Monday, January 15, 2018

#IWSGPit and The Write Life! Flaming Crimes Story, Tick Tock Cover, Movie Controversy, Threshold Review, and Ninja News

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group made The Write Life’s 100 Best Websites for Writers again this year!
Thanks to all of you for supporting and participating. We wouldn’t exist without you.

The IWSG Twitter Pitch Party is this Thursday!
We have hundreds of agents and publishers invited.
The first event last summer comprised of about 2300 Tweets and was a Trending Topic that day.
Check out the site for genres and hashtags.
Then send out your Twitter book pitch with the hashtag #IWSGPit this Thursday.
See you then!

Flaming Crimes Story

AUTHOR NOTE: Many scenes in Flaming Crimes (Disaster Crimes #4) came from real life. For this short blog tour, I am sharing my memories as a ten-part continuous story, so hop along for the entire experience.

BUY LINKS: Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and The Wild Rose Press

My parents and my best friend’s parents decided it was best that the two of us were taken away from there. So, my best friend’s dad drove us to their house. We had one of our other cats who had just had kittens. They were tiny little things. In my best friend’s room, my cat nursed her babies as if nothing was amiss.
When my best friend’s dad returned, he reported what was happening—a firefighter had been burned in my backyard, a brush truck had gotten stuck in the woods behind my house, and my friend’s uncle was going crazy, running through the flames, laughing, and apparently having fun.
Except, for my friend’s uncle, I brought those two scenes to life in my story.

The paramedics appeared out of the smoky cloud carrying the backboard with the assistance of two firefighters. Beth stopped breathing. If Donovan was strapped to the backboard, she would spring into the ambulance after him. She loved their home, but she loved Donovan more. She wouldn’t let him get taken to the hospital alone. Even if he was unconscious, she would want to be with him, to hold his hand, to kiss him, and to pray. When she saw a firefighter on that backboard, she felt a mixture of relief and horror. The fire was winning.

The story will continue on these blogs:
1/8 Circle of Friends Books - Part 1
1/9 Sandra Cox – Part 2
1/10 Elements of Emaginette – Part 3
1/11 Julie Flanders – Part 4
1/12 I Think; Therefore, I Yam – Part 5
1/15 Alex J. Cavanaugh – Part 6
1/16 Just Jemi – Part 7
1/17 Sandra Dailey – Part 8
1/18 Fundinmental – Part 9
1/19 Elizabeth Seckman – Part 10

Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.
Author Links: Website, Blog, Goodreads, Facebook Twitter and Amazon

Album Review – Threshold: Legends of the Shires

When this was released last year, I discovered that Damian Wilson was no longer the lead singer. He was an amazing singer and I decided I wouldn’t listen to or support the new album. .
Then the album started turning up on progressive rock top ten lists. So I finally caved and downloaded it. And I’m so glad I did!
This is an amazing disc from start to finish. Every song is catchy while still maintaining that prog rock sensibility.
It’s also one of the best mixed albums I’ve ever heard. Every instrument, voice, and element is perfectly balanced. Nothing is muddled or in the background.
It’s definitely the best prog album of 2017. If you’re a prog fan, this is a no-brainer – buy it now. Even if you’re not a fan, it’s very accessible and catchy.
Very highly recommended!

Ninja News

On a sad note, Edi’s Book Lighthouse is closing down. Edi said his farewells on Saturday, stating that the advances in technology at his job have only made him ten times busier, and he is unable to continue reading and reviewing.
Edi, you will be missed! Thanks for the years of support and friendship. You rock.

New Releases!

A Body in the Trunk byElizabeth S. Craig
Myrtle Clover book 12
Sometimes taking a spin makes you crash and burn…
Find it on Amazon

The Case of the Purloined Pyramid by Sean McLachlan
From Kindle Press
An ancient mystery. A modern murder.
Find it on Amazon

Movie Controversy

Last week, Michael posted about the controversy of The Last Jedi. It’s divided the fans and received a lot of flack despite the great critical reviews.

That got me thinking about movies in general and why some are so panned by one side or the other and why some divide fans. I think it comes down to two things – a person’s investment in the original source and their critical level when it comes to movies in general.

As far as The Last Jedi, the backlash is mind-boggling. If you go to the IMDB, the first hundred or so user reviews are all one star. (And yet the overall rating is 7.5 stars – guess enough people gave it ten to balance out all those ones.) It wasn’t exactly the movie the die-hards who’d read all the books, played all the games, and followed every post-Return of the Jedi myth out there wanted. So they absolutely hated it. Which was unfair to a movie that the general population enjoyed and critics loved.

