Monday, January 28, 2019

Masquerade: Oddly Suited Cover, February Movie Preview, IWSG Admins, Game Trivia Answers, and New Releases

There is a Facebook party this Saturday, February 2, for Charity Bradford’s new release, The Hand of Atua. She is giving away copies of her favorite science fiction books, including one of mine!

Be sure to log into her Facebook event page and check it out.


Congratulations, Charity!



IWSG Anthology Cover Reveal!

And now, the cover of our next anthology, Masquerade: Oddly Suited…


Masquerade: Oddly Suited
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Release date – April 30, 2019
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/Contemporary
Print ISBN 9781939844644
EBook ISBN 9781939844651

Find love at the ball…

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual Traveler or a virtual date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…


Who's ready for a party now?


Sadly, the IWSG is losing two of its admins - Lynda Young, who was second-in-command, and Joy Campbell are both stepping down. They have been with the IWSG Admin Team since the site began and will be missed. Thank you ladies for all of your help getting the IWSG to where it is today!

However, we’re not ending on a sad note - Elizabeth Seckman has joined the IWSG Admin Team! She will be in charge of the Publishers/Agents/Queries page and active on Facebook, as well as contributing to the site, the newsletter, and other areas.
Welcome to the team, Elizabeth!

New Releases

Anything Once by Meka James
Quinn has been happily married for ten years. Her relationship with Ian is built on love, trust, and honesty. At least that's what she thought...until a four-letter word changed everything.
Find it on Amazon

The Winner’s Circle by PJ Colando
FAITH... FAMILY... FRENZY!
Life in rural small town can dull the senses. A trio of gal pals--mired in middle age, Middle America, and other people's problems--long to escape.
Buy it in hardback, paperback, and eBook

Blood of My Sisters by Mel Chesley
Meet Isla Black. A young "Book Witch", one not born to a pure bloodline, but who learns through reading books and practicing spells. When she opens a portal on her own, the Seven Sisters are alerted of her power in the magical arts and whisk her away to the Sacred Heart Academy.
Find it on Amazon



Game Trivia Answers

Here are the answers to the board game trivia questions:

1 – If you don’t win, you’ll be… - Sorry
2 – Specialty dice for this popular game - D&D
3 – You will learn about this as you play - Life
4 – Second game in a series – first one was about islands – Forbidden Desert
5 – A thinking game - Chess
6 – Variation on an old classic – Tri-Ominoes
7 – Another variation – onward and… - Upwords
8 – Where it pays to be a slumlord - Monopoly



February Movie Preview

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

1 –

Artic
A man stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive.
Director: Joe Penna
Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir
Hopefully they aren’t attacked by wolves or a feral Liam Neeson



8 –

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot
A legendary American war veteran is recruited to hunt a mythical creature.
Director: Robert D. Krzykowski
Stars: Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Ron Livingston
And the Oscar for strangest movie title ever goes to…




15 –

Alita: Battle Angel
An action-packed story of one young woman's journey to discover the truth of who she is and her fight to change the world.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Stars: Rosa Salazar, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Eiza González
Saw the first anime and read the manga, loved both – please don’t screw it up, Robert Rodriguez.



22 –

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
When Hiccup discovers Toothless isn't the only Night Fury, he must seek "The Hidden World", a secret Dragon Utopia before a hired tyrant named Grimmel finds it first. Director: Dean DeBlois
Stars: Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Kit Harington
Or as I like to call it, How to Depress Your Children…


Looking forward to Masquerade: Oddly Suited? Picking up some new books? Get the board pieces right? And what movies catch your eye for February?
Don’t forget the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post day is February 6 – see you then!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Board Game Reviews: Ghost Stories, Star Trek, and Reign of Cthulhu; Top Prog Albums of 2018, Trivia, and Ninja News

Board Game Reviews

We play a lot of board games in our house. (Actually, a lot of all sorts of games.) We really enjoy the cooperative ones, as we win or lose together.
Board games have come a long way. I thought I would share some of the games we’ve enjoyed this past year.

Ghost Stories

From Board Game Geek:
Ghost Stories is a cooperative game in which the players protect the village from incarnations of the lord of hell – Wu-Feng – and his legions of ghosts before they haunt a town and recover the ashes that will allow him to return to life. Each Player represents a Taoist monk working together with the others to fight off waves of ghosts.

I recommend watching a couple YouTube videos first before attempting play. Once you get the hang of it though, this game is a lot of fun and sometimes a bit frustrating.

Each player begins his turn by bringing out a ghost/card. He then decides where he will move and what he will do. Each of the four Taoist pieces has two sets of special abilities and you decide which ones to use for the game. Some can move to any tile, some can fight two ghosts. Each tile is a villager with a special ability – setting Budda bombs, bringing a player back from the dead, etc. The goal is to survive to fight the boss ghost (card always placed tenth from the bottom in the deck) and then beat the boss ghost. Add in dice, tokens, and ghost figures moving in to haunt the town and you have one interesting game.

