Monday, November 28, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Hacksaw Ridge Movie Reviews! Plus When Animals Attack, New Releases, and Ninja News

Hey guys! Hope your Thanksgiving was great. I certainly enjoyed my week with family. I’m happy to be back, though.

And today, I am appearing at Lidy Wilks’ site, Paving My Author’s Road, discussing what to do when a publishing deal goes south. (No one knows what that’s like, right?)

Movie Reviews

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Set in 1926 America, the film is both familiar and fresh. We have the wizard world backdrop with all new characters and a new location. (And some new terms – in America, Muggles are called No-Maj.)
The creatures themselves are indeed fantastic; some even a little bit mischievous. But Newt (Eddie Redmayne) is determined to keep them safe during his final stop in New York. One gets out, sending Newt on a path of not only catching the escaped beasts, but unravelling the mystery of the force attacking the city.
The actors do a fine job. Dan Fogler has some of the best moments in the film.
Rowling played it safe with the screenplay. Some elements are overplayed (the old briefcases-get-switched trick) and a LOT of time is spent setting up and establishing Newt’s character before the real story gets underway. The film could’ve been trimmed by about fifteen minutes and the story a bit more focused.
Overall, it was enjoyable and Harry Potter fans will eat it up.
Somewhat recommended.

Hacksaw Ridge
The true story of a WWII Army Medic who becomes the first man to win the Medal of Honor without carrying or firing a weapon.
This is a very moving human story. It’s about one man’s convictions, not just as a conscientious objector, but to do what he was called to do. Private Doss followed God despite the circumstances.
Director Gibson knows how to involve you in the characters and the story. Once the action begins, it’s all encompassing. It’s powerful and intense – the war scenes are brutally honest. Despite the violence, it’s a beautiful film.
Andrew Garfield fit well as Doss – genuine, a little naïve, and convicted. Weaving and Vaughn turn in great performances and it’s probably Worthington’s best performance since Avatar.
A powerful, moving film and a possible Oscar contender. (And at the end, you get to see some of the real men involved, including Doss.) Highly recommended.

Hell or High Water
Two brothers rob various branches of the bank threatening to foreclose on their family’s land with a retiring Texas Ranger in pursuit.
This is a small film with the same vibe as No Country for Old Men but more laid-back. It shows how people can do the wrong thing for the right reason – do the ends justify the means?
Chris Pine and Ben Foster turn in excellent performances as the wayward brothers. In the role of an aging Texas Ranger, Jeff Bridges is ornery, funny, and wildly racist (at the expense of his half-Comanche partner.) The West Texas setting is a character as well, one reeking of crushed dreams.
This film surprised me. Probably another Oscar contender. Highly recommended.

When Animals Attack

When Animals Attack, edited by Vanessa Morgan, is now available for pre-order – and I am one of the contributing authors!

The definitive horror movie guide for fans of killer animals and “nature strikes back” movies.
When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals provides a fascinating and entertaining insight into the cinematographic world of animals on the rampage. From well-known predators such as sharks and lions to unusual killing machines like turkeys, elephants, frogs, cats, and rabbits, there is no shortage of the species on display in this book.
Leading horror writers and filmmakers present their favorite “animals attack” films through in-depth essays. Some of the films are touching, some are repulsive, and some are just plain silly. Not all of these horror movies line up with the critical consensus, yet they have one thing in common: they have made the heart of the writer beat faster with excitement.

Find it on Amazon, Amazon UK, and Goodreads

Ninja News

If you’re looking for new blogs, Site Hound Sniffs has a great listing, broken down into categories. Site owner Jerry has put a lot of effort into building it up, so check it out – and definitely email him about including your blog.

Random shot –

Mini-Alex hanging out with a Heptapod from Arrival.




Reedsy posted a great article - Writing in Third Person Omniscient vs Third Person Limited – that you need to check out.



CassaDawn comes out on Tuesday, December 6!

You can pre-order it now.





