Archive for September, 2013

I want to try something different.  For the rest of the year (only three months away!), my posts will be from Layla’s perspective.

You know Layla from my book.  The daring antiquities hunter.  Penthouse in Dublin.  Travels Europe and the Middle East.  Scholar.  Young and gorgeous. More than enough money to do what she wants.  So not like me.  But for a while she has to live as plain old Helena Soister in Denver.  See, she’s undercover while on the trail of a rare, precious artifact.  This means she records her life as “Helena” in this blog, but underneath the mundane surface lie details about her mission…

I saw Nikolai today.

His cover as my sports massage therapist appears to be working.  So far federal agents haven’t linked him to my search for the Gold of the Sangre de Cristos.  My plan is to find the trail to it before the snows keep me out of the mountains in southern Colorado.  If the snows come before I can get down there, I’ll have to fall back on Plan B—to be revealed here only if necessary.

While Nikolai pummeled my body, we talked.  He got his hand under my scapula and I tried not to scream.  He told me the muscles around it are tight from fencing.  Can’t be helped, I said.  My fencing lessons with Maciek, the volatile Polish Olympian, are too valuable to stop now.  He’s teaching me speed, tactics, precision.  Everything I can use in a duel.  If I could add a Zen-like in-the-moment presence of mind while I fence, I will truly become deadly with a blade.

I talk this over with Nikolai as he removed knots in my neck. For a Ukrainian, he has a surprising depth of knowledge of oriental mysticism.  Like breath control.  Meditative states.  I may follow his lead and study Reiki, which has clearly made hims sensitive to energies in his clients’ bodies.  Come to think of it, Slavic and Oriental mysticism might be a natural mix.

After leaving Nikolai (my body is already working better, my old injuries are healing), I decided against grocery shopping.  There’s only so much dull detail of this cover life I can handle.  Besides, it was a beautiful day to be outside.  The streets were strangely quiet because the Broncos were at that very moment pummeling the Phillie Eagles (52-20).  I could have pulled off a secret, quickie theft of an artifact at a local mansion and no one would have noticed.  Ah well, c’est la vie.  La vie I’m leading these days, that is.

So I went home and sat on the roof’s terrace and examined maps of the mountain terrain I’ll soon be crossing, if I dare…

So do you think I should stick with this approach for now? Kinda fun? Give it up as too hokey? Be honest, please.  But not brutal.

Today I finally saw The Conjuring, and I had to see it on my own because a couple of my friends were too spooked to go with me.


Of course now that I’ve seen it I’ve gotta say that is one *||@# SCARY movie!

You know why?  Because most of the time you don’t SEE ANYTHING.  It’s the same principle that worked so effectively in Jaws.  Remember how for most of the movie all you see is that nasty fin sticking up out of the water and then you hear John Williams’ brilliant da-DUM…. da DUM…. music?  Spielberg and his team had planned to show a lot more of the shark, but most of the time the mechanical creature wouldn’t cooperate.  So he went with the what-you-can’t-see-can-kill-you angle, and you wait and wait for something horrible to happen because you know it’s coming.  From a literary standpoint, it’s brilliant storytelling.

The Conjuring works the same way.  You know that whatever is in that haunted house is way ahead of the humans and just playing with them.  Sure, you all may not believe in ghosts or anything paranormal, but when I see movies I like to suspend belief and just enjoy them.  So in a twisted way, I enjoyed getting the crap scared out of me today.

And now for something literary and not scary at all, which is…


Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle.


When indie author Jessica Bell thought about why she was writing and publishing, she also wondered about other indie writers’ stories.  The result?

The anthology Indiestructible was born.

Need motivation and inspiration to self-publish, or sign that contract with an interested small press? Have you done all the research you can, but still feel ambivalent about the idea? Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle brings you the experiences of 29 indie authors—their passions, their insights, their successes—to help you make the leap into indie publishing.

This is not a how-to guide. This is the best of the indie tradition of experienced authors paying forward what they’ve learned, giving you information to help you on your journey. The personal essays in this book will leave you itching to get your work into the hands of readers and experience, first-hand, all the rewards indie publishing has to offer.

Not only is this anthology packed full of interesting, unique, and genuinely helpful information, and totally worth the 99c (only 99c!!!), 100% of proceeds will be donated to, a movement which breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.