I think in general, people just get too hung up on details and perfection. They hold standards and requirements so high that few films will reach – which means they won’t enjoy very many of them. Now, everyone is guilty of this to some degree. (Read my review of Threshold above and you’ll see I was guilty of that with music.) But the key to enjoying movies is just to relax and remember – it’s just a movie.

I re-watched an older episode of Big Bang Theory the other day where the guys are so stoked and worried as they sit waiting to watch The Force Awakens and Wil Wheaton turns to them and says, ‘Guys, it’s just a movie. No matter if it’s good or bad, it’s not going to change your life.’ And you know what – he’s right.

When I was a teen, pretty much anything would entertain me. Then somewhere around college, I became picky. And critical. I could tear apart a film with the best of them. A single plot hole would ruin a movie for me. But somewhere along in my thirties, I began to relax. I realized that perfection was impossible. And most movies weren’t aiming to be big critical successes and win Oscars – they just wanted to entertain. I finally accepted that and began to enjoy films again.

Take my review last week for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. No, it wasn’t perfect. Parts of it were a bit of a mess and it was quirky. But was I entertained? Absolutely! I enjoyed it and appreciated what the director was trying to do. And I’d watch it again.

Take Justice League. Now, the big difference between DC and Marvel films is their aim – Marvel films are big-budget spectacles aimed at the general public. They are light, humorous, and designed to appeal to all movie-goers, not just Marvel comic fans. DC movies are more aimed at the comic fans and are darker in tone. And they’ve stumbled a bit – with the exception of the Batman films and Wonder Woman, critics have hated them and many movie-goers have been disappointed by their un-Marvel qualities. (And of course, there is a lot of hate for director Zach Snyder.)

But here is where a relaxed attitude pays off. I am a big Justice League fan. It was the first comic book I ever purchased. So I did have expectations, but after the past few movies, I tempered them. The result – I completely enjoyed the film! It did have issues. You could see the difference in the two directors. (Since Joss Whedon stepped in to finish when Snyder took leave after a family suicide.) But it nailed two things – the characters, who were spot on perfect, and the comic book feel, which is what I wanted. I was entertained and this fan satisfied with the result.

So again, I think people just need to relax. I feel sorry for those who think movies are a one or a ten and there’s no in between. You’re missing out on some fun flicks that way. Many of you are authors – are your books perfect tens? No. But they are still enjoyable.

And that’s all we are after in life – a little joy and happiness.

So in the words of MST3K – Just repeat to yourself ‘It’s just a show, I really should relax!’ 

Cover Reveal - Tick Tock: A Stich in Crime

Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

The clock is ticking...
Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?
Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

Release date - May 1, 2018
Mystery & Detective (FIC022000) / Crime (FIC050000) / Thrillers (FIC031000)
Print ISBN 9781939844545 eBook ISBN 9781939844552

Do you have fire memory? Fan of Threshold? Do you think people are just too critical when it comes to movies? Doesn't the Tick Tock cover rock? And are you participating in #IWSGPit on Thursday?

Monday, January 8, 2018

RiffTrax London, Disappointing Films of 2017, King Arthur and Pirates V Reviews, and Ninja News

RiffTrax Goes to London!

Those of you in the UK are in for a treat! For the first time ever, RiffTrax: Live is broadcasting live from the Prince Charles Cinema in London on February 15. And you don’t get just one movie – you get two: Plan 9 From Outer Space and Samurai Cop. It’s one night only, so don’t miss it.

If you’re not in the UK but you’re up for some winter fun, check out Jack Frost.
A truck carrying a vicious serial killer crashes into a truck carrying some non-specific chemicals, and, instead of just dying horribly, the serial killer becomes a serial killing snowman who loves making corny quips! Stan Lee would be proud.
Yes, the snowman looks that bad, but fortunately the RiffTrax guys make it hilariously watchable.

Many of you remember that RiffTrax: Live tackled that horrible cult favorite, The Room, a few years ago.
Well, now you can also see The Disaster Artist, a film based on director/writer/lead actor Tommy Wiseau’s journey to bring that movie to life. Strange how it has a cult following now, but I’m sure RiffTrax has helped the film along.
The Disaster Artist is supposed to be excellent, so catch it in theaters or when it hits DVD.

