Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, February Movie Preview, and Love Triangles!

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 Allison Gammons, Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend!

And yes! We have a new official badge. Time to ditch the lame image and go upscale. Feel free to grab it for you blogs.

Since not a lot has changed in my personal writing world since January, I thought I’d focus on some opportunities for you guys.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s first newsletter goes out on February 24! Sign up HERE. (If you are a member of the monthly blogging group, you are already signed up.)
One of the monthly features is an article from an IWSG member – and Chrys Fey needs your articles! If you’d like to submit an article for consideration, please follow the instructions below:
Who Can Submit: Insecure Writer's Support Group Members
Topic Ideas: Your number one writing, publishing or marketing tip; a motivational pep talk or inspirational story; a snippet about something you used to be insecure about but overcame or an Aha moment you had about writing/publishing.
Length: 200 words or less
How to Submit: Send a DOC attachment to Chrys Fey at ChrysFey(at)yahoo(dot)com Put “Member Article” in the Subject Line.
Deadline: March 2nd (Next IWSG Day)
NOTE: Chrys needs a member article for our first newsletter coming out February 24th. If you’d like to be considered for that issue, please send your article to her no later than February 17th.

Most of you saw the cover art and synopsis of the IWSG Anthology on Monday. Releasing this spring, Parallels: Felix Was Here features the ten winners from last fall’s IWSG Anthology Contest.
But guess what? We’ll be holding another contest this year as well! Which means another opportunity for blogging and Facebook members to submit a story.
And we’re going to let you guys decide the genre. So, keep watching the newsletter for details!

Now, go visit others on the IWSG list and encourage them!

Love Triangle: coffee, tea, and juice, by Toi Thomas

Alex, thanks for having me today. As we writers and bloggers know, our fuel of choice makes all the magic we create possible whether it’s coffee or tea, we can never have too much of it. But what about the oddballs- I mean, rare exceptions where the person doesn’t like tea or coffee. I find that these people tend to like juice or soda (water doesn’t count, we all need water at some point).

When working on my latest novel, It’s Like the Full Moon, a contemporary romance, I begin to think about the nature of writers and their fuel of choice. In my book, my main character Rebecca gets caught in a love triangle and I think I may be caught in one as well. While it seems that most writers have a kind of love-hate relationship with coffee and tea (they love one and hate the other), I find that I crave them both at different intervals.

When I’m in the zone, honing in character and plot development, tea is my drink. When I’m exhausted but know I need to write, coffee gives me the boost I need. Sometimes, however, when I’m milling about the draft stage, sweet juice keeps me going. What can I say, I just can’t choose one. But at least I’m not stuck in Rebecca’s shoes. Please enjoy this sample and check out my book, released under the pen name Glorie Townson.

“Whenever she was at home alone she tended to drink juice; when spending time with Virgil they drank coffee, and when she was with Paul they, of course, drank tea. With a furrowed brow, Rebecca shook her head to snap herself out of her trance. She thought to herself, This is not the time or the place to be having this particular breakdown.”

Find Toi at The ToiBox of Words
Find It’s Like the Full Moon at Amazon

February Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for February! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

5 –

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Jane Austen's classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England is faced with a new challenge -- an army of undead zombies.
Director: Burr Steers
Stars: Lily James, Lena Headey, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith
I might be in the minority, but I’m about zombie’d out – especially PG-13 zombies.

Hail, Caesar!
A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.
Directors: Ethan Coen | Joel Coen
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes
Coen brothers, so could be great, or it could be the Ladykillers all over again.

12 –

A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool. Director: Tim Miller
Stars: Morena Baccarin, Ryan Reynolds, Gina Carano, T.J. Miller
Holy chimichanga – this looks funny as hell!

26 –

Gods of Egypt
A common thief joins a mythical god on a quest through Egypt.
Director: Alex Proyas
Stars: Gerard Butler, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Geoffrey Rush
Doesn’t look great, but then again, this is the director who brought us The Crow and Dark City.

What’s your writer insecurity today? Submitting to the newsletter? Have a genre in mind for the next IWSG Anthology Contest? What’s your love triangle? (If you can state it in public!) And what movie catches your eye this month…?