Buy Indiestructible—support the indie author and an amazing charity—TODAY!


eBook: $0.99 USD
Publisher: Vine Leaves Press
ISBN 10: 0987593102
ISBN 13: 9780987593108
Language: English, Edited & Compiled: by Jessica Bell

Contributing authors:  Alex J. Cavanaugh <> Angela Brown <> Anne R. Allen <> Briane Pagel <> C.S. Lakin <> Ciara Knight <> Cindy M. Hogan <> D. Robert Pease <> Dawn Ius <> Emily White <> Greg Metcalf <> Jadie Jones <> Jessica Bell <> Karen Bass <> Karen Walker <> Kristie Cook <> Laura Diamond <> Laura Pauling <> Laurel Garver <> Leigh Talbert Moore <> Lori Robinson <> Melissa Foster <> Michael Offutt <> Michelle Davidson Argyle <> Rick Daley <> Roz Morris <> S.R. Johannes <> Stephen Tremp <> Susan Kaye Quinn

Before I get to the important news about our favorite Ninja, I want to make a couple quick updates.

First, the flooding here in Colorado really has been terrible and unprecedented.  Damn.  First we get walloped with terrible forest fires because of the drought and global warming, now we’re getting blasted with too much rain and flooding over a massive area.  My heart goes out to everyone who’s been affected.  It’s going to take a long time to put my state back together again.

Second, my book club appearance went well.  It was a small group that met in a library, but all the members were very kind and told me they really enjoyed reading The Compass Master.

AND NOW A DRUM ROLL for a wonderful man and the third book in his thrilling trilogy.  Congratulations, Alex!


By Alex J Cavanaugh

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…

“With a talent for worldbuilding and a compelling cast of characters, Alex J. Cavanaugh combines high powered space battles and the challenges of family dynamics to provide readers a space opera with heart.”
– Elizabeth S. Craig, author of the Southern Quilting and Myrtle Clover mysteries


“I thought the revelation was going to be one thing and I was completely wrong … CassaStorm pushes the limits…”
– Tyson Mauermann, Speculative Reviews

$16.95 USA, 6×9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera

Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019

$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm:

Barnes and Noble –

Amazon –

Amazon Kindle –

Goodreads –

Book trailer –

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.

Website –

Twitter –  

Goodreads –

A Few Notes…

on September 9, 2013 in Misc 6 Comments »

Just a few personal notes today…

On Monday afternoon I’m going to my first book club meeting for The Compass Master.  See, a very small local book club read my novel after being urged to do so by an elderly friend of my parents.  Advance word is the members enjoyed Compass, so here’s hoping they’ll be nice to me.

Sigh.  We writers can be such fragile creatures when it comes to our books.

I’d really love to know if any of you have had the book club experience and what it was like for you.  Good?  Scary?  Ever so grateful that these strangers read your book?

Second point…

My friend Linda is reading my second-pending-manuscript, Charity MacCay and Holy Relations, and this last week when she was only about a quarter of the way through she called me up to rave about it.  She even read aloud one paragraph.

See, the thing about Linda is that she’s extremely literary in her tastes.  She has read pretty much everything ever written by Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, Isak Dinesen, Proust.  You get the idea.  And she thinks my book has real literary strengths.

Aren’t friends wonderful?  I mean, I’m used to getting critiques from them (they take care to be gentle).  But when they truly love what you’ve written, doesn’t that love feel fantastic?  For a little while, before my insecurities set in again, they can make me feel like a real WRITER.

I felt just that way thanks to Hart Johnson (the glorious Naked Tart) when she generously read my first Charity manuscript.  Hart darling, your insight and book smarts and professional experience mean so much to me.

Third point…

I FINALLY went swimming on Saturday (first time all freaking summer!), and if I’d known that my thighs would look thinner the next day, I’d have gone swimming about a hundred times.

See, I don’t have a weight problem, but when I do put on extra fat it goes straight to my thighs, waist and butt.  Never on my two little puppies up top, damn it.  So even a couple extra pounds can mean that my clothes get too snug.  Then I’ve gotta lose those pounds ’cause dieting is a lot cheaper than buying new clothes.

