Friday, October 18, 2013


Science Fiction has always been a love of mine. I love the adventure of new worlds and people. My guest is Amazon Bestseller, Alex Cavanaugh, and he's written a sci-fi trilogy which has given me hours of pleasure. His latest, CassaStorm, in my opinion, is his best. His characters are well drawn and the story has emotional depth and I like the touch of darkness and danger of the story. Well worth the read. Recently, I had a chance to chat a bit with Alex.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I grew up in a household with seven brothers. We all had great imaginations and fun stories to create and act out. I know that spinning adventures where my brothers were heroes who saved the day and against all odds was a favorite. 
  • I imagine the exploits of an intrepid fighter pilot would be a great adventure—especially in a place far removed from the restrictions of the world you lived in—not to mention being out of the reach of parental restrictions. Was this something that drew you, as a teen, to this world of Byron's? 
Hey, doesn't that sound enticing to you? I've never been the adventurous sortI have this thing about safetybut the idea of flying a space fighter in my imagination was awesome. There were a lot of adventures with Byronand Bassathat I created. And out there, anything could happen.
It was very enticing to the teen me. I wouldn't say no to such an adventure now, Alex, providing I was safe. 
  • Are you surprised with how your fighter pilot has grown and changed?
I could see beyond the end of CassaStar to a time when he’d meet Athee, but not the growth he experienced over three books. 
  • What would you say was the biggest change you've seen in Byron?
His biggest change was in his willingness to trust and really care about others. Byron liked to do things solo and he didn't want to admit he needed anyone. [Another change was Byron] also lost the edge to his temper. 
  • What do you like and respect about Byron?
What I admire is his ability to command and take control of a situation. He fights for what is right and works harder than anyone. 
  • I like how your latest story explores the roots of the races inhabiting your world. There are a lot of frontiers yet to explore in this world you've created. You mentioned you’re working on another space opera idea. Is it set in this same world?
I have an outline for another space opera – whether I’ll ever write it is another story! (So many things happening in my life right now.) It’s not set in the Cassan universe though. It would be a whole new world, with new races, new planets, new wars…

I’m ready and willing to read it. Not that I’m exerting any pressure or anything, lol! 
  • You've come a long way from the teen that once wrote a story of a fighter pilot set in a galaxy far from ours. As you look back, what was the biggest surprise that occurred while you were writing this series?
Biggest surprise? That I was actually writing a series! I never planned three books.

Within the stories though, the biggest surprise was the character of Piten in the third book. He was such a minor character; he originally didn't even have a name. A suggestion from a critique partner (who saw the outline before I wrote the book) led to character who played a pivotal role in the ending. 
I loved Pitten, especially his interaction with Byron's son (another favorite character). Actually, I'd love to see a story set around his people—just sayin'. :-)
  • If you could choose the music theme for CassaStorm, what would it be? What song would you use?
The theme music would be Daft Punk’s Recognizer from the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. I’m not much for soundtracks, but my wife loves that one, so I heard it a lot when writing. The ominous feel, along with the rise in tempo, echo the tone of CassaStorm.

Tron has a great soundtrack. I like several from LegacyEnd Of The Line and the Recognizer are favorites of mine. I can see Recognizer as the theme for CassaStorm. 
  • Speaking of music. You once told me that you play music every evening as a way to relax after the stresses of the day. So how did this move from an escape and relaxation to a band?
I've been a musician most of my life, but always wanted to try guitar. After several years of practicing, I was asked to join a band through church. It’s been very rewarding! 
  • I know you play rock, but is your band a Christian rock band or does the band play music at local venues for entertainment? Give me a couple of songs that your band really likes to play? 
We play at Christian venues and churches, and sometimes for the youth. We’ll play Christian standards like God of Wonders (by Third Day) and Nothing is Impossible (by Planetshakers.) Sometimes we’ll play secular music by bands such as U2. We do all covers, so we haven’t recorded anything yet. 
  • You’re a very creative person—you design graphics and do web design, you write, you play music. All parts of a creative mind. Do these creative endeavors feed each other or are they something you have to juggle—shut the door on one to let the other have the spotlight. 
I definitely think they feed each other. I can practice my guitar and be inspired with a scene that will fit into one of my manuscripts. I believe people who are creative in one area are creative in others, even if they haven’t discovered it yet. 
  • Any words of hard earned wisdom you’d like to share?
If you’re just starting on this journey, prepare for an amazing ride. It will take you places you never imagined and some that might scare you. Embrace it all. Become the author and the person you were meant to be.

  • Alex, it's always a pleasure to chat with you! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us today.


From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…EXCERPT



Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. 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. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

You can find Alex: 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Want To Be a Planter

Sia had a lovely guest scheduled for today who unfortunately had to reschedule. So today I'm filling in instead. ~ Kat Sheridan

I’m going to try to be a Planter.

I'm thinking this is a Pumpkin Spice Latte
OK, I know how weird that sounds. But hey, it made you look, right? Let me explain.

NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month, begins on November 1st. For those unfamiliar with the insanity, the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s 1,667 words every day. For the first few days it’s not bad. You might even skip a few, seeing the month stretch endlessly out before you. “I’ll just write twice as much tomorrow,” you tell yourself. If you’re not careful, that quickly becomes “OMG, even if I write 20 hours a day for the next three days, I’ll never catch up!”