Thanks again to all who participated in the Lost and Found blogfest on Monday.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Reviews: RiffTrax – The Room and Kung Fu Panda 3! Plus Ethan Fox, IWSG Anthology Cover, Lost and Found Blogfest, Monday Music Moves Me, and Ninja News

RiffTrax Live: The Room Review
They claimed it was one of the worst movies ever made. I won’t argue that. The star of the film also wrote, directed, and produced it. (That’s never good.) Before it began, we were warned that not only had the man never seen a film, he’d never interacted with other humans, either.

The storyline (if you can call it that) centers around a man and his fiancé who is cheating on him with his best friend. And it doesn’t take place in just one room. (The best part was the random shots of San Francisco.)

There was also nudity. Believe me, the lead had no business being nude. And they were long scenes. Despite the gratuitous boob shots, I longed for those scenes to end.

Considering this was a film about human behavior and interaction, none of that rang true. Characters flip-flopped radically. Scenes were random and made no sense. It was the rough draft of a poorly written story. And all of it made worse by a lead who couldn’t act his way out of a wet paper bag. Which just gives Mike, Bill, and Kevin lots of fodder!

Don't go into The Room unless you're armed with RiffTrax!

And of course, a few pre-movie screen shots for you!

Kung Fu Panda 3 Review

Another solid entry in the Kung Fu Panda series.
Villain Kai breaks free from the spirit world, Po’s panda father appears, and Po must learn the art of Chi to save China.
The story doesn’t break much new ground. It still manages to be an enjoyable and very funny ride though.
The animation is stunning. The spirit world scenes are amazing.
Just good family entertainment. Recommended.

When Speculative Becomes Mundane

Please welcome author Ethan Fox!

Last week, I watched the movie Kingsman for the first time (yes, yes, I'm late to the party, fine). If you haven't seen it, suffice to say it's a spy movie, with most of the usual themes you tend to associate with spy films.
Anyway, there's a scene in the middle where the spy's mentor shows him their “armoury”, a bit like the part in every Bond film when JB goes to visit Q, and gets his exploding jock-strap.
The mentor shows the spy a poisonous pen, a shoe with a hidden knife, a lighter which is also a grenade... Then they get to the shelf with a bunch of tablets and phones.
“What's special about them?” asks the spy.
“Nothing,” says the mentor.
It's an elegant turn-of-phrase; funny in context, but also quite poignant. I guess it's a very human reaction that something we use every day becomes mundane, even though the capabilities of a smartphone would've had you burned as a witch just over a century ago, and would've probably made you a super-spy in the 1950s.
For those of us towards the fantasy end of fiction, this isn't too big a concern. The stuff that we write about, largely, can never exist by definition. For speculative fiction authors, though, I'm curious – have you ever written something fictional that turned out later to be real? Do you ever think about this as part of your writing?

Ethan Fox is an author of urban fantasy fiction, and has recently published his debut work, The Scissors and the Sword. It's available HERE from Amazon, in both Kindle and Paperback formats.
Also, BUY NOW at a special introductory price! This offer expires very soon, so check it out quickly if you want to take advantage of it.

The IWSG Anthology!

Here’s the cover and details:

Parallels: Felix Was Here, Anthology
Print ISBN 9781939844200
eBook ISBN 9781939844118
Science Fiction/Alternate History

Enter the realm of parallel universes!
What if the government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever?
Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. Keltner, Crystal Collier, Hart Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra Cox, Yolanda Renee, Melanie Schulz, Sylvia Ney, Michael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will expand your imagination and twist the tropes of science fiction. Step through the portal and enter another dimension!

Ninja News

Our very own Annalisa Crawford gathered third place in this year's Costa Short Story Award. She won for her story Watching the Storms Roll In. Visit her site for pictures of the awards ceremony. Way to go, Annalisa!

Out this week!
Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers
Multiple versions available at Amazon and find it on Goodreads

Monday Music Moves Me

Hosted by Xmas Dolly. Forgive me if I screw up the theme this week.

I’m hooked on several albums right now – new Megadeth, Dream Theater, Serenity… But since I reviewed Baroness-Purple last week, I decided to post one of their songs. Again, just good, solid rock. Nothing scary – promise!