We really enjoy this one. There are four Taoists, so my wife and I each play two, but it’s still fun that way. Together we plot out the best strategy for beating ghosts, keeping the board from becoming overrun with ghosts, and gathering the right color tokens to win in the end. There are multiple boss ghosts (you pick blindly which one will be in the deck) and some are easy while others I pray we never get.

The frustrating comes from when a ghost card spawns another ghost – and then yet another ghost – or your dice rolls suck. (That’s right, Ray – don’t roll a one.) If you’re not on top of things (or you draw really crappy ghosts from the beginning) the board can become overrun rather quickly.

But beating that boss ghost at the end is so satisfying!

Star Trek the original series Road Trip

From the rulebook: Travel the game board of uncharted systems and planets to compete in Starfleet Academy's “Enterprise Challenge." Carry out board actions, gain phaser tokens, and acquire access codes to enter deep space in order to collect federation tokens. Be the first cadet to complete your score card by returning all 4 unique federation tokens to your dormitory and win the prestigious “Enterprise Challenge.”

Up to four players, you do play against one another. The race is one to get a token that allows you through one of the color-coded passages into deep space. Once you have a federation token, it’s a race to get back to your dorm and secure it. Along the way you can pick up action cards (good) and 50/50 cards (usually not good) and extra phaser tokens.

You also have to fight hostiles – how many depend on the space you land on. Then it becomes a battles of dice rolls to see who wins. Sometimes it takes several rolls. And many phaser tokens.

Everything can be going great – and then you land on detour that sends you to the other side of the board and away from where you were trying to get to. Or you lose the Federation token before reaching your dorm. Those things keep it as anyone’s game until it’s over.

It’s simple, quick to play, and fun.

Pandemic – Reign of Cthulhu

If you’ve played Pandemic, it’s the same basic premise of preventing an outbreak across the world. Only this time, you are trying to stop the evil Old Ones from taking over.

Each player selects an investigator card and each investigator comes with certain bonus qualities – the ability to kill three cultists at once, travel to any town without using a town card, etc. Players start with four sanity tokens, cultists and one shoggoth are randomly placed within the four cities (Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth, and Kingsport), and then the race is one to seal the gate in each town.

Players have four actions they can take each turn: move, take a bus, trade a card, kill a cultist, defeat a shoggoth, or seal a gate. They draw cards that correspond to the towns and it takes five of any one color to close a gate. Then there are the summoning cards which places new cultists on the deck. Or worse, evil stirs and a new Old One comes forth.

This cooperative game is a lot of fun. Two to four players work together, using each character’s strength, to wipe out cultists, defeat shoggoths as they appear, and close gates. Working against you are the Old Ones appearing (some of them mess with abilities), losing sanity points, and too many cultists appearing to control.

Even if you’ve never played Pandemic, you’ll have a lot of fun playing. And if you’re into Lovecraft and Cthulhu, you’ll really love it.

Tomb of Annihilation Board Game

From Board Game Geek:
Tomb of Annihilation Board Game is a cooperative adventure design in the same series as Castle Ravenloft that's based on the "Tomb of Annihilation" storyline for Dungeons & Dragons: 5th Edition.

We just got this game, so I’m still working my way through YouTube videos to figure it out, but it’s highly rated and looks like a ton of fun. I’ll post a review later this year.

Ninja News


The #IWSGPit Twitter pitch is once a year now – and the next one is Tuesday, January 15!.
If you’re reading this Monday, that’s tomorrow!
Don’t miss it.



New releases!
Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Book Reviews! by Toi Thomas
Have you ever wondered why it seems authors are often whining about book reviews? What's the big deal anyway? How much of a difference could your one book review really make? In this opinion piece, ten-time self-published author and blogger, Toi Thomas, discusses candidly why book reviewing culture isn't what it should be.
Find it on Amazon

Rob’s Choice by Sandra Albrich Almazan 
Find it online at these retailers.







Best Progressive Rock Albums of 2018

Continuing my best of 2018 series, I’m diving into music next. And since prog rock is my favorite,it’s the best of prog rock albums.

6 - Joe Satriani – What Happens Next -  This is Joe's best album in years. Amazing start to finish.

5 – Ayreon – Universe - Everything about this live performance is stunning. The number of well-known singers is pretty spectacular.

4 – Seventh Wonder – Tiara - Back from a very long hiatus, they continue to create intricate prog that is also catchy and accessible.

3 – Khemmis – Desolation - Continues to be one of the most interesting new band on the scene. This is a great follow-up to Hunted.

