Attention all Spacedock 19 personnel and visitors, Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is stopping in today. He’s the author of the space operas CassaStar and CassaFire. I know that the third, CassaStorm is in the works and I read a rumor on his blog he may grace us with another writing project after.
Oh jeez! He really is a ninja sneaking up on me like that. Welcome to Spacedock 19, Alex. Would you care for a drink? The renovations are done and, although Craze isn’t currently speaking to me, he is serving drinks.
AJC: I’ll take something non-alcoholic so I can keep my wits about me. Ninjas must stay on their toes!
MP: I hear you on that. Here’s a selection of coffee, tea, and juice.
Stealthy as you are, you don’t go into creating a story mysteriously. You outline. I’m curious how you start the process. What is the first thing you do when you start outlining?
AJC: By the time I begin writing the outline, the story has already played in my head several times. So the first run of the outline is a free-form of the highlights.
MP: So you play the story like a movie in your head for awhile? Do you find some times of the day better for that than others?
AJC: Yeah, like a movie. Guess since I’m such a big movie fanatic, that just comes natural to me. And anytime my brain isn’t directly engaged in an activity is a good time, such as when I’m at the gym or playing my guitar.
MP: I find workouts great for finding inspiration as well. And I can see why you’d find playing your music so, too.
So you have this loose outline, what details must it have before you move on? Then what do you do once you feel that first step is done?
AJC: I don’t do index cards or color-code anything. I just keep adding to the outline, making it more in-depth. It’s where I generally work out plot holes and continuity problems. I guess I’m done with my outline when I realize that if I added any more, I’d be writing the book. During this time I also work on character details. After that, I just start writing. Oh, and this will amuse you – except for established and pre-named characters, I don’t assign character names until I finish the first draft.
MP: That is definitely amusing. I can understand why, though, since I’ve had some hard to name characters. Waiting can be a good strategy. I often do that with titles, then panic. lol So you mentioned playing music while you think about your next story, does the tune or song you play depend on what’s going on in the story?
AJC: Despite my reputation as a prog rock metalhead, I do play a variety of music on my guitar. The faster pieces lend themselves well to action scenes, while slower, more moody tunes fit well will scenes of conflict or tension. If one scene is really dominating my thoughts, I’ll stick to the appropriate tunes to solidify it in my mind.
And I’m worse than you with titles! I didn’t even come up with the last two. Both were suggestions from my publisher for the second book.
MP: Music and other sensory input can be very strong memory cues. That must help you outline and write. Also, I think it’s obvious that you’re a highly organized person. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be the marketing/blogging Ninja you are. Maybe you’ll come back sometime and we’ll chat about that or some other burning topic?
AJC: Wish I was more organized. Think it’s my perfectionist nature that really helps in that area. Be happy to discuss that and the finer points of clones. (They really do help, you know!) Thanks, Mary!
I sure am looking forward to that clone chat.
CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh
Have you read Alex? Try CassaFire.
CassaStar was only 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…
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
Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Kindle / Nook
More About Alex
Alex has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and worka in web design and graphics. He’s 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’s the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
This bloghop hosted by L.G. Keltner of Writing Off the Edge , in celebration of her one year blogaversary.
I actually started blogging as a weight-loss blogger way back when, The Chronicles of MEPS Reconstruction. Then when I became more serious about this writing stuff, I decided that was way too personal, erased it, and started Wistful Nebulae. But I met a lot of great people in my previous blogging life. Some of which remain great friends. If any of them are reading this, I remain the same size I was five years ago. Woot!
How’d you start blogging? Any questions for Ninja Alex on outlining? Now it’s your turn to gab…