Monday, April 17, 2017

Fate of the Furious Review, MST3K Season Eleven, Last Jedi Trailer, Spacerguy and Star Trek, Mini-Alex, and New Releases

I’m Back! And I’m also posting at the IWSG today - Three Publishers Weigh in on Queries, Marketing, and the Publishing Model.

The Fate of the Furious Review

Dom turns on his team, performing jobs for a woman bent on world terrorism.
The fate? A whole lot of fun!
This was probably one of the funnest rides so far in the franchise. Crazy car stunts and action scenes galore. Plus a sub and a rainstorm of cars! And much of it manifested by some computer wizardry and hacking.
The gang is all back, including Jason Statham now working with the team. Great to see Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood as Little Nobody was a great addition. Most of the characters had moments of humor, but Tyrese Gibson’s character wins for all out hilarious. Charlize Theron as the bad guy – she was chilling. I think she’s found her calling.
It’s probably just a little too long (runtime 2:16) but eighth instalment and first without Paul Walker is worth the prices of admission. The action is balanced out by human moments, including some sad one. The effects are stunning as always. And of course, they left it wide open for number nine.
The movie also broke the worldwide opening weekend record with $532.5 million dollars.
If you don’t like the series, this one won’t change your mind.
If you do, then highly recommended!

Star Wars – The Last Jedi Trailer

In case you missed it last week…

Plus Rogue One came out a couple weeks ago and we snagged our 3D Blueray right away.

MST3K – New Season

The full season of the new MST3K was unleashed by NetFlix on Friday – and it was all I could do not to binge-watch them all weekend!

Could the new team pull it off? Safe to say, they did!

Since Joel Robinson, the original founder, is in charge, it feels like the earlier seasons of the old MST3K. They’ve reintroduced the kids’ letters to MST3K (although I don’t think kids really get many of the jokes) and it has a lighter feel. The segments in between still need a little work, but they'll get it eventually.

While not as edgy or snarky as the later years, it was still hilariously funny. I laughed out loud many, many times. The highlight is still the movie.

Some of the other cast members will be making appearances this season, and the second episode featured Mary Jo, Bill, and Kevin as Pearl, Brain Guy, and Professor Bobo. It’s still odd hearing different voices for the robots, although Crow is fairly close.

If you’re a fan of the original series or RiffTrax, check it out!

Blogger Feature

Today I’d like to draw your attention to a special blogger friend, Spacerguy aka Kieran O'Toole. He runs the Star Trek Sci Fi blog and the first time I landed there, I knew I would keep coming back. He’ll throw out other science fiction stuff, but if you’re a Star Trek fan like me, you’ll be in seventh Heaven. He’s participating in the Challenge, so there’s lots to see this month!

Where are you located?
I beam down to Ireland, Dublin occasionally, hehe- which is terra incognita actually I enjoy the privacy my Pen-name gives me. "Blogger" universal URLs have I think kept my location extra secret/mysterious.

Why the passion for Star Trek?
I got bit by the space bug which got me infected on the original shows alien anomalies and stories.

When did it begin?
At an early age the futurism of "Star Trek" made me dream. At first I puzzled over why so many black scratches flickered over the tv set and then, Ahh Haa! I had an epiphany. Thecamera lens was getting dirty from space dust, so trek's producers were filming in earth's orbit, Star Trek was real!

How many Star Trek conventions have you been to?
Here you've got me. In 1995 I was thrilled to meet Leonard Nimoy under the glare of paparazzi lights and cameras at Easons. People took my photo with Leonard and I don't have any!!!
In 2011, I trekked with my friend Nova to the Star Wars Invasion at the RDS. It took Star Wars to be the first!!! I was lucky enough to meet Julian Glover himself aka General Veers and Danny Baker aka R2D2 with Nova getting snapshots.

Do you own a Bat'leth or other Klingon weapon?
No I don't, I do have a Klingon Warbird with amazing sound effects and it took me two weeks to construct Captain Kirk's Starship with Lights and sound effects for the AMT USS Enterprise NCC1701.

What is your favorite Star Trek movie?
That’s easy, I'm going to talk Prime Universe movies only. At No1: The Wrath of Khan is the obvious winner. However Star Trek IV is good fun, doesn't take itself seriously and because its good, people like it, which gets my vote haha. I'm a sucker for all the light hearted comedy and saving whales. God bless them all.