2 – Haken – Vector - They continue to re-invent themselves with each album. Vector is complex, heavy, and catchy.

1 – Amorphis – Queen of Time - While I love all of the other albums on this list, this is hands-down the best album of the year. Every song is incredible without a dud in bunch!

Board Game Trivia

Since I reviewed some board games today, the trivia is all about board game pieces. Guess the game from the board pieces:

1 – If you don’t win, you’ll be…


2 – Specialty dice for this popular game.


3 - You will learn about this as you play.

4 – Second game in a series – first one was about islands.

5 – A thinking game.

6 – Variation on an old classic.

7 – Another variation – onward and…

8 – Where it pays to be a slumlord.

Answers in two weeks!


Have you played any of those board games? Participating in #IWSGPit? Fans of any of those bands? (Why not?!) And can you guess the trivia…?
Since January 21 is a holiday (and a three-day weekend), I’ll be offline, but I’ll return with a post on January 28.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Fallout 76 Review, Best Movies of 2018, The Haunting of Hill House Review, and Movie and IWSG news

Fallout 76 Review

The premise of the game – you are among the first to leave the vaults to wander the wasteland after a nuclear fallout that has wiped the planet clean. It actually takes place before the other versions of the game.

I was on the fence about this game. I’m a huge fan of the series, but multi-player online games are not my thing. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised!

The game certainly feels like Fallout. It builds upon the ideas brought forth in Fallout 4 of establishing a base camp that you can build up. (It’s where all of your junk is protected.) There are objectives you must complete which help you level up. But the true joy lies in the ability to wander anywhere and find new things.

The game has no more than twenty-four players in one map area. The world is so big though that it’s rare I run across anyone else.

The weirdest thing - no human NPC. (Non Player Characters) Everything you encounter is either robots, super mutants, or computers.

The West Virginia scenery is spectacular. It’s detailed and complete – in an abandoned town, you can enter any open building and explore.

There have been some glitches. The server has kicked me off a few times. Higher level players traveling through the map spawn higher level creatures. (Translation – run away!) And after a player visits an area, it’s wiped clean of creatures and junk rather than restocked.

Minor problems aside, this game has received a lot of flack and I don’t understand the haters. I’ve enjoyed my time wandering the wasteland. If you’ve enjoyed the other games in the series, there’s a lot of fun to be had in this one.

Highly recommended! Now, pass the Nuka Cola.

The Haunting of Hill House Review

From the IMDB - Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it.

Just finished watching this series on NetFlix. And it’s probably one of the most unconventional horror stories I’ve ever seen. It works just as well as a drama as it does a horror series.

Each episode shines the focus on one particular character, revealing the scarring effect Hill House took on their lives. The actors do a fantastic job portraying a family fractured and broken. I enjoyed the series, although it was difficult watching people struggle and deal with deep, emotional pain.

While the horror aspects are creepy and disturbing, this is more of a series for people who like deep family drama. Think Ordinary People meets Poltergeist and you have a good idea about the type of ride you’re in for.

The house setting is amazing. It has a life of its own, almost like the house in del Toro’s Crimson Peaks. And indeed, the house is alive, and hungry…

Highly recommended

Movie News


Aquaman's worldwide grosses were $940 million as of Sunday morning - and it's still number one at the box office! 
It will easily sail over one billion in the next day or so, becoming the number one DC movie ever made, overtaking The Dark Knight.
Take that, haters!


Watch for an extended trailer of Captain Marvel during the College Football National Championship game on ESPN on January 7. Considering who is playing (yet again!) it’s the only reason to watch the game…

There will be a sequel to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan all return to reprise their roles. Jake Kasdan also returns as the director. Plus Danny DeVito will join the cast – read more at JoBlo’s Site.

JoBlo also posted his Top Ten Best Movies of 2018 list. A couple I haven’t seen, but he has some great picks.

IWSG News

The #IWSGPit Twitter pitch is once a year now – and the next one is on January 15!.
You have a week – don’t miss it.




Here are the prompts for January over at the IWSG Insgram:


Best of 2018 - Movies

Lists are popping up everywhere. Everyone has an opinion. Some go with favorites, some with Oscar quality, and some use the box office to guide them. I’m going to give you a list of what I thought were some of the best films of 2018 and also some of my personal favorites. Let’s start the countdown…

10 – Black Panther – Black Panther was cool but it’s the two female leads who steal the show.

9 – Deadpool 2 – Very funny sequel – I so want Domino’s super powers.

8 – Solo – Crap on it all you want, this was an incredibly fun and entertaining movie!

7 – Bumblebee – My favorite 80’s film that came out in 2018 – so much fun.

6 – A Quiet Place – Tense, powerful, and surprising.