New Releases

Catalyst by Kristin Smith
(The Deception Game, #1)
Too pretty.
Too smart.
Too perfect.
In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in.
Find it here: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Kobo
Find Kristin here: Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Blog

From Story Idea to Reader by Patsy Collins and Rosemary J. Kind
Available November 30
From Story Idea to Reader is an easily accessible guide to writing fiction. Whether you are brushing up on your writing skills or starting out, this book will take you through the whole process from inspiration to conclusion. No matter if you are looking to submit your work for publication, enter a competition, or want to self-publish, this practical guide will help you every step of the way.
Find it on Amazon

100 Haiku for the 80s Generation by Dean K. Miller and Kerrie Flanagan
Find at Hot Chocolate Press and Amazon

Dangerous Sanctuary by J.Q. Rose
Pastor Christine Hobbs never imagined she would be caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.
Available at Amazon




Anyone else see Fantastic Beasts or Hacksaw Ridge? Have you see Hell or High Water? Eager to see what movies When Animals Attack covers? (And which movie I wrote about?) Picking up some new books? And how was your Thanksgiving holiday?
I’ll be back next Wednesday for Insecure Writer’s Support Group post day.
Don’t forget to visit Paving My Author’s Road!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Arrival and Big Short Movie Reviews, In Flames - Battles, New Releases, and Seven Years of Blogging

Arrival Movie Review

Prepare for your mind to be blown.
Twelve alien vessels appear across the planet and Amy Adams is the linguist recruited to translate.
This is a science fiction drama – and one for your brain.
The story seems straightforward enough. In fact, you might start to wonder where the genius kicks in as the movie reveals plot points while revealing nothing.
The cast is excellent. A few minor characters, but it really focuses on the three leads. It’s probably Adams’ best role, while Jeremy Renner and Forrest Whitaker round out the cast with style.
This is a film you’ll want to watch again for all the things you missed.
All I can tell you is it will quietly blow your mind…
Highly recommended!

The Big Short Movie Review

Finally watched on NetFlix. This film follows the lead up to the housing crisis and collapse in 2007.
It’s an excellent film but also quite galling. The arrogance and stupidity of the banks will make your blood boil. Even more so knowing it all really happened.
The film follows several sets of characters. Front and center is Christian Bale, a hedge fund manager who realizes what is happening and bets against the housing market.
Several others get wind of what he’s doing and start their own investigations.
This film takes a plot that should’ve been boring and made it interesting, engaging, and funny! It’s brilliant, and you will marvel at that brilliance even as you are repelled by what the banks did to cause the collapse.
Highly recommended!

In Flames - Battles Review

Hopefully, as time goes by, we grow and develop in all aspects of our lives. As I listen to the new In Flames album, I’m reading a post by someone who absolutely hates it.
They don’t sound anything like the early days of Jester Race, he rants. They’ve lost it...they suck. (Followed by some truly, horrible remarks not fit for reprint.)
He is right about one aspect in his (I’m assuming) troll rant: they don’t sound like the band that made their first album in 1995. Does this truly surprise anybody? In Flames, like the rest of us, have grown and matured over the past twenty-one years.
Gone is the crushing Gothenburg melodic death metal. It has been slowly replaced over the past five albums with a more mainstream and accessible approach to metal. Maybe it’s because I‘m a prog fan. I grew up with bands like Rush and Yes who changed their sound over the course of their career. I enjoy the musical ride that a band, who is fortunate enough to have longevity, can take us on over the years of a career.
I have been an In Flames fan since Colony and I continue to be a fan to this day. The new album is filled with catchy choruses and infectious riffs that put a big smile on my face. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t like the new, evolving sound. But I think it’s great!

New Releases

No Family Secrets by Patsy Collins 
Find it on Amazon

Huntress Found by A. A. Chamberlynn
Book #1 of The Timekeeper's War series
Find it on Amazon

Piper Morgan to the Rescue by Stephanie Faris
Find it on Amazon

And visit her site for a great giveaway!







November 9, 2009

(Awesome image courtesy of my favorite Dragon buddy, Al! Nothing like a selfie with my best friend.)

That date marked seven years since I began blogging. A lot has changed since then. Blogging is different today. But I still wouldn’t be anywhere else or trade in the journey for anything.

What’s happened over those seven years?

Four books, one boxed set, five anthologies, and four audio books. (With a short story, audio book, and anthology still to come.)
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group blogging group in 2011, website and Facebook groups in 2013, two anthologies (soon to be three), newsletter, Twitter, t-shirt, and more.
Hosted or co-hosted twenty-five blogfests.
Participated in/co-hosted seven A to Z Challenges.
Was the subject of a blogfest! (That’s where Mini-Alex came from. Elise made him for the blogfest and then mailed him to me – from France! Deniz later supplied the stylish scarf.)
Lost some dear friends.
And made a world of amazing new friends.
Plus a whole lot more!