Live long and Prosper, Spacerguy aka Kieran

New Releases

Joylene Nowell Butler is stepping down as IWSG Admin due to real life taking over. We will miss her so much! She also had a health challenge last week that has put her out of commission for a while – so much that she is not able to enjoy her book’s release day on Tuesday, April 18. So, we need to help her spread the word!

Maski: Broken But Not Dead
By Joylene Nowell Butler
Psychological Thriller
$4.99 eBook ISBN 9781939844385
An IPPY Silver Medalist!

To the Breaking Point...
When Brendell Meshango resigns from her university professor position and retreats to her isolated cabin to repair her psyche, she is confronted by a masked intruder. His racial comments lead her to believe she is the solitary victim of a hate crime.
However, is all as it appears? After two bizarre days, the intruder mysteriously disappears but continues to play mind games with her. Taught by her mother to distrust the mainstream-based power structures, and with her stalker possibly linked to a high level of government, Brendell conceals the incident from the police. But will her silence keep her safe?
Then her beloved daughter, Zoë, is threatened and Brendell takes matters into her own hands. To save Zoë, Brendell searches for the stalker and confronts not just a depraved madman but her own fears and prejudices.

Find it at Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Amazon

Learn A Word in 100 Words by Patricia Josephine
A collection of flash fiction inspired by unusual words. Each tiny tale is crafted around a word that is unique or no longer in use. Read them while waiting in line or before bed. They range from sweet and lighthearted to dark and disturbing. Look out for the supernatural, but don’t turn your back on the average human. A killer might be lurking underneath. Expand your vocabulary, and get some inspiration of your own.
Find it at Smashwords, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble

For those of you who celebrate Easter and the Resurrection, I hope you had a blessed Sunday.

Mini-Alex was hanging with his peeps of course.

I think a few of those peeps have since gone missing…

Anyone else see the Furious movie? Stoked for the next Star Wars film? Watched any of the new MST3K season? Following Spacerguy? Can you help Joylene spread the word? And did you have a good Easter?
I’m taking another break next week – catch you May 3 for the IWSG post, May movie preview, and the release of the IWSG anthology - Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, MST3K, April Movie Preview, and Ninja News

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 Chris D. Votey, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey!

April Question:
Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

My fourth book, Dragon of the Stars, was given a release date of April 7, 2015. Right in the middle of the Challenge. While it was a great opportunity to place the book in front of a lot of people, it was a really crap time for promotions or a blog tour. Everyone was participating in the Challenge (2000+ - the largest year ever.) How was I going to promote it effectively?

I started asking around for blog tour stops, offering to work into the letter of the day for the Challenge. To my surprise, people said yes. I set the whole week of the release with stops and three per week for the rest of the month, followed by every Monday for the two months after that. I also created a scavenger hunt, and on the day of release, twenty-five bloggers posted a picture of Mini-Alex with the book in a new location – commenters had to guess where.

The launch was successful and Dragon climbed the science fiction charts on Amazon. The continued exposure helped the book to continue to sell.

Would it work as effectively today? I’d really rather not find out…

Last month we launched the IWSG Goodreads Book Club and we’ve had a stellar turnout of members. The book for April-May is Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication & Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams. Not too late to join and start reading!


The new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuts on NetFlix on April 14!

Set your DVRs.

And turn down the lights. (Where applicable.)

Ninja News

Dan Koboldt, author and founder of #SFFpit, will be visiting the IWSG on Monday. You don’t want to miss it!

CassaDawn, the prequel to my Cassa series, is now free!

You can download this short story at iTunes, Barnes and Nobel, Amazon Kobo, and Amazon UK

SIX STRINGS Season 2 Issue 3 is available now!
This free magazine is put together by Jeremy Hawkins and is packed with top-notch interviews. The site will continue, but the magazine might be ending. Time to get yours while you can and support this awesome venture! Download it for free here.

Available now!
Piper Morgan Makes a Splash by Stephanie Faris
Piper’s mom is helping out at a local pool shop, and the owner wants to shoot a commercial for his store. Piper thinks it’s the PERFECT opportunity to get in front of the camera and experience a little bit of showbiz. But will Piper’s contribution to the TV commercial make a splash—or will it go belly-up?
Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indie Bound.

WEP challenge for April! 

See Denise Covey for details.

The challenge is coinciding with the A to Z Challenge letter of the day to make it easy on participants.

Prayers for a Fellow Blogger

Michael sent me an email and posted about a fellow blogger.

