Monday, July 28, 2014

Hercules Review, August Movie Preview, Waiting for Acceptance/Rejection, Movie Trivia Answers, and Ninja News!

Movie Review


A new twist on the legend of Hercules - caught this in 3D last Friday.

This movie is the perfect B-grade film with an A-list of actors on board.

The plot is pedestrian. What elevates it beyond the average story is great acting and exciting action scenes. (The ending is spectacular.) The movie pokes fun at itself – it knows it’s a B-grade film and plays that angle to the max.

The cast did a great job. Rufus Sewell gets to play a good guy (it’s been so long!) and Ian McShane has all the best lines. Johnson turns in a good Hercules, although ultimately it’s the supporting cast who really rock the show.

Overall, it’s just a fun B movie. Leave most of your brain at the door.

Waiting for Acceptance/Rejection

Please welcome the awesome author, C Lee McKenzie!

Subbing manuscripts, then waiting to hear back is one of the hardest parts of traditional publishing. And, let’s face it, you know you may never hear back.

“If you haven’t heard from us in X weeks, then consider yourself REJECTED!”

Awk! Is that rude or what? It’s rude, but it’s the reality.

So when I’m hanging out, waiting to hear if they’re accepting my book or not, here’s pretty much what I do when the week of GO or NO GO has arrived.

Check email. Do not find acceptance letter. Make coffee. Consider giving up writing. Drink coffee. Talk to self about unrealistic expectations.

Gird loins. Check email. Do not find acceptance letter. Consider writing new book. Talk to self about unrealistic expectations. . .again. Sulk.

Shut off all digital clocks. Turn analog ones to wall. Check email. Do not find acceptance letter. Leave house with backpack and water. Lots of water.

Sneak past computer. It’s asleep. Wonder what time it is, but choose not to know. Make a list of neglected household chores: cupboards, refrigerator, floors, laundry. Toss list. Check email. Do not find acceptance letter. Talk to self about what to do if I never write another original sentence.

Talk to self about life and priorities. Stare at ceiling. Curse agents/editors/publishing in general. Check email. Do not find acceptance letter. Stomp out door and drive to town. Talk to non-writers. Find they are a happy group. Decide to join their ranks.

Sometime after noon
Clean one cupboard. Eat ice cream. Chew last nail. Curse the universe.

Sometime after dark
Go to bed. Pull covers over head and wait for sun.

Climb out of bed. Squint at computer, stand as far away as possible and boot. Check email. Find acceptance letter. Do Happy Dance, then go back to bed and think, “Must be a mistake. They sent that email to the wrong author.” Back to computer. Check address. “No. They meant to send it to me.” Restore clocks. Make coffee. Toast the universe. All is good.

I have a whole other angst routine for when I Indie publish. The hours are about the same, the concerns are a bit different.

Find Lee at her Website or Blog
Buy Double Negative at Evernight Teen

Ninja News

The awesome Lexa Cain is featured today at the A to Z Blog! Lexa’s theme for the Challenge was hauntings and it was really cool.

Timothy Brannan’s blog, The Other Side, is up for an award! His blog was nominated ‘Best Blog’ for the ENnies Awards, the biggest awards in the RPG business. To vote, go HERE

Medeia Sharif, Lexa Cain, and Beth Fred are hosting the International Potluck Blogfest. You can win books and an Amazon gift card – see their sites for details.

Carolina Valdez Miller is offering free editing services.

New Releases!

A Little Skittle Spittle by Pat Hatt

A Test of Loyalty, Book Two by Jack Lewis Baillot
(And Jack will be stopping by here on August 11!

Bella’s Point by Elizabeth Seckman

Challenging Destiny by Cherie Coyler

Movie Trivia Answers

1 – The four Pevensie children from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy
2 – The four Ghostbusters – Peter Venkman, Pay Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddmore
3 – The five captains from the five Star Trek series – James T. Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, Benjamin Sisko, Kathryn Janeway, and Jonathan Archer
4 – The nine crew members of the Serenity from Firefly – Captain Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds, Zoe Washburne, Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburn, Lee ‘Kaylee’ Frye, Jayne Cobb, Inara Serra, Shepherd Book, Dr. Simon Tam, and River Tam
5 – The Fellowship of the Nine from LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring – Gandalf, Frodo, Samwise, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir

August Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for August! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

1 –

Guardians of the Galaxy
In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan.
Director: James Gunn
Stars: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana
This could be the film of the summer – don’t miss it!

