Monday, April 22, 2019

Favorite Romantic Movie-Masquerade Style! Plus RiffTrax: Live – Octaman, Shazam!, and Triple Frontier Reviews

Today I am hosting the Masquerade: Oddly Suited authors! I asked them a question - what is your favorite romantic movie and why?

Elizabeth Mueller:
My favorite romantic movie is I am Dragon. The cinematography is breath-taking in every scene from its lavish costuming, the picturesque setting, the color scheme of dreariness accented with white and red, the beautiful characters, and the acting! The love between Mira and Arman is believable, satisfying, swoon-worthy, poignant, and thoroughly unforgettable. I challenge you to watch it! (I am Dragon on YouTube )
The Cog Prince, Elizabeth Mueller
Falling in love, saving the day, and a masque—oh my! Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince?

L.G Keltner:
I love Before Sunrise. I enjoy the idea of meeting a stranger in a foreign country, seeing the sights together, and having lots of interesting conversations along the way. It’s a simple concept but well executed.
Oddly Suited, LG Keltner
The silliest situations may be oddly suited for romance.

Anstice Brown:
I’ve always loved old-fashioned musicals and one of my favorites is The Sound of Music. I enjoy watching the developing chemistry between Maria and Captain Von Trapp as their irritation blossoms into affection. Another favorite (sorry, I couldn’t choose just one!) is Singin’ In the Rain. Gene Kelly serenading Debbie Reynolds with “You Were Meant for Me” must be one of the most beautiful romantic scenes in film history.
Sea of Sorrows, Anstice Brown
What could a shapeshifting siren know about love?

Chelsea Ballard:
My favorite romantic movie is Beastly. I'm drawn to fairy tale retellings and this one just takes the cake. Steamy bad boy learning to love while struggling with who he is on the inside and the outside? Count me in.
Remedy, Chelsea Marie Ballard
Everything is against Remy and Rudy, but on the night of the Masquerade Ball, they must choose: each other or their lives?

Jennifer Lane:
My favorite romantic movie is Sense and Sensibility for several reasons. I can’t imagine living as a woman with so few rights back then—the movie makes me grateful for all of the opportunities women have today. The story also shows that lasting love is more about inner character than outer appearance, and the intense romantic angst leads to a huge payoff at the end.
Behind the Catcher’s Mask, Jennifer Lane
Who can help her through a meltdown on the pitcher’s mound?

Carrie-Anne Brownian:
I think I'd choose Flesh and the Devil (1926), with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. It's so sexy and sensual, without any graphic scenes. A particularly sensual scene is when Felicitas (Garbo) turns the Communion cup to drink from the spot where her secret lover just drank.
Charleston Masquerade, Carrie-Anne Brownian
Can two worlds come together and find love?

Angela Brown:
There are many highly acclaimed movies that come to mind as an enjoyable romantic movie. But then there's Darius Lovehall and Nina Mosley of Love Jones. Why my fave? Because loving, falling in love, falling out of love, all of these are so much bigger than 4 letters of an alphabet situated in the dictionary. These are experiences that often transcend the ability to string together letters and words to express the how, the what, the impact. All of these things are played out in Love Jones, a movie where chemistry and the complexity that is love gives the audience every reason to swoon.
A Diver’s Ball, Angela Brown
You can be anything you want in the online world of Cumulus. A human. An elf. A powerful beast mutation from your wildest imagination. But can you be in love?

C.D Gallant-King:
Crash, directed by David Cronenberg. A classic. You can never go wrong with James Spader, and Deborah Unger is gorgeous. Elias Koteas is delightful.
The Dark Charade, CD Gallant-King
The new girl in town falls in love for a mysterious boy who is maybe, probably, most definitely, a vampire.

Myles Christensen:
I have too many favorite romantic movies to choose just one, but I love the 2007 BBC Persuasion. It is so full of longing and unrequited love. And that kiss at the end has so much tension, it's the ultimate payoff.
Flower of Ronda, Myles Christensen
What if life's price of servanthood could be changed?

Deborah Solice:
I love the movie Notting Hill with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. It’s sweet and so humorous. I love the line, "I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." I cry at the end during the song, “She.”(by Elvis Costello)
Fearless Heart, Deborah Solice
Is he a figment of her imagination conjured to keep her sane, or is he something else…something more?

