Monday, June 30, 2014

July Movie Preview, Sci-Fi Movie News, and Ninja News

No movie review today. Since Transformers 4 received awful reviews, I decided it wasn’t worth sacrificing over two and a half hours of my life to watch mindless explosions.
The real bummer was that Snowpiercer, which came out last year to rave reviews, only had a limited release here in the USA. How limited? One theater. In New York! Hopefully it will open to a wider audience soon, as I really want to see this film.

Here’s the description: In this sci-fi epic, a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet. The final survivors board the SNOWPIERCER, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine. When cryptic messages incite the passengers to revolt, the train thrusts full-throttle towards disaster.

In other movie news…

According to ScienceFiction.com, Frank Darabont may direct the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. Good news for the ladies – the movie will focus on Chris Hemsworth’s character with no Snow White/Kristen Stewart in sight.

And Pacific Rim will be getting a sequel! Scheduled release date is April 7, 2017, so don’t get too excited…

Ninja News

Joy Campbell’s Taming Celeste is now available! Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Smashwords

Clarissa Draper’s second book is now out - The Electrician’s Code.

Rachel Morgan’s The Trouble with Flying is now out.

Brinda Berry got the rights back to her book and has rereleased Watcher of Worlds with a new cover.

Do you like to read psychological thrillers? Well, Jessica Bell's giving away her latest release, WHITE LADY, for FREE, to every single person who signs up to the "Two Lies & a Truth" Blog Tour (taking place October 1 - 31). It's hassle-free. All you have to do is post what she sends you to your blog (or Facebook page) and Bob's your uncle. She will also be giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader of your blog. More details and sign up form HERE.

Yvonne Lewis was sweet enough to send a copy of her book to me! Arlee Bird provided the forward and is featured on the cover.


And I got to supply a blurb for the back! So honored...

Don’t forget that this Wednesday is Insecure Writer’s Support Group post day!

July Movie Preview

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

4 –

Deliver Us From Evil
NY police officer Ralph Sarchie investigates a series of crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest, schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the possessions that are terrorizing their city.
Director: Scott Derrickson
Stars: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn, Chris Coy
Great name for a Christian sandwich shop. Well, maybe not...

Earth to Echo
After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help.
Director: Dave Green
Stars: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt
80’s ET rip off meets 2000’s found footage nonsense – time to nauseate your kids.


8 –

DVD – The Raid 2

11 –

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.
Director: Matt Reeves
Stars: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Get your hands off me you damn dirty sequel! (Actually I really enjoyed the first one and look forward to this film.)

25 –

Hercules
Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
Director: Brett Ratner
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Joseph Fiennes
See Dwayne Hercules for all your demi-god and real estate needs…

29 –

DVD - Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXX


See any movies this past weekend? Been watching the World Cup? Picking up some new books? And what movies will you be seeing in July…?

See you Wednesday for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Star Wars Director News, Box Office, Movie Reviews, Writing Progress, and Ninja News

The awesome Charity Bradford interviewed me and you can read it today. Short and to the point, plus I reveal the best compliment I’ve ever received regarding my writing.

Science Fiction Movie News

Big announcement last Friday – Rian Johnson will write and direct Star Wars VIII and possibly IX.
Jo Blo posted that while J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars VII, the reins are being turned over to Johnson after that. (Johnson directed Looper and Brick.)
Gareth Edwards (Godzilla and Monsters) is directing the first standalone film, which comes out December 16, 2016. Josh Trank (Fantastic Four and Chronicle) will direct the standalone film that comes out in 2018.

This is how recent science fiction films have fared at the overall world-wide box office:
#61 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $710.7 million
#64 - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - $702.8 million
#69 - X-Men: Days of Future Past - $677.8 million
#160 - Godzilla (2014) - $443.2 million
#418 - Edge of Tomorrow - $255.5 million

Book Progress

On the writing front, I’m now on round three of edits. I like editing SO much more than writing the first draft! Anyone else weird that way?

I had to add quite a few scenes after the first draft was finished, beyond just adding description. (I’m a bare bones writer.) The word count is over 70,000, which stuns me because when I hit the midway point of writing in my outline, it looked like I’d be lucky to hit 50,000 words. So I’m really happy with the current word count. I know, most writers have to cut stuff to hit a word count. Just how I roll.

Maybe some of you roll that way as well…

Ninja News

Today’s Themes That Rocked feature at the A to Z Blog is Bob Miline and his speculative fiction book covers.

