Monday, May 22, 2017

Pluto RiffTrax - MST3K Channels, Alien Covenant Review, New IWSG Admins and News, The Happy Whisk, and Ninja News

IB Nosey interviewed me last week and the results were hilarious! Please read and have a good laugh.

MST3K/RiffTrax Channels - Pluto

In case you didn’t know it, Pluto TV has an MST3K channel!

The Internet based platform features several channels, available online, through dish services, and as an app.

In April, they added a RiffTrax channel to the mix, including movies with guest riffers. (You really have to pay attention to the British dudes, but they are hilarious.)

Now, whenever you need a fix, you can flick to either channel or pull them up online and enjoy!

Alien Covenant Review

Set ten years after Prometheus. Colony ship stops at uncharted planet. Xenomorphs ensue.
Critics claimed to those who hated Prometheus – this one is better. They were correct. I only disliked this one.
The set design is great. The film has a great feel to it. And it’s gory. Turn your brain off and you might enjoy it.
My brain would not shut off though. The plot holes wouldn’t let it.
Minor spoilers:
• Protocol would not allow the crew of a colony ship with over two thousand people on board to deviate from the carefully selected and perfect world to go explore another one just because it was closer.
• Common sense would not let people explore said world without spacesuits and masks. Airborne pathogens, people!! Have you never seen War of the Worlds?
• A company investing billions to transport people across the galaxy would hire trained people. A crew who knew what to do in a situation. Not a crew that went into panic mode and turned batcrap crazy at the first sign of trouble. Or deviated from protocol.
I’ll stop with spoilers and also mention that the ending twist was telegraphed. No tension, no surprise.
Michael Fassbender is good. So is Katherine Waterston and the rest of the actors. Just a shame the plot holes and lazy writing let them down. And the fact there really wasn’t much in this film that we haven’t seen before.
And it’s still been thirty years since we had a decent Alien film. James Cameron and Aliens ruined it for everyone…
Recommended only for diehard fans or casual fans who want some good gore and have time to waste.

IWSG stuff

In the past two weeks, the IWSG Admins have welcomed two new members. Nick Wilford will be manning the contests page and Pat Hatt will run Twitter - @TheIWSG. Please stop by both of their sites and welcome them!

Don’t forget our first Twitter pitch event, #IWSGPit, is on July 27. We have a lineup of publishers and agents who will be tuning in that day and more are added every week. See the site for details and start working on your Twitter pitch.

The IWSG Goodreads Group is in full swing and already read their first book. As a bonus, members got to ask the book’s author questions and you can read about it on Goodreads. This group is for writers only, focusing on the craft, so please join us.

The IWSG Newsletter is packed with great information and valuable links every month, so if you haven’t signed up, please do so.

And for those who don’t know it, we have an IWSG Facebook Group as well, with over 3600 members.

Finally, on June 7, the next IWSG post day, we are announcing another anthology! This will be similar to our IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond, so tune in next month for details.

Special Blogger Buddy Feature

I’d like to introduce you to Ivy, also known as The Happy Whisk. I met Ivy several years ago and she never fails to entertain – and give everyone some good tips. She is an experimental chef due to allergies and comes up with some amazing stuff. She’s also into organizing, movies, and Bug. Just a special friend. Please welcome Ivy!

Favorite Recipes: This week I'm all about homemade rye bread with caraway seeds, cheeses made from plants and egg-free French toast. I'm allergic to eggs and dairy. Developing recipes is my way of telling my allergies to suck it.

Advice on decluttering: I've got gobs to share about ditching 95 percent of my crap. But today, I'll start with three words; I was ready. It's that simple. I wanted to do the work so I set aside four weeks to go through everything I owned. I sorted by category and began with the areas that made me the most uncomfortable, angry, frustrated and/or overwhelmed. This might not work for everyone, but I wanted to slay the biggest dragon first.
From there, I learned that people aren't things. Letting go feels amazing. Organized clutter is still clutter. And, I don't need 14 Pyrex bake dishes and 24 waffle makers.

Who is Bug? Her full name is Bogár which means bug in Hungarian. She's a loud mouth little brat and I love her to bits. She's half shepherd, half beagle. When I hurt myself in the kitchen, she makes a mad dash to check on me. Her hobbies include stealing Tim's hats, beating up paper bags and snuggling with her big sister.

Favorite Super Hero: As a kid, I twirled around the living room until I fell over and I wore my little Wonder Woman costume at the table during meal time. Hands down, BEST SUPER HERO EVER!!!!

