Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Movie Review – Coco, WEP and New Releases, and Mini-Alex!

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.

My awesome co-hosts today are Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!

December 6 question - As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

I could certainly have written more (I bet that will be everyone’s answer) and at least cranked out a story or two.

I also could’ve done more with the IWSG. Yes, we are now a Writer’s Digest Top 101site, but we need to keep moving forward. We tried a few new things, some that worked better than others. The ones that didn’t work well – hey, at least we know not to do that again!

But we are brainstorming some new ways to better reach writers and give them the support they need.

Overall, it was a good year, so I wouldn't want to go back and mess anything up.


We need co-hosts for next year! If you can co-host on January 3, February 7, or March 7, please leave a comment below. (And January co-hosts will be announcing the winners of the IWSG Anthology contest!)


Coco Movie Review

We didn’t get out to this one the weekend it came out due to a busy Thanksgiving holiday. It’s rare we see a film on anything but opening night, but I’m glad we made an effort to see this one.
Miguel is an aspiring musician but his family has banned it for generations. An incident on the evening of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) sends Miguel to the Land of the Dead in search of answers.
This is probably one of the most visually stunning computer animated films ever made. Every scene is rich with colors and textures.
The story is very moving. (Sensitive souls, take Kleenex.) It’s all about family and its importance. Miguel’s struggle between his passion for music and his family is genuine and touching. It carries a positive message for everyone. And it pays great respect to the Mexican holiday.
Miguel’s whole family is loaded with personality, especially those he encounters in the Land of the Dead. Along for the journey is a pathetic but happy Mexican Hairless dog and a man named Hector who is determined to visit the land of the living again before he’s forgotten.
After a few years of hits and near misses for Pixar, they knock it out of the park with Coco.
Highly recommended!

Ninja News

Last week’s IWSG Newsletter was truly amazing! If you’ve not signed up for it, you can do so HERE and you’ll even get a free eBook with some outstanding articles.

The WEP – (Write...Edit...Publish) team, consisting of those much-loved bloggers, Denise Covey, Yolanda Renée, Nilanjana Bose and Olga Godim, are open for submissions for their December challenge – The End is the Beginning.
Heading into the holiday season, our minds often focus on year's end and perhaps look forward to new beginnings. At WEP, we dedicate December to musing about life, taking stock, thinking about where we're at at this point in time.
Perhaps you'll be inspired to write a flashback, perhaps there's a change you're going through or one approaching, perhaps there's a branching off point that could be either an end or a beginning. Whatever strikes you, you have a choice in the way you submit – flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a photo essay or get your feelings onto a canvas and show us some artwork...The Top Three entries receive prizes!
The End is the Beginning has any number of possibilities! Let your imagination run riot!

Available now –
Dark Winds Rising by Mark Noce
Three years after uniting the Welsh to defeat the Saxons and settling down with her true love, Artagan, Queen Branwen finds her world once again turned upside down as Pictish raiders harry the shores of her kingdom…
Find it on Amazon

Available now-
Summer Fire by Deniz Bevan
Find it on Amazon








What would you do differently if you could? Have you seen Coco? Getting the IWSG newsletter? Ready for WEP? And can you co-host next year?

One more post this year! Monday, December 18 will feature another movie review, some Christmas music, and maybe more mini-Alex…


Monday, November 27, 2017

Justice League Movie Review, Great Geek Gifts, December Movie Preview, and IWSG News!

I’m back! Hope those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a good time with family.

Justice League Movie Review

No idea what film the critics saw. The disparity between critical reviews and movie goers is around fifty percent, which is very suspect. My wife thinks Disney paid off the critics so they’d bash this DC film.
I thought it was great!
Justice League really captures the feel of a comic book. Whereas Marvel films feel like big budget productions, this feels like it was ripped from the pages of the comics. The Mother Boxes are part of the Justice League mythology, as is the villain Steppenwolf, which is obviously leading up to Darkseid.
Marvel has done better setting up the movies, but this film puts DC on the right track. It’s not perfect, but the special effects are great, the characters are spot-on, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. There are moments which are touching and others where you will laugh out loud. (The Flash has the funniest moment in the movie.)
The team is brought together out of necessity more than they want to be together. This leads to some jabbing and poking, especially from Aquaman. (So, you dress up as a bat?)
Plus it’s under two hours, which is just perfect.
Highly recommended!

Geek Gifts

Looking for some unique gifts for the geek in your life? Look no further thanks to Think Geek!

