Monday, November 16, 2020

Science Fiction Tropes, Movie Inspirations, Top Christmas Horror Films, and Armored Saint: Punching the Sky Review

SciFi Trope: Space Travel is Easy

Sci-fi tropes can help us get to the heart of the story by sweeping issues like the difficulties of space travel under the rug. Unless a core element of a science fiction story is about space travel, it makes the most sense to deal in one of the trope methods.

Einstein-Rosen Bridges aka Wormholes aka Gates:
According to various articles, this may be the most scientifically plausible scifi form of travel. Seen in: Stargate, The Expanse, Thor, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Galaxy Quest, and Interstellar.

Closed Time/Space Bubble: Within a space bubble, the traveler can go anywhere on his or her own timeline. Most notably seen in Doctor Who with the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). This is close to the wormhole idea.

Warp Technology/Bending Space: By contracting space in front of the ship and expanding it behind, the ship rides a wave forward. Seen primarily in: Star Trek. This idea of bending space also shows up in Dune.

Hypderdrive/hyperspace/lightspeed/traveling through sub-space: While not considered plausible, this space travel trope shows up in Star Wars, Valerian, and Halo. The Starbursts in Farscape could fit here, too.

Jumpdrives/Teleportation: This takes out the “travel” factor by teleporting space ships or people from one location to another. Seen notably in: Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek (Beam me up, Scotty!) and The Cassa Series by Alex J. Cavanaugh. (Thanks, Tyrean!)

What would be your space travel method of choice?

Liftoff: The Rayatana Series, Book 1

A spaceship in disguise,
An Earth girl searching for a sense of home,
And a Thousand Years’ War between alien races,
All collide on a summer afternoon.

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9889933-8-9
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9889933-9-6
Publisher: Wings of Light Publishing, Gig Harbor, WA, USA
LINKS: Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

About the Author: Tyrean Martinson is an author and teacher from Washington State. As a former fencer and kickboxer, she enjoys writing fight scenes in fast-paced novels and novellas. As a teacher and writing tutor, she loves to get students writing and reading comfortably by any means: talk-to-text, short writing assignments, short stories, novellas, and adventures. She wrote her latest novella, Liftoff, for herself during COVID, but realized it also fits a dream she’s had for a while: to create a short, fast-paced read for teen/YA readers who love popcorn movies, adventure, and sweet romance.
Author Links: Blog, Newsletter, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

Elle Cardy’s Movie Inspirations

With the release of Well of Ash, a YA fantasy novella, Alex invited me to share my inspiration for the story in movies.

The Princess Bride:
My favorite film of all time. It’s full of adventure, excitement, and bravery. And it still has time for a little romance.

The Dark Crystal: Another favorite. A dark power across the land, brave souls overcoming difficult odds, a gorgeous setting. A mystery to unfold, and plenty of adventure.

The NeverEnding Story: A happy, helpful dragon.

The Game of Thrones: Magnificent dragons as companions to a powerful woman. I like the concept.

Well of Ash:
No one knows who built the Great Wells across the world or why. To linger near makes the skin crawl and the mind drift in nightmares. Yet this one calls to Ash in whispers that pull her closer. Soon she’s caught in a mystery that can kill. She must find the answers before she loses her sanity, or worse, her life.

If you like dragons, magic, and a fierce heroine with a mystery to unfold, then you’ll love Well of Ash, a YA Fantasy novella by Elle Cardy. Available now as an eBook and paperback on Amazon. OR, for a limited time, pick up a free copy when you join Elle’s VIP newsletter club.

Elle Cardy’s hang-outs: website, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads

Top Ten Christmas Horror Movies

The holidays and horror aren’t as far apart as you might think. And some of the best horror films have been Christmas-related. These often play on underlying family issues and stresses, with the jovial feel of the season counterbalancing the horrors on the screen.