Lost and Found: The Valentine's Edition/Question of the Month

This time, we are joining Michael at A Life Examined and doing a combination question and blogfest.

From Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out and Guilie Castilol-Oriard at A Quiet Laughter, and co-hosted by Elizabeth Seckman, Yolanda Renee, Denise Covey. and Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Tell your story about love lost or found in our special Valentine's blogfest. Your post can be a short fiction, an essay, poetry, or even a song--let your imagination run free.

What love did I lose and find again? Not the love of a woman. (No sir, I suckered her into marrying me before she came to her senses.)

My love of playing music.

I’ve played an instrument since I was young and even minored in music in college. But once I graduated and moved on with my life, I forgot about it.

Then, several years ago, my wife purchased a guitar for me. I’d always wanted to play one and after a few months of trial and error and one month of lessons, I became proficient enough to play a whole song. After years of being away from music, it was awesome.

Now I play in a Christian band, and it’s the most amazing thing ever. That I can create something that will inspire and move people – what more can an artist ask for?

Writing is fun and I’ve enjoyed where that path has led me. But music is my true passion. And I’ll not let it go again.

What about you?

Yes, one very full post!
Have you seen The Room? (The bad RiffTrax one, not the Oscar contender.) Catch Kung Fu Panda 3? Ever written anything that became real? Excited about the anthology? Ready to give Baroness a listen? And what love have you lost or found…?

Monday, January 25, 2016

The A to Z Challenge List Opens! Plus David Powers King and Zombies, RiffTrax, Baroness-Purple Review, New Book Releases, and Ninja News

A lot happening today, including sign-ups for the 2016 A to Z Challenge!

But first, David Powers King is here to talk zombies with you.

The Wild and Varied World of Zombies

Thanks for having me, Alex! I think something needs to be said about what has become of the zombie state of things. There’s so many different kinds of ghouls nowadays that it’s hard to keep track of them all. I mean, the mindless monsters got their start with voodoo magic, but the people under that spell weren’t actually dead. Still, the idea spawned into a new kind of creature when George Romero combined the voodoo zombie with vampires in Night of the Living Dead.

Since then, we’ve had all kind of interesting freaks! Resident Evil brought us mutating zombies, 28 Days Later brought us the Rage zombie, and The Last of Us gave us fungal, bat-like zombies (no wings, though—maybe it’s time to give zombies their wings!). Thanks to The Walking Dead, zombies are now more mainstream than ever, and it’s picking up new fans. What kind of zombie have I produced in The Undead Road? You’re invited to learn more about Vectors on Amazon, where you can find the ebook free on KindleUnlimited. It’s also available now as a paperback!

Thanks again for having me, Alex. Be safe out there, my friends!

The Undead Road: My Zombie Summer: Part One by David Powers King
Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse…
Find The Undead Road: Amazon, Amazon CA, Amazon UK, and Amazon AU


RiffTrax is rebroadcasting one of its films from last year, The Room, this Thursday night! Check the site for details and for a theater near you.
It’s supposed to be one of the worst films ever, and since I missed this one last year, I’m looking forward to seeing the guys destroy it with snarky humor.

Album Review

Baroness – Purple
This album came out in 2015. This band had fallen off the radar for me until I read an article about a bus accident…
The tour bus was between two English towns when it left the road and fell thirty feet. Two of the members fractured their vertebrae and were forced to leave the band.
The lead singer used his lengthy rehab time to rededicate himself to this album, and the results are amazing.
They’ve compacted their work – it’s less prog and more just great rock songs. The sound is stripped down, and every song is accessible and catchy as hell. I can’t pick a favorite because it changes from listen to listen.
One of the best rock albums I’ve heard in a long time. Highly recommended!

The Thing That Turned Me Anthology

Due out later this year, this anthology is about turning points and those things in life that motivate us to change. You can find a list of contributing authors at Stay Classy Publishing.

And yes! I am one of the contributing authors. I decided to go back, before CassaStar, and write about a turning point in Byron’s early life. So, if you enjoyed my Cassa series, you’ll get a chance to revisit…

Ninja News

C. Hope Clark, founder of the site Funds For Writers, is visiting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group today!
If you haven’t already (or you are already part of the monthly blog posting), don’t forget to sign up for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s newsletter! Our new admin, Chrys Fey, has some amazing guests and articles lined up for the first issue, due out February 24. Sign up HERE.