For Star Trek fans, how about a Next Generation bath robe:


For the Star Wars fan, there’s an R2-D2 Coffee Press:


If you have to go the ugly sweater route, at least make it cool with a Serenity Christmas sweater:


And for the Doctor Who fan, there’s a Tardis rug:


Ninja News

The final 2017 posting for the IWSG is Wednesday, December 6.


Chrys Fey is visiting the IWSG site today, discussing the IWSG Goodreads Book Club and its benefits for writers.

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.
So, polish those manuscripts over the Christmas break and prepare your Twitter pitch!

New release!
DISPOSAL by Tara Tyler
Pop Travel, Book Three
Cooper and Geri are finally in a good place, but their bliss is short-lived when Cooper's rebellious nephew Jimmy moves in with them for a summer internship…
Find it on Amazon.

Piper Morgan Plans a Party by Stephanie Faris
Piper tries to plan the perfect party in the fifth book of the charming Piper Morgan series.
Find it on Amazon



And thanks to my co-host Heather M. Gardner and everyone who participated in the Remakes Blogfest! There were some really good picks.

December Movie Preview

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

8 –

The Shape of Water
An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones
As they say in MST3K, it’s the swamp thing verses the sweet thing… (It is supposed to be awesome though.)

15 –

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.
Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher
Rumor has it Rey joins the Dark Side and slaughters a village of Ewoks…so the Dark Side can’t be all that bad.

22 –

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Four teenagers discover an old video game console and are literally drawn into the game's jungle setting becoming the adult avatars they chose.
Director: Jake Kasdan
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black
Welcome to the Shameless Cash Grab was the original subtitle...


Anyone else see Justice League? Ready to geek out with any of those gifts? Looking forward to #IWSGPit next year? And what movies will you see in December?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Remakes Blogfest, Murder on the Orient Express Review, Justice League, and New Releases

Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express

Based on the novel by Agatha Cristie, Inspector Hercule Poirot must solve a murder on a luxury train.
The cast is outstanding. Kenneth Branagh stars and directs, handling both roles with ease. Also on board are Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, and many more. Everyone looks like they enjoyed slipping into their roles.
The cinematography is amazing. The train zipping through the snowy mountains – wow. Plus it boasted some quirky camera angles. The use of camera in a confined location such as a train are really interesting.
The story was a clever twist of clues and unique characters, plus there was some quirky fun humor and lines.
This film would’ve been a great entry for the blogfest today, but sadly I’ve not seen the original nor read the book, so I can’t make a comparison. It did keep me guessing until the end and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Recommended.

Justice League

Comes out this week! And for once, I’m not waiting until Friday – I will be seeing it Thursday evening. Until then, enjoy the latest trailer.  *11-16 - And it was awesome! Loved the movie.



New Releases

Shades of Love boxed set
Featuring The Blind Spot by J.L. Campbell
Find it on Amazon


Available November 14:
Wrong Side of the Rift by Libby Heily 
Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes


Plus today at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, our IWSG Show Your Writer Insecurity Contest winner, Ken Rahmoeller, talks about how to deal with writer insecurity.

Remakes Blogfest!

Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.

Remakes – most of them suck. Now and then, one comes along that is as good as, if not better, than the original. And after all of the bad ones we’ve endured, we want to know about some good ones.

Today, November 13, 2017, blog about your favorite remake: movie (or television show into movie and vice versa), song, or book – or all three! Post a YouTube video and links where we can find these treasures. Tell us why THIS remake doesn’t suck!

Sign up and visit others on the list below!

Two things came to mind immediately when I created this blogfest.


First, the song.

I am a huge Dream Theater fan. When I heard their cover of Elton John’s Love Lies Bleeding, I was amazed. Now, Elton John did an amazing job – he wrote the song. But Dream Theater’s version is just as good.
They captured the same vibe while making it a little more rocking. John Petrucci is just incredible with the guitar. And James LaBrie captured the vocals perfectly.

Here is the live version, which captures it all best:



I also have a move remake that blows the original out of the water.

The Thing From Another World is a 1951 cheesy science fiction/horror film. It’s still highly rated and regarded as a classic.

And then, in 1982, John Carpenter dared to create his version of a science fiction classic.

The result – John Carpenter’s The Thing, a chilling blend of science fiction and horror starring Kurt Russell. A group stationed in the Artic are infiltrated by the Thing, an alien creature who can imitate other lifeforms perfectly. The special effects were created by Rob Bottin and long before CGI was used in many movies. Despite the years, the effects still hold up. (As witnessed in the ‘sequel’ in 2011 – the CGI effects didn’t even look as good.)