Thanks to all of you for joining me on this journey! I appreciate your friendship, support, and guidance. I couldn't have done it without you.


Did you catch Arrival this weekend? Seen The Big Short? In Flames fan? (Or any new music out you do like?) Picking up some new books? And what’s happened during your blogging journey?

I will be spending time with family next week for Thanksgiving and I have decided to unplug for the week. The whole week! I will be checking emails and returning comments when I return. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Doctor Strange, RiffTrax: Live – Carnival of Souls, Timeless Good Clean Fun, and Ninja News

Doctor Strange Review

Another great entry in the Marvel universe!
It’s an origins film and fairly straightforward. But they stick to the source material, which I appreciated.
Yes, the graphics are amazing. It’s stunning how the rooms, buildings, and entire cities fold in on themselves. I believe over three hundred digital graphic artists were credited at the end.
The cast is perfect. Cumberbatch brings humor to the lead even as he remains self-focused and a little cocky – but the character is no Tony Stark. Ejiofor was in Serenity and he’s always good. The biggest surprise was Tilda Swinton. Even bald, she played the most normal and balanced character I’ve ever seen her portray.
This isn’t one of Marvel’s top films. It’s on par with the Iron Man movies. But it’s still a ton of fun and a spectacle to behold. In other words, even a less than stellar Marvel film is better than most movies.
Highly recommended. And stay for the two bonus scenes at the end.



Another fun outing with the guys!

Carnival of Souls is a film that had an interesting concept. It was then flushed down the toilet with abysmal execution, poor acting, and a plodding pace. It does have the distinction of being the most organ music you will ever hear at one time.

The guys had done Carnival of Souls in the past. It’s not one of their top performances, but they did bring some new jokes to the table.

Of course, nothing beats the RiffTrax Live: MST3K Reunion Show. You can download it from their SITE now or wait for the DVD which is coming soon!

And now for your enjoyment, some of the preshow slides:


Good Clean Fun

Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and some medieval funnies!

Thank you Alex for having me here today!

"Good, clean fun." What comes to mind when you hear that? One of the many things that makes me think about is "clean reads." I admit, I'm a bit of a wuss. I want limited language, palpable abuses, and PG-13 (or less) love scenes in my reading. The brain is a funny thing and it tends to cling to everything we put in it. It also sputters out what we put in it at the most inconvenient times. Warning to us all, eh? Best to put the kinds of things in your brain you'd like to see regurgitated. (Yikes. That sounds a little gross eh?)

So being a mom, my goal is to write books I wouldn't be embarrassed having my daughters (or sons) read. TIMELESS, despite having a good deal of romance, is like that. (As are the first two books in the Maiden of Time series.) (Knights, battles, time travel, an epic love story, and special powers...WHAT?!) So what do you say to some good clean fun?

The chore that never ends.

And what did Snow White ALWAYS do? (Ahem, the answer is clean.)

All else fails, throw the trash in the closet.

Cleaning really isn't torture, I promise.

I hope you laughed or at least smiled. And now while you're in a good mood, go buy my books!

And have a nice day.

What is your favorite/least favorite chore? Do you like clean reads? Don't care?

Find Timeless on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads

Ninja News

Thanks to everyone who posted for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and my awesome co-hosts.
I visit as many as I can and wish I could visit everyone. I hope everyone understands some months I do better than others. Sometimes IWSG day burns me out and I don’t go much farther. Maybe for December I’ll visit IWSG posts only and then catch up a day or two later with those who commented but don’t post for IWSG.
I do appreciate all of you! The kind words, the support you give each other, and the push you give me to keep this going strong.

I got a treat in the mail this past week! Robyn sent me an autographed copy of her book, Celibacy and Suburbia. Section two of the book is dedicated to me and the IWSG.
Plus she made a little something special for me.
Originally she mailed it with Hot Tamales inside, but the package returned to her opened and missing the candy. So somewhere out there are postal workers gorging on my Hot Tamales!
Thanks again, Robyn – you rock!

New Release! 
 