Movie Reviews

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Directed by Guy Ritchie, it’s a reimagining of the King Arthur legend.
This film caught my interest last summer. I was never a fan of Guy Ritchie until the Sherlock Holmes movies, but his quirky style is quite original. When the movie was panned by critics, I skipped it. Bummer I did, because I enjoyed it.
The opening scene with the giant elephants as big as a castle attacking is ambitious and breathtaking. There are a lot of incredible scenes, as well as simple, smaller ones, that are simply captivating.
The actors do a fine job. Jude Law’s character oozes coldness and Charlie Hunnam is a solid young Arthur. (If not just a little bit like Thor.) The vast array of supporting characters are all very real and provide a lot of color.
Richie’s unique style is very much in evidence here, and just like the scenes in Sherlock Holmes where he solves the crime in slow-motion flashbacks, Arthur describes scenes both past and present with the same flare and humor.
This is a reimagining, so while there is a Lady of the Lake, don’t expect Sir Lancelot. And similar to A Knight’s Tale, there is a blend of modern elements in this medieval tale.
Bottom line – if you enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes movies, like Guy Ritchie’s directorial style, or enjoy something quirky, then you’ll enjoy this film. It’s not for everybody, but I found myself fascinated by this slightly messy but ambitious and fun film.
Recommended as a rental.

Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Men Tell no Tales
Also released last summer, this is the fifth film in the franchise.
A ship of dead pirate killers escapes the confines of the Bermuda Triangle and come after Jack Sparrow. Will Turner’s son Henry, a mysterious woman named Carina, and Captain Barbossa also want to find Sparrow – and ultimately find the Trident of Poseidon.
Kudos to Disney for taking an average ride at Disneyland and turning it into a five billion dollar franchise. These films keep making money, Disney will keep making movies.
The multiple set pieces are top notch and massive. No special effects budget was spared.
Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush could do their roles in their sleep and obviously enjoy themselves. Everyone else does a good job, especially Javier Bardem as the ghost captain. (He was also the villain in Skyfall and No Country for Old Men, so he’s really good at it.)
Overall, the film is good with lots of funny moments, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Many times.
Worth a rental if you’re bored.

Most Disappointing Movies of 2017

Last week, I listed a combination of best films/personal favorites of 2017. Someone asked what were the biggest disappointments. Below in descending order are my picks.

7 – John Wick: Chapter II – While the movie was good and most people thought it great, I grew bored with the repeated scenes of Wick shooting someone. He must’ve shot five hundred people in the head and they showed every single one of them. We get it – he’s a badass with a gun! Enough already.

6 – Get Out – Everyone raved about this horror film, and while it was very well done and finely acted, it wasn’t anything new. The idea of someone’s soul occupying another person’s body had been done countless times and this film was just more of the same.

5 – A Cure for Wellness – This film was just a bit too weird and too many things didn’t make sense that were supposed to make sense. I also don’t like the lead actor, so it made it difficult to connect with this overlong, convoluted film.

4 – Kong: Skull Island – While the set pieces and special effects were amazing and it boasted some top notch actors, the story was disjointed and just never came together. Samuel L. Jackson was wasted as a one dimensional villain.

3 – Alien: Covenant – Every horror film cliché known to man is used in this film. It’s disjointed, the characters aren’t very likeable and rather dumb, and it’s full of plot contrivances and situations that run against the logic of Aliens.

2 – Life – Speaking of Aliens, this film was nothing but an Alien rip-off. Well done, but right off the bat a lot of bad decisions by the crew (more horror clichés) ruined any chance this film had of being decent. Very annoying. This film was highly overrated.

1 – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – And the winner for biggest disappointment by a landslide! This had to be the biggest, most convoluted mess I’ve seen in years. The director tried to cram every element of the comics into one film and it’s a complete disaster. Plus the two leads are horribly miscast and have zero chemistry. Not only was this the biggest disappointment, it’s also the worst film of 2017.

And there you have it! What films disappointed you last year?

Ninja News

Another successful IWSG post day!
And so many who were grateful for the timing of the monthly question. Looks like some great plans made by many.
Plus special thanks to Olga Godim for her post of gratitude.
That’s why this group exists!

Truedessa is one of the amazing poets featured in this new book release:

Chiaroscuro - Darkness and Light: Voices From Poets - dVerse Anthology

Find it on Amazon

Have you ever checked your overall book or author ranking at Amazon? I never knew there was a thing until this past week.
Sadly, this feature only goes back to February 2013 for the book rankings and September 2012 for the author rankings, so it completely misses the nine months my first couple books were in the top ten of science fiction on Amazon and Amazon UK. But the results were still interesting.
My highest book ranking was number fifty-one in February 2014. (Top 100!)
My highest author ranking was 647 in September 2012.
Have you ever checked your rankings?

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the next IWSG Twitter Pitch Party – Thursday, January 18! 
With hundreds of agents and publishers, this one will be ten times bigger than our first event.

Ready for some RiffTrax or Disaster Artist? Have you seen King Arthur or the fifth Pirates film? Ready for #IWSGPit? Ever checked your overall Amazon rankings? Enjoy the IWSG postings? And what was the most disappointing film you saw last year?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Insecure Writer’s Support Group and Anthology Contest Winners! Plus Best Movies of 2017, Flaming Crimes Blogfest, and Mummy Movie Review

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.

Today’s optional question - What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

My awesome co-hosts today are Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria!

Today we announce the winners of the third annual IWSG Anthology Contest!

Our third anthology will come out late spring featuring eleven great stories. The title – Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime.

Top honors go to Gwen Gardner for her story, A Stitch in Crime.
The other winning stories:
Three O’Clock Execution - S. R. Betler
Until Release - Jemi Fraiser
Cypress, Like the Tree - Yolanda Renée
Gussy Saint and the Case of the Missing Coed - C.D. Gallant-King
Reset – Tara Tyler
Center Lane - Christine Clemetson
One More Minute – Mary Aalgaard
The Little Girl in the Bayou - J. R. Ferguson
The Tide Waits – Rebecca M. Douglass
Special Mention: Heartless – C. Lee McKenzie
Lee is a new IWSG admin, but she was absent for most of the fall and did not participate in the judging. When her entry arrived first, we decided to let it ride. When it was in the judge’s top ten, we decided not to deny her the opportunity – or deny the next author in line. Thus, we are including her story as a special mention along with the ten winners.

Thanks again to our official judges - Elizabeth S. Craig, Anne Hawkins, Candace Havens, Ion Newcombe, Patricia (Pat) Stoltey, and Mason Canyon.

Thanks also to the other IWSG admins who read each and every story – Lynda Young, L. Diane Wolfe, Michelle Wallace, Joy Campbell, Heather Gardner, Nick Wilford, Pat Hatt and Christine Rains. (C. Lee McKenzie was absent during that time, Tyrean Martinson didn’t come on board until afterwards, and I was the one receiving the entries through the IWSG email, so we weren’t involved.)

And big congratulations to our eleven winning authors!

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the next IWSG Twitter Pitch Party – Thursday, January 18!

With hundreds of agents and publishers, this one will be ten times bigger than our first event.

Are you following the IWSG Instagram? This is the prompt for January: 

Flaming Crimes Blogfest

Hosted by Chrys Fey in celebration of her latest release, Flaming Crimes.

Prompt: What is something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire?

My collection of concert t-shirts.
I mean, come on! I’ve been seeing concerts for almost forty years. I have some classic old Rush and Yes t-shirts that I’d have to save. They are worth at least the ten bucks I paid for them...

Flaming Crimes
Series: Disaster Crimes #4
Digital Price: 4.99/Print Price: 16.99
Beth and Donovan are now happily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.
Their lives may just go up in flames…
Buy it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and The Wild Rose Press

Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press. Find her at website, blog, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon

Movie Review – The Mummy (2017)

Rented it through NetFlix – and it wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone said.
One complaint was that Cruise’s character was unlikeable, but that was the point. The mummy chose him as a vessel because he was that type of person.
Its biggest problem was it lacked cohesion. It fell into the same trap as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – an idea massaged in a different way would’ve made a more compelling film.
It certainly wasn’t the train wreck I expected though. It even had a few impressive set pieces.
But overall, it had a been there-done that vibe. Watchable but kind of blah.
Worth a rental.

Top Movies of 2017

I usually post the upcoming movie releases for each month on IWSG post day, but since there really isn’t anything of note coming out until Black Panther in February, I decided to cover the best films of 2017.

Now, these include my favorite films of the year, but I ranked them in order of best films. So a couple personal favorites (like Justice League) fell a little lower on the scale.

