Monday, September 9, 2019

Alex J. Cavanaugh & CassaDawn

Our favourite Ninja Captain has a book tour & giveaway going on! Check out the news below!

CassaStar Series Prequel
By Alex J Cavanaugh
Genre: SciFi Adventure, Space Opera 

The prequel to the Amazon best-selling Cassa series!

A pilot in training...

Fighting the odds, Byron is determined to complete Cosbolt training and join the Cassan space fleet. Poised at the top of his class, only one situation holds him back–his inability to work with anyone in the cockpit. Byron’s excellent piloting skills won’t be enough without a good navigator…

**Get it FREE!! **

CassaStar Series Book 1 

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

“…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

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo * BAM

CassaStar Series Book 2

From the Amazon best-selling author - 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…

CassaStar Series Book 3

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

Get the CassaSeries Boxed Set Here! 

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. 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 award-winning site, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!

If you haven't read this great sci-fi series, you're missing out! Great characters, pace, and storylines!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

IWSG & Settings for Self

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

September 4 question - If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

There are so many great places where I'd love to write...
  • outdoors under the Northern Lights 
  • a sidewalk cafe in Paris
  • a balcony overlooking Tokyo or NYC at night
  • a comfy chair dropped into the middle of the Serengeti or the green rolling hills of Scotland 
  • a gondola in Venice or a whale-watching boat in the ocean
  • a beach Down Under
But I'm a Canadian girl at heart, so I'd love a tree house overlooking a lake out in my beautiful Northern Ontario forest, surrounded by the amazing fall leaves at their best.

How about you? Where would you like best to write or read? Anyone want to join me?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

WEP & For Max

Jeannie filled the red wheelbarrow with the fresh soil and trundled it over to the new garden around the maple tree. Another couple of trips ought to do it.

Max had always had a thing for red flowers, so she’d gone a little crazy with the colour.

Not only the wheelbarrow but her new gardening gloves and trowel set. And the flowers of course. Impatiens, peonies, mums, poppies, dahlias, and geraniums. All in beautiful red.

Such a happy colour. This entire area of the garden was going to be all about Max. 

After filling the new garden with soil, Jeannie brought out her kneepads and went about setting the plants in place. She should have bought new knee pads as well, but the raggedy green ones would have to do.

There was something soothing about gardening. Max had never understood it, although he liked the results.
“Your knees aren’t getting any younger, Jeannie.”
“What are you doing messing with that dirt again, Jeannie?”
“Why bother? You’ll just be down on your knees weeding again next week.”
“If you’re going to do it anyway, you know I like the red ones best.”

Jeannie smiled and tucked the dahlias gently into their new home. Different shades, different textures, different shapes. All in Max’s red.

The sun neared the horizon when Jeannie tossed all the empty flower containers into the wheelbarrow. No sense in leaving a mess. Max hated messes.

After tying up the garbage bag and putting it on the curb for pick up, Jeannie rinsed off her new trowels and hung them up on the cork board then headed back to check out her hard work.

In only a few months, the leaves of the maple tree would turn red and add to the drama of the scene. Max did love his drama.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, Jeannie leaned down and patted the soil.

“Sleep tight, Max. Sleep tight.”


This is my entry for the WEP & IWSG August Challenge. Hope you enjoyed!

How about you? Any gardeners out there? Anyone use a garden for nefarious purposes lately? 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Rania Battany & Fleeting Moments

Please welcome Rania Battany to the blog today!


Writing craft: Showing not telling.
We all know as writers that we need to show and not tell. If you struggle to understand the difference between the two, you can rest assured that you are not alone. Once it clicks, it seems simple. Until then, it can be daunting and confusing. 
Put simply, telling is exactly that: you are telling the reader how to feel and what to think. Telling usually uses fewer words and, to be blunt, requires less creativity. You are reporting the story to your reader, rather than trusting them to deduce the information for themselves.
Take the following example of telling vs showing
- Sally was happy.
- Sally’s eyes beamed. She smiled, and deep lines creased her cheeks.
Above, we are told that Sally is happy, but we do not feel any of her joy. In the below sentence, we are not specifically told how Sally is feeling, and yet we can gather from her beaming eyes and deep smile that she is happy.
Consider the following:
- John hurt Sally with his words.
- John’s words pierced Sally to her core. Her lips quivered, and her shoulders crumpled in towards her broken heart.

Not only can we feel how much John hurt Sally in the second example, but we become empathetic towards her, making us much more deeply invested in her pain. As authors, we want our readers to be invested in our characters. Showing allows the reader to paint the scene in their mind, encouraging them to come to conclusions for themselves. Showing also allows the reader to become a part of the experience. It takes them deeper into the character’s story, so that they feel what the character feels, see what they see, and experience what they experience. This deeper connection to the character enhances the reading journey and draws the reader into the world you’ve created.

Rania Battany lives with her husband and three children in the beautiful Yarra Ranges, Victoria, Australia. When she isn’t getting her hands dirty in the garden, frolicking with her chickens or dog, or chasing after her three young children, she is writing contemporary romance novels that tug at the heartstrings or curled up with a cup of tea and a book.
Rania Battany on the web:
Website         Facebook         Instagram    Twitter 

Fleeting Moments
Maya is floundering. She’s stuck in a dead-end job, is isolated from family and friends, and her father—the only person that ever truly understood her—has been gone four years. When her boyfriend leaves her for another woman, the rocky foundations of Maya’s life crumble to dust, and she sinks even further into the pit of grief and despair.

Until she meets him. Sam. The one with the animated smile and gentle eyes, who always sees the positive no matter how bad the negative. And the one who reignites Maya’s passion through his enthusiasm and zest, helping to rebuild her life, piece by piece.

But when ghosts from Maya’s past resurface, her decisions almost destroy the few important relationships she has left, and the happiness she’s so recently found is threatened. She must overcome her demons and decide what matters most—the familiarity of the past, or the hope, love and possibilities of the future.
Buy on:
Amazon Kindle       Amazon Aust           Amazon UK

Thanks, Rania! Beautiful cover for the book!

Those are great examples for showing rather than telling. How about you? Do you struggle to Show, not Tell? Do you like the round of editing where you search for those Tells and change them to Shows?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

IWSG & Surprises!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.


August 7 question - Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

As a pantser, I have to say my writing often surprises me.

It doesn't take much for a whole scene to take a swift turn and go in a whole new direction. Of course, with my romance stories, the happy ending won't change, but the path to get there is totally flexible!

I've also been surprised by a lot of my flash fiction stories. As a rule, I'm a happy and positive person. I write mostly contemporary romance which requires happy endings. But during flash fiction, I've been pulled in a lot of directions - not all of which are happy or upbeat.

And you know what?
They're so much fun!!!

Here's to more surprises in the future!

How about you? Do you like when your writing or reading takes an unexpected turn? Do you like those stories that are different than your norm?

Monday, July 29, 2019

Juanita Kees & Levels of Competence

Please welcome Juanita Kees to the blog today!


I’ve been teaching my youngest to drive. We’ve had fifty hours of driving together without a single drop of blood shed. It’s a miracle. Luckily, he’s a calm driver who remains unfazed on the road.
Driving with a newbie got me thinking about a lot of things, especially in the face of impatience from road users who’d forgotten they too were learners once. What it got me thinking about most though, was writing.
I spent a good portion of my working life as a retail standards coordinator in Quality Assurance, although it seems like a lifetime ago now. In the business world, our work is measured by the four levels of competence – unconscious incompetence (wrong intuition, L-plates), conscious incompetence (wrong analysis – red P’s), conscious competence (right analysis – green P’s) and unconscious competence (right intuition – licensed driver).
Like any job, there are varying levels of progress in the writing world too and this is how I’ve come to think of them: aspiring (learner), emerging (red P’s) and established (green P’s).
So why only green P’s when I should be at the top of the pyramid? After all the books I’ve written and had published, haven’t I earned my pretty blue pen licence? The answer is that even an established writer should never give up learning, never take unconscious competence for granted.  We still need that scheduled PDA (Practical Driving Assessment) test we call edits, beta reading and critiquing, no matter how good we think we are.
An editor, proofreader and critique partner are valuable in the writing world. Like a driving instructor or test inspector, they find the mistakes a writer can’t always see because we’re too close to our plot and characters. They stop us from falling back on bad driving habits that may creep in as we head down the road to publication. We might not always appreciate or agree with their instruction or feedback, but it’s important we remove the emotion and reaction to analyze and learn from their advice. Be proactive not reactive, a skill in itself.
There is a lesser known fifth stage to competency it would do us all good to remember as we climb that ladder to success, no matter what the job is we’re doing. The stage licenced drivers often forget out on the road – empathy.
The Fifth Stage of Competency
If you cultivate an attitude of empathy around competency, you can unlock a fifth stage of competency: empathetic competence. Empathetic competency means understanding that competency isn’t a checkbox or goal marker that we achieve and leave behind. It’s about assessing yourself and your abilities against your potential, rather than the abilities and potential of another person. Ultimately, it’s about being mindful of the skills and abilities of others, meeting them where they are, and supporting them along their journey to growth and success. ~ 
Zac Ryland (Tier 1 Performance Solutions)
That’s why I’m putting myself on probation, stepping back down to my red P’s, assessing where I’ve been and where I’m going, how I can do things differently to stay fresh, motivated and inspired.