5 – Ant Man and the Wasp – The fun factor in this one was turned up to eleven.

4 – Mission Impossible: Fallout – I was literally on the edge of my seat for the last thirty minutes of this film!

3 – Aquaman – This is the film the ten-year-old in me always wanted to see about my favorite superhero!

2 – SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse – The most surprising entry on this list – this film is incredible with ground breaking animation.

1 – Avengers: Infinity War – What else can be said about the most spectacular ensemble of superheroes and set pieces ever put together?


Anyone else playing Fallout 76? Watched The Haunting of Hill House? Ready for #IWSGPit? And what are your favorite movies of 2018?
Next week – another best of list, board games, and some trivia!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

IWSG Anthology Contest Winners and #IWSGPit! Plus Aquaman and Bumblebee Reviews, January Movie Preview, and Hellboy Trailer

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.

The awesome co-hosts today are Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

Today’s question - What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?


The #IWSGPit Twitter pitch is once a year now – and the next one is on January 15!.
Hundreds of agents and publishers will be checking the hashtag that day.
For rules and list of genre hashtags, visit the #IWSGPit page.
The IWSG Admins will be monitoring the feed. Get those Twitter pitches ready – you have two weeks!


IWSG Anthology Contest Winners

Here are the stories and authors that have been selected for our fourth anthology:

Oddly Suited by LG Keltner
Sea of Sorrows by AV Brown
Behind the Catcher’s Mask by Jennifer Lane
A Diver’s Ball by Angela Brown
Fearless Heart by Deborah Solice
The Dark Charade by CD Gallant-King
The Cog Prince by Elizabeth Mueller
Flower of Ronda by Myles Christensen
Remedy by Chelsea Ballard
Charleston Masquerade by Carrie-Anne Brownian

The top story has the honors of being included in the title. LG Keltner’s story came out on top! The official title of our next anthology – Masquerade: Oddly Suited. Congratulations, LG. (She was also in the top spot for our first anthology, Parallels: Felix Was Here.)

The IWSG Admins spent many hours reading the entries and fourteen were sent to our special judges. We certainly wish to thank them for taking time away from their own work to read the entries:

Elizabeth S. Craig, author
Kelly Van Sant, agent at Red Sofa Literary Agency
Elana Johnson, author
DL Hammons, Write Club founder
S.A. Larsen,author
Kristin Smith, author
Gwen Gardner, author and previous IWSG anthology winner

Look for Masquerade: Oddly Suited late spring!

Aquaman Review

This is the Aquaman movie the ten-year-old me always wanted to see!
Taking place after Justice League, it serves as an origins story.
The director went for it and the result is an incredibly fun film. It delves further into the mythos than I thought it would. It’s a little corny at times, but not in a bad way. Some of it, especially the dialogue, is intended and it works.
The special effects – again, wow! The creatures, the underwater world – just breathtaking.
Jason Momoa is perfect as Aquaman. He brings swagger, humor, and strength to the role.
All of the characters are played well, with standouts from Nicole Kidman as his mother, Willem Dafoe as Vulko, and Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus. I really liked the relationship between Aquaman and Mera, played by Amber Heard.
It also introduced my favorite Aquaman villain, the Black Manta. He will be back!
Just a fun, incredibly entertaining film and a great direction for the DC universe.
Highly recommended!

Bumblebee Review

The past few Transformers movies have been awful, but a new director and a ninety-three percent on Rotten Tomatoes compelled me to go see it. And I’m glad I did!
Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), it’s heartfelt and very character driven. It’s a great movie that just happens to have some Transformers in it.
It takes place in the 80’s and is loaded with 80’s songs, but it also feels like it was made in the 80’s. The family elements have a very Steven Spielberg feel. Less is definitely more in this movie and the focus is on the wonder and the mayhem.
If you’ve been burned by the Michael Bay movies, rest assured – this one is nothing like any of those films. It has heart, characters with depth, and a compelling and moving story.
Highly recommended.





January Movie Preview

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

11 -

Replicas
A scientist becomes obsessed with bringing back his family members who died in a traffic accident.
Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, Emily Alyn Lind
Reminds me of a hundred other science fiction films I’ve already seen…


18 -

Glass
Security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Bruce Willis, Luke Kirby, Anya Taylor-Joy, James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson
Still not sure of Shyamalan is back although I’m not hoping he will fail…again.


And since there are so few releases in January, let me end with the trailer for the Hellboy reboot:




Are you ready for #IWSGPit? What genre should we tackle next for the IWSG Anthology Contest? (We’ve had science fiction, fantasy, mystery/crime/thriller, and young adult.) Excited about Masquerade: Oddly Suited? Did you catch Aquaman or Bumblebee? What’s the next film on your radar?
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and you're ready for 2019!