Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Dark Matter: Artificial Release Day, Next IWSG Anthology Contest, and May Movie Preview

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 May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

May 5 question - Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?

We need co-hosts this summer! Leave a comment if you can host June, July, or August. We already have two for June.

Our next anthology is now available!

Dark Matter: Artificial
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Discover dark matter’s secrets…

What is an AI’s true role? Will bumbling siblings find their way home from deep space? Dark matter is judging us—are we worthy of existence? Would you step through a portal into another reality? Can the discoverer of dark matter uncover its secrets?

Ten authors explore dark matter, unraveling its secrets and revealing its mysterious nature. Featuring the talents of Stephanie Espinoza Villamor, C.D. Gallant-King, Tara Tyler, Mark Alpert, Olga Godim, Steph Wolmarans, Charles Kowalski, Kim Mannix, Elizabeth Mueller, and Deniz Bevan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a journey across time and space. Prepare for ignition!

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database; articles; monthly blog posting; Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram groups; #IWSGPit, and a newsletter.

Release date: May 4, 2021
Print ISBN 9781939844828 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844835 $4.99v Science Fiction: Collections & Anthologies / Space Exploration / Genetic Engineering

LINKS: Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Barnes and Nobel, and Goodreads

Our official judges:
Dan Koboldt, author and #SFFpit founder
Lynda R. Young, author
Colleen Oefelein, agent, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
Damien Larkin, author
Ion Newcombe, editor and publisher
Julie Gwinn, agent, The Seymour Agency
David Powers King, author

The Seventh Annual IWSG Anthology Contest!

Guidelines and rules:

Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Sweet Romance

Theme: First Love

Submissions accepted:
May 7 - September 1, 2021

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no footers or headers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group. You must belong to at least one aspect of the IWSG to enter.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Our official judges:

Author Nancy Gideon
Nancy Gideon is the award-winning bestseller of over 70 romances ranging from historical, Regency, and series contemporary suspense to dark paranormal and horror, with a couple of produced screenplays and non-fiction writing books tossed into the mix. She’s also written under the pseudonyms Dana Ransom, Rosalyn West, and Lauren Giddings.

Agent Caitlin Blasdell, Liza Dawson Associates
Caitlin Blasdell has been a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates since 2002 with a focus on commercial fiction. Before becoming an agent, she was a senior editor at HarperCollins Publishers.

Author Susan Gourley

Susan Gourley is traditionally published in fantasy and science fiction romance using the name Susan Kelley. She is currently serving as the President of the Pennwriters writing group renowned for the annual conference.

Agent Melissa Gaines, Victress Literary

Author Jennifer Lane
Jennifer Lane writes sports romance and romantic suspense with a psychological twist. She has published nine novels and two short stories, including Behind the Catcher’s Mask as part of the IWSG Masquerade Anthology.

Agent Rachel Beck, Liza Dawson Associates
Rachel Beck joined Liza Dawson Associates in January 2020 after working at a boutique literary agency for four years. She has been in the publishing industry since 2009 and worked at Harlequin editing romance novels for nearly six years before transitioning her skills to the agent world in order to be an advocate and champion for authors.

Author Chrys Fey
Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. Hurricane Crimes, Book One, is an award-winning romantic-suspense novella.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Dancing Lemur Press' imprint, Freedom Fox Press, next year in the IWSG anthology. (Please see their site for general submission guidelines.) Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

This is our seventh anthology contest! In addition to Dark Matter: Artificial, previous titles include Voyagers: The Third Ghost, Masquerade: Oddly Suited, Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, Hero Lost, The Mysteries of Death and Life, and Parallels: Felix Was Here.

May Movie Preview

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

7 –

Wrath of Man
The plot follows H, a cold and mysterious character working at a cash truck company responsible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars around Los Angeles each week.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Josh Hartnett, Rocci Williams
I know it says Guy Ritchie, but it looks like every Jason Statham film ever made…

28 –

A Quiet Place Part II
Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.
Director: John Krasinski
Stars: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy, Noah Jupe
My quiet place too is in the bathroom with my iPad…but they may not be talking about that.