Masquerade: Oddly Suited
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Release date – April 30, 2019
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/Contemporary
Print ISBN 9781939844644 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844651 $4.99
Goodreads, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo

You can find out more about the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited here.

Plus they are hosting a giveaway for a $50.00 Amazon gift card. Enter the Rafflecopter HERE.

And the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are hosting a live Q & A session on Discord! Join us on Sat 11th May from 1:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm GMT to find out more about the anthology and the contributing authors and ask any burning questions you may have!
The Q & A will be held on Discord. Please follow the invite link: DISCORD

RiffTrax: Live - Octaman

Last Thursday night was RiffTrax:Live and the guys delivered another great show.

There were no pre-show joke screens – bummer! However, Kevin Murphy did a music video for us about Space Mutiny that was hilarious. Best part was the screen with him holding the triangle, which he only hit once at the very end.

There was one short before the film. McGruff the Crime Dog talked about drugs. The best line – It’s bring a furry to school day.

Then the main attraction – Octaman. Those of you familiar with MST3K will remember the infamous ‘rock climbing.’ Well, here we got cave crawling. (After an already really long scene on the water in the dark.) During one ridiculously long cave crawling scene, Bill just up and quit. (Mike and Kevin got him to come back.)

Next up – Star Raiders on June 6. Don’t miss it! Get details and tickets HERE.

Movie Reviews

Based on the DC comic, fourteen year-old Billy is chosen as Champion and turns into the adult superhero by saying one word – Shazam!
This movie got high marks from early viewers and rightly so. It’s just a lot of fun. (It’s like a kid-friendly, gentler version of Deadpool.)
Zachary Levi is perfectly cast as Shazam, both genuine and innocent, and Asher Angel great as Billy, giving Shazam a little bit of a bad boy streak. Mark Strong is threatening as the villain Dr. Sivana and Billy’s foster siblings and foster parents fill out the rest of the cast nicely.
The film works on many levels. As a superhero origins story, it sets up Shazam and how he fits into the DC universe nicely. (With this film and Aquaman and Wonder Woman, DC has found its stride.) It’s also a touching tale of family, as Billy struggles to fit with his foster family while still hoping to find the mother who abandoned him.
It’s a smaller-scale film, but the effects are excellent. The Seven Deadly Sins are very creepy (and involved in a couple intense moments) and the CGI never overtakes the film.
There are also some funny moments, especially as Shazam tests his powers. He’s a very human superhero and I think a lot of people would try some of the things he attempts, even if they aren’t all honest and legal.
And stay for the ending! And the extra ending after the credits roll.
Highly recommended!

Triple Frontier
Loyalties are tested when five former special forces operatives reunite to steal a drug lord's fortune, unleashing a chain of unintended consequences. Starring Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal.
They decide to steal the money and keep all of it. What could go wrong?
This played like a throwback to the 70’s and 80’s mercenary films.
Triple Frontier is a NetFlix Original, but it could easily played in a theatre. The acting and production values were top notch.
The movie was good as it followed these five men, dependant on each other and desperate to pull off the heist. It fell short of great though – we’ve seen it before and it could’ve been a little leaner and tighter.
However, I enjoyed it, and there were several really intense scenes. (Confirming my resolve never to get in a helicopter.) It’s definitely at the top end of NetFlix Originals.

What is your favorite romantic movie? Eager to read Masquerade: Oddly Suited? Have you seen Shazam! or Triple Frontier? And did you catch RiffTrax?
And are you ready for the next IWSG Anthology Contest? It opens May 1 – watch for the theme reveal.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

IWSG, IWSG Anthology Contest, April Movie Preview, WEP Challenge, The Dirt Review, Con Photos, and Rescuing Mara’s Father

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the April 3 posting of the IWSG are J.H. Moncrieff, Natalie Aguirre, Patsy Collins, and Chemist Ken!

April 3 question: If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

I think I have most of those under control – fight and death scenes, first chapter… All right, how about the darned kissing scene? I think I have a total of three in all of my books. Maybe four. Not easy to write. And certainly not going beyond a kiss!

What do you need help with?

Announcing the Insecure Writer’s Support Group 2019 Anthology Contest!