Pat Hatt’s latest is out - Cassie and The Wild Cat: A Ball At Cat Hall! Buy it on Amazon

Donna Weaver’s Torn Canvas is also available! Pick it up on Amazon

Carrie-Anne Brownian’s Little Ragdoll is out! If you like epic historical fiction, check it out.

Tara Tyler’s Broken Branch Falls comes out June 24!!

Cover reveal –

Effigy by M.J. Fifield
Release date: July 22, 2014
Cover art by Ravven

The survival of a once-mighty kingdom rests in the hands of its young queen, Haleine Coileáin, as it slowly succumbs to an ancient evil fueled by her husband’s cruelty.

Add it on Goodreads now.


Mark Noce’s story at Every Day Fiction got so many hits, they are doing a special feature on him this week. They also accepted another story of his last week at Every Day Fiction. Congratulations, Mark!

Songs of Summer Blogfest
Armchair Squid, Suze, and Cygnus
On Friday July 11, post your top five favorite summer songs – and why.
(I’ll be posting mine on Monday of that week.)

Don’t forget Heroes of PHENOMENA is now available for free at Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords. It includes my short story, CassaFate, along with stories from a dozen other authors.



And finally, has anyone heard from Fanny Barnes Thornton? She was taking a break at the end of May, but failed to return for the June IWSG as promised. Several bloggers have emailed her with no response. If you’ve heard from her, please let me know!

Quick NetFlix Movie Reviews

The Art of the Steal
Starring Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, and Jay Baruchel
I’d never heard of this film until it showed up on NetFlix. It turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining film! Good heist caper movie that features twists and turns similar to an episode of Leverage.

Anchorman 2
Sorry to say, I didn’t laugh that much. As a character, Ron Burgundy works best in five minute spurts or less. However, if you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.





Picking up some new books or signing up for the blogfest? Heard from Fanny recently? How’s your writing progressing? Seen either of those movies? And what do you think about the Star Wars VIII director choice?

Don’t forget to visit Charity Bradford!

Monday, June 16, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review, Wonder Woman, Random Alex, Ninja News, and More Movie Reviews

Movie Review – How to Train Your Dragon 2

Hiccup, Toothless, and the gang are back for another great adventure!

The characters have grown and now face new challenges. This tale takes them far beyond the boundaries of home and really expands the world in which they live.

There’s a good balance of funny and serious. Be warned though that the serious is often dark, dealing with death, abandonment, and intense situations. This film is not for really young children.

Animation is stunning and awesome in 3D.

And no, Hiccup does not lose any more body parts!

Recommended

If I Wasn’t a Writer, I’d be Wonder Woman

From the awesome Annalisa Crawford!

Thanks for inviting me to your blog today, Alex, it’s an honour to be here, and I’m very excited. I always wondered what it looked like from this side. It’s nice, especially the glitter ball!

When I was little, one of my favourite shows was Wonder Woman.

I’m just a rookie-geek when it comes to comic books and superheroes, and I wouldn’t dare hold a conversation with a real aficionado – I have never read a comic book, they’d probably spot that!

Everything I know about Woman Woman is what I knew when I was four – she’s got indestructible bracelets, a tiara that works as a weapon and a lasso (along with cool lasso skills).

And, really, what more does a girl need?

She was strong enough to lift cars, bend metal, and throw men across a room. I loved the way she spun around to get changed, and – as with all superheroes with secret identities – how she could disguise herself with just a pair of glasses!

There weren’t many women in my childhood that I could look up to. The boys tied their jackets around their neck to be Superman, they climbed up the slide to be Spiderman, and they growled to be the Hulk. The girls just got saved, a lot…

Until we discovered Wonder Woman, and span ourselves into a dizzy heap. But we looked cool while we did it, honest.

I am pretty ecstatic that she’s going to be making an appearance in the Batman vs Superman film – just a year or so to wait!

Annalisa’s new mirror

Find Annalisa and Our Beautiful Child at Blog, Website, Amazon and Smashwords

Ninja News

The talented Ella has had her artwork featured in many magazines. To gain more exposure, she needs your help – can you LIKE her work on the magazine’s Facebook page? Thanks!

River Fairchild has released another tantalizing morsel of creepiness - Darkest Days, Blackest Nights: Tales of Lust, Greed, Vengeance, Death.

Juliana Haygert’s latest book is out – Breaking Fences.

Rachel Morgan’s book, The Faerie Guardian, is now part of this amazing boxed set, Girls on Fire.

Decadent Kane’s Steele Your Soul came out last month and you find it at Breathless Press




And a cool blog if you haven’t found it yet is Sleepy Bison’s MEKANIKAL, which features futuristic stuff like Bitcoin, emerging cryptocurrencies, science/tech projects, and sometimes silly stuff.

