Monday, May 23, 2016

Does Going Through Crap Make One a Better Writer? Plus The Nice Guys Review, Buddy Movie Trivia, and Ninja News

Movie Review - The Nice Guys

Directed by Shane Black and starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, it’s a quirky film. If you’ve ever seen the director’s movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, you’ll understand the type of quirkiness.
The film harkens back to the 80’s and 90’s buddy films. (Reminded me a little of The Last Boy Scout.) Crowe and Gosling are a mismatched pair who have to work together to solve the mystery.
It wasn’t quite a funny as I’d been led to believe. The humor is more quirky, less laugh out loud.
The characters are damaged. They really aren’t nice guys. (They aren’t really bad guys, either.) They do go through a process of some redemption though.
It’s also rated R for a reason – violence, language, and nudity (as the plot involves investigating the porn industry.)
Marginally recommended. (Unless you really dig films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, then go see it!)

Ninja News

The Thing That Turned Me anthology from Stay Classy Productions will be out on June 30.
When asked to contribute, I decided to return to the Cassa universe and a time in Byron’s life before he began Cosbolt training.
Read CassaDawn and other stories on June 30!

This also came in the mail last week, all the way from the UK!

I have an autographed copy of Yvonne Lewis’ latest book, Stand by Me, Danny Boy. 

Thank you, Yvonne!

New Releases

A Spy in Me, The Harley Files, Freshman Year, Book 1 by Rebecca Green Gasper
When college student Harley Jenkins finds out she’s on probation with her university for something her roommate has done, she decides to distract herself with the mysterious death of a local girl by hiding out in small spaces even though she’s claustrophobic. Will Harley be able to solve the mystery before it takes the lives of more girls, or will she have to back out to solve her own problem?
Find it at Amazon and Smashwords

Chaos Season (The Season Avatars Book 3) by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
Jenna Dorshay t’Reve isn’t your typical farmer’s daughter. Blessed with plant magic, she’s been impatiently waiting to take her place as Summer Avatar of Challen. All she and her sister Season Avatars have to do is tame a Chaos Season, a magical weather storm sent to Challen by a wrathful demigoddess…
Find it at Amazon

Cassie and The Wild Cat: Run Wild With A Child by Pat Hatt
Cassie and The Wild Cat are back for their 6th adventure at their shack. This time they were having a good meal when they were met with a new ordeal. A child came in and they both considered that a sin.
Find it at Amazon

Swepty Away by Elizabeth Seckman
He came looking for a ghost. Instead, he found a girl.
Find it on Amazon

Sometimes the Walls Cry: A book of Haiku and Sketch by Dean Miller

Movie Trivia

It’s time for some movie trivia! In honor of The Nice Guys, today features all buddy films. Name them based on the actors and year.

1 – Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin 1988
2 – Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith 1997
3 – Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, 1982
4 – David Spade, John Goodman 2000
5 – Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell 1989
6 – Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker 1998
7 – Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy 2001

Does Going Through Crap Make One a Better Writer?

We know writers tend to be an insecure bunch. But it seems that’s not all. After years of associating with other writers and thousands of IWSG posts, I noticed some common threads.

Many writers have been through some crap in their life. Maybe it was a bad childhood, a divorce, drugs, alcohol, illness – the list is endless. It’s left scars and many seem to draw upon their difficult experiences to write great stories.

There’s also the emotional roller coaster. Writers can be depressed one minute and excited the next. Again, everyone seems to draw from this whirlwind of emotions when writing. They make their mental and emotional hang ups work to their advantage.

My question – do you need to go through some of that stuff in order to be a good writer? The reason I ask? Because none of that describes me.

I’ve really never been through anything traumatic. I had a good childhood. Never experienced drugs or any addiction. My wife and I have never had issues outside of the usual ‘heated discussions.’ I’ve experienced death of course, losing family members and friends. But overall, I’ve had a really good life. Plus, I’m even-keeled when it comes to emotions. I don’t experience real highs or lows.

As far as I can tell, that is not normal for a writer.

(Although it’s not just with writing. I hear others give their salvation story – they were alcoholics, on drugs, atheists, angry with the world, etc. – and it’s a great testimony. Me? I was actually having a pretty good life when I got saved. Until I got saved, I had no idea anything was really missing. My testimony would be really boring.)

So, does it take that stuff to be a good writer? Does it make one more worldly and experienced?

Seen The Nice Guys yet? Picking up some new books? Know any of the trivia? And does going through stuff make one a better writer?

I will be gone Memorial Day weekend – catch you all on June 1 for the IWSG!

Monday, May 16, 2016

MST3K/RiffTrax Fanboy, BattleBots, You Rock Awards, and Ninja News!