That’s right, we’re changing things up this year – opening for entries sooner and extending the submission timeline. It now opens May 1 and closes September 4.

This year the genre is – Middle Grade Historical – adventure or fantasy.

We’ll announce the theme on May 1.

Ready to rock the history?

Movie Review – The Dirt

This was released in theaters and on NetFlix on the same day, so we watched it from the comfort of our home.
Motley Crue hit it big when I was in my very late teens. I thought they were all right, but was never really a fan. Despite that, I was entertained by this portrayal of the early years of the Crue. (Before their first record deal through Vince Neil rejoining the band.)
The actors looked a lot like them and did a great job at making them almost sympathetic. Almost.
Here’s what we learn from the film:
The band members destroyed a lot of relationships along the way.
Tommy Lee actually had a good relationship with his parents.
Mick Mars was the closest thing to a voice of reason in the band. (Which isn’t saying much.)
Nikki Sixx was just about as messed up and damaged as a person can get – and still live. (Which he almost didn’t.)
Vince Neil really loved his daughter, Skylar.
Ozzy Osbourne was stoned-drunk crazy. (Wait, we already knew that…)
It was entertaining though. If you can stomach the craziness (which I’m sure is much milder than it really was), it’s worth a watch.

Ninja News

You can sign up now for the April WEP Challenge
An old locket with a faded photo inside...A string of pearls reminiscent of a special evening...A magic jewel box that comes up with just the right piece whenever the owner needs it...A jewel box out of reach of a regular working class person who passes it in a fancy shop window everyday...Maybe a ring associated with terrible political intrigues and heartbreak?...Or...maybe a missing jewel box after a murder...bought in some faraway place...
Just some of the ways you can weave this prompt, there are many, many others. As you can see, all genres are your oyster with this prompt - romance, adventure, fantasy, speculative, crime...What use will you find for the jewel box?

My publisher was at a con recently and sent me these photos:

A Middle Grade Science Fiction Adventure

Find it on Amazon, Amazon UK, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, andSmashwords

Find Diane - Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest

Sign up for her New Release Alert

And sign up to win an Amazon gift card - Rafflecopter

April Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for April! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

5 -

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson's case, by shouting out one word - SHAZAM! - this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam.
Director: David F. Sandberg
Stars: Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Borth, Mark Strong
At least this Shazam isn’t riding around in a Winnebago with an old guy. (Remember that 70’s kids’ show?) And it’s getting amazing reviews!

12 -

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.
Director: Neil Marshall
Stars: David Harbour, Ian McShane, Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim
I’ll miss Ron Perlman, but I’m really looking forward to an R-rated Hellboy!

Missing Link
Mr. Link recruits explorer Sir Lionel Frost to help find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight, this trio of explorers travel the world to help their new friend.
Director: Chris Butler
Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Zoe Saldana, Hugh Jackman, Emma Thompson
Sounded stupid – however, it looks really funny. And it’s from the same people who did Kubo and the Two Strings, which was a work of art.

26 -

Avengers: Endgame
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos' actions and restore order to the universe.
Directors: Anthony Russo | Joe Russo
Stars: Brie Larson, Scarlett Johansson, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper
Christmas has come to Geek Town!!

What do you need help with? Posting for WEP this month? Seen The Dirt? Looking forward to any movies this month? And can you write a middle grade story?

With the A to Z Challenge this month and my need for some writing time, I am taking most of April off. I will be back on April 22 with a special post from the Masquerade: Oddly Suited authors and some movie reviews.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Best Ghost Movies, Bird Box and Love-Death-Robots Reviews, Monday’s Music, DIY MFA, and Ninja-IWSG News

Haunting a Cinema Near You…the Best Ghost Movies of All Time by JH Moncrieff

As someone who’s written a series about—you guessed it—ghosts, it should come as no surprise that Alex asked me to write about ghostly movies. Here are my highly subjective picks for the all-time top five.

5. The Awakening. In this little-known British flick, a published author with a reputation for exposing supernatural hoaxes is summoned to a boarding school that’s haunted by a murderous ghost.

4. The Changeling. After the death of his wife and daughter, a troubled composer moves to Seattle and rents a Victorian mansion. He quickly realizes he isn’t alone. What begins as playful turns sinister as the composer discovers his home’s unwelcome tenant is a bloodthirsty ghost bent on revenge.

