28 February 2012

Catch Fire! CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh is released today!

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We are going to break the Internet! This post marks the release of CassaFire by our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. After the runaway success of the awesome CassaStar (read my review of CassaStar), Alex is set to take the Internet by storm once again. I bought my copy of CassaFire on the Kindle this morning, and I urge you all to do the same.


Today is the Catch Fire Blog Party, celebrating the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh! The goal is to help CassaFirecatch 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. 

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

CassaFire book trailer

27 February 2012

Dr. Grordbort's Dangerous Game - British Imperial steampunky goodness


Dr Grordbort Presents: The Deadliest Game from Media Design School on Vimeo.
Right now everyone's talking about John Carter, mixing the 19th Century American Civil War with sci-fi-ish Martian fantasy. Well, us Brits are having a go too. Raygun merchant Dr. Grordbort has given us an insight into Britain's Victorian-era efforts in space travel, featuring good old fashioned British Imperial pluck and disregard for everyone and everything.

Don't forget to pay a visit tomorrow - there'll be a special post to celebrate the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh!

22 February 2012

Maintaining order post apocalypse - what would be your first law?

This is something that I normally discuss on my Zombie Fitness Fridays posts, but I've just come from a training session at work where we were tasked with rebuilding society after a cataclysmic event has wiped out all most of the human race and you are the leader of a group of about 100 survivors (I work in an awesome place).

One of the questions that we were given was "what are the first laws that you would impose?". This was the one question that got the most discussion, and the one that had us arguing with each other a lot. What do we focus on? What's most important?

We figured that murder was a complete no-no, but with a population of as little as 100, mere assault can be just as damaging as murder if the victim can't contribute to the group. Even, what punishment would be given out? We agreed that capital punishment was out of the question, and so settled on banishment. It was a really tough set of decisions to make, but we made the best of the situation.

In a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction, attempts to rebuild society are balanced with the presence of cruel and barbaric men who do what they please. The breakdown of society turns these people into monsters. It makes me wonder: if any kind of law had been established, would it have gotten to a state where monsters like that were permitted?

If you were the leader of a group of survivors, what would be your first law, and what punishment would you give to those who broke it?

20 February 2012

Some pretty awesome publicity stunts from The Walking Dead and Mass Effect 3

I'm always a fan of unusual approaches to marketing and publicity, and these two publicity stunts are the best I've seen in recent months. The first is prior to the release of Mass Effect 3, where publisher Electronic Arts are dropping copies of the Mass Effect 3 from near space. The games can be tracked via GPS so that everyone knows where and when they fall. Those lucky enough to nab a copy will own the game a week before general release. Mmm, space game.

The second is in line with the release of The Walking Dead Season 2, where a packed-out South African cinema was treated to a fake rom-com trailer with a live zombie in the audience. Check out the video below, it's awesome.

What marketing stunts have you enjoyed?

15 February 2012

Working with a cast of thousands

What happens when you add too many characters
I feel sorry for the producers of Ben-Hur, Cleopatra and the like. Getting a suitably epic feel for the movie meant that a lot of people had to be hired. A LOT. You couldn't have one guy walking in the background and then digitally multiply him a thousand times. These guys did it old-school.

As much of a logistical nightmare as that must have been, I can imagine it being a very similar thing when working with multiple characters and plot threads. George R.R. Martin is a good example of this, where he has several characters traipsing all over Westeros and beyond, each with their own fully formed story. Juggling all of these viewpoints and plots, as well as intertwining them successfully, is no mean feat.

I've read a good number of fantasy novels that attempt very much the same thing, but end up being nothing more than a succession of plot points broken up with someone else's name. Characters begin to merge rather than story threads, and at the end you have little more than a flash fiction anthology set in the same world.

 I must confess, I've not read any of the Song of Ice and Fire books, but from what I've seen of the TV adaptation and from reviews, Martin manages his characters very well. I have yet to come across an author who works with so many main characters and still maintains coherency in their plot. Based on that, I can only assume that it's damned tough to do. It seems that it's much ore of a safe bet with multiple characters to keep them together and only have one or two offshoots to the main plot (as in Lord of the Rings split the Fellowship into three groups, and only after the first book had firmly established the characters and the story that they were following).

I imagine that a lot of it has to do with the attention span of readers. Not enough characters and you've got a linear, uneventful plot (and if you don't like the character, there's a high chance you'll stop reading soon after picking it up). Multiple characters shake things up and allow us to alternate perspectives a little, but add too many characters and the whole thing becomes too complicated for your average reader to follow. There has to be a balance.