Why This Fanboy Loves MST3K/RiffTrax

Back in the early 90’s, I was flipping through the channels when I came upon Invasion USA on what was the Comedy Channel. Only this wasn’t just the crappy 1950’s film – there were three people silhouetted in the right bottom corner. A guy and two robots were making fun of the movie.

At first, I thought it was weird but interesting. Slowly, I realized just how hilarious the jokes were. About twenty minutes, I got into the vibe and was hooked. The humor was right up my alley – bad puns, snarky observations, and tons of pop culture references.

The premise of this silly show that made fun of movies – evil scientists had shot an employee into space so they could experiment on him by making him watch bad movies. Trapped on the Satellite of Love, he created robots to keep him company – Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, Gypsy, and CamBot.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 went through many changes. The creator, Joel Hodgson, envisioned it more as a kid’s show. When he left, Mike stepped into the role as the man trapped on the Satellite of Love. Coupled with Kevin (Tom Servo) Murphy’s sense of humor, this led to more adult stuff.

When Trace Beaulieu left, there was cause for concern. Not only was he the main evil scientist, he was the voice of Crow T. Robot. However, the very first show with Bill Corbett as Crow started with this line – ‘Screw you, Greenland!’ And all was right with the world.

It won many awards but was eventually cancelled in 1999. Since then, the core MST3K guys started with Film Crew and then moved on to RiffTrax. It’s not quite the same as MST3K, but it’s the same guys telling the jokes and therefore awesome. They provide tracks to hundreds of popular films – all you do is sync them up with the actual movie. They then moved on to riffing older films, some of which they’d done as MST3K, and selling the videos.

It really became awesome when they moved to live events. The first one I saw was Jack the Giant Killer. I’d seen the MST3K Movie in the theater and there’s something magical about being surrounded by geeks who get you – and the RiffTrax experience was no different. That is why I am now a big fan and refuse to miss any RiffTrax event!

Including June’s MST3K Reunion show…

For more information, visit:
MST3K Reunion Show Tickets
MST3K on Twitter
RiffTrax on Twitter

That’s right – it’s back! Last week was the play-in round and on June 23 on ABC, season two of the BattleBots reboot begins!

The homemade robots are back for season two, where they will battle against each other in a single elimination tournament until there is one champion. The ten episode series will feature next generation robots – bigger, faster and stronger than ever before. The show will continue to emphasize the design and build elements of each robot, the bot builder back stories, their intense pursuit of the championship and the spectacle of the event. While there’s only one weight-class, there are a huge variety of deadly weapons. Forty-eight robots will enter, but, in the end, only one will win the Giant Nut.

Yes, it’s giant BattleBot robots destroying each other – what could be more awesome?

Ninja News

The Last Hotel Room by Sean McLachlan is competing in the Kindle Scout program.
This book is important to me because I've been working a bit with refugees and wrote an article a while back about one young refugee I met in Iraq who became the inspiration for this novel. If I win, $500 of my advance will go to a charity helping refugees from the war zone there.
Vote for the Last Hotel Room HERE

Available now!

Seismic Crimes by Chrys Fey
Buy it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and The Wild Rose Press

The Haunted Stepsister by Medeia Sharif
Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Cloaked in Blood by TF Walsh
Find it at Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble

And if you are looking for something cool in t-shirts, check out the creations of Jeremy Hawkins!

He produced the awesome IWSG T-Shirt.

And he designed the A to Z Challenge Survivor T-Shirt

Get yours now!!!

You Rock Awards

I started this six years ago, right after the very first A to Z Challenge. This is to honor blogger buddies who have come to mean so much to me over the years.

Past recipients include Arlee, Yvonne, RaShelle, Hannah, Jeffrey, Gail, Rusty, Chuck, George, Jeremy, Matthew, Old Kitty, Ella, M Pax, Roland, Melissa, Robyn, Lynda, Michael, Heather, Stephen, Father Dragon Al, the late Tina, Damyanti, Edi, Karen, Elizabeth, Suze, Susan, Pat, Jo, Michelle, Brandon and Bryan, Christine, and Truedessa.

This is always such a difficult choice! I’ve made so many friends over the years. But certain people have really stuck with me and come to mean a lot to me.

So, this year’s You Rock recipients are…

Rachna Chhabria at Rachna’s Scriptorium
She is just about the sweetest person I know online. A talented author who possesses a wonderful way with words, her weekly offerings will make you think. She is also a huge supporter and cheerleader. We’ll never meet in person, but we’ve met in spirit. Rachna, you have made a difference to this Ninja – and you rock!