Mâtowak Woman Who Cries by Joylene Nowell Butler 

“…a study in prejudice and race relations between white Canadians and First Nations peoples. Readers seeking more diversity in their mysteries will find this an eye opener.” - Library Journal

Find it on Amazon, Kindle, Amazon CA, Kindle CA, and Dancing Lemur Press





Anyone else see Doctor Strange? See the RiffTrax show? Have a I made you a fan yet? Ready for some good, clean fun? Was IWSG day awesome for you? Do you have any autographed books? You don’t have a box of twenty-three year old Yummy Mummy do you…?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Insecure Writer’s Support Group! November Movie Preview, CassaSeries Giveaway, Movie Trivia Answers, 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 Joylene Novell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains!

November Question – What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?
Connecting with others on every level - readers, fans, writers, friends.

The IWSG Anthology Contest has come to a close. There were some excellent entries this year! And a lot more than expected. We’ll be sending the best to the judges within a week or so. Big thanks to those who entered and helped spread the word. You guys rock!

It’s inspiring to read such a variety. It gave me an idea on how I might salvage my scrapped outline. I just need to go deeper and darker.

In the meantime, I was surprised to find out that in addition to my three Cassa books, the complete series is now available as an audio book and for a really great price.


Pick CassaSeries up at iTunes, Audible, and Audible.


And I have one copy to give away!


Be sure to visit other IWSG participants!

Ninja News

RiffTrax: Live – Carnival of Souls was awesome! Review and more pre-show screen shots on Monday.







Many of you know Jean, the Bead Blogger Lady. She’s also a Vine Voice on Amazon and is back to reviewing on her blog, starting with a review of Big Flies

Stephen Hayes is giving away this beautiful painting! He’s an accomplished illustrator (and author) and this would be an incredible addition to anyone’s collection. For details, visit Stephen’s blog.


New releases:

Slient Whispers by Christine Rains
Find it on Amazon

Phantasms by J.L. Campbell
Find it on Amazon

Native Shifter by Cindy Borgne
Native Shifter is a paranormal romance set in the mid 1770’s. It’s the first book in the Freedom Shifters Trilogy.
Find it on Amazon

Movie Trivia Answers

Mainstream Christian Movies –
1 – Jim Caviezel, crucifixion, 2004 - The Passion of the Christ
2 – Cecil B. DeMille, Jesus, 1927 - The King of Kings
3 – Books, Tilda Swinton, 2005 - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
4 – Moses, Yul Brynner, 1956 - The Ten Commandments
5 – Ralph Fiennes, plagues, 1998 - Prince of Egypt
6 – Animated, whale, 2002 - Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie
7 – Keisha Castle-Hughes, Joseph, 2006 - The Nativity Story

November Movie Preview

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

4 –

Doctor Strange
A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.
Director: Scott Derrickson
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong
One part Iron Man, one part harry Potteresque mysticism and you’ve got… oh, what am I saying? This is going to be awesome!

Hacksaw Ridge
WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Director: Mel Gibson
Stars: Teresa Palmer, Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington
If you don’t have time for the two hour movie, just watch the two minute trailer and you’ve pretty much got it.



11 –

Arrival
A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg
Science fiction for those who want their brains engaged. Lasers, space battles, huge explosions, and Charlie Sheen not included.





18-

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
Director: David Yates
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, Zoë Kravitz
One part Iron Man, one part harry Potteresque mysticism and you’ve got… crap, I said that already. Again, going to be awesome!

A Streetcat Named Bob
Based on the international best selling book. The true feel good story of how James Bowen, a busker and recovering drug addict, had his life transformed when he met a stray ginger cat.
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Stars: Bob, Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt
A sequel to the hugely popular Homeless Dog Name Larry and A Poor Ferret Named Earl.



25 –

Moana
A young woman uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui.
Directors: Ron Clements | John Musker | Don Hall | Chris Williams
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Alan Tudyk, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger
One of the few animated releases that doesn’t look like it was created on aisle five at Toys R Us.


Did you enter the IWSG Anthology Contest? What genre would you like to see next year? Feeling lucky? Get any of the movies right? What movies excite you for November? And who is participating in NaNo?

Monday I have a special guest, plus a full rundown of RiffTrax: Live – Carnival of Souls!