Random Alex Stuff

The issues with Feedly last week meant I was relying on my sidebar to catch new blog posts. (My apologies to everyone I missed. Using the sidebar is time consuming and not always effective.) Since some of you were not listed in my sidebar, I made some adjustments. If you are a regular visitor here and you don’t see your blog listed, please let me know!

For the release of Annalisa’s A Beautiful Child, Rachel Schieffelbein asked about what she’d want named after her. Since both Annalisa and Rachel selected a food item, Iwent with the flow and picked a breakfast cereal:
Ninja Captain Choco-Bits!
What would pick?

All three of my books are on the Best Space Opera list at Goodreads. If you enjoyed them, please jump over and vote. CassaStar is still in the top five, but CassaFire and CassaStorm could use some love.

Quick Movie Reviews

Some DVD reviews since this was the weekend for movie sequels…

Red 2

I’m not sure why the critics were so harsh on this film. It’s another fun instalment, full of action, wit, and humor. It’s a bit too long, but other than that, a really good film.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

The storyline is very simple but it works. This film is as fun as the first one, with many laugh out loud moments. It’s definitely aimed at kids but will keep adults amused.




Anyone else see Dragon 2 this weekend? Have you seen the other two films? Picking up some new books? Annoyed with Feedly last week? What food item do you want named after you? Can you help on Goodreads? And if not Wonder Woman, how would you decorate your mirror…?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow Review, Phoenix Prophetesses and Ninjas, Then and Now Blogfest, and Major Ninja News!

Edge of Tomorrow Review

Fighting an alien invasion, Tom Cruise is caught in a loop – every time he dies, he returns to the same moment in time.

If you’re looking for a good science fiction story, this is it. The film is extremely entertaining. The battle sequences are nothing short of thrilling. Time travel is always interesting and it’s used to great effect here
.
There are a LOT of elements from other movies and stories, but they pull them together into a really solid story that’s tense and exciting. Think Saving Private Ryan, Starship Troopers, Groundhog Day, and a pinch of 50 First Dates.

You might not like Cruise as a person, but he’s really good in this film and a bit of a different character than you’ve seen before. Plus Emily Blunt is great – something about her that’s just HOT!

Highly recommended!

Five Ways Phoenix Prophetesses Are Like Ninjas

1. Although Phoenix Prophetesses can really see the future, Ninjas—with their lightning fast reflexes—appear to be able to see the future.

2. Both Phoenix Prophetesses and Ninjas have perfect accuracy. If they throw something, it will hit their target.

3. A Zen-like state can balance Ninjas and Phoenix Prophetesses alike.

4. They can sneak around and hide in the shadows.

5. Last, but definitely not the least, they both look stunning in black.

To save a kingdom, a prophetess must challenge Fate.

Available in Ebook and Print! To purchase Reborn: Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Nook, OmniLit, Smashwords, Createspace, and Google Play

"The authors of Untethered Realms and I are giving away over $50 worth of books to one lucky winner. The giveaway is open internationally. Go HERE to enter."

A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer and library assistant living in Virginia. Reborn is her debut novel. For more information, please visit her website.

Major Ninja News!

Heroes of PHENOMENA is now available on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords!!


Today’s Themes That Rocked feature at the A to Z Blog is Charity Bradford and her Dr. Who theme!


George at Cinemarvellous had one of his quotes included in a DVD trailer!


Jennifer Hillier hit it big time! Jimmy Fallon does a segment every week on The Tonight Show where he picks a hashtag on Tuesdays and invites people to tweet something funny about it. He posts the best ones on the show on Thursdays. Last week it was #WorstSummerJobs – and Jennifer’s was the last one he read!


Talli Roland’s The No Kids Club is out now! You can buy it on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Amazon US and Amazon UK

Nigel Mitchell just released Quantum Tales - Volumes 1 & 2

Botanist fromViews From the Bald Patch just released a new book - Ghosts of Innocence. Find it on Amazon and Smashwords.

T.B. Markinson’s latest, A Woman Lost, is on sale for 99 cents. Find it at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Maggie at Just Get it Written nominated me for the Lighthouse Award. Check her site for the rules, but I pass this on to Gary at Klahanie.

Eva at My Miracle Life selected me as her Written Acts of Kindness blogger last month. Father Dragon Al has started a special encouragement group, proving he’s one of the most encouraging people I know. (See Eva’s site for rules.)

Then and Now Blogfest

Hosted by The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson, and Nancy Mock.