Liza at Middle Passages
We’ve been blogger buddies for years. I remember when she wasn’t working and all the things she’s gone through since then. She continues to write and take amazing photos of her beautiful coastal town. She’s always been there for me and I appreciate her friendship and support. Liza, you rock!

Yolanda Renee at Defending the Pen
Another friend who’s been around for a while. I still remember when her first book came out. She knows how to put a twist on a story like nobody’s business. She defends not only the pen, but her friends. And she’s a Ninja Minion above and beyond! I hope she’ll always be there. Yolanda, you rock.

Nilanjana Bose at Madly-in-Verse
We met through the Challenge, so only fitting she was one of my Minions this year. She writes amazing poetry and prose and really does her research. Nila is always there and something about her presence is reassuring. I imagine she’s always smiling, her joy contagious! She’s a whisper on the wind – and she rocks!

Fundy Blue at Standing Into Danger
You want someone down to earth and genuine? Fundy is that and more. A traveler by heart, she’s working on a book based on the letters her father wrote while teaching Indian children in the far, far north. And the posts about these letters are fascinating. What’s amazing is that no matter what, Fundy shows up online all bubbly and excited. Your excitement is contagious, Fundy – and you rock!

Hank Kaykuala at Rainbow
Yes, I like the ladies! But there are a few cool dudes out there as well. Hank is one of them. I remember visiting Pat Hatt’s site and wondered – who is this dude who has to be number one all the time? Eventually, we became friends, and I realized the cultural diversity Hank offered in his poetry and prose posts. I can always count on him. Hank, you’re number one and you rock!

JH Moncrieff 
If you’ve not met JH, you are missing out. This great horror writer looks like she stepped right out from her own goth pages. She knows all about the supernatural and the unknown, and she tantalizes us with unique events and unsolved mysteries. Don’t let the dark fool you, though. She is a bright light of genuine appreciation and friendship. JH, you rock!

Anyone else a longtime fan of MST3K? Been to a RiffTrax event? Excited for the next BattleBots? Picking up some new books? Have you got your t-shirt yet? And are you following those awesome, rocking bloggers?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Reviews - Captain America: Civil War, Rifftrax:Live Time Chaser, and Jungle Book! Plus A to Z Challenge Reflections and Writing Humor with Misha Gericke

Captain America: Civil War Review

The team is split by the Sokovia Accords, which grants the UN control of the Avengers. When the Captain’s pal Bucky is accused of bombing a UN building, the team is split further as Captain moves to protect Bucky and find the real villain.
The idea of accountability and control over powers is a fascinating conflict. (Also explored in Batman v Superman.) It raises a lot of moral and ethical questions on both sides. A lot of it comes down to standing for what you believe is right.
It’s tough to watch them fight, but you know they won’t really kill each other. (Except for Black Panther – he’s out for blood. And he is badass.)
The villain isn’t remarkable, but his cause is just there to drive the conflict between the characters.
The special effects are stunning. You do not want to miss this in 3D! Some of the best effects are the smaller stunts, like Bucky grabbing a moving motorcycle, spinning it in the air, and landing on it while still moving.
Like Winter Soldier, it does have a darker tone. This is offset by some great humor, especially from newcomer Spiderman (as chatty and dorky as the comic books) and of course Ant-Man, who steals almost every scene he’s in.
Visually stunning, this more character-driven story is a must see in the theaters. Highly recommended!

RiffTrax: Live – Time Chasers Review

Thursday, May 5 was RiffTrax night – and no way I’d miss it.

Time Chasers is not a memorable movie. It’s stupid and very bland. The guys did a good job with this sup-par offering of a film.

The film had an early 80’s vibe to it. Sadly, it was made in 1994.

And the time machine was a Cesna airplane. Yes, really! Made from a Commodore-64. No, I’m not making this up! Did I mention the film was done in 1994?

If you missed it, there’s a encore show on May 17 – get your tickets here.

Then prepare for June 28 and the RiffTrax:Live MST3K Reunion Show!

The Jungle Book Review

The animation in this film is beyond stunning. All of the animals and some of the jungle is CGI, but it all blends seamlessly with the real-life Mowgli. Oscar contender for sure. It remains faithful to the source and even manages to insert two songs into the retelling. Overall, I liked the story, but I didn’t love it. I just didn’t connect on that deeper level. However, for the special effects alone, especially in 3D, I highly recommend it.

Bringing the Humor by Misha Gericke

Thanks for having me over, Alex!

I love visiting Alex’s blog on my blog tours, but dang, I invariably find it hard to write a post for him. Why? Because of this little requirement that there has to be some kind of humor in the post.