Ninja News

JH Moncrieff just released two books!
City of Ghosts
On the day the villagers were forced to flee Hensu, not everyone got out alive.
Find on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes
The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts
Would you risk everything to save a stranger?
Find on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes

Are you a Rocket Raccoon fan?
Then you need to join the Raccoonatics!
Run by Leo Wyld, Raccoonatic Commander, it’s great place for fans to gather for news and discussions on all things Rocket Raccoon.
You can also follow on Twitter - @raccoonatic

Anyone else watching the MST3K Pluto channel? Were you suckered into another Alien movie last weekend? Participating in the IWSG groups and excited about the upcoming events? Following the Happy Whisk? And are you a Raccoonatic?
Don’t forget to visit IB Nosey!
Since next Monday is a holiday, I will not be posting and am taking the whole week off. Will check email and Twitter though. I’ll be back for IWSG post day, June 7.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lost Hero Movies, MST3K Robots Tackle NetFlix, Ayreon: The Source Review, RiffTrax: Live, and New Releases

Hero Lost Movie Heroes

I’m hosting the Hero Lost authors today and I had just one question for them.

What movie or movies inspired your hero and why?

Jen Chandler:
This is a great question! When the story came to me, it came with the very first line. I had no idea at first who Gaston was or who the narrator was. Then it hit me: The Angel of Death. The very first thought I had after that was of the Shinigami (god of death) Ryuk from the movie Death Note. It was originally a manga series of the same name and turned into an anime series then a movie in 2006. I definitely picture Gaston looking differently, though, because I don't believe Death should be frightening. I love the idea of Death being a beautiful being, not at all terrifying. Still, it was Ryuk that popped in my head and I went with the Angel/God of Death theme because of Death Note!

Ellen Jacobson:
Hmm...good question. I think I'll have to go with the classic Star Wars movies and Hans Solo's character. He hesitates to join in with the rebellion, but in the end he does the right thing and helps save the day. The hero of my story is reluctant to join the fight against the powers that be, preferring a simple, ordinary life, but in the end he conquers his fears and summons the courage to join in with others like him who are different.

Renee Chung:
When I was envisioning Cormac, I started a very traditional knight, so if I had to relate to a movie, it would be A Knight’s Tale (because come on, Heath Ledger). Although the story differs greatly from the movie, I’d like to think that Cormac came from the same place as William Thatcher with their humble beginnings and their desire to embody the values and honour of a knight. And despite facing different foes, William with the villainous knight and Cormac with a dragon, they both do end up testing their mettle, with varying outcomes.

Roland D. Yeomans:
My mysterious Caretaker was inspired by a book that became a movie: American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

Erika Beebe:
Star Wars. I’m thinking Ethan closely resembles Hans Solo, a man with great character who doesn’t use it. Life has hardened his skin and he’s crawled into himself as a defense mechanism. Like Solo, Ethan thinks first about himself “and what can I get out this?” Love transformed Solo in the end and maybe the new purpose of noble cause did too. It’s the lost soul idea. They often need something profound to shake them out of their inner worlds.

Sarah Foster:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a big influence on me for the early stages of “The Last Dragon.” It kind of all started with this idea of someone who once was a hero and now is gone, and we don’t know why, kind of like Luke Skywalker in the movie. In my story, Raynor and his sister are in search of their uncle not only to find out why he left, but so that he can help defeat a new evil that has risen in his absence.

Elizabeth Seckman:
King Arthur—but without the cheating queen.

Olga Godim:
No movie inspired my protagonist. I’m not a big fan of movies in general, so no movie ever inspired any of my characters. When I first wrote about my heroine, Altenay, in another story altogether, she came to me as a non-white, some kind of an eastern girl or maybe a Gypsy. I started looking for a name for her and came up with a real woman I admired. Her name, with a slight change in vowels, became the name of my heroine. The real life inspiration for my Altenay’s name was a prima ballerina with the Marriinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, Altynai Asylmuratova. Ethnically she is a Kazakh, and like many women of that nation, very pretty, with a breathtakingly beautiful body lines. A superb ballerina too, she was very popular in the Western world while she performed in the 1980s and 1990s. She doesn’t perform anymore. Since 2000, she has been the artistic director of the Vaganova Ballet Academy, a teacher of many young ballerinas.

Yvonne Ventresca:
The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. Sylvia in “The Art of Remaining Bitter” questions society’s values and beliefs the same way that Offred does. They both have to face insurmountable forces to attempt to retain their individuality.

Tyrean Martinson:
A movie that inspired my hero? Hmm. I didn’t think of one before I wrote the story, but I guess that my character Maud reminds me a bit of Mal in the Firefly series – he has lost his sense of purpose and thinks that his highest calling is to serve his own sense of freedom, but a heroic spark still flickers on the inside.

Lots of Star Wars influences. (It also influenced my first book.) Do you have a movie hero that inspired one of your stories?

Review – Ayreon: The Source

This is the ninth Ayreon album and an incredible prog rock effort. As with all other double discs, this is a concept album, and not only does it lead into the album 01011001, it ties together with all of the others.

The storyline: The Alphas’ world is dying and the President gives the supercomputer known as The Frame total control to find a solution. It does – exterminate all of the humans. The race is on to select a group to voyage into the stars to a new planet. A drug called The Source will enable them to live underwater on the new planet, although due to the drug, they begin to forget what happened on Alpha. They take one robot with them, who at the end predicts he will become the new Frame. Thus it leads into the first song on 01011001, Age of Shadows.

