Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, #IWSGPit, Godzilla x Kong Review, April 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 for the April 3 posting of the IWSG are Janet Alcorn, T. Powell Coltrin, Natalie Aguirre, and Pat Garcia!

April 3 question - How long have you been blogging? (Or on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?) What do you like about it and how has it changed?

I began blogging fifteen years ago. It took me a year or so to find my footing. Then blogging just exploded. The A to Z Challenge. I was a Blog of Note. Then I began the Insecure Writers Support Group. It was a roller coaster ride.
Things began to change maybe six-seven years ago. The pandemic didn’t help. Blogging has since really dipped.
However, the core people involved are still going strong! New people join the IWSG every month. I am grateful for those of you who still blog every month for the IWSG. And stop by here once or twice a month for some movie, music, and writing stuff. This is still a great way to connect.

I want to take a moment to thank all of the writers, publishers, and agents who participated in #IWSGPit on March 27. Tweets were into five digits, with tons of pitches and many Tweets from agents and publishers. I also want to thank the IWSG admins who monitored the thread that day, including previous admins Elizabeth Seckman and Tyrean Martinson.
This will likely be our last pitch event, as we simply don’t have enough admins to cover all the shifts. That might change in the future or we’ll choose another platform. Either way, we appreciate those of you who’ve participated in our nine events.
And if you land a publisher or agent from this last one, please let us know!

Movie Review – Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

The fifth in the franchise (and fourth with Godzilla), this one goes for it in a big way.
Plot – strange signal coming from Hollow Earth, where Kong lives. The signal triggers Godzilla to attack more Titans. A crew ventures down to see what’s happening and Kong finds a tribe of giant apes. Battles ensue.
Heck with the plot - all I can say is this film was a lot of fun! A good balance of monsters and people, the highlights were of course the epic monster fights. We get a ton of giant beasts in this film, and they and the scenery look amazing.
It also accomplishes something unique. It captures some of the silliness of later Toho films but makes it look really damn good.
Two very funny moments:
After one battle, Godzilla curls up in Rome’s Colosseum like a cat would in a kitty bed.
Godzilla jumps into the air and eventually lands in the ocean. And all I could think about was the ending scene from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster done by MST3K – ‘I can fly! I can fly! I can’t fly. I can swim!’
And a certain Titan makes a return. (Can’t tell you, that would spoil the surprise.)
I’d place this one above the previous film. A ton of fun that will put a smile on your face.
Highly recommended! 

New Releases!

A Toast to Murder by Eizabeth Spann Craig

Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries | Book 24
April 9, 2024
Uncorking secrets, one grape at a time.
Find purchase links here

The Type-A Guide to Solving Murder

A Sunset Ridge Mystery | Book 1
April 9,2024
Sam turns murder into her most challenging project yet.
Find purchase links here

April Movie Preview

Here are the theatrical releases for April. Descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

5 –

Monkey Man

Director: Dev Patel
Stars: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash
An anonymous young man unleashes a campaign of vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless.
Is this a prequel to Planet of the Apes?

The First Omen

Director: Arkasha Stevenson
Stars: Nell Tiger Free, Ralph Ineson, Sonia Braga
A young American woman is sent to Rome to begin a life of service to the church, but encounters a darkness that causes her to question her faith and uncovers a terrifying conspiracy that hopes to bring about the birth of evil incarnate.
I thought The Omen was the first Omen?

19 –

The Ministry Ungentlemanly Warfare

Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Eiza González, Alan Ritchson, Henry Cavill, Cary Elwes
The British military recruits a small group of highly-skilled soldiers to strike against Nazi forces behind enemy lines during World War II.
Superman, Jack Reacher, and the Dread Pirate Roberts duke it out!

26 –

Boy Kills World
Director: Moritz Mohr
Stars: Bill Skarsgård, Jessica Rothe, Michelle Dockery
A dystopian fever dream action film that follows Boy, a deaf mute with a vibrant imagination. When his family is murdered, he is trained by a mysterious shaman to repress his childish imagination and become an instrument of death.
Is this a video game? Do I get to play that character?