Many of you remember Melissa Bradley and her blog, Melissa’s Imaginarium. She has been fighting cancer for the past few years and just recently went into hospice care. You can read the details at Michael’s blog.

Please send prayers for Melissa. Let her know she is loved.

April Movie Preview

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

7 –

Going in Style
Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, three lifelong pals risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.
Director: Zach Braff
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Joey King, Ann-Margret, Michael Caine
George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg…crap, wait! That was the original 1979 film. Never mind.

The Void
Shortly after delivering a patient to an understaffed hospital, a police officer experiences strange and violent occurrences seemingly linked to a group of mysterious hooded figures.
Directors: Jeremy Gillespie | Steven Kostanski
Stars: Ellen Wong, Kathleen Munroe, Kenneth Welsh, Aaron Poole
If you don’t enjoy the movie, a full refund is available. Offer void in Utah.

14 –

The Fate of the Furious
When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of crime and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Stars: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron
I hope by Furious 20 they aren’t driving around in NOS-powered wheelchairs.

Have you used the A to Z Challenge for marketing? Joined the IWSG Book Club? Ready for the new MST3K? Downloaded CassaDawn and Six Strings for free? And what movies catch your attention this month? (I’m guessing not too many…)
Be sure to catch Dan Koboldt at the IWSG on Monday.
I will be offline the week of Good Friday but be back on April 17.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Movie Review-Life, CassaDawn, Time & Circumstance, #atozchallenge, and a Magic Love Crow

Movie Review – Life

Astronauts on the space station discover life in a dirt sample from Mars. Deep space scares ensue.
Hailed as an Alien rip off, this was a serviceable science fiction flick. (And I’ve seen some bad Alien rip off movies.) It’s rated R, but mostly for some language – it’s not very bloody or graphic.
The lifeform was cool and far more slippery than any Alien. It’s also insanely too smart for its own good. Plus it withstands extremes of heat and loss of oxygen – and yet it died out on its own planet.
The actors do very well in their roles. While better than some, none of the characters really become fully fleshed. And let’s just say one of the stars of the film isn’t in it as long as expected…or billed!
What seems smart and slick soon spiral into…plot holes. Not drive a bus through it plot holes, just a lot of small, gaping plot holes. By the end of the film, my eyes hurt from rolling.
Great special effects and good acting can’t save the plot holes. But in a long line of Alien rip offs, this is one of the better ones. If you like that sort of thing, it’s worth a rental.

Theresa Milstein Movie Review and Feature

Besides writing poetry, I also write for children and young adults, so I figured I should review a YA movie.

I read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver shortly after it was published in 2010. I’ll confess, when I started the book, the main character, Samantha Kingston, was so unlikable, I didn’t think I’d be able to complete it. But as Samantha continued reliving the same day, she grew on me, and I raced through hundreds of pages; eager to know how the literary Mean Girls meets Groundhog Day would end. It’s still one of my favorite novels.

This month, Before I Fall the movie was released, and I wondered if it would hold up on the big screen. Samantha and clique of mean girls have a typical Friday, being sexy and narcissistic, bullying Juliet in the cafeteria and at a party, until a car crash kills Samantha. Until she wakes up the next day on the exact same Friday.

While there is some decent acting, I have a few issues with how some of characters were portrayed. The biggest problem is that Samantha in the book was more flawed and interesting to start, and so she had more room to grow as a character. In the movie version, Samantha is a follower. She’s too nice for the five stages of grief to end with a satisfying redemption. For a clever, well-done character arc, I’d suggest you read the book.

As a writer, it made me realize how important it to be true to your character. Create your character with all of his/her flaws, so they aren’t a Hollywood version of a real person.

Thank you for hosting me, Alex!

Time & Circumstance by Theresa Milstein
Published by Vine Leaves Press
Find it at Amazon US, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Chapters Indigo, Amazon UK, and Book Depository

CassaDawn Reviews Needed

My publisher is reducing the price of CassaDawn - to free.

In order for them to promote it, the review count needs to be higher on Amazon. So I am asking for your help.

You can download it for free from iTunes, Barnes and Nobel, Amazon and other retailers. Or I can send you a Mobi or ePub copy – just let me know in the comments.

Thanks – you guys rock!