Humor is a pain in the butt to write. Really. So I’m going to take this request for humor literally and just write about humor. (See what I did there? Huh? Huh? *shifty grin*)

My books usually have something dark in them, mostly because I don’t shy away from characters’ dark sides. Endless deals with two types of immortals, one of which is addicted to killing the other in order to be… well… uhm… more immortal. (Explaining will take up too many words and I only have 300, so read the book. Why yes, that is a shameless plug.)

At the same time, I didn’t want the book to be all doom and gloom. Humor is the perfect solution, except… I suck at writing humorous scenes.

So what’s a girl to do?

My recipe differs from book to book, but in Endless, my recipe went something like this.

Take one smart Alec main character. Add one snarky side-kick. Mix in scenes. Et voila.

The banter is endless. (Pun intentional? Totally. *Big wink.*) You know what else it is? Funny. There’s just something really amusing about having someone who always wants the last word in every conversation, combined with someone who has no limits to what he’s willing to say and when.

But enough about me. How do you bring humor into your writing? If you don’t write, what’s your favorite sort of humor? (Dark and bitter? Slapstick? Farcical?)

(Oh look! I came in at almost exactly three hundred words. These are the last five.)

“First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.
Find it at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Goodreads
Find Misha at blog, Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr

Six Strings

The latest issues of Six Strings is available! You can download it for free.
The world of soundtracks, scores, films, books, and more.
Put together by our very own Jermey Hawkins.

A to Z Challenge Reflections

This was my seventh Challenge and sixth time as co-host.

I want to start by thanking the Challenge Team who are responsible for making it all happen.

I won’t thank everyone, but I do want to say a big thanks to my Ninja Minions. Because without these awesome people, I never wouldn’t kept up: Rhonda Albom, Nicola Burggraf, Nilanjana Bose, Susan Gourley, Mason Canyon, Stephanie Faris, Yolanda Renee, Ann Bennett, Patricia Lynne, Melanie Schultz, Donna McDine, and JA Scott.

I’m going to keep this short. Most want to know how it went with A to Z Lite. While it helped I wasn’t returning a ton of comments every day, there were other issues:

The point of the Challenge is daily posting. Lite is not daily.

I still had to come up with posts for all of the letters. I made them shorter this year, but putting six together for the week made the posts rather long.

Everyone else was still posting daily and I still felt compelled to visit as many as possible…

So, if you were hoping for A to Z Lite next year, it’s just not a feasible option.

Who else saw Civil War this past weekend? Did you see Jungle Book’s amazing animation last month? Catch RiffTrax: Live? Picking up Six Strings? How do you put humor in your writing? And what were your thoughts on the Challenge this year, whether you participated or not…?

And now you can follow the IWSG on Twitter! 
Follow us at TheIWSG

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, RiffTrax:Live – Time Chasers, May Movie Preview, and Parallels: Felix Was Here!

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 today are Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris!

Where am I writing wise? After a month of the A to Z Challenge, nowhere. But I knew that would happen.

Fortunately, something cool did happen.

The IWSG released its first anthology on Tuesday!

Parallels: Felix Was Here
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Enter the realm of parallel universes!

What if the government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever?

Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. Keltner, Crystal Collier, Hart Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra Cox, Yolanda Renee, Melanie Schulz, Sylvia Ney, Michael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will expand your imagination and twist the tropes of science fiction. Step through the portal and enter another dimension!

Print ISBN 978-1-939844-19-4 $14.95
eBook ISBN 978-1-939844-20-0 $4.99
Find it at Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, iTunes, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Goodreads, and the Blog

RiffTrax: Live

The next RiffTrax: Live show is May 5 – Time Chasers!

If you’ve never experienced RiffTrax in the theater, this is your chance. It’s hilarious and nothing beats being surrounded by peeps who get it. If you live in Tennessee, you can see it live.

For tickets, go here.

Ninja News

A to Z Challenge Reflections starts next week! Post your thoughts on this year’s Challenge and add your direct link when the Linky List opens.

Just released!
Slim Within by Karen Jones Gowen
Find it at WiDo Publishing

May Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for May! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. No snark from me, as these are all awesome.

6 -

Captain America: Civil War
Political interference in the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.
Directors: Anthony Russo | Joe Russo
Stars: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan
Are you kidding me? Just go see it!

20 –

The Nice Guys
A private eye investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles and uncovers a conspiracy.
Director: Shane Black
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Matt Bomer
Great buzz and looks funny.

27 –

X-Men: Apocalypse
With the emergence of the world's first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Munn, Oscar Isaac
Again, just go see it!

What are your writing insecurities today? Picking up Parallels? Have you ever been to a RiffTrax: Live show? And what movies do you want to see this month?