Don’t forget - the Lost and Found: Valentine’s Edition Blogfest takes place February 1. For details and to sign up, go HERE.

TF Walsh and a few other others put together a group called Romance Addicts Anonymous. If you are a lover of the romance genre, an author needing a place to share your work, or a reader looking for a new read, go HERE for details on this Facebook/Twitter/ Instagram group.

Sarah Foster is hosting the Muse Party Blogfest – Anti-Valentine’s Day Edition on February 15. Visit her POST for details.

New Releases:

The Galactic Outlaws Book One: The Outlaw's Prize by Susan (Gourley) Kelley
Find it at New Concepts Publishing

A Whale of a Tale by Pat Hatt
Find it at Amazon

The Morrigan’s Curse by Dianne Salerni
Comes out Tuesday, January 26!

A to Z List opens!

Welcome to the seventh annual A to Z Blogging Challenge!

Please read and follow the sign-up instructions outlined below so you sign onto the list correctly!
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE

We recommend short posts, turn off Word Verification, and visit five blogs (or more) a day beginning with the one after yours on the list.

Blogs must be on an open platform – no Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. – and comments enabled. Please make it easy for visitors to comment on your blog.

To streamline legitimate blogs from advertisement blogs, the Co-Hosts will be visiting each blog on this list throughout the Challenge. Once the Challenge begins, blogs showing no activity or those that miss five days in a row will be removed.

Please note your blog name and number in all correspondences. Remember that as blogs are removed, your number WILL change.

There are categories for those looking for like-minded blogs. Select ONE category code and enter it after your blog’s title/name. The code applies to your blog, not your theme for the Challenge and is purely optional. See the first few blogs on the list for examples. However, if your blog has adult content, you MUST mark it (AC) or it will be removed from the list. Codes are as follows:


Be sure to grab the badge and display it in your sidebar so we know you are participating and link to the A to Z Challenge Blog.

For more information we recommend you follow the A to Z Challenge Blog and the hosts:

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Heather M. Gardner
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
AJ Lauer
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian
Damyanti Biswas @ Daily Write
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing

We also have a Facebook Page and Pinterest Site
Email address is
Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z

I’d also like to announce my awesome Ninja Minions - Rhonda Albom, Nicola Burggraf, Nilanjana Bose, Susan Gourley, Mason Canyon, Stephanie Faris, Yolanda Renee, Ann Bennett, Patricia Lynne, Donna McDine, JA Scott, and Melanie Schultz. Thanks, you guys rock!

Sign up below and join us for a month of alphabet fun!
(When you sign up, you agree to receive A to Z related emails.)

Who’s ready to hit the Undead Road? Willing to give Baroness a try? Signed up for the IWSG newsletter? Ready for next Monday’s blogfest? Picking up some new books? And are you joining us for the 2016 A to Z Challenge…?
Next week, I have some great guests, plus reviews for a couple cool television shows. (Sorry, too late Sunday night to write a review on the new X-Files mini-series. Way past my bedtime!) And don’t forget, next Wednesday is IWSG post day.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Television Rating System is Flawed, Oscar Nods, Seventh Son Review, IWSG Newsletter, A to Z Challenge and Minions, Movie Trivia Answers, and Ninja News!

What’s Up With the Television Rating System?

Ever since the rating system emerged, shows have really pushed the boundaries. But sometimes, the ratings make no sense.

The Walking Dead has gotten flack over the years due to its brutal and graphic violence – and mere TV14 rating. Numerous groups have lobbied to get it labeled TVMA.

Into the Badlands also has a TV14 rating. However, it is far less violent and graphic than the Walking Dead.

What really puzzles me is the rating for the show Fargo. It’s TVMA – for mature audiences only. What? Yes, there is violence and language, but it’s nowhere near as graphic as the Walking Dead.

Any idea why Fargo is deemed more extreme than the Walking Dead? Think there are flaws in the system?