10. Jack Frost (1996): Just saw this one for the first time last year, and it’s one psychotic ride. Unexpected and cheesy. While there’s humor in it, I wouldn’t put this in the same category as other horror-comedies mentioned.
9. A Christmas Horror Story (2015): Unlike the other films on this list, this one’s an anthology of shorter horror stories wrapped into an overarching story line. The Santa in this one is a bit different than the norm. Each of the stories is a slow burn, so sit back and enjoy.
8. Better Watch Out (2017): A terrifying home invasion turns out to be something completely different. While babysitting a young boy, the babysitter has to deal with a crush she doesn’t reciprocate while arguing with her boyfriend via text. Strange things start to happen, including noises upstairs in the house. It’s not Santa up there. Soon, a twist reveals itself.
7. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984): An orphan who saw his parents murdered by a man dressed as Santa is required to play Santa at the toy store where he works, bringing back bad memories and trauma that spur him into a murderous spree. A classic that you should watch at least once, it has its cheesy moments, but all horror should have a little cheese.
6. Anna and the Apocalypse (2018): It’s a Christmas Zombie Musical, you guys. Funny, sometimes gory, with real heart behind it all, it’s a fun watch for the holidays.

5. Rare Exports (2010):
This Finnish film involves a boy finding Santa’s tomb, only Santa isn’t the man you think he is. With bits of humor and plenty of horror, this one is all about finding the children going missing.
4. Scrooged (1988): Though not strictly horror, this is certainly a dark comedy. Bill Murray is the Scrooge in this situation, a television producer (I believe), who has a blackened heart of coal. The ghosts, including a hysterically psychotic Carol Kane, visit him and show him what will happen if he continues on in this way. Set against the backdrop of a ridiculous Christmas special with scantily clad dancers, an employee who’s been fired and loses it, and a lost love.
3. Gremlins (1984): Who doesn’t love Gremlins? A small town is beset by gremlins, who get into everything, wreaking havoc and mayhem. Phoebe Cates’ character delivering a dramatic monologue about her chimney is a top moment, but the pure ridiculousness of these creatures who kill with glee and sense of humor is not to be missed.
2. Krampus (2015): I saw this one in theaters, which was perfect. The film itself is tongue-in-cheek, while dealing out some real frights. A young boy struggling with his parents’ rocky marriage and the invasion of nasty relatives tears up his letter to Santa and makes a wish that comes true in the worst ways possible. The opening montage of a mall leading up to Christmas is crazy and sets the mood for the rest of the film.

1. Black Christmas (1974):
This film features Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey as students in a sorority. Kidder’s role was a lot of fun, with her being on the naughty list, while Hussey’s character is decidedly at the top of the nice list. A caller keeps calling to harass them, with the girls being picked off one-by-one. The caller’s voice and the things he says are maniacal and raised goosebumps the first time I saw it.

I hope you enjoy at least one Christmas horror film this year. While you’re at it, check out my holiday horror collection of short stories! Releasing November 20, it will be widely available online. You can pre-order the Kindle version now!

Find Happy Ghoulidays: A Collection of Holiday Horror Short Stories on Amazon
Find Shannon at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon author page

Armored Saint – Punching the Sky Review

Armored Saint is one of those blue-collar bands that earned a rep for no nonsense straight up hard rock. They are a criminally underrated band that has been making music since 1982 (minus a six or so year split while lead singer John Bush joined Anthrax).
I became a fan in 1991 when they released ‘Symbol of Salvation” which earns a place in my catalog because it’s a beast. So many catchy tracks! I lost track of them for a time after they reformed in 1999, but I’m so glad I rediscovered them. These guys know how to write a great song. So, thirty-eight years since they formed (let that sink in for a moment) they have just released their eighth studio album and it does not disappoint.
This is not an old band just phoning it in, this feels fresh and crackles with great musical energy. “End of the Attention Span”, “Bubble”, “Do Wrong to None”, “Fly in the Ointment” and “Never You Fret” are killer tracks. Hats off to the band for their commitment to creating quality tunes that stick in your brain. These guys are passionate about their craft with great musicianship and quality production. Here’s to thirty-eight more years of rock from Armored Saint.