8 –

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Four mutant warriors fight to save their city from an evil kingpin.
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Stars: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Noel Fisher
Bringing back the turtles for a new generation so today’s kids will be able to recite by heart their five favorite turtles – Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, and Megan Fox.

Into the Storm
A group of high school students document the events and aftermath of a devastating tornado.
Director: Steven Quale
Stars: Sarah Wayne Callies, Richard Armitage, Jeremy Sumpter, Nathan Kress
Could be fun, could be the SyFy Craptastic film of the week – Thorin Oakenshield battles the weather.

15 –

Expendables 3
Barney and his team, known as "The Expendables", come into conflict with ruthless arms dealer Conrad Stonebanks, the Expendables' co-founder, who is determined to destroy the team.
Director: Patrick Hughes
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Antonio Banderas
Five million B-list actors + zero plot + PG13 rating = highly questionable time at the movies.

22 –

When the Games Stands Tall
The journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.
Director: Thomas Carter
Stars: Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Michael Chiklis, Laura Dern
Always a sucker for a heartwarming sports tale of overcoming.

Whoa! Yes, packed in a lot today. Next week, look for some changes. Maybe even Mini-Alex will make an appearance…

Anyone else see Hercules? Gone through a day like Lee’s? Excited about the new releases? Get any of the trivia right? And what movies spark your interest for August?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Snowpiercer Movie Review and Others, Movie Trivia, Blogging Changes, and Ninja News!

Movie Reviews


Finally caught this on Direct TV! Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe. Directed by Joon-ho Bong who did The Host.

This is a film where you have to buy into the really odd premise in order for it to work. (And I won’t spoil the origins of the Snowpiercer, but it makes more sense than it sounds.)

Visually it’s very impressive. It’s a quirky film, similar to a Terry Gilliam movie with bizarre, colorful characters and surreal settings. It deals with complex moral issues in its own quirky fashion.

Chris Evans is great (and far removed from his Captain America role) along with the rest of the cast.

Once the characters start moving forward on the train, trying to reach the engine, the film is full steam ahead and never lets up.



A rather pointless remake. It strips away the social parody that made the original a camp classic and replaces it with a straightforward story that is at times dull and overlong. The special effects are good and the top notch cast does a good job with what they were given. Watch only if you’re really curious.

The Lego Movie

For me, not nearly as good as all the hype. It’s very odd and quirky (which is probably the only way a movie about Legos could work) and when it’s funny, it’s really funny. It’s fairly entertaining and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Watching it once was enough though.

Ninja News

Huge music news – Pink Floyd will release The Endless River in October, their first studio album in twenty years. Most of this material was recorded at the same time as The Division Bell, but there will be additional work and a tour is rumored. (Considering the surviving members are around seventy years old, a tour would be impressive.)

Vanessa Morgan’s other blog, Traveling Cats, was featured in this month's issue of Your Cat.

Epic contests through Audiomachine and more – design a t-shirt or book trailer, write a steampunk series, and numerous other opportunities! Visit Samantha Redstreake Geary for details.

New books-

Glitch of a Witch by Pat Hatt

Words on Birds by Kelly Polark

The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

Cryostorm by Lynn Rush

And Jo Wake had a short story published in the Indie-Pendence Day Anthologies Book 1. She claims she had help and it will be her only short story ever, but I bet we can coax her into writing more, don’t you?

Movie Trivia Returns!

Name those characters -

1 – The four Pevensie children from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

2 – The four Ghostbusters

3 – The five captains from the five Star Trek series

4 – The nine crew members of the Serenity from Firefly

5 – The Fellowship of the Nine from LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring

Answers next Monday!

Changes in Blogging

Last week, Karen Jones Gowen posted about the trouble with blogging, and Denise Covey followed up with her own post.

They covered a lot of stuff and I won’t rehash any of it here. Go read their posts instead. But I will say I’ve been around long enough that I’ve seen many changes and new trends appear. (Things such as fewer people following back and more promotional stuff.)

I’d like to make adjustments to my own blog. I still want to share news and have guest posts, but fewer cover reveals and stuff like that. Get back to more of the movie-music-games-science fiction-geek stuff. As I told Denise, it’s been ages since I did any trivia. Ages!