Picking up Dark Matter? Entering the next IWSG Anthology contest? Any movies strike your fancy this month?

Monday, April 19, 2021

Falcon and Winter Soldier, The Head, and New Mutants Reviews; Movie News; and Ninja News

Movies and Series Reviews

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

From the IMDB - Following the events of 'Avengers: Endgame,' Sam Wilson/Falcon and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier team up in a global adventure that tests their abilities -- and their patience.
Sam and Bucky are reluctant comrades but working toward the same end.
The plot revolves around the guys going after a terrorist group called the Flag Smashers.
They’re also at odds with the new Captain America, crowned after the Falcon put the shield in a museum and it was taken out and given to someone new. You can tell there is something off about the new hero.
It’s a little dark but really good so far.

The Head

From the IMDB - Winter has fallen on the South Pole. A small team, known as the Winterers, will remain at the Polaris VI Antarctic Research Station to continue their innovative research, a crucial part in the fight against climate change.
It puts you in mind of John Carpenter’s The Thing ( and they actually watch it!) What happened to those who stayed the long winter? What horrors did the lone survivor witness?
There’s a strong sense of isolation and claustrophobia.
Acting and effects are really good and it’s very tense.
I’m only a couple episodes into it but it’s really intriguing so far.

The New Mutants

From the IMDB - Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.
Released last year, this is a mutants film on a small scale. Almost all of it takes place on the grounds of the facility. So there is an intimacy to the film.
Not everything jived with me, but they did faithfully follow the comics, which I applaud. But it was a bit odd only one person was running the entire facility.
It’s not a great or memorable film, but it did not deserve the bashing it received when released. I enjoyed it.

Other Movie and Series News

Finished the first season of Resident Alien and what a fun ride! Alan Tudyk is perfect for the role. And the ending guarantees a season two.

Just started watching The Nevers. Very interesting and I like the Victorian setting. Will review once I’ve seen a few more episodes.

According to JoBlo, the upcoming first season of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings cost $465 million dollars to make. Yes, you read that right!
They are planning on five seasons total and the other four will not cost that much as most of that went into costumes, props, and initial set design.
Still, that’s quite the gamble.

Production on Aquaman II starts later this year. In addition to Jason Momoa, it will star Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Temuera Morrison, and Pilou Asbæk.
The first film made over a billion dollars worldwide.

Ninja News

There were some great posts for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group on April 7.
One that was just awesome came from Lee Lowery - Trying to avoid controversy in your writing – good luck with that!
Little bit of language, but it’s hysterical.

Some new book releases:

Quilt-Ridden by Elizabeth Craig

Southern Quilting Mysteries | Book 14
Do good fences make good neighbors?
Miss Sissy is a talented member of the Village Quilters guild in tiny Dappled Hills, North Carolina. She’s also somewhat difficult to deal with as her new neighbor, Linton, discovered. Linton doesn’t understand why Miss Sissy’s house is almost entirely covered by thorny weeds like something out of Sleeping Beauty. Miss Sissy, on the other hand, doesn’t understand why that’s any of Linton’s business.
When Linton ends up very dead, Miss Sissy seems to be the obvious suspect. But Beatrice and the other Village Quilters are determined to discover the real murderer and clear Miss Sissy’s name—before the killer strikes again.

Girls Succeed! Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women by J.Q.Rose

Non-fiction eBook for Girls 10-13 years old
Empowering Girls to Dream Big!!

And don’t forget – Dark Matter: Artificial, an IWSG anthology comes out on May 4.
The same day we announce the new anthology contest!

Have you been watching Falcon and Winter Solider or The Head? Have you seen The New Mutants? Surprised by LOTR series’ budget? And do you want to hazard a guess what the next IWSG Anthology Contest will be…?
I will be mostly offline the last week of April. You nutty A-Z Challenge people have fun and I’ll see everyone on May 5 for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Reviews – Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Godzilla vs. Kong, April Movie Releases, 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 April 7 posting of the IWSG are PK Hrezo, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton!