What’s your favorite way to travel through space? What movies have inspired you? Favorite Christmas horror films? Fan of Armored Saint?
To my American friends, have an awesome Thanksgiving. I will see you again on December 2 for the next Insecure Writer’s Support Group posting – last of 2020! (Feels good to say that, doesn’t it?)

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Insecure Writers Support Group, November Movie Releases, Book Sale, and New Books!

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 for the November 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

November 4 question - Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

Let me start with saying as writers, we need to work harder on that first quote.

My answer is simple – I write to read what I can’t find elsewhere.

And...I got my manuscript back from my last test reader and am now editing!

Ninja News
My publisher is doing a holiday sale-

Buy 1 print book, get 1 print book free
Buy 1 eBook, get 1 eBook free
Buy 1 audio book, get 1 audio book free
Print & eBooks – must be purchased directly from Dancing Lemur Press’ website; free book must be same price or lower; when paying, note your desired free book in the comments section; free swag provided with print orders
Audio books – purchase from Audible, iTunes, or Amazon and send us your receipt stating your desired free audio book and we will send you a code for a free audio book: free audio book must be same price or lower
Offer good through December 10, 2020
Visit Dancing Lemur Press and explore their titles.

New books:

Flip my Heart by Elizabeth Seckman

Some hearts are fixer-uppers, hers is a total flip.

Find it on Amazon

Knot a Clue by Elizabeth S. Craig

Southern Quilting Mysteries | Book 13

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to go to work.

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

Shooting by the Sea by Ellen Jacobson

A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery Book 5

When Mollie McGhie attends the grand opening of her friend’s nail salon, she’s looking forward to getting a manicure and sipping on champagne. The event is going great until Mollie discovers a dead body nearby and her friend’s brother is arrested for murder.

Find it through all major retailers HERE

For Opal by Yolanda Renée

For Opal is a collection of poems written in memory of Lilly Opal Stansberry, my grandmother, and the inspiration for my writing.

Find it on Amazon

November Movie Releases

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for November! (And it’s slim pickens.) As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

6 –

Fantasy adventure origin story about a young man discovering he has God-like powers based on ancient Norwegian mythology.
Director: André Øvredal
Stars: Nat Wolff, Priyanka Bose, Iben Akerlie, Arthur Hakalahti
The incredibly true story of how Thor became Chris Helmsworth.

27 –

Stardust will chronicle the young David Bowie's first visit to the US in 1971 - a trip that inspired the invention of his iconic alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
Director: Gabriel Range
Stars: Jena Malone, Johnny Flynn, Marc Maron, Aaron Poole
Between David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, Elton John must wonder if people still know he’s alive.

Why do you write? Ready for some new books? Either movie pique your interest?
I will be back with a guest and some movie and music reviews on November 16!

And everyone visit the IWSG Anthologies blog for my article on how to Twitter Pitch with Gusto!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Ayreon-Transitus Review; Movie Reviews – Tenet, The Addams Family, Vampires vs. the Bronx; and Princelings Revolution

Movie Reviews


From director Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight) comes another mind-twist of a movie that deals with the concept of inversion. A man known as the Protagonist is given one word, Tenet, and sent off to save the world. This was the first major film released since March and I finally got to see it in the theater.

Nolan likes to take your brain and put it in a blender. Like Inception, this is very high-concept science fiction. You really have to pay attention from the beginning to the end. Everything you see ties together in one place or another – it’s very intricate and layered.

It was certainly more humorous than I’d been led to believe. And of course the action scenes were incredible. They have to be seen on the big screen, especially the scene with the airplane crashing into the building. (Which was done in one take!)

The entire cast is great. John David Washington (Denzel Washington’s son) plays the Protagonist and just excels in the role. Robert Pattison is the one who helps him and after seeing him in this role, I can definitely see him as Batman. Kenneth Branagh exudes deadly, cold villainy and Elizabeth Debicki as his trapped wife brings a strong human element to the story. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla) rounds out the cast.