The takeaway message – be kind, be patient, be empathetic, be supportive. No matter how good we get, we were all learner drivers once.

Juanita escapes the real world by reading and writing Australian Rural Romance novels with elements of suspense, Australian Fantasy Paranormal and Small-Town USA stories. Her romance novels star spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in. She creates emotionally engaging worlds steeped in romance, suspense, mystery and intrigue, set in dusty, rural outback Australia and on the NASCAR racetracks of America. When she’s not writing, Juanita is mother to three boys and has a passion for fast cars and country living.

Juanita Kees on the web:

Fast Lane (Calhoun Customs Garage Book 2)
Trinity Calhoun is a name everyone knows on the race circuit, but her days in the hot seat are numbered. She’s tired of the limelight, meaningless relationships and long hours behind the wheel. When her father calls her and her sister home, she’s ready. She slips right back into the family business, finishing off the custom car projects her father has lined up. But racing is in her blood and she’s lured back to risking her life on the hot rod drag strips outside of town. It’s there she meets paramedic and volunteer firefighter, Reece Balmain, who has her re-thinking the road her life is taking.

Reece Balmain arrives in Big Fork a broken man. He’s lived and breathed through horror accidents, haunted by the faces of the people he’s cut from vehicles. He knows one thing–speed kills. He’s hoping not to see too much of it in small town Montana, until he hears about the drag races taking place outside of town. He knows Trinity Calhoun. He’s watched her race, seen her win, held his breath when her car somersaulted into barriers in Daytona Beach. He doesn’t like what she does, but he can’t stay away from the woman who’s claiming his heart.

Buy on:

Amazon US Kindle          
Amazon Aust         Amazon UK

OVERDRIVE (Calhoun Customs Garage Book 1)
Chase Calhoun has worked hard at making Calhoun Customs a world-wide sensation and keeping his father’s dream alive. He hasn’t had time to think about settling down, so he’s not expecting to find love or new life hiding in the attic of their garage among the ghosts of his family’s past.
Charlotte Jackson is on the run from a rebellious past, determined to prove she can be a good mom to three-month-old baby, Zoe. Tired of being delegated to the back office of the racing team her famous NASCAR family owns, she sets out to establish herself as a custom design artist. But she’s out of money, luck and time, and she can’t hide in the attic at Calhoun Customs forever.
While Chase slowly loses his heart to his refrigerator thief and the baby bundle asleep in his laundry basket, Charlotte learns that sometimes family is more than just blood and DNA.
Buy on:
 Thanks so much, Juanita!

I love the analogy you've used. It makes so much sense. That 5th competency level is definitely something to strive for!

How about you? Have you taught a teen to drive? And survived? (Check!)
How competent are you feeling right now? I think I'm at the emerging stage and working my way up.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Suzanne Gilchrist & Group Writing Ventures

Please welcome Suzanne Gilchrist to the blog today!!

Why I love group writing ventures & how it can help writers on their journey. 

To date, I’ve organised three successful group writing ventures. Not only have I found new friends, but I’ve expanded my reader base and had a lot of fun along the way. 

The first venture I organised was set in the fictional small town of Bindarra Creek and currently there are three series / ventures situated in this world. The first had 13 members including myself, the second nine (this was an anthology of short stories) and the current series, A Town Reborn, has nine members. My latest romance, Take Me Home, is the first book in this series released on 21st July with further releases by the other members occurring every month until March next year. Our website is here:

Another writing venture I organised, again set in a small, remote, country town, is the Mindalby Outback Romances, which was traditionally published by Harper Collins both in paperback and also ebooks and has seven members (including myself). Our facebook page is here:

I also organised a duo writing venture which was a romantic suspense series, titled Deadly Forces with Erin Moira O’Hara where we both wrote a full-length novel about two sisters who were stranded in the Amazon after a plane crash. 

One of the reasons I love group writing ventures is the support each member gives to the others – this is both emotional support by way of motivation and also support on the writing aspect. There is an energy associated with group writing which I think is enthused into our work. Tasks can be divided, and the brainstorming is enormous fun. 