How many characters is too many? Is there a 'golden number' for a story? And do you prefer multiple plot threads or a single main plot?

13 February 2012

Movie trailers: The Amazing Spiderman, The Avengers, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

2012 seems to be a good year to be a Marvel fan. Not only do we get the awesome The Avengers (directed by Joss Whedon), we are also getting the rebooted webhead The Amazing Spiderman and sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. I wasn't too keen on the original Ghost Rider (or final installment of Sam Raimi's Spiderman movies) but this trio of superhero goodness does alright by me.

The Avengers

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 

The Amazing Spider-Man
In other news, I start my new job today (yay!). This should mean steady hours so I'll be able to get back into some sort of schedule from this week - posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and commenting on your blogs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (Sundays are for Skyrim ...)

9 February 2012

I'm a guest poster over at the A to Z Challenge!

Thanks for the advice for my 50 Word Fantasy project from yesterday, everyone, it was awesome. This is just a quick post to let you know that I'm a guest poster over at the Blogging from A to Z Challenge site. Be sure to check out my tips on winging it in style!

8 February 2012

A little idea I've been toying with

This week has been crazy busy, so my apologies for not visiting many of your blogs. I should be back on form next week.

I've been toying with the idea of a crowdsourced story, similar to a project that Tim Burton ran called Cadavre Exquis. Essentially, I'd start off a story with a couple of sentences (no more than 50 words) and have you carry the story through comments, your own blog posts, Tweets etc. I would compile the entries and give regular updates to the progress of the story (there'd be a page on here with the story available in its entirety as it grows) and a list of contributors linking back to your blogs.

I'd keep it as an open project until I'd felt that the story had run its course and finish it up with a final 50 word conclusion. I think it would be awesome for this community of writers, fantasy or otherwise, to come together and create something collective.

I'd like to create a world and its characters from scratch (or even have cameos from characters in your own stories) and have it slowly expand bit by bit as each person adds in their entry. With enough people on board, I think it could be a great project.

Any thoughts on this would be awesome. This isn't a fully formed idea, so I'm open to suggestions. Does the idea even make sense?

6 February 2012

One brick to rule them all - LEGO Lord of the Rings to hit this Summer

Lord of the Rings Lego promo pictures
by .

LEGO have announced that they will be releasing a Lord of the Rings LEGO theme this summer. The timing is well done, as it gives fans time to pick up sets from the original Rings movies before The Hobbit hits the cinemas in December. Well played, LEGO.

Not much official material has surfaced, though there are a few leaked images of Lego Lord of the Rings box art making the rounds. Officially, we've been given some promo shots that LEGO-ify the teaser posters for the movie trilogy (as you can see on the left) and we also get to see what the Fellowship will look like in LEGO form. It's shaping up quite well. The sets to be released this Summer are:
    Lord of the Rings Lego characters
  • Attack on Weathertop
  • Battle of Helms-Deep
  • Gandalf Arrives
  • The Mines of Moria
  • Shelob Attacks
  • Uruk Hai Army

What scene from Lord of the Rings would you most like to see made into LEGO?

3 February 2012

Advent winners announcement!

The giveaway is now CLOSED! Thanks to everyone who entered. The entries have been counted, calculated, weight, lost, found, tested, lost again and finally buried in soft peat for a few days.

The winner of the hardback copy of Advent by James Treadwell is:

Sarah Pearson

And the winner of the Advent bookmarks, postcard and $5 Amazon.com gift code is:

Vic Caswell

Congratulations to you both! I'll send you an email today and I can get your goodies to you. Thanks again to everyone who entered!

1 February 2012

Living a double life - Insecure Writer's Support Group

For those amongst you who have been lucky enough to make writing your full time career, you can bask in the knowledge that you've managed to make a living from your passion. Both kudos and envious fist shaking to you all.

For the rest of us, we have to lead a strange double life - making enough of a living to keep a roof over our heads (and a constant internet connection), then donning the mask of the writer and becoming someone else (a bit like Batman, but with less money and more coffee).

It's hard enough to be a writer anyways, but when you factor in this other you that has to be grown up and sensible and think about bills and whatnot, it can be damn difficult.

I'm having some difficulty in giving enough to both sides of the equation. Focusing on the 'dayjob' means there's less writing (that includes blogging) but if I start shifting my focus onto writing, there's always the nagging feeling that I need to be doing other things that are more important (blasphemy, I know).

How do you manage to live your 'double lives'? How do you keep a balance between the writer you and the 'normal' you?

Be sure to check out some of the other participants below, and if you're tweeting about it, use the hashtag  #IWSG to let others know.