In case you didn’t know, swimming is especially good for losing weight because your body has to burn extra calories just to stay warm.  Doctors have pointed out how Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has to take in a HUGE number of calories, more than other Olympic athletes do, simply because he spends hours every day in a pool.

So that’s my body tip for the day:  Go swimming and have fun.

Obit for a Writer

on September 3, 2013 in Misc 4 Comments »

I know this sounds morbid, but…

Have you ever, just once, kinda fantasized about being a DEAD famous writer?

What I mean is, you’ve just died and because you’re such a famous, beloved writer your passing is national news.  Not only that, but across the English-speaking world, news agencies spread the word and editorials are written singing praises for your books.

I thought about this when Ray Bradbury died.  His leaving us was significant because the stories he wrote matter to us.  I don’t even know science fiction that well, but I certainly knew about Bradbury and reading his obituaries made me realize how influential he was.

And you just know that whenever J.K. Rowling passes away (which I hope won’t happen for another half century), it will be world-wide news and in many languages.

For me, it’s proof that writers can sometimes really matter in our society.

I thought about the passing of writers this last week when Seamus Heaney died.  Yeah I know, most of you don’t care about poets or poetry.  But the fact is when Heaney died it was front-page news on many electronic newspapers across the U.S.A., and in his native Ireland it was MASSIVELY important news.

See, Heaney was a Nobel Laureate and the greatest Irish poet since W.B. Yeats.  And Yeats was one of the giants of the Twentieth Century (I quote Yeats’ famous poem “The Second Coming” in The Compass Master).

The Irish Times, in one of several pieces about Heaney and his funeral, declared:  “In months and years and generations to come, people not yet born will seek out this small village to the east of Lough Neagh, with the sole purpose of visiting Heaney’s grave.”  It described how all along the road the funeral cortege took to get to that village people were “pulsing out of doorways to honour their own,” and that they came “on foot, in buggies and on crutches.”

Now that’s a beloved writer.

I really don’t know if the passing of any American writer has ever elicited such a reaction, or that his or her grave has become a site of pilgrimage.  Probably Mark Twain—he deserves it.  Edgar Allan Poe died in obscurity and was buried in an unmarked grave, but years later he was given a headstone, then a monument, and nowadays his grave is a site of pilgrimage.

So what about you?  Yes, this is a morbid topic (maybe I shoulda written this post at Halloween), but have you ever wanted the fact that you’re a writer figure significantly in your obituary?

This topic aside, have a non-morbid, happy week.

Great news, my friends:  Hart Johnson has a new book out!

Or I should say, she has PART of a new book out because Hart is cleverly releasing her new flu apocalypse thriller, A Shot in the Light, as a serial.  The first installment is titled A Flock of Ill Omens, which is appropriate because the opening scene includes a whole lotta mysteriously dead seagulls on a beach.

I can testify that I’ve already read the opening scene and it grabbed me by the throat and pulled me right into the story.  I am so looking forward to reading this thriller!

So without more ado, here are a few details about Ill Omens and how you can get a copy.

Deadliest virus in a century, or a social experiment gone awry?

Every year they warned about the flu and more often than not, it amounted to nothing.  Sidney Knight, a young freelance reporter had certainly never written on it.  But a trip to Lincoln City, Oregon cut short by a beach full of dead seagulls and a panicked warning from her brother the scientist catch her attention.  This batch is different.  Deadlier.  And the vaccine doesn’t seem to be helping. It almost looks like it’s making it worse…

A Flock of Ill Omens: Part I is the first episode of A Shot in the Light, an Apocalypse Conspiracy Tale about what happens when people play God for fun and profit.  There will be approximately ten episodes, each the equivalent of about 100 pages.

Good Reads has a sneak peak posted.  You can find the purchase link and more information about the book here.  And if you want it FOR FREE, I will be offering it free on the release dates of at least the next two in the serial: September 19 and October 10.

Hart Johnson writes books from her bathtub and can be found at Confessions of a Watery Tart, though be warned:  she is likely to lead you into shenanigans.

And in a postscript, my friends…

For me it’s great to see HART’s name on the book cover, ’cause I’ve read her “Alyse Carlson” cozy mysteries, which are of course fabulous.  But now we get to see the undisguised and naked Hart give us a much darker and more intricate tale.   Welcome to the dark side…