How long have you been blogging and how has it changed? Did you participate in #IWSGPit? Catch Godzilla x Kong yet? And what movies catch your interest this month?
Good luck to all of you A to Z Challengers! I will be taking most of April off, but there were some really cool themes revealed that I will have to check on throughout the month.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, #IWSGPit, Childhood Magic, Dune: Part Two Review, and March 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 March 6 posting of the IWSG are Kristina Kelly, Miffie Seideman, Jean Davis, and Liza @ Middle Passages!

March 6 question -
Have you "played" with AI to write those nasty synopses, or do you refuse to go that route? How do you feel about AI's impact on creative writing?

I’ve not had a need to try it. While I can see the advantages and benefits, I can also see AI taking over more. To the point natural creativity will be threatened. And that’s sad.


The next #IWSGPit will be March 27, 2024.

10:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Get all the details here.

And there is a new release from one of our IWSG admins!

In Darkness by L. Diane Wolfe
Romance-Paranormal / Fantasy-Paranormal / Romance-Science Fiction
Print ISBN 9798988625148 $17.95, 342 pages
eBook ISBN 9798988625155 $8.99

Find it on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Gardners, and Goodreads

Childhood Magic by Shannon Lawrence

Mythological creatures have a long history, one that precedes written lore. Looking back at The Odyssey, which many of us read in high school, this was a tale originally told aloud by at least one of a collection of bards who traveled around and shared stories, which were eventually transcribed by others in the name of Homer. The Greek mythological creatures told in stories of the time included Cyclops, the Minotaur, and Sirens. Namely, creatures that served to speak to the perils people faced when they left the safety of their homes.

My favorite mythological creatures tend to live in two basic worlds: endearing childhood creatures and those found in darker stories. I love a cautionary tale, but there’s also the endearing magic inherent in a creature existing for good. Today I want to focus on two mythological creatures from my childhood that represented a beautiful kind of magic.

The Last Unicorn:
I have such fond memories of this movie, and I still watch it occasionally to this day. (Okay, probably annually). The Unicorn, who doesn’t have a name until she becomes the Lady Amalthea, is true to herself, loyal, self-sufficient, and brave. But she’s also blunt and intellectual, something I identified with. The voices, the music, the illustrations, I feel hold up today. It’s a gorgeous movie, but as a neurodivergent kid the character truly spoke to me.

The NeverEnding Story:
Falcor is a great iteration of the dragon. He has a sense of humor, he’s graceful and lovely in his own way, and he’s powerful, but he also holds the familiarity of a dog in his appearance and, once again, loyalty. Plus, he scares the bullies. What kid wouldn’t want a magical dog-dragon to swoop down and help them exact [an age-appropriate] revenge on their bullies? Even better if you can snuggle up with that furry dog-dragon later and scritch him behind the ear as you continue to be wrapped in safety.

While as a horror and urban fantasy author I most often address the darker creatures of mythology, I do have a nod in the opening of my book to one of the nicer creatures of North American mythology: Sasquatch, another part of my childhood.

Myth Stalker: Wendigo Nights
by Shannon Lawrence
A late night call from her mentor sends Selina Moonstone on a mission to Canada, determined to track down a Wendigo and exterminate it.

Available in paperback and e-book, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and more. Find the book at your favorite store using the universal link.

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over fifty anthologies and magazines in addition to her collections. Her nonfiction title, The Business of Short Stories, is available now and her debut urban fantasy novel is releasing March 2024. You can also find her as a co-host of the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem. When she's not writing, she's hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. Find her at The Warrior Muse.

Movie Review – Dune: Part Two

After over two years of waiting, the second half of the movie landed last Friday. We even watched the first part the previous weekend to remind ourselves what was happening. Didn’t like the wait, but it was worth it.
This movie is epic. It is grand on every level, from stunning special effects to sprawling, complex story to amazing battle sequences. The film has it all for both fan and novice to the series.
The action sequences are stunning, most notably the worm riding scenes. Not seen as often in the first film, they are in full force here. The attacks on the spice mining rigs are also impressive.
There were some differences from the book, but not enough to spoil it for fans. (I barely remember reading the book anyway!) I was never a big fan of the book, but the movies are spectacular. A must-see on the big screen.
Highly recommended!