Here’s a clip from the film. It highlights the tension, the effects, and the score which was done by Carpenter himself:



Join us and please visit others on the list:




Anyone else see Murder on the Orient Express? (Either version!) Ready for Justice League? What remakes do you recommend?

And I almost missed it - November 9 marked eight years of blogging for me!

I’ll be leaving the end of the week for Thanks giving with family, so I won’t be online beyond responding to comments and Twitter. To my American friends, have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. See you Monday, November 27.

* I'll post a review of Justice League when I return - but it was awesome! Loved it - great action, funny, and characters were perfect. Ignore the critics. I think Marvel paid them all off...

Monday, November 6, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok Review, Stranger Things 2 Review, Justice League, SciFi Month, IWSG, and Remakes Blogfest

Movie Review – Thor: Ragnarok

Hela, Goddess of Death and Thor’s sister, returns to Asgard to reclaim the throne and Thor must return in time to stop her.
The story rocks from beginning to end. It’s just a ton of fun.
And this is without a doubt the funniest Marvel movie yet! Yes, probably even funnier than the first Guardians. Every character has his lines and while the moment was hilarious, it was never silly. Korg (voiced by the director himself) was the funniest, especially the way he delivered his lines.
All the actors were great – Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Blanchett, Thompson, Urban… Elba gets to be a big hero and Goldblum does what he does best – be Jeff Goldblum. Some of the situations are actually really deep, but the light touch and humor keep this from being anything but a dark film.
The special effects are amazing. Some shots looked like straight out of a Frank Frazetta painting.
Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song rocks the first and last fights – and fits the action and movie perfectly.
Look for a couple big name actors in cameo roles. Also try to catch the 3D showing. And do stay for the double ending – don’t leave until the credits  are completely done.
Overall, it’s an incredibly fun time at the movies. Highly recommended!

Stranger Things – Season Two Review

Or how to do a review without giving away spoilers!
As hinted at the end of season one, they were not finished with the Upside Down.
Will struggles with visions. Nancy struggles with Barb’s disappearance. And Hopper struggles to hide and contain a powerful young lady…
Season two stays true to the first season. It’s lost a little now that there is no surprise, but the story line is just as great.
It’s also great to see the cast again. They are like family. Plus there are a couple new characters you will really enjoy.
The second season fleshes out the characters even more. They are real people, just like us. (Less the threat of the Upside Down of course!) But at a time when every writer is going for super damaged, edgy, and unlikeable characters, this cast is refreshing. You can root for them. They pull together and help each other. It’s very reminiscent of the time period the show is set in, the 80’s.
The only spoiler I will give (and stop reading if you don’t want to know) but the ending is definitely for the fans.
If you haven’t already binge-watched this on NetFlix…what is wrong with you? Watch it now! Highly recommended.

Movie and Science Fiction News

A DC heroine takes the crown! According to JoBlo:

WONDER WOMAN has officially become the biggest superhero origin movie ever, edging out the likes of IRON MAN and SPIDER-MAN. As of this writing, WONDER WOMAN has made exactly $821,749,588 at the global box office, narrowly beating SPIDER-MAN’s $821,708,551.



That leads right into these cool promo posters that were also featured on JoBlo:



Can you tell I’m a bit stoked for Justice League?


I also found out through Books Bones Buffy that November is Science Fiction Month.
It’s hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow and There’s Always Room for One More.
You can sign up there or just follow the Twitter account - @SciFiMonth

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Today we have special guest at the IWSG site - B. O'Malley from Screenplay Readers. Check out his article The Top Newbie Mistakes Made By Writers Adapting their Book into a Screenplay

The IWSG Anthology Contest closed last week – and wow, we have about as many entries as last year! We appreciate everyone who submitted. The admins are choosing the best ones this week and then those will go off to our official judges. We’ll announce the winners on January 3, 2018.

Thanks again to my co-hosts, the IWSG admins, and all of you who participated last Wednesday in the monthly blog posting. Those are some of the most thoughtful and honest posts I read all month.

Remakes Blogfest!

Coming next week! Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.
Remakes – most of them suck. Now and then, one comes along that is as good as, if not better, than the original. And after all of the bad ones we’ve endured, we want to know about some good ones.
On November 13, 2017, blog about your favorite remake: movie (or television show into movie and vice versa), song, or book – or all three! Post a YouTube video and links where we can find these treasures. Tell us why THIS remake doesn’t suck!
Join us! Sign up HERE.


Who else saw Thor: Ragnarok? Binge-watched all of Stranger Things already? Stoked for Justice League? Celebrating SciFi Month? Did you enter the IWSG Anthology Contest? And who is ready for some good remakes next week?