10 – Fate of the Furious – These films continue to be a heck of a lot of fun.
9 – Spiderman Homecoming – Some really awesome lines and moments.
8 – It – The big surprise – an excellent film.
7 – Justice League – Perfectly captured the feel of the comics.
6 – Thor: Ragnarok – Awesome sets and so damn funny!
5 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II – Fell just short of the first but still a lot of fun.
4 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Amazing, funny, and jammed-pack full of fun.
3 – Dunkirk – A truly original war film and simply brilliant with stunning imagery.
2 – Blade Runner 2049 – So rich with imagery, characters, story – just incredible.
1 – Wonder Woman – A perfect origins superhero film – they captured a young Diana perfectly. And the scene in No Man’s Land – wow!

Special mentions -
Coco – Best animated film of the year – so stunning and moving.
War for the Planet of the Apes and Logan – Both just amazing films and likely Oscar contenders. But considering the subject matter and how dark and depressing each film is, I will probably never watch either one again. That doesn’t take away from their brilliance though.

What are your writing and publishing plans this year? Excited about Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime? Ready for #IWSGPit? What weird thing would you save in a fire? Seen The Mummy? And what movies do you thing are the best of 2017?

Hope everyone had an awesome New Year’s and Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review, Psych: The Movie, Alita: Battle Angel Trailer, Christmas Music, Mini-Alex, and Ninja News

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Just amazing!
I’m still trying to digest everything I saw. At two and a half hours, they pack in a lot.
All of the action sequences are amazing. There are so many that would be the grand finale in most films.
This movie had a lot of surprises. There were directions they could’ve gone but didn’t, and I appreciated that. There were also some reveals and yet more mysteries layered into the mix.v Everyone is great in their role. (It is bittersweet to see Carrie Fisher in her last role though.) The characters are fleshed out even more, revealing their true nature. There are a lot of things addressed that I can’t touch on without spoilers, but safe to say the movie has depth.
The movie also has some great touches of humor. BB8, Fin, the porgs – they all have their moments.
Special effects? Amazing. And I appreciate that Yoda was a puppet again and not the cheesy animated thing from the trilogy we all want to forget.
Rogue One and Empire Strikes Back still edge it out, but this was a big favorite of the Star Wars movies.
Highly recommended!

And did you catch this Tweet from GeekdomHouse?

Help Geekdom House create a no-kill shelter for all the porgs purchased as Christmas presents and discarded.

Psych: The Movie

Shawn and Gus are back and it’s like they never left.
It’s three years later and everyone is now in SanFrancisco. Shawn and Juliet are living together, Shawn and Gus have a new office fashioned after the Chinese pawn shop in Gremlins, and Juliet has a stalker.
Everyone is back and it’s more hilarious than ever.
Timothy Omundson (Lassie) suffered a stroke just before filming began and the script was rewritten. He is in one small scene though.
The ending is for the fans. That’s all I’ll say.
If you are a fan, then you will delight in this reunion. And clamor for more!
Highly recommended.

(Did you hear about Pluto? That’s messed up.)

Alita: Battle Angel

A live action of this Japanese anime has been in the works for years. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron, it’s due out next year. And it looks really good:

For comparison, here is the Japanese anime version which came out around twenty-five years ago. This was my first exposure to Alita and remains one of my favorite anime. It’s only an hour and two stories in one film, but it was well done. This is the entire movie, but you can watch a minute of it to get a feel for the film’s style. I think the live action one will stay true to the feel of the story.

Ninja News

The IWSG is excited to welcome a new admin - Tyrean Martinson!
She is heading up our latest venture - IWSG on Instagram.
Please welcome her to the team and follow us on Instagram!

I have an author website up at Carter Novels, featuring all of my books, audio books, and book trailers.
If you’d like to know more about Carter Novels, let me know.

Chrys Fey is hosting the Flaming Crimes Blogfest on January 3.
What is something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire?
See her site for details and to sign up.

Monday’s Music Moves Me

Hosted by Xmas Dolly.

This month is all about Christmas music. I couldn’t find a traditional song I really dug, so I picked something different. I selected one that most people are familiar with – Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Wizards in Winter. Plus, this is the video with the house Christmas lights all in sync.

Have you seen the new Star Wars film yet? Giving anyone a porg for Christmas? Did you watch the Psych special? Excited about Alita? What Christmas music movies you?

Mini-Alex would like to wish everyone a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!
I’ll be offline December 22 through January 2, enjoying the holiday season. (I will check in on comments, Twitter, and emails though. And finally catching the wide release of The Shape of Water.) See you January 3 for the IWSG post and announcement of the anthology contest winners.