Arjen Anthony Lucassen is the brainchild and anchor – a true musical genius and legend in prog rock. He has consistently pulled storylines, music, and musicians together to make cohesive albums over the years, no small feat indeed.

The music harkens back to earlier Ayreon albums. The music is both complex and accessible, and the musical harmonies and talents incredible. James LaBrie, Tommy Karevik, Simone Simmons, Tobias Sammet, Russell Allen, and Floor Jansen are among the voice talent, not to mention a slew of great musicians.

The Source is a prog lover’s dream album! There’s also a bonus DVD. Highly recommended.

New Releases

The Connective by Pat Hatt
Find it on Amazon

An Artful Animal Alphabet by Mary Montague Sikes
This is a collection of the animal paintings she did a couple years ago for the A to Z Challenge.

MST3K and NetFlix

Tom Servo and Crow took their ideas to NetFlix this week with this video - Tom Servo and Crow Pitch Shows to Netflix.

Then JoBlo posted the results. Now, we can see them doing what they do best: riff on other movies, or in this case, other Netflix shows:

There’s a couple other videos to watch at JoBlo’s site.

RiffTrax: Live

Don’t forget, RiffTrax: Live has two shows this summer.
Summer Shorts Beach Party is on June 15 and features the guys along with Bridget Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, and a couple special guests.
Then on August 17, Mike, Kevin and Bill riff the legendary 1983 feature-length Doctor Who episode "The Five Doctors."
You don’t want to miss either!

Do you have a movie hero that inspired one of your stories? Have you listened to The Source yet? (I’d featured two videos from the album earlier this year.) Excited Tom Servo and Crow are tackling NetFlix shows? And who’s catching the RiffTrax: Live shows this summer?

My wife found these notebooks and insisted I take a photo...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Guardians 2 Review, Snowman Movies, #IWriteBecause, A to Z Challenge Reflections, Dunkirk Trailer, and StoryBundle

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Set to Awesome Mixtape 2, the Guardians are pursued by the Sovereign race and encounter Quill’s father in the process.
While not quite as good as the first, it’s still better than ninety-nine percent of the films out there.
In 3D, the special effects just pop off the screen. It is a colorful spectacle.
The humor is there in droves. Set to ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky, the first scene is priceless. Rocket and Drax have some great lines, although Baby Groot often steals the show.
The acting is great and the characters all share equal film time. Yondu has a major role, as does Gamora’s sister, Nebula. Kurt Russell rocks. (He and Vin Diesel are in two billion dollar grossing movies this spring. Furious 8 is already over a billion and no way this one won’t follow suit.) There’s a promise to come of more Sylvester Stallone, and Mantis now joins the Guardians.
This one goes a little deeper with the emotional heartstrings and surprises you along the way.
There are many teaser endings! Stay until the very, very end.
Highly recommended!

Snowman Movies!

It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Yolanda Renée’s The Snowman Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today.

Yolanda’s top ten snowman movies:

1. Frosty the Snowman – 1969 animation. Snowman comes to life via a magic hat and goes in search of Santa.
Snowmen with legs, creepy! Not to mention kidnapping.

2. Abominable Snowman – 1957 staring Peter Cushing. An English botanist and an American scientist lead an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary Yeti. They find him but…
There is no yeti! Oh, really????

3. The Falcon and the Snowman – 1985 with Sean Penn – A spy movie involving two friends and secrets fed to Russia.
Treason as a way to solve the problem of crooked politicians? Don’t see it!

4. Jack Frost - 1997 American horror comedy film – Jack Frost is headed for execution but runs into some genetic material that turns him into a Snowman! He goes on a killing spree.
Can you say yuck!!!! OMG, and there’s a sequel!!

5. Jack Frost – 1998 with Michael Keaton. A father dies and comes back as a Snowman.
Does not make up for killing Bambi’s mother. Creep factor – maximum!

6. Snowmen –2011 with Christopher Lloyd – Youngsters fight the bullies and try to make a name for themselves by building the most snowmen in one day.
News flash: snowmen don’t last forever.

7. The Snowman and the Snow Dog – 2012
Mourning the loss of his pet he creates a snowman and a snowdog.
Snowdog = cute. Flying snowmen, why?

8. Deadly Descent: The Abominable Snowman (2013) Skiing for your life to get away from the killer Snowmen!
Okay – how bad can it get? As bad as you imagine. 

 9. Harry & Snowman - 2016 An Amish plow horse is rescued from the glue factory and wins the Triple Crown.
This is a Snowman Story that won my heart! No snark!

10. The Snowman – 2017 Author Jo Nesbo beat me to the punch. His crime drama is now a movie hitting the big screen this October!

Thanks, Alex, for allowing me to visit during The Snowman tour.

THