- About Me
- Liftoff/Rayatana Series
- Dark Blade: Forged of Aramatir
- The Champion Trilogy of Aramatir
- Ashes Burn
- Writing Prompt Books
- Collections of Stories and Poems
- Individual Story Publications in Ebook
- Non-fiction Articles and Notable Posts
- Writing Curriculum
- Creative Writing Resources for Tweens and Teens
- Events and Appearances
- As TA Thorne
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Friday, April 22, 2022
An Interview with Alex J. Cavanaugh, Science Fiction Author and Ninja Captain
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Connect with other writers. This is a lonely business, and we need the support of like-minded individuals who can encourage, support, and guide the way.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to complete a novel? Or What's your writing process like? Slow or fast? Are you a cheetah in the drafting process and a turtle in revision or vice versa?
Depends on the novel. This one took two years as I was a bit rusty from a very long break. I’d say between six and ten months for drafting and revisions is average. And I am no cheetah when it comes to the first draft. Takes me forever. Revisions go much faster and smoother.
How did you come up with the idea for the unique world you’ve created? (Or, who/what inspires your writing?)
The whole universe was inspired by the likes of Battlestar Galactica and other movies and shows from the late seventies. The world within CassaDark—I guess I just have a thing for desert planets. Or just characters living in desert areas. There were also a couple movies that inspired the idea behind a garbage planet that serves as a prisoner hold as well. The setting just leant itself to a place where survival would be challenging and escape a distant pipedream.
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?
The honest answer? If everyone knew the love of God, this would be a much better place.
If you could choose who would direct the movie of your book, who would you choose and why?
James Cameron! I want a blockbuster, a great, big movie with outstanding special effects. Who else would I choose?
If you could choose who would act as the main character in your book in a movie production, who would you choose and why?
Tom Holland. He’s the right age and would bring just the right level of awkward dorkiness to the role.
Alex J. Cavanaugh works in web design and graphics, and he plays guitar in a Christian band. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is known as Ninja Captain Alex and he’s the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
CassaDark By Alex J. Cavanaugh
His world is unraveling…
Bassan’s father is stepping down from command. His best friend almost dies when Bassan freezes. Now, he’s being sent across the galaxy to speak at an important conference. Despite saving the eleven races years ago, he’s paralyzed by fear and doubt. Could things get any worse?
Once there, new acquaintance Zendar convinces Bassan to visit his planet for a humanitarian mission. Bassan’s special connection to ancient technology is the key to saving Zendar’s people. One problem though—it’s a prisoner planet.
On Ugar, he discovers things aren’t so straightforward. As each secret reveals itself, the situation grows more desperate. If he can’t find the right answers, he might die along with Zendar’s people. Can Bassan summon the courage to be a hero again?
Release date – April 6, 2022
$16.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 226 pages
Science fiction - Adventure (FIC028010) / Space Opera (FIC028030) / Space Exploration (FIC028130)
Print ISBN 9781939844842 / EBook ISBN 9781939844859
$4.99 EBook available in all formats
iTunes – https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1574189874
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0982FL3SH
Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940164947033
Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781939844859
Scribed – https://www.scribd.com/search?query=9781939844859&language=0
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58461762-cassadark
Monday, April 11, 2022
If you viewed my Four-Sentence Stories Workshop with QuaranCon 2022, you might have seen me get a bit nervous a few times, but I kept going and taught the class mostly as I meant to.
If you haven't seen it yet, it's here:
Either way, I thought I could reiterate some of the points of the class briefly here and add in a few extra writing prompts if you are interested.
What are 4-Sentence Stories?
- Exactly what they say they are: stories in four sentences.
- Part poetic brevity, part fiction, these stories force focused word choices.
- Always include a character, a problem, and an ending/hint of resolution
- Yes, this can be done.
- Yes, they can be fun to write.
Why write 4-Sentence Stories?
- Explore characters
- Explore ideas
- Fill the creative well
- Play with words
- Focus on sensory words, active verbs, or another area you want to work on.
Example of a 4-Sentence Story:
What happens if you don't follow the 4-Sentence Format EXACTLY?
Writing Prompts to Use:
- Put your character in a white room and show what they do there.
- Put your character at the edge of a cliff, top of a castle tower, underwater, trapped in a spacesuit that’s running out of oxygen and show what they do there.
- Take away the sense of sight and make your character rely on sound, smell, taste, or touch for the duration of a four-sentence story. (This forces a focus on writing other sensory description.)
- Take a character you already know and put them in a weird or impossible situation. Dump Athena into a modern fast-food chain and see what she does.
- Something came over the horizon.
Questions to ask yourself after writing the story:
- What did I learn about this character?
- What did I learn about this character's dilemma?
- What did I learn about the ending/hint of resolution in this story.
What can I do with a four-sentence story?
- Query them. There are markets for four-sentence stories, markets for hint fiction, and markets for micro-fiction.
- It is true that most of these markets are non-paying markets, but you can build up your writing resume and your ability to query by starting with these.
- Use them in a newsletter as a free giveaway.
- Use them at an author table as a free giveaway.
- Collect them and print them in a collection.
Markets for Four-Sentence Stories and Super Short Fiction:
More Uses and Examples
What's next for this workshop?
Friday, April 8, 2022
Quarancon started in 2020 as a free online fantasy and SF convention because we were not allowed to go out and have fun at in-person events. Now, two years on, the convention is still going, and it started on April 7th.
There are lots of panels with fantasy, horror and SF authors from all across the world. It runs from 7-11th April 2022. You can find the full schedule here, and all of the panels will be streamed via YouTube etc.
I have two events this year with Quarancon: a reading, and a workshop.
On April 9th, I'll be reading from Liftoff, my sci-fi novella which I wrote, had professionally edited, and published in 2020. Imagine an American teen trapped inside a movie theater which turns out to be an alien spaceship during liftoff, add in a cute alien dude, a high stakes space-chase, and some fist fighting, and you have Liftoff, the first book in The Rayatana Series. If I have time, and there aren't many questions, I might also share a bit from Dark Blade, my ongoing Kindle Vella series. The reading link for Youtube.
On April 11th, I'll be teaching a workshop entitled originally Four Sentence Exercises to Boost Creativity and Sensory Description which the organizers cleverly renamed Four Sentence Stories to Boost Creativity, and I am hugely thankful for the rename. The workshop is essentially what it says it is. I'll talk about micro-fiction and using it to keep the creative well full and to build writing skills. The workshop link on Youtube.
I highly encourage you to join me, but also join in by check out all of the events at the con. It's free, fun, and I've already seen some panels I'll be revisiting to watch again.
Authors and publishers to watch for: Damien Larkin, Jessa Forest, and L. Diane Wolfe.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
This is a timely question. The answer is yes, just recently. Liftoff is new for audiobook. I think the most challenging aspects for me were:
1. Deciding on a platform. I went with ACX. It seemed simplest and most cost effective.
2. Deciding on a narrator. That was tough. Avelina McRines did an excellent job with all of my oddly named characters and places.
3. Not letting personal life stuff get in the way of the final bits of releasing it. Actually, my personal life did take precedent, otherwise it would have been out in December, but it did come out in March.
Small Steps of Improved Health: I have been going to the gym and I would love to say my health has improved by leaps and bounds, but it is improving in small steps, and it is steady, so that is all good.
The Rayatana 3 is my main writing focus for April. I hope to have a revised version finished and prepped for my editor by the end of the month.
Dark Blade: Forged is my secondary focus. It's coming out on Kindle Vella and the first three episodes are free to read.
I put out a query for one of my "trunk" books and I applied for an exciting part-time position for next fall, and the process for both of these made me take a close look at what I have accomplished, instead of what I haven't accomplished yet. Listing out what I've already finished was kind of wonderful and I recommend doing that if you feel stuck in a rut.
In addition to all that, I got a temp job as a reading instructor for the summer. I'm looking forward to talking books with students online! :) My tutoring business has been small and I haven't had the energy to grow it, so for me, this is a growth and continuation of doing something I love (and actually get paid for doing).
QUARANCON - THIS WEEK
Quarancon is a free, online writing conference for speculative fiction authors. The creators of the conference live in the UK, but the authors and publishers who are taking part are from around the world. April 5-11, as an attendee, a reader, and as a workshop teacher.