And maybe a little more stuff about me. Perhaps even a snippet of me playing guitar. Or even small joys like the email I received yesterday from a blogger buddy that involved each of us being a blessing to the other. (Unless you don’t want more of me, especially as I’m the last thing I want to talk about!)

If you read those posts or think things are changing, chime in below with your thoughts.
Seen any of those movies and what did you think? Picking up some new books? Know any of the trivia? (Even just the first name?) And what changes have you seen in blogging or do you plan to make?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dawn of the Apes Movie Review, Sharknado 2, Traditional Publishing Defined, and Ninja News!

Movie Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


First, I have to address the special effects. This film blows away all competition. I completely forgot I was watching CGI apes. Expressions, movement, eyes – all beyond real.

As for the story, it is one intense ride! Every scene adds a new layer of intensity. No, it’s not a feel-good film. There are moments of great sorrow and anger. You can see both sides clearly and there are mistakes made by both.

The film sets a good pace. It invites you to discover and explore the world of the apes. And the world of the humans. You won’t be rushed through the action, nor will you be bored by the personal moments. And you will come to realize all it takes is one misguided idiot on each side to send the situation into a nosedive.

Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar for his performance. Yes, Caesar is CGI, but Serkis provided all of the facial and physical movements. It’s incredible what he achieves and conveys through the character.

If you want smart science fiction, powerful drama, or just a great story, this is your film. Highly recommended!

And - finally saw Snowpiercer Sunday night! Review coming. Also recommended!

Traditional Publishing Defined by an Expert

Anne R. Allen had sent me some great stuff regarding traditional publishers. But rather than post it here, I am going to send you to her POST from yesterday. Here’s a sample:

But most people in today's real-world publishing industry—on both sides of the self-publishing fence—agree on the definition of traditional/legacy publishing.

Here's a version of that from Writer's Digest: "Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales."

She also has a warning every writer should read about the activities of some subsidy presses. Check it out HERE

Ninja News

I’m over at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Site today - Nine Great Tools and Programs to Help You Edit

Today’s Themes that Rocked the Challenge features Chrys Fey. Check it out at the A to Z Blog.

Available now - Lazy Worm Goes on a Journey by Rachna Chhabria

Elizabeth Seckman is hosting a blog challenge from July 15-31:
Write something readers want to read. No word limit, no guidelines. Your only prompt is: The year was 1865....

Sean McLachlan’s second book in his Toxic World post-apocalyptic series is now out - Refugees from the Righteous Horde.

Kyra Lennon is putting together a charity cat anthology on September 5. See here site for details.

Leovi is an abstract photographer, and his photos are just incredible. If you’ve never visited his site, you are in for a treat. He posted this one last week – it would be so cool to write a story based on the image.
“I want to be the explorer of your universe”

Cover Reveals!

SOULLESS (Book 2 in the Maiden of Time trilogy)
By Crystal Collier
Coming October 13, 2014

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she's forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.

By David Powers King and Michael Jensen
Coming January 27, 2015

Sharknado 2

Yes, the rumors are true – Sharknado 2 is coming soon!

Anyone else see Dawn of the Apes? Read Anne’s post yesterday? Excited about the new books? And who’s up for a play-by-play of Sharknado 2…?

Be sure to check out my post at the IWSG site and the post at Anne R. Allen’s!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sidelined with Kyra Lennon! Plus Summer Songs Blogfest, Ninja News, and Traditional Update

Sidelined - The Soundtrack

Sidelined is probably the first book I’ve ever written that I didn’t have a soundtrack in mind for when I started. Possibly because a lot of the time, books I write come to me within the lyrics of a song!

Sidelined wasn’t that way for me. Sidelined was born because of the characters I’d already written, and even when I got to the end of the story, I still found it difficult to nail down a playlist. But then I heard this song:.

 If you happen to read Sidelined, you’ll know exactly at which point to press “play” on this song, and why it so perfectly sums up the entire story. I challenge you to read the book, listen to the song, and not bawl your eyes out – I still can’t do it, and I know what’s coming! I actually think this song really sums up the whole of the Game On Series – because love is what it’s all about.

 Thanks for having me over, Alex!