Oscar Nods

Everyone’s now seen the Oscar nominations for 2016. They are rather spread out with no clear-cut winner.

I’d like to note that Mad Max: Fury Road is nominated for ten awards. Ten! It won’t win Best Picture or Best Director, but with that many nominations, it should go home with several Oscars.

Although wouldn’t that be just batcrap crazy if the batcrap crazy movie won?

Seventh Son Review

Based on a book, The Spook’s Apprentice, it deviates a bit from the young adult story. (In the book, Tom is twelve; in the movie, he’s an adult and played by a thirty year old actor.)
This is your standard medieval sword and sorcery film, nothing terrible, but nothing notable, either.
Jeff Bridges plays the lead spook, and he hams it up and overacts the entire time. However, this isn’t a bad thing as it makes the film entertaining. (Although it was really hard to understand him in the beginning. The film almost needs closed captioning at that point.)
Julianne Moore does a good job playing the witch queen. You’ll recognize Ben Barnes, who plays Tom, as Caspian from the Narnia movies.
The effects are good (there are dragons) and the plot moves at a decent pace. But everything just seems so familiar.
If you’re in the mood for some sword and sorcery, it’s definitely worth a rental.

IWSG Newsletter!

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group will be launching a newsletter next month! And we got someone awesome to put it together – please welcome the newest IWSG Admin, Chrys Fey. (And wait until you see how awesome she’s made our newsletter.)

Here’s the official scoop on our monthly newsletter:

The Insecure Writer's Support Group Newsletter will feature articles by industry experts, IWSG members, and administrators. There will also be a dozen links to helpful articles for writers in each edition, as well as a special Member Spotlight. Even if you're not a member of the blogging group, you'll greatly benefit from these FREE monthly newsletters.

First issue goes out on February 24!

Sign up HERE. (If you are a member of the monthly blogging group, you are already signed up. Now you’ll get an awesome newsletter instead of a lame email from me!)

Ninja News

I recently made some changes to the WhatAreTheKargrandes? site. It now runs through all thirteen clues before ending with my book, Dragon of the Stars, and some reviews. If you’ve never seen the site, check it out. (And you can click on the images to make them scroll through faster.)

From Howling Wolf Records and the genius that is Jeremy Hawkins comes Six Strings, a magazine about movie soundtracks, scores, and more. Check out the site and download it for free! And watch for upcoming issues–there just might be an interview with yours truly…

DL Hammons is looking for volunteers to read the entries for this year’s Write Club. See his site for details.

A to Z Challenge Approaches!

The A to Z Challenge list opens in one week on January 25! See the site for details if you don’t know about the Challenge. (Or come back in one week, and I’ll explain it.)

This will be my seventh Challenge (I was one of the original one hundred in 2010) and my sixth as a co-host. Last year, Dragon of the Stars released in the middle of the April Challenge, and my fellow co-hosts were nice enough to relieve me of managing a section of the list. (I still manage the entire list behind the scenes, making adjustments to the Linky List.) But this year, I am back in full swing.

And I need help! I need some Ninja Minions. A group of people who will help me check on participants within a section of the list. (Much like co-hosting the IWSG.) Doesn’t matter if you are participating in the Challenge or not. You’ll get a cool Minion badge and special mentions.

So, if you can help me this year, please leave a comment!

Movie Trivia Answers

Fantasy films centered around a forest:
1 – The first in a series that should’ve been seven films, the adventure begins in the snowy winter woods. 2005  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
2 – A trip to this forest turned out to be a game to feed an ancient beast. 2011  Cabin in the Woods
3 – This fable involved a tower and naïve young woman who wants to explore the world. 2010  Tangled
4 – This epic tale has man joining a dozen others to battle a mysterious enemy that descends from a mountain lair. 1999  The 13th Warrior
5 – The first of three films has an unlikely hero setting off with a group of dwarves. 2012  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Do you think the television rating system is screwy? Have an Oscar favorite? Seen Seventh Son? Excited about the IWSG newsletter? Ready for the Challenge? Get any of the trivia right? (Pat Hatt did!) And who wants to be a Ninja Minion…?

And since today (Monday) is a holiday in the US, I might not get to everyone today, but I will return all comments this week. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!