Special Blogger Feature

This blogging community is full of some amazingly creative people. Today I am featuring Stacy who blogs at MagicLoveCrow. Hailing from Canada, she is a bundle of joy and energy – and a great attitude to boot. She’s also an artist with a thing for crows and incredibly talented. She answered a few questions for me…

What spurs your passion and creativity when it comes to painting crows?

"Crows" have always been with me, since a very young age. I guess you could say they are my spirit animal. I have always had a connection to them. In 2007, I almost passed away and when I came out of it, I said to my mom, "I'm going to paint my crows". Her exact words were, you don't know how to paint. I said, I am suppose to. So, I went and bought some paint and brushes and started to create. I can truly say, when I create, my paintings come from my soul. If I'm happy/sad/mad, looking at the moon, dancing, watching the squirrels play, something I dreamt, this all stirs something inside of me. Most of the times, I do not sketch anything before, I just put the paint on the canvas and let it flow. I hate rushing or forcing anything. That does not work for me!

Can we buy any of them?

All of my paintings are sold on Etsy.
Saying that, I have had many people e-mail me and I have sold my art off of Etsy too, because not everyone is on Etsy. I also love doing special orders. Knowing my art is being cherished, gives me such a warm feeling inside. I am so grateful!!

If you were a Ninja, what would be your special skill?

My special skill would be the technique of "silent moving". Breaking and entering, gaining access, while walking or running over floors, silently. "Staying in the shadows, while moving."

What is your favorite movie?

Ever After: A Cinderella Story
I really loved all the characters in this story and the setting and costumes. Drew Barrymore played a wonderful Cinderella (Danielle). She had a strong/helping soul. She was a believer and dreamer. She taught the Prince to look at life in a different way. I love this conversation between Danielle and Leonardo DaVinci.
Danielle- Signore, my name is Danielle de Barbarac, and I am but a servant.
Leonardo DaVinci- Yes, and I'm the bastard son of a peasant. What does that have to do with anything?
Exactly!!! It's how you love yourself."Don't" put a label on yourself! You can do anything!
As you can see Alex, I am very passionate about this movie! LOL!
There is so much in this film!! I can't even tell you how many times I have watched it!! I can go on and on about it!

Thanks, Stacy! Now, flock on over and check out her crows.

A to Z Challenge

The Challenge kicks off this Saturday, April 1.

This year’s change includes the lack of a formal list. Participants are to leave a comment at the A to Z Blog with a link to their post for that day. They can also leave one on Facebook or Tweet using #atozchallenge.

Maintaining the list was always a big time suck. Co-hosts and their Minions had to comb sections of the list and report changes and blogs to remove. I was the one who would spend an hour or more each day adjusting the list. Last year, I removed seven hundred non-participants and adjusted hundreds of links and listings. Draining, to say the least.

Last year I made a difficult decision – I would not participate this year. I owe a lot to the Challenge, having participated every year since the very first one. But there were numerous reasons why it just wasn’t feasible any more. The main one is the IWSG. It’s grown in so many directions and I owe its members my full attention.

Thanks to Lee for starting the Challenge and allowing me to be a co-host all these years.

So, I’m going to do something I’ve never done – I’m taking some time off during April! I’ll post on April 5 for the IWSG and again on April 17. But the second and fourth full weeks, I am taking time away from the Internet.

Good luck to everyone who is participating in the Challenge this year!

I also won a ACEO of the character of my choosing from Heather R. Holden.

I selected Spencer the vampire.

Who looks none too thrilled with Mini-Alex’s guitar playing…

Thanks, Heather!

Anyone else see Life? Have you watched or read Before I Fall? Participating in the A to Z Challenge this year? Following Magic Love Crow? And can you help with a review of CassaDawn on Amazon? Let me know if you need a copy.
Don't forget - IWSG is April 5!
And if you want to know a little behind the story stuff of CassaDawn, visit Juneta at Writer’s Gambit!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Still Me and Aging, Turkish CassaFire, New Movie Trailers, Pete’s Dragon Review, and Ninja News

It’s a pleasure to be participating in the Blog Tour for STILL ME … AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: 24 Authors Reflect on Aging by Karen Helene Walker through MC Book Tours.

Thank you, Alex, for letting me guest post today. So grateful for all you do for this amazing community of writers.

I’m here to talk about a subject no one wants to think or talk about. Aging.