The only knock on the film has to do with the background sound/music sometimes overwhelming the dialogue, and in a film where you really have to hear every word, that makes it a challenge. Not sure if that was a production issue or a theater issue.

Definitely one of Nolan’s best, although I’m sure not everyone will love it. I did and can’t wait to see it again. (And I just might since not much else is coming out right now.)

Highly recommended!

The Addams Family

From the IMDB:
The eccentrically macabre family moves to a bland suburb where Wednesday Addams' friendship with the daughter of a hostile and conformist local reality show host exacerbates conflict between the families.
Featuring the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Finn Wolfhard.
We watched this with low expectations since there have been so many incarnations of the Addams Family. However, we were pleasantly surprised.
It keeps the feel of the family, their relationships, their home life, etc. while putting a fresh spin on the tale.
There are a lot of funny moments. Keep your eye on their pet lion.
The animation is simple but stylish and the plot keeps moving at a good pace.

Vampires vs. the Bronx

A group of kids who want to battle the company purchasing all the local businesses but what they end up battling are vampires.
This debuted this month on NetFlix and it’s very similar to Attack the Block. Not as good or funny but it tries. This mostly stems from unoriginality and some borrowed scenes from other films, such as Lost Boys.
However, what does make the film enjoyable are the three lead boys. They play well off each other and elevate the quality of the story.
Worth a watch if you’re bored.

Ayreon – Transitus Review

Another double concept album from the brilliance that is Arjen (Ayreon) Lucassen.

The story –
This album departs from the science fiction theme and returns to a Human Equation story. It’s the 1890’s and Daniel, son of a wealthy white man, falls in love with Abby, one of their black servants. The album opens with a fire killing Daniel and Abby believing she is responsible. Daniel finds himself in Transitus and asks the Angel of Death to let him plead his case and clear Abby’s name. The angel takes him to when he first met Abby and then back to the present and everything that happens after his death.

The musicians –

Tommy Karevik, an Ayreon regular, sings the role of Daniel. Cammie Gilbert is Abby and she brings a lot of passion and soul to the role. Tom Baker (Doctor Who!) is the storyteller and does an outstanding job. Ayreon regular Marcela Bouio sings several parts and Michal Mills has fun as the statue. (But what do I know? I’m just a dumb piece of rock!) And for the American fans, they get Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) in the role of the father. Joost VanDen Broek is in his standard place at the keyboards and Joe Satriani even plays on one song. New additions to the vast array of musicians include someone playing a Hurdy Gurdy and the choir Hellscore.

The music –

This is probably Ayreon’s most accessible albums. It’s still prog rock but not as complex as usual. It’s more of a rock opera than anything else.
Disc two has a couple flat spots but otherwise it moves at a fast pace. It definitely sounds like Ayreon.
I got the full boxed set with two extra discs, a DVD, and the full graphic novel. (Which really helps when trying to follow the story.)
If you’re a fan, then it’s a must get!

Visit Arjen Lucassen’s site for more Ayreon information and details.

The Princelings of the East – The Movie

I finished my ten-books series last week/month, with the launch of Princelings Revolution. Of course, now I’m thinking about the movie rights.

The Princelings of the East - the movie
What would it look like?

Imagine if Lord of the Rings met the Aviator and spiced it up with Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. I think that just about does it.

Grand sweeping vistas, princelings George and Fred travelling from castle to castle, battling misunderstandings, pirates, intrigue and self-interest. Fred eventually gets promoted to king, with all the trouble that brings, while George continues the mad inventor trope, developing from basic biplanes to super-sleek flying boats, all running on strawberry juice fuel.

Who would be in it?
I’ve always imagined Fred as Ewan MacGregor, even if he (like me) has got a lot older in the last ten years. Viggo Mortensen would still cut a dash as the noble Prince Lupin of Buckmore. Ann Hathaway as Lady Nimrod, Keira Knightly as Princess Kira. I’m not sure who would play George, but maybe Ewan could double up, as they are twins, after all.