The greatest films stand the test of time, speaking to us in different ways at various life stages. Is there a movie that was a part of your life when you were younger that you see differently now? Like fine wine, has it improved with age or did it die in the bottle? Has maturity brought you new insights you missed in your youth?

I’ve selected two movies:

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
Fun movie when I was a kid, as I was big into Godzilla.
Saw it again as an adult courtesy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 – and they brought a whole new level to it, poking fun at the cheesiness, bad acting, and rubber suits.
“They’ve run acrab! It’s kaBob and kaSteve.”

Jaws
Saw it in the theater when I was a kid and scared the crap out of me. Didn’t go near a bathtub for months.
Have watched it many times as an adult, and despite all the problems they had with Bruce the Shark, it still holds up to this day. Great acting, scary and tense moments, and some of the greatest lines ever.
“You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

Whoa! Anyone else see Edge of Tomorrow? Picked up Reborn yet? Catch that spot on the Tonight Show? Excited about the new books? And what movie do you see differently now than you did as a kid?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, June Movie Preview, Heroes of PHENOMENA, and New Releases!

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 for the June 4 posting of the IWSG are C. Lee McKenzie, Tracy Jo, Melanie Schulz, and LG Keltner!

I finished my manuscript!

Despite the fact I’ve been on vacation since last Friday, I finished. I had plenty of down time to just relax, and I managed to pound out the last few pages.

I began this project feeling a bit unsure. It’s still space opera but different from my Cassa series. There was also one aspect I wasn’t sure I could pull off. (How do you describe something no human has ever experienced?) But fortunately, it occurred at a very exciting point in the story, and I think I succeeded. I also have some sub-plots and scenes to add, and I’ll begin that process next week.

But the first draft is basically done!

Be sure to visit other IWSG members.

Heroes of PHENOMENA!

Available on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords

From the amazing writer who put it all together, Samantha Redstreake Geary: 
“Welcome to Heroes of Phenomena, with my favorite composer gang over in Hollywood and leaders of the film music advertising industry, audiomachine! As part of a global, cross-industry promotional project for audiomachine’s upcoming public release, PHENOMENA—by celebrated composer, Paul Dinletir—we’re introducing a groundbreaking campaign to encourage the next generation of authors, artists & musicians! With each download of the upcoming FREE PHENOMENA companion ebook, audiomachine will make a donation to the LA Youth Orchestra. The ebook will also feature a dedicated YOUTH section, showcasing the talents of aspiring artists and authors from the gifted students of Elevate’s Life & Art Studios!”

I was honored to be asked to contribute to this book, and my story, CassaFate, is inspired by the song Drakon's Empire.

PHENOMENA available now from ITunes, Amazon, and CD Baby

Ninja News!

New releases:

No Free Will (Book 10 of A Shot in the Light) by Hart Johnson
And as a bonus A Shot in the Light, Parts I-IV is only 99 cents through June 13.

Don’t Fall by Rachel Schieffelbein

Played by Liz Fichera

Another New Life by Sydney Aaliyah Michelle
Find it on Amazon

Champion in Flight by Tyrean Martinson
Find it on Amazon and Smashwords

Coming soon -  
Secrets of Honor by Carol Kilgore







June Movie Preview

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

6 –


Edge of Tomorrow
A soldier fighting in a war with aliens finds himself caught in a time loop of his last day in the battle, though he becomes better skilled along the way.
Director: Doug Liman
Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson
Tom Cruise dies repeatedly at the hands of a machine gun-toting groundhog!
(So far reviews have been great, so I will be seeing this Friday.)


13 –

How to Train Your Dragon 2
It's been five years since Hiccup and Toothless successfully united dragons and Vikings on the island of Berk. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.
Director: Dean DeBlois
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Kristen Wiig, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill
The first ended with a metal foot and leg for Hiccup – is it possible this will end with his head on a stick?
(Perfect reviews for this one – won’t miss it!)

22 Jump Street
After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college.
Directors: Phil Lord | Christopher Miller
Stars: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube, Dave Franco
Because there were so many unanswered questions in 21 Jump Street…
(The previews do have their funny moments.)

27 –

Transformers: Age of Extinction
An automobile mechanic and his daughter make a discovery that brings down the Autobots and Decepticons - and a paranoid government official - on them.
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci
Wahlberg transforms into… the same character he’s played in countless other films.
(Hey, at least it’s not LaBeouf!)

Glad to be back – did you miss me? Downloading PHENOMENA and Heroes of PHENOMENA? Excited about the new releases? What’s your writing insecurity today? And what movies will you be seeing in June…?