. This is a leap for some, yet I found everything about this book - the cover, the writing, the plot, all magnificent.

Here is a brief overview of the storyline:

Grace Covey is at her eight year old son Adam's school’s sports day when she sees smoke coming from the school building. Afraid for her children, a daughter and a son who are inside, she runs towards the school. Her son is outside the building being minded by the daughter of a friend, but her daughter, 17 year old Jenny, is still inside and Grace is desperate to rescue her little girl. (You might wonder why she doesn't leave it to the firemen, but there is a reason - they cannot get their trucks into the grounds because of the parents' parking.)

Grace finds an unconscious Jenny on an upper floor and drags her downstairs. Mother and daughter don't make it. Grace collapses before she can get both of them out of the building. They are admitted to hospital, both seriously burnt and fighting for their lives. However, the real fight hasn't begun yet because it is revealed that the fire was deliberately lit. Grace believes that somebody is out to destroy her children and she is desperate to stop that person, whoever he/she may be.

Before the fire, life was beautiful and easy for the Covey family but afterwards comes the fighting. Afterwards comes the time to appreciate the things that are truly important in life, to discover hidden depths of love and strength, especially of the bond between a mother and her children. Afterwards is the time when everything changes, forever. Afterwards is a time of sacrifice.

I've already said I loved this story. I loved the mystery with so many possible villains and a very credible solution, although I was slow to guess. It's an absolutely gripping story with Lupton's characters captivating, and her dealings with emotions are both credible and heart-rending.

This is one of those books I didn't want to ever finish, yet I read like lightning as the storyline had me in thrall. I can't wait for her next book.

I also posted a longer version of this review at Reading at Dawn, a book review blog I collaborate on with Dawn Embers and Writer's Block NZ. Anytime you want to read a book review, check us out at: readingatdawn.blogspot.com.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

#RomanticFridayWriters - Challenge No 31- My story, 'The Long Cool Aphrodiasic'

Romantic Friday Writers write to a new prompt each fortnight. As Valentine's Day is close perhaps some of the stories will reflect this. My story this week is not particularly romantic, but tell that to the heroine. Her name is Eve. His name is Adnet (French for Adam). You might find some Biblical overtones within the story. It's here for your enjoyment. Click on the list below if you'd like to read more stories. Check out our next prompt - The Perfect 9.5. You're welcome to write for us. Check us out here...

    The Long, Cool Aphrodiasic.

Charles de Gaulle was not the nightmare she’d imagined. Money can buy anything, she thought, as she was escorted through customs to the waiting car.
She slipped into the limo as one born to the role - smooth, graceful, practised.
The fragrance of roses permeated the interior, but the most pungent smell was money and power.  She luxuriated in the soft leather and thought of Gerard.  
She’d left him wilting in the American midwest. Sorry Gerard.
 This limo must be worth more than Gerard’s miserable little cottage, she mused. Oh, but we had good times there, didn’t we Gerry? She trailed her fingers along the seat and sighed. Butter smooth. What a contrast to the cracked vinyl of Gerard’s old beat-up lounge. The colour was soft grey, the same shade as Gerard’s eyes as he begged her to stay.
Ah, but she could get used to this – crystal glasses, Verve Cliquot champagne in a silver bowl, shimmering lights of fairy-lit bridges and magnificent buildings. She sipped the golden nectar and relaxed into the romantic music.  A bit of a step up from Flatt and Scruggs.
The glittering box beside the champagne cooler tantalised her.
This is the Devil’s apple. He’s tempting me with baubles. Would she turn her back on her old life, embrace the new? Hell yeah!
She swooped up the box, aware that a sophisticated woman of the world might refuse the gift. But she wasn’t a woman of the world. He knew that.
Well if this is being bought, I like it. What a turn on. I’m ready to melt into his arms right now. Sorry Gerard.
Eve. Welcome to Paris. Adnet, the note beside the box said.
Oh my God!
She’d never seen anything like the sparkly jewel that lay on its bed of white satin.
The glinting diamonds dazzled.
I must try it on. No harm in that.
The necklet looked gorgeous as she tilted her compact mirror for a closer look.
I’d rather die than give it back.

She stepped from the limo into Adnet’s arms. His eyes glittered at his gift at her throat.
‘Thank you. It’s beautiful. I shouldn’t accept it.’
His arm circled her waist as he guided her through the restaurant to a private courtyard garden. He dismissed the maitre di, then laid his hands on her bare shoulders. She shivered. He pulled her close and kissed her.
The searing kiss said - you are mine.
She stepped into her fairytale.




Monday 6 February 2012

Check out Life on the Muskoka River for my Letter from a friend - all about the Australian beach culture...

My good Canadian blogger friend, Cathy Oliffe-Webster of Life on the Muskoka River is doing a great series: Letter From a Friend so we can learn more about our blogger friends - where they come from, what they value, where they write, that sort  of thing. If you'd like to read my letter to Cathy, go here. You might especially like it if you're snowed under at the moment!

Here's a taste:

Beautiful, laid-back Peregian Beach.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group post - The best writing is understated according to Gene Weingarten..

Hi all! 

To quote Gene Weingarten, twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize::
'...the best writing is understated, meaning it's not full of flourishes and semaphores and tap dancing and vocabulary dumps that get in the way of the story you are telling. Once you accept that, what are you left with? You are left with the story you are telling.'

Another gem from Gene: All stories are ultimately about the meaning of life.

'...it must be about something larger than itself - some universal truth - and always searching for whatever that is. Sometimes, midway through, you realise it's not what you thought, it's something else...but it's always something.'

Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting this group of monthly support for all of us who consider ourselves insecure writers. Click on the badge above to read more posts...

  • What do you think? Do you take readers out of the story with too much description?
  • Do you look for a universal truth when you're writing/planning a story?