April 7 question - Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

Definitely not a risk taker or one for controversial stuff. I know what works for me and my readers and I stick with it.

Movie Reviews

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Streaming on HBO Max.
I’m proud to say I liked Josh Whedon’s Justice League. It was like a comic book come to life. I do understand that if you weren’t a JL comic book fan, the experience might’ve fell short of your expectations.
Having seen Snyder’s other DC films and as a fan really enjoyed them, I thought they were too heavy-handed and lacked any humor at all. So, the idea of a four hour JL movie caused concern along with curiosity.
Keep in mind, this is not an extended version of the original film. This is an epic reimagining with heart, humor, and gigantic action. This is the film my eight-year-old self, reading his first JL comic book, always wanted to see.
All of the characters get screen time and development. Which may seem like a lot, but four hours goes by in the blink of an eye.
Only forty-plus minutes remain from the original film. And that forty-plus minutes has been repositioned and edited so the story is more coherent.
And if you think Darkseid (who gets screen time now) looks a little like Thanos – well, he came first in the comics! Marvel molded Thanos after Darkseid.
This is on The Avengers or Lord of the Rings epic level of film experience.If you are even slightly interested in DC, JL, or a good movie in general, this is a can’t miss event.
Highly recommended!

Godzilla vs. Kong

Plot is simple – Godzilla begins attacking. Kong can no longer be contained on Skull Island. They decide to take Kong to the entrance of a tunnel that will lead to Hollow Earth and hope he can guide them to an energy source that could defeat Godzilla. (Hey, you’re not watching a Godzilla film for realism!)
Similar to the previous film, the humans’ drama takes a back seat. It’s all about the monster fights, of which there are many. And more than just Godzilla and Kong.
In the Japanese movie, Kong wins, which never set with me. Atomic breath lizard equals flambe ape. But in this film, Kong is very smart and resourceful and knows how to avoid it.
The battles are epic. Lots of destruction.
Special effects are also top notch. It’s amazing the range of expression the manage on the two lead monsters.
Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler are the only two returning cast members. They do their best, but it really is all about the monsters.
I’d still place the first one as the best, just because the human element was better handled. They need a director who can bring out people while featuring the monsters. I really liked this one, just didn’t love it.
Watched this first night on HBO Max and will see it again very soon in the theater for the full experience.

New Releases

Rivals by Jennifer Lane

After landing her dream job as head volleyball coach at Ohio State University, Lauren Chase’s career has become a nightmare. Her only hope of saving her job is to recruit a star player to her team. Too bad the player’s twin has signed a football scholarship for OSU’s chief rival, Michigan. And too bad Michigan coach, Jeremy Trent, sends sparks through Lauren every time they cross paths. But no way will she pursue an attraction to a man who represents the university she hates.
Find it on Amazon

Reaching for Roots by Jemi Fraser

Cartoonist Emmy Rivera loves everything about the quirky town of Bloo Moose, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to put down roots. That’s never worked out for her in the past.
Find it on Amazon Apple, and Barnes and Noble,

April Movie Preview

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

9 -

A crew of astronauts on a multi-generational mission descend into paranoia and madness, not knowing what is real or not.
Director: Neil Burger
Stars: Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp |
They must’ve landed in 2020.

23 –

Mortal Combat
MMA fighter Cole Young seeks out Earth's greatest champions in order to stand against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe.
Director: Simon McQuoid
Stars: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson |
All I can hear is the battle cry – Mortal Combat!!!!

Are you a risk-taker when writing? Seen Zack Snyder’s Justice League? How about Godzilla vs. Kong? Picking up some new books? Either April movie interest you?