Ready to sign them up?
If you want the movie rights, get in touch, otherwise buy the books (ebook, paperback or audio).

Buy Princelings Revolution at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords
Find Jemima Pett - Blog, Website, Twitter, and Facebook

Anyone else venture out to see Tenet? Heard the latest from Ayreon? (So many great musicians!) Seen The Addams Family or Vampires vs. the Bronx? Want to see a Princelings movie?
I will be back on November 4 for the next installment of the IWSG!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Enola Holmes Review, October Movie Preview, 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.

The awesome co-hosts today are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!

Need IWSG co-hosts for November! At least four, five is even better. (We have none at the moment.)
And two more for December and hosts for January. (Which is when we’ll announce the winners of the IWSG Anthology Contest.)
Leave a comment or email me if you can host any of those months.

October 7 question - When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

Good question! I picture a working writer as someone who makes a good portion of their income from their writing. (It could mean a writer who is still working a job, but that doesn’t sound as fun.) As for me, unless I’m writing after retiring (which isn’t too far away), being an author will remain a side project.

Now, guitarist in a prog band – I can picture that!

Enola Holmes Review

From the IMDB:
When Enola Holmes-Sherlock's teen sister-discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord.
Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, and Louis Partridge
Based on a young adult book series.
This debuted on NetFlix last month and certainly rates as one of their best productions. If you enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr., you will enjoy this film. Definitely a lighter version, though – more family friendly. It’s a blend of Young Sherlock Holmes and the Guy Richie films.
It’s quirky, fun, and Enola breaks the fourth barrier several times. Brown is perfect in the role as Enola and very resourceful. Cavil’s reserved Sherlock is more true to the books, so don’t expect Robert Downey Jr. craziness.
The production values are excellent and you really feel like you are in Victorian England. This is top notch cinema from NetFlix.
Highly recommended.

New Releases!

Psycho Hose Beast From Outer Space by CD Gallant-King

Gale Harbour hasn’t seen any excitement since the military abandoned the base there thirty years ago, unless you count the Tuesday night 2-for-1 video rentals at Jerry's Video Shack. So when a dead body turns up floating in the town water supply, all evidence seems to point to a boring accident.

Find it on Amazon, Amazon CA, and Amazon UK

Frozen Crimes by Chrys Fey

Beth and Donovan are expecting their first child. Life couldn't get any better...until a stalker makes his presence known. This person sends disturbing messages and unsettling items, but it isn't long before his menacing goes too far.

Find it at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play

October Movie Releases

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for October. (And our theaters are open now – I can finally go see a movie again!) As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

9 –

Honest Thief
Wanting to lead an honest life, a notorious bank robber turns himself in, only to be double-crossed by two ruthless FBI agents.
Director: Mark Williams
Stars: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan
Neeson says ‘Give me back my son!’ while being attacked by wolves on a train…

16 –

When an outbreak hits, Aidan barricades himself inside his apartment and starts rationing food. His complex is overrun by infected Screamers, and with the world falling apart into chaos, he is left completely alone fighting for his life.
Director: Johnny Martin
Stars: Donald Sutherland, Tyler Posey, Robert Ri'chard, John Posey
Isn’t this plot the year we’ve just lived through?

23 –

Two New Orleans paramedics' lives are ripped apart after they encounter a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects.
Directors: Justin Benson | Aaron Moorhead
Stars: Jamie Dornan, Anthony Mackie, Katie Aselton, Ally Ioannides
I like a movie that scoops out my brain with a melon ball and plays with it.

What does a working writer look like to you? Seen Enola Holmes yet? Ready to hit the theater again? And who can co-host in the coming months?
 I’ll be back October 19 with a guest, movie reviews, and a review of Ayeron’s latest double concept album, Transitus. (Hint- it’s awesome!)