Since I organised these ventures by coming up with the initial ideas, I also draw up agreements and guidelines for each series. Having official agreements not only gives each member a clear understanding of deadlines and expectations and a list of rules we all must abide by, but also direction in relation to the underlying theme of the series, the genre, and our target audience.

When it comes to release days and promotion, each member shares and promotes within their own readership base and also on various social medias. This can result in a far-wider reach than I would normally achieve when writing alone.

In the ventures, I’ve had experienced writers and also emerging writers and I feel being part of group writing has given the ‘newbies’ an additional boost both to their writing skills and also their confidence.

Would I do it again? Well, the final release for the Bindarra Creek – A Town Reborn series isn’t until March 2020 and until that time I need to be available to answer any questions and continually update our character database and map. My answer is yes, I’d love to run another venture. But not for a while as I also wish to concentrate on my own series. 

So if you have an idea you’d like to share with other writers, search out those your writing is compatible with and who you respect. Work out your guidelines and rules. Enjoy the process and have fun.  And good luck 😊.

Suzanne Gilchrist lives in the Hunter Valley, Australia with her family and pets and is the author of over twenty books, several of which have finalled in writing contests. As S. E. Gilchrist, she writes science fiction, ancient historical, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic romances and romantic suspense. As Suzanne Gilchrist, she writes women’s fiction and contemporary small-town romances, often with a splash of suspense.
Suzanne takes a keen interest in the environment and animal welfare and loves bushwalking and kayaking, spending time with family and friends and walking her dogs. She co-runs Hunter Romance Writers and is the organiser of several group writing ventures.

Suzanne Gilchrist is published with Escape Publishing / Harlequin Australia and is an indie author.
Suzanne Gilchrist on the web:
Website            Facebook         Bookbub
Twitter             Goodreads       Instagram

Take Me Home (Bindarra Creek A Town Reborn)

Forgiving the past was too painful until now.

Almost forty, Abby Taylor has built a new life for herself in the small country town of Bindarra Creek. When an old friend convinces her to give two adolescent boys a temporary home, she is torn between a growing love for these orphans and the grief in her past.

After his marriage fell apart, Roman Taylor has focused on his career. An unexpected phone call sends him rushing to Abby’s side where he is drawn into his estranged wife’s new life – a life that could offer a future he thought he’d lost forever.
Will they seize this second chance to have a family of their own? Or will fate once again destroy their dreams?

Welcome to Bindarra Creek – A Town Reborn, a fictional town set on the western slopes of the New England tablelands. Take me Home is the first book in this new group writing venture series. With a community full of quirky characters, the books feature compelling romance, heart-warming family life, drama, and even suspense.

Buy on:

Amazon US Kindle     
Amazon UK     Amazon Aust     iBooks       Nook      Kobo   

Thanks Suzanne!
What a fabulous idea - love the thought of working with other writers in ventures like these!

How about you? Have you been involved with a venture with other writers? Have you read any series where each book is by a different author?

Monday, July 8, 2019

Ellen Jacobson & Poisoned By The Pier

My bloggy friend Ellen Jacobson has a new release out today!!!

This is a fun cozy mystery filled with quirky characters - both human and animal. I really enjoyed it!!!


Poisoned by the Pier Now Available!

Poisoned by the Pier, the third book in the Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery series, is now available in ebook, paperback, and large print.

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play

When Mollie's husband signs the two of them up for an extreme diet, she's not amused. When someone ends up poisoned by a cake, things get even worse.

While she tries to identify the killer, Coconut Cove’s annual boating festival is in full swing. In between getting ready for her first sailing race and cheating on her diet, Mollie and her cat, Mrs. Moto, uncover clues, interview suspects, and do their best to avoid rutabagas.

Can Mollie nab the killer before someone else is poisoned?

If you like quirky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocolate, you'll love this cozy mystery. Pick up a copy of Poisoned by the Pier and laugh out loud from the first page to the last.

New to the Series?

If you're new to the series, you might want to start with Murder at the Marina. Now's the perfect opportunity as the ebook is on sale for 99c/99p for a limited time.

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play

About the Author

Ellen Jacobson lives on a sailboat with her husband and an imaginary cat named Simon. When she isn't working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she writes cozy mysteries and sci-fi/fantasy stories.

Connect with Ellen on her Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub | Blog

You can also sign up for her newsletter for updates about new releases, current projects, sales and promotions, and other fun stuff.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, you'll love this one. Cats, dogs, quirky characters, intriguing setting and plot - it's got it all!

How about you? Do you enjoy cozy mysteries? Ever sailed on a boat? Ever tried a wacky diet?