Monday, March 15, 2021

Movie Reviews, Chevelle NIRATIAS Review, Prog Madness, and New Releases

Movie Reviews

Boss Level

From the IMDB:
A retired special forces officer is trapped in a never ending time loop on the day of his death.
Basically, it’s Groundhog Day meets John Wick/Deadpool. Looping, violent, and very funny.
It stars Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, and Naomi Watts. Grillo shines as the guy trapped in the loop. Every morning, he wakes up with people trying to kill him. Every day, he makes it a little further, trying to figure out who is behind it all.

There is a lot of humor as Grillo’s character gives a play-by-play of those trying to kill him. Many laugh out moments. It does have a moving story and characters you care about as well.
If you can handle violence and enjoy a good laugh along with a really good story, this is the movie for you. And at ninety minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Monster Hunter

From the IMDB:
When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers.
Directed by Paul W S Anderson (Resident Evil series) and staring Mila Jovovich – and that alone should let you know what type of movie you are in for.
It’s passibly entertaining. The effects are great, but they were obviously more focused on those effects than an actual plot. This results in a shallow experience that’s forgotten the moment the credits finish.
Props to Mila – she’s in her forties and still doing the tough action films. However, the amount of punishment her character endures is ridiculous. (We’re talking Harrison Ford in the fridge level.)
It also stars Tony Jaa and Ron Perlman, and props to Tony as his character was very entertaining.
If you're bored and just want some giant monsters, leave your brain at the door and watch this one.

Chevelle – NIRATIAS Review

This is a very solid album and a stronger effort than the last one, North Corridor.
From their website:
The album draws on Pete's fascination with space travel, simulation theory and a healthy distrust/skepticism of the unknown. NIRATIAS was recorded over 2019 and 2020 with their long time producer, Joe Barresi. After almost 5 years between releases, Chevelle decided that they needed to put music out again, even if the landscape for music is difficult and uncertain. "We decided that pandemic or not, we are a rock band and writing and releasing music is just what we do. Even if it's just for our mental health, it's reason enough to put NIRATIAS out and feel some normalcy and pride in what we have been working on. As music fans, we appreciate this from the bands we follow and we hope our fans will appreciate it too."
Pete Loeffler (lead singer/guitarist/writer) does a great job on the riffs. It’s very creative guitar work.
Highlights are So Long Mother Earth, Peach, Test Test Enough, and Endlessly. The two standouts are Piistol Star and Remember When. Pete knows how to write them. Obviously, as the band has been around twenty-two years now!
Some have accused them of not growing. But they sound like Chevelle and that’s all right – no one else does. (And it’s a rare band that can say that.) This album is very fresh sounding, though. There is more ambient noise and interesting things going on in the background than with any other album.
Obviously, the theme is science fiction. And NIRATIAS stands for Nothing is Real and This is a Simulation.
Highly recommended!

Get Your Prog Madness Bracket Now!

That’s right – the prog bands face off this month and it starts today. So, grab your bracket and get in the competition - The Prog Report
Yes, I am voting Rush all the way through to number one.

New Book Releases

The Upside Down of Nora Gaines by Cathrina Constantine

Nora has visions of horrific things. Things that lurk in the shadows and feast on bones. After moving with her mother into an old farmhouse, Nora discovers a blank journal that fills itself with an ominous warning. A cursed beast is coming for her and time is running out. When the blood moon rises, so shall the beast.
Find it on Amazon

Guns of the West, featuring The Scarred One by Tyler Boone, aka Charles Gramlich

Published through Sundown Press, this collection is available on Kindle for only 99 cents.
Find it on Amazon

Critters and Crises by Jemima Pett

In ten years of short-story writing—mostly flash fiction of 1000 words or fewer—there are definitely favourite themes I return to.
Find it on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo

And finally, the A to Z Challenge kicks off April 1! Blog the letters of the alphabet every day but Sundays. See the site for details and to sign up.

Have you seen Boss Level or Monster Hunter? Are you a Chevelle fan? Playing Prog Madness? Picking up some new books? And are you participating in the A to Z Challenge this year?
Next post – April 7 for IWSG day!

And I will be mostly offline the last two weeks of March.