3. The Woman in Black. Another tale of revenge, The Woman in Black revolves around grieving lawyer Arthur Kipps, who’s barely holding it together after his wife’s death. His boss gives him one last chance to save his job—travel to Eel Marsh House to settle a deceased client’s estate. Determined to succeed, Kipps ignores the townspeople’s warnings, only to find himself face-to-face with an emaciated woman in black. She isn’t an ordinary ghost, as he soon learns—every time someone catches a glimpse of her, a tragedy befalls the community’s children.

2. The Others. Nothing is what it seems in this atmospheric ghost story. When her soldier husband abandons her, Grace Stewart hires three servants who claim to have worked at the house before. Strange occurrences in the home increase with their arrival. But is the house haunted, or is Grace going mad? The truth is more terrible than you can imagine.

1. The Sixth Sense. (Aka the best ghost movie ever made.) After he fails one of his young clients, child psychologist Malcolm Crowe tackles his biggest challenge yet—a disturbed young boy who’s concealing an unspeakable, heartbreaking secret.

What’s your favorite ghost story?

J.H. Moncrieff’s new release, Forest of Ghosts, was inspired by her real-life experiences in Romania, including Hoia Baciu, the world’s most haunted forest.
Jackson Stone is sick of ghosts. With his love life in shambles, he heads to Romania for a horror writers’ retreat, hoping it will be a break from the supernatural and breathing space from his relationship with medium Kate Carlsson.
But as his fellow writers begin disappearing or losing their minds, he realizes he needs Kate’s help.
When Jackson loses his own memory, Kate’s love is the only thing that can bring him back. But she’s falling for the man responsible for the evil in Romania. A man who claims to be her soul mate. Will this master of wraiths forever break Kate’s bond with Jackson?
Available now!
J.H. loves to hear from readers. To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, check out her Hidden Library.
Connect with J.H.: Website / Twitter / Facebook

Movie/Show Reviews

Bird Box
Unseen invaders cause people who do see them to go insane and/or commit suicide. The movie opens with the final fourth of the story – Sandra Bullock and the two kids, blindfolded and in a boat on the river. It then alternates between the river and several years prior during the invasion when a pregnant Bullock sheltered with others in a house.
The movie is well acted and solid. However, two things hurt the film.
First, it’s basically the movie The Happening (although a thousand times better!) with a slice of A Quiet Place thrown in. We’ve seen it all before.
Second, there were no surprises. The story played out exactly as I thought it would.
If you’ve not seen the other two films, or you just want a decent NetFlix movie, then it’s certainly worth a watch.

Love Death and Robots
This is an adult animated anthology series on NetFlix, with each episode being 10-17 minutes long. There is a ton of language, violence and gore, and nudity. (If you want to call that ‘adult’ – not necessarily what I need in an animated film/show to enjoy it.) The common factor between each one is in the title, although I don’t recall much love…
Some of the episodes work, some don’t. A couple feature excessive gore and nudity/sexual scenes. (If it weren’t animated, it would be way beyond R rated.)
The animation is always intriguing though, as each one has its own style. Basically, if the movie Heavy Metal were made today, it would look a lot like this.
There have been some standouts. Three Robots was funny, Good Hunting had a unique story and great cell animation, Suits was a great story, and both Shape Shifters and Lucky 13 featured incredibly realistic animation. (Still not perfect with the faces, but oh-so-close!) And The Secret War was beyond amazing with its realistic animation, especially the snow.
If you can handle the “adult’ – and there are a couple you might want to skip – it’s worth a watch for fans of animation.

Monday’s Music Moves Me

Hosted by Xmas Dolly

This week is a freebie, so I’m jumping in!

I’m featuring Evergrey’s Weightless, taken from their new album, The Atlantic.

Ninja News

The IWSG Goodreads Book Club is hosting a giveaway.
Eligibility: This giveaway is open to members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club on Goodreads
Prize Given to Winner: Hardcover Copy of The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman
Giveaway Ends: April 8, 2019 12:00am Eastern Standard Time
Enter to win HERE

We’re about a month away from the release of the next IWSG anthology – Masquerade: Oddly Suited!
Visit the IWSG site for details and pre-order links.