“Does this mean I’m officially old?” That’s one of the titles in my anthology, “Still Me…After All These Years.” The writer just turned 74. When my parents were still alive, that was considered “old.” As that writer said in her essay, 74 can’t be middle aged because no one lives to be 148, so I must be old. So I think, if I’m older than 65 and on Medicare, then I must be old, right? Satchel Paige said aging is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Well, I’m not sure I agree. It does matter. But it is a lot about how we think about it.

What does old mean anyway? Antiques are old. And they get more valuable the older they get. But not people. We finish older peoples’ sentences, help them out of the car when they haven’t asked for that and maybe don’t need it.We leave them out of conversations that flow too fast for them to follow. That reminds me. The other night my husband and I were both on a phone call with someone and I had to repeatedly ask, “What?” but my husband heard every word the other person said. I’d been deluding myself that I needed to go for a hearing test.

How can I be old, I ask myself, when I still love rock n’ roll? How can I be old when I can still dance the night away. Now I won’t tell you how my body feels after that happens, but that’s a whole other issue. How fair is it when the body cannot do what the mind still craves. Or can do it, but maybe shouldn’t.

Do you feel old yet? I only feel old when I look in the mirror and see a white-haired lady with some wrinkles and sags. Or when I try something at the gym and go home with a back ache. It still surprises me when I see a bunch of old people at a rock concert and wonder what they’re doing there, forgetting I’m one of them. I’ve decided I want to be old like Yoda. Don’t ya just love Yoda. Except I don’t think I want to get to be 900 years old. I don’t even want to be 100.

Want to know about aging? Within the pages of “Still Me…After All These Years,” you’ll find stories from folks ranging in age from 60 to 90, from all walks of life and professions, and hopefully, a kernel of wisdom to fortify you as you walk this journey of life towards aging.

STILL ME…AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: 24 Authors Reflect on Aging
By Karen Helene Walker
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
This is a charming, funny, and enlightening collection of essays about aging. In addition, Karen is offering a tour-wide giveaway featuring two (2) print copies (U.S. entries only) of STILL ME and two (2) eBook copies of STILL ME (International entries).
Find Still Me at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Goodreads.

CassaFire in Turkish!

I received my copy of CassaFire in Turkish last week.

Still just blows my mind my book is in another language.

Mini-Alex was rather proud of the book and had to pose with both.
(At my wife's insistence, of course.)

New Movie Trailers

In case you missed them…

The Deapool II trailer debuted with Logan. Looks just as funny and wrong as the first film:

Here’s the third trailer for Wonder Woman and shows more of her background:

Aardman and Nick Parks, the creators of Wallace and Gromit, are back with a new movie – Early Man:

And of course, the latest Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer from a couple weeks ago, because it just doesn’t get old:

Movie Review

Pete’s Dragon
Caught this on NetFlix – live action remake of the cartoon classic. (Seems to be a Disney trend right now.)
The cast is good – Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban – and the special effects really good. The movie is of high quality and I had no problem with a fuzzy dragon who appears part cat.
Unfortunately, those are the only good things I can say about it – I really, really disliked this movie.
It’s way too dark for kids. The beginning sets the tone – Pete is in a terrifying car accident that kills his parents, then wolves threaten to kill him before Elliot the dragon intervenes. Cheery, right? Wait, it gets darker…
This film is so heavy, with very few light moments to bring it out of the pit of despair. There are abandonment issues, the dragon is hunted (and his capture very intense), environmental issues, social services gets involved… It’s just so intense and depressing. It’s like watching your pet die over and over and over…
And the message I got from the movie? If you love something, people will try to take it away from you and kill it.
Not recommended for kids, people who are depressed, those who love animals, or anyone who doesn’t want their day ruined by a downer film.

Ninja News

Into the Badlands, season two, kicked off on Sunday, March 19! Get the inside scoop at Blastr.

Faceoff still has a few more episodes left in this season’s all-star edition. Who will win? Cig and George or Emily and Tyler?

The A to Z Challenge theme reveal is today. See the site for participants.

Don’t forget to join the IWSG Goodreads Group and spread the word about the #IWSGPit! If you are a published author, please contact your publisher or agent and invite them to participate – and let us know, so we can add them to the growing list of publishers and agents on the site. And if you’re an author, you don’t want to miss the date –July 27.

What does old mean to you? Do you feel old? (Some days I don’t, some I do.) Enjoy the new movie trailers? Have the misfortune of seeing the Pete’s Dragon remake? Who’s going to win Faceoff? Ready for #IWSGPit? And are you ready for April…?