At the age of twenty-one, Bree Collinson has more than she ever dreamed of. A handsome husband, a fancy house, and more shoes than Carrie Bradshaw and Imelda Marcos combined. But having everything handed to her isn’t the way Bree wants to live the rest of her life. When an idea to better herself pops into her head, she doesn’t expect her husband to question her, and keep her tied by her apron strings to the kitchen...

Kyra is a self-confessed book-a-holic, and has been since she first learned to read. When she's not reading, you'll usually find her hanging out in coffee shops with her trusty laptop and/or her friends, or girling it up at the nearest shopping mall.

Kyra grew up on the South Coast of England and refuses to move away from the seaside which provides massive inspiration for her novels. Her debut novel, Game On (New Adult Contemporary Romance), was released in July 2012, and she scored her first Amazon Top 20 listing with her New Adult novella, If I Let You Go.

Ninja News

Thanks for all the critique partner offers! You guys are so generous. In addition to Rusty (who is not only the best, but the funniest critique partner on the planet) I am honored to have the awesome Lynda Young and Misha Gericke helping me!

Cate Masters’ Goddess Awakened is out today!

Nigel Mitchell’s latest is out - The New Adventures of Couch Potato! Find it on Amazon

Mark Noce just signed a contract with Rena Tossner of the Deborah Harris Literary Agency for his novel, Between Two Fires!

I got my copy of PHENOMENA last week, autographed by the composer! (Plus some other awesome gifts from Samantha Redstreake Geary.) After listening to the music again, I know I couldn’t have picked a better song, Drakon’s Empire, for my HEROES OF PHENOMENA story, CassaFate.
And there was a formatting issue with the dialogue in my story (which has since been fixed) so if you downloaded HEROES early, let me know and I’ll email you a PDF of the correct version of CassaFate.

Thanks to everyone who has voted for CassaStorm at the eFestival of Words Awards. I forgot to mention that you have to register with the site to vote first. Sorry for the confusion!

Traditional Publisher Definition

Thanks to everyone who got involved in the discussion last week. Most were familiar with the definition I’d posted from several different sources.

GB Miller, who has been on all three sides of the equation, said there was traditional, self-published indie, and subsidy.

Cynthia wins for funniest comment:
I strongly disagree with the assessment that you need to be with one of the big fives to be considered traditionally published. That's like saying that you must own one of the top five brands of cars to be considered a driver.

And of course, ultimately, do readers really care?

However, publishing industry guru Anne R. Allen read the post and comments and sent me another expert source to back up the definitions. In the interest of space, I will post that next Monday.

Songs of Summer Blogfest

Hosted by Armchair Squid, Suze, and Cygnus
On Friday July 11, post your top five favorite summer songs – and why.

I don’t tend to associate seasons with songs, in part because I can never remember when they were released. So instead, I’ve posted my favorite songs with Summer in the title. (And sorry, I could only think of four.)

Y&T – Summertime Girls
Cheesy 80’s metal, but what guy doesn’t appreciate the video?

Type O Negative – Summer Breeze
If Seals and Croft were dead, this remake would cause them to roll over in their graves.

Joe Satriani – Summer Song
Classic instrumental from the Satch Man!

King’s X – Summerland
Another great song from a talented band.

Picking up Kyra’s new book or any of the others? Do you have great critique partners? Picked up PHENOMENA? And what are your favorite songs of summer…?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, What is Traditional Publishing, and Ninja News!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

My awesome co-hosts for today are Krista McLaughlin, Kim Van Sickler, Heather Gardner, and Hart Johnson! Be sure to pay them a visit and thank them for helping today.

Last weekend, I handed my manuscript off to my test readers.

This was after a month of edits, which included adding numerous small scenes, embellishing on others, expanding some subplots, killing off pet words, and eliminating weak adverbs and adjectives. Plus finding misspelled words. (Why is it after writing four space operas I continue to spell hangar wrong?)

Now, I’m one of those writers who prefer the editing phase. Getting my thoughts onto paper or screen is difficult. I’m usually not fond of my story while actually writing it. During edits is when I really start to like what I’ve written. The vision comes together and I’m happy with it.

My test readers aren’t writers. They’re just readers of science fiction. As my target audience, they let me know if the story works for them, what wasn’t clear, and what more I need to add. They’re actually tougher than any critique partner. I’m not too concerned though.

My real concern is that I only have one critique partner now. And within the next couple weeks, I have to find two more.