And we just might have some news about the next IWSG Anthology Contest very soon…

New Releases: 

The Heart of Things by Joy Campbell
Book 2 in the In Medias Res series
Find it on Amazon

Luck of the Billionaire by Donna K. Weaver
Kayn never imagines a murder could lead him to love.
Find it on Amazon


We are partnering with DIY MFA this spring to bring you a great program for writers.

Before we announce details, we’ll be sharing several of their learning podcasts.

The next one is - Episode 236: Writing Without Rules (or Pants) — Interview with Jeff Somers.

Check it out and be watching next month for details about the program.

What do you think are the best ghost movies ever? Have you seen Bird Box? Watched any of Love Death and Robots? What music is moving you? Want to win a free book? And are you ready to read Masquerade: Oddly Suited?

See you April 3 for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

Monday, March 18, 2019

New Avengers: Endgame and Shazam Trailers, James Gunn and Guardians, In Flames Review, DIY MFA, and Ninja News

Movie News

Good news! James Gunn has been reinstated as the director-writer of Guardians of the Galaxy III.
Gunn was fired last year after some decade-old social media comments surfaced.
According to Deadline:
The social media messages were indefensible, but the filmmaker never did anything but blame himself for poor judgment displayed at a time when he was emerging from the Troma film factory and attempting to be a provocateur. There were no reports that Gunn ever engaged in the behavior he lampooned.
The entire cast of the film was outspoken in its desire to have Gunn back, saying that those satiric tweets did not match his personal actions.
Gunn didn’t murder or rape anyone, he didn’t abuse animals or people – he just said some dumb things ten years ago. This was mob mentality condemnation. Disney was wrong to fire him, but at least they hired him back.
And now we’ll get a third Guardians movie that doesn’t suck!

In case you missed the new Avengers: Endgame trailer last week:

There’s also a second international trailer for Shazam:

Despite being a DC fan, I was wary when I saw the first trailer, but a recent early screening revealed that this film knocks it out of the park.

Here is a tweet from @AshCrossan:
#Shazam was damn near PERFECT in my book. My FAVORITE DC movie (DCEU? What are we saying now?) by far. Pure of heart, incredibly funny, full of in-jokes and references. Brought me a childlike joy to watch. This role was MADE for @ZacharyLevi... & Jack & Asher & the entire cast

Read dozens of comments on the movie at JoBlo’s.

Review – In Flames: I the Mask

Every review I read regarding this band begins with a caveat explaining that the classic In Flames is gone and will never return. And while I don’t disagree with that statement, I appreciate that as a band ages and matures, their sound hopefully matures along with them.
So yes, the classic days of Colony and Clayman are gone. But I dig the new sound. Building on their Gothenburg, Sweden roots, it’s still heavy yet melodic and catchy.
It took a few listens for this album to grow on me, but I think it’s their strongest release in years.
Highly recommended.

Ninja News

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group will have some exciting news soon regarding this year’s anthology contest. Be sure to check out the site on April 3!

The A to Z Challenge is celebrating its tenth year. Ten years ago, a hundred of us made a commitment to post the alphabet daily for a month and at its height, there were over two thousand participants.
I stepped down as a co-host and no longer participate, but it’s still a great way to meet people and stretch yourself. Signups are open, so visit the site for details.

New Release:
Three Passports to Trouble by Sean McLachlan
Interzone Mystery Book 2
Back in the days when Tangier was an International Zone, the city was full of refugees. People fleeing Stalin. People fleeing Franco. People fleeing the Nuremburg Trials. Tangier offered a safe haven from the chaos of Europe.
The International Council had to keep a delicate balance, tolerating everything from anti-capitalist agitators to Germans with murky pasts. It was the only way to keep the peace, and it worked.
Until an anarchist was found dead with a fascist dagger in his chest.
And I got stuck with the case just when I had to smuggle a couple of Party operatives out of town.
Find it on Amazon


We are partnering with DIY MFA this spring to bring you a great program for writers.

Before we announce details, we’ll be sharing several of their learning podcasts.

The next one is Episode 233: Crafting the Victorian Novel — Interview with David Morrell.

Check it out and be watching next month for details about the program.

Glad Guardians III has its writer-director back? Excited for Endgame and Shazam? Fan of In Flames? Participating in the A to Z Challenge? And want to guess on the IWSG anthology contest news?