Not that that’s ever happened to me. Ahem. Anyhoo.

The idea of NaNo is to turn off your inner editor and just write. Get all free spirited and new-agey and unleash the Kraken and stuff. For someone who’s a pantser—one who writes by the seat of their pants—this is a wonderful thing. I’m a die-hard pantser. The novel I just pubbed, Echoes in Stone, began its life as a NaNoWriMo project. My very first writing project. Ever. Pretty much on a dare, I sat down at the keyboard and just typed like a fiend for 30 days, with no idea where I was going or what I was doing. Side note: that only got me halfway through the novel—it took another three months to finish it, at least ten rounds of editing and revising, and five years to get the courage to publish it.

Anyway. So that’s a pantser. On the other side of the NaNo field are the Plotters. These are the folks who started back in August with charts and outlines and spreadsheets and research and 3 x 5 index cards in multiple colors and use software like Scrivner and have read “Save the Cat” and have 35 chapters of three scenes each all mapped out and likely already have the synopsis written and the cover in the planning stages. I know people like this. I admire them greatly. I am not one of them.

For the most part, pantsers and plotters respect one another, in spite of the fact that we baffle one another.

But this year for NaNo, I’m trying something new. I’m going to be a planter, a combination of plotter and pantser. I’m going to be working on a project that I’ve been tinkering with for awhile, and which currently resembles hash. Or maybe a ball of yarn the cat got into. Or something you scrape off the bottom of your boot. In other words, it needs to be untangled before I go any further. So before November rolls around, and I unleash the NaNo Kraken, I’m going to do a little plotting. I’m going to at least have a proper list of character names because this manuscript is a beast of a thing with lots of moving parts. I’m not going to go crazy with making a note for each little scene, but perhaps a loose sort of plot outline might not come amiss.

I don’t know. It feels weird. But I’m trying it. If I know myself (and I do), I’m wagering that somewhere ten or fifteen days into it there will come a bourbon-and-Mozart-fueled night of writing frenzy and all my lovely attempts at plotting will go out the window.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be a plotter. But I can try to at least be a planter!

Tell me: Do you ever make elaborate plans for something and then find yourself doing something else entirely? How did that work out for you?


Kat Sheridan is a former project manager and business analyst whose very serious exterior hides a secret romantic. She is fond of books, bourbon, big words, coffee, and shiny things. Kat splits her time between the Midwest in the summer and the South in the winter, sharing her home with the love of her life and an exceedingly dignified Shih Tzu. No matter where her body is, though, Kat’s imagination can most often be found on some storm-wracked coast, plotting historical romances that include forbidding castles, menacing villains, and heartthrob heroes. She loves to hear from readers, and can be contacted at, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Monday, October 14, 2013


My way of dealing less having less light as fall and winter months and stress is to take advantage of morning light. I've been having my first cup of coffee out on the porch with my pride of cats. My porch faces the southeast. The air is fresh and now that we’re in October, a bit brisk. I’m like a flower soaking up the rays. It sets my mood for the rest of my day. I’m not out long, maybe thirty or forty minutes, but the infusion of bright light and warm rays make me feel good.

One of the reasons is sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin which is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates our moods. The morning sunlight raises the levels of serotonin high enough to set a more positive mood and allows quiet reflection and mental focus. I've been under enormous stress lately, which is a negative, and it does affect my mood and my body. I look for simple and natural ways to offset the negatives. The sunlight also helps my body and mind with the release of endorphins—a natural, built in antidepressant. The sunlight bathing the skin with light also dilates the small blood vessels in the skin providing more oxygen and nutrients to the cells and is a positive way to calm my heart and blood pressure—not that I have hypertension, but stress and pain can increase blood pressure. Stress equals negative chain reactions in our bodies. Sunlight counters that. Vitamin D is absorbed from sunlight and it boosts your immune system, and sunlight encourages the growth of white blood cells that fight infections and other ills. Sunlight can help lower your blood sugars and pushes your body to store the glucose rather than release them to feed the whole fight or flight feeling.  

Being in the early morning sunlight is a positive for me. It’s a quiet time. I can put my thoughts in order to handle my day more effectively. Being with my animals, stroking the soft fur and being loved on also helps. They also make me smile and laugh with their antics. I walk out to greet my dogs and horses and it gives me time to breathe in the fresh air and appreciate the splashes of color still blooming in my yard or notice the trees that are starting put forth color in their leaves. Or catching the sparkle of dew on a spider web or the trail of cat prints in the grass. All good things that make me feel at peace regardless of what is going on in my life.

Throughout the day I take my breaks outside in the sunshine. I love late afternoon sunlight as well and especially after a long day at my computer. I try to take about fifteen minutes to sit and watch the golden sunlight bathe the back pastures and the surrounding hills. It gives me a few minutes to relax and reset my mind before having to start dinner deal with the night. I sleep better, too.

I’m like the sunflower following the path of the sunlight soaking in the peace and giving good things to my mind, body, and spirit. 

How do you handle the stress in your life?