Any speculative fiction authors looking for a critique partner?

And… I nailed the synopsis this week! (Until my publisher gets a hold of it of course.)

Big News!
CassaStorm is a finalist in the eFestival of Words Awards for science fiction!! If you enjoyed it, please vote HERE

Ninja News

I need co-hosts for the next few months for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. If you’ve participated but never co-hosted, you’re missing a lot of fun. (Trust me, it’s even more fun to be on the host side of the equation!) If you can help in August, September, or October, just leave a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks!

Susan Gourley’s final book in The Recon Marines series, The Marine's Doctor, is out now! Pick it up at New Concepts Publishing.

Remake by Ilima Todd on the cover of Publishers Weekly!

Jeremy Hawkins is hosting What is Your Favorite T-shirt. Check his site for details.
And be sure to see all his new t-shirt designs at the NeatOShop!

Colin Frake - On Fire Mountain Event

Coming soon – On Fire Mountain by Colin Frake

Epic music masters, Two Steps From Hell, stretch the boundaries of the e-book, combining intriguing storytelling from Nick Phoenix, forty six hand drawn pen and ink illustrations from Otto Bjornik, and unforgettable musical themes from Thomas Bergersen—recorded with a live orchestra. Additional music by Nick Phoenix. Soundtrack & ebook available NOW on iBooks andCD Baby

Create the most epic book trailer in literary history for Two Steps From Hell’s enhanced ebook, Colin Frake, using Thomas Bergersen’s compelling orchestral track, “Battle At Hoback”, a brilliant blurb from the mind of master storyteller, Nick Phoenix, and intriguing hand drawn illustrations by Otto Bjornik!

The top 3 cinematic winners, chosen by TSFH, will be featured in Epic Music Vn’s 2-year celebration tribute video and awarded copies of the Colin Frake ebook and soundtrack, as well as signed cover artwork! The overall favorite will also receive a signed future public release album!

Hosted by Samantha Redstreake Geary and Epic Music Vn

Traditional Publisher and Author Question

It came up on another blog about what is a traditional publisher and a traditionally published author? The assessment was that an author is only traditionally published if he is with one of the big five. Otherwise he can’t call himself traditionally published, only independently published.

I did some digging and found this:

SWFA’s site where they define traditional publisher, self-publisher, and subsidy press:
A commercial or trade publisher (a.k.a. a traditional publisher) purchases the right to publish a manuscript (usually together with other rights, known as subsidiary rights). Big houses and larger independents pay an advance on royalties; small presses often don’t. Commercial publishers are highly selective, publishing only a tiny percentage of manuscripts submitted. They handle every aspect of editing, publication, distribution, and marketing. There are no costs to the author.

This was from Writers Digest Shop:
Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales.

This is from Scribendi:
In traditional publishing, the author completes his or her manuscript, writes a query letter or a proposal, and submits these documents to a publishing house (or has a literary agent do this for them, if one can be acquired). An editor reads it, considers whether it is right for the house, and decides either to reject it (leaving the author free to offer it to another publisher) or to publish it. If the publishing house decides to publish the book, the house buys the rights from the writer and pays him or her an advance on future royalties. The house puts up the money to design and package the book, prints as many copies of the book as it thinks will sell, markets the book, and finally distributes the finished book to the public.

Jan Friedman had an Infographic on the subject.

And I happened to find this on the history of traditional publishing at Cyber College:
Before the 1960s, the book publishing industry was composed mostly of independent companies whose only business was books. But, growing profits made the business attractive to large corporations looking for new investments.
(Sad so many small publishers were gobbled up, isn’t it?)

I also sent an email to my publisher. They responded that they were surprised to find out they weren’t a traditional publisher anymore and that would be news to the tens of thousands of other small and mid-sized publishers out there. (Yeah, from their tone, I think my question amused them.) Their answer - I'm a traditionally published author.

So, what do you think is the definition of a traditional publisher? If you're an author and not self-published, do you consider yourself traditionally published? Are independent publishers still traditional publishers?

(Bet you guys never thought I’d throw out something like this for discussion, did you?)

What are your writing insecurities today? Any science fiction writers looking for a critique partner? What’s your favorite t-shirt? And how do you define a traditionally published author?

And if you can, please vote for CassaStorm at the eFestival of Words Awards!