March Movie Preview

Here are the theatrical releases for March. Descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

8 –

Kung Fu Panda 4
Directors: Mike Mitchell, Stephanie Stine
Stars: Jack Black, Awkwafina, Viola Davis
After Po is tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, he needs to find and train a new Dragon Warrior, while a wicked sorceress plans to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm.
I wonder if he’ll ever have the noodle dream…

22 –

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire
Director: Gil Kenan
Stars: Pau Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon
When the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an evil force, Ghostbusters new and old must join forces to protect their home and save the world from a second ice age.
Maybe letting New York freeze isn’t a bad thing…

29 –

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
Director: Adam Wingard
Stars: Dan Stevens, Rebecca Hall, Rachel House
Two ancient titans, Godzilla and Kong, clash in an epic battle as humans unravel their intertwined origins and connection to Skull Island's mysteries.
Weirdest buddy-cop movie ever…

Have you played with AI? Have a pitch ready for #IWSGPit? What movies spark childhood magic for you? Have you seen part two of Dune? What movies are you seeing this month?

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Alien Romance, and February 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 February 7 posting of the IWSG are SE White, Janet Alcorn, Victoria Marie Lees, and Cathrina Constantine!

First up – we need co-hosts for March, April, and May! Four to five for March, three to four for April (Natalie, got you down), and four to five for May. If you can co-host, leave a comment or send me an email. If you’ve never co-hosted, it’s fun and easy! Just visit fifteen or so blogs in a range and leave a comment. That way everyone on the list has visitors and feel appreciated.

February 7 question: What turns you off when visiting an author's website/blog? Lack of information? A drone of negativity? Little mention of author's books? Constant mention of books?

I think many will say a constant mention of the author’s books, especially on a blog or Twitter, is a turnoff. It’s like a constant commercial.

But for me, a drone of negativity is even worse. Life is negative enough without adding to it. And it probably wears on the fans, eager to hear what is happening but getting a wave of what’s going wrong, why the writing sucks, etc. instead.

#IWSGPit is back on!

The next #IWSGPit will be March 27, 2024.

10:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Get all the details

Alien Romances by L. Diane Wolfe

Alex asked me to list the top movies similar to my latest release, In Darkness: The Alien. It’s a sci-fi, paranormal romance, so I have selected movies that have a romance between a Terran (human) and an alien.

– An alien crashes on earth and takes the form of a woman’s deceased husband, enticing her to help him reach his rendezvous point. The reluctant romance is sweet to watch and the alien so genuine in his innocence.

The Fifth Element – Pure Evil is destroying the universe and only the fifth element can stop it. As the lead discovers, that element is a beautiful woman. This film has some sweet and very funny exchanges and is one of my favorites.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars - A series that ran for many years, it ended with a full length movie. Throughout that time, the human lead and alien lead had an on again-off again relationship that did end in love and a baby.

Avatar – A human in an alien avatar on the planet of Pandora falls in love with one of the natives. Since almost everyone has seen it, you know it ends well.

Guardians of the Galaxy
– An unlikely team is thrown together and it takes the male human a while to convince the alien woman to accept his advances. A fun series.

John Carter
– Transported to Mars, John lands in the middle of a power struggle and war, forming a reluctant alliance with the Martian princess. If you’ve never seen it, this is a fun and exciting sci-fi movie.

Cocoon – Residents of a retirement community discover a revitalizing pool that aliens are using to revive those left behind years before. While it’s a romance that could never be, it’s sweet to see the young man and young alien woman interact.

And there you have it–seven stories involving human-alien romances. Eight if you decide to read In Darkness: The Alien!

In Darkness: The Alien by L. Diane Wolfe

From Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Romance-Science Fiction / Science Fiction-Alien Contact / Romance-Paranormal
eBook ISBN 9781939844972 $3.99

Souls shrouded in darkness…
Abducted from her research station, Liz’s life is flung into chaos. Sold into servanthood for her knowledge of planetary mining to a race called the Stren, she discovers her problems go far deeper. She is to marry her alien master, Krist, after enduring a procedure designed to eradicate her emotions.
Desperate, Liz persuades the Stren to grant her the duration of a short voyage to change his perception of emotions. But how can she convince someone lacking feelings of their value? Is there a means of accessing the emotional side of Krist before it's too late?

A professional speaker and author, L. Diane Wolfe conducts seminars, offers book formatting, and author consultation. She’s an editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Find her at website, blog, and the IWSG

Find In Darkness: The Alien at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Everland, Gardners, and Goodreads

February Movie Preview

Here are the theatrical releases for February. Descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

2 –


Director: Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Henry Cavill, Catherine O’Hara, Sofia Boutella
An introverted spy novelist is drawn into the activities of a sinister underground syndicate.
I know they’re running out of ideas, but socks? Really?

14 –

Madame Web

Director: SJ Clarkson
Stars: Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Emma Roberts
Cassandra Webb is a New York City paramedic who starts to show signs of clairvoyance. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she must protect three young women from a mysterious adversary who wants them dead.
Fifty Shades of Spiderman.

16 –

Land of Bad
Director: William Eubank
Stars: Russell Crowe, Milo Ventimiglia Liam Hemsworth
A rookie air force combat controller and a seasoned drone pilot support a Delta Force team as they try to shift a mission gone wrong into a rescue operation.
Maybe the title shouldn’t be so easy for critics to destroy…

What turns you off an author’s site? Can you help co-host? Seen any of the Alien romances or eager to read In Darkness: The Alien? And what movies catch your eye for February?

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Movie Reviews – Aquaman, Rebel Moon, Chicken Run, and January 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 January 3 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Olga Godim, Diedre Knight, and Natalie Aguirre!

Welcome to 2024! Hope everyone enjoyed their holidays.

January 3 question: Do you follow back your readers on BookBub or do you only follow back other authors?

I confess, I am not great at keeping up with BookBub. I follow back everyone though.

And #IWSGPit is on hold while we search for a new platform. We just don’t have enough admins to cover Twitter anymore and are looking at other social media platforms as well as hosting it on the main IWSG site. We will keep you posted.

Movie Reviews

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Directed by James Wan, Jason Momoa is back as Aquaman and Patric Wilson as his brother.
Critics have been hating on this film for months and still not sure why. The film as a whole is an enjoyable adventure. The second half is better, reeling us in for an adventurous romp.
It is a bit derivative, taking from a lot of other movies and offering no big plot surprises. And sometimes it’s a bit too much tell rather than show.
But if you enjoyed the first one, you will definitely enjoy this one.
Highly recommended.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

Having pulled off an escape from Tweedy's farm, Ginger has found a peaceful island sanctuary for the whole flock. But back on the mainland the whole of chicken-kind faces a new threat, and Ginger and her team decide to break in.
Voiced by Thandiwe Newton and Zachary Levi as Ginger and Rocky, now parents to Molly, this grand adventure is as fun as the original and featuring the same great characters.
Hard to capture the innocence of the first one, but this sequel comes really darn close. If you liked the first one, you’ll enjoy this one.
Highly recommended!

Rebel Moon: Part One - A Child of Fire

When a peaceful settlement on the edge of a distant moon finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force, a mysterious stranger living among its villagers becomes their best hope for survival.
Directed by Zack Snyder and starring Sofia Boutella – take one heaping tablespoon of Star Wars, add another heaping tablespoon of The Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven, add a pinch of Firefly and a dash of Inglorious Bastards and you have Rebel Moon.
Having said all that, the film is enjoyable. It’s a fascinating mess to watch.
It certainly did not live up to my high hopes nor is it as dismal as the reviewers say.
If you’re in the mood for a derivative science fiction adventure with great production values, this is it. 

January Movie Preview

Here are the theatrical releases for January. Descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

5 –

Night Swim
Director - Bryce McGuire
Stars - Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Amélie Hoeferle
A woman swimming in her pool at night is terrorized by an evil spirit.
It turns out it was just a Baby Ruth floating in the water…

12 –

The Beekeeper
Director - David Ayer
Stars - Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bobby Naderi
In The Beekeeper, one man's brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as "Beekeepers".
Sorry folks, not a lot of good BUZZ on this one…

19 –

Director - Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Stars - Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, John Gallagher Jr.
When a world war event occurs on Earth, America and Russia, both nations secretly contact their astronauts aboard the ISS and give them instructions to take control of the station by any means necessary.
Not sure why controlling the ISS makes any difference – you’re not going back to a nuked Earth!

26 –

American Star
Director - Gonzalo López-Gallego
Stars - Ian McShane, Thomas Kretschmann, Nora Arnezeder
An assassin on a final assignment in Fuerteventura, to kill a man he has never met. When his target is delayed, he finds himself drawn to the island, people and a ghostly shipwreck.
It’s not a Tom Cruise biopic…

Who do you follow on BookBub? Seen any of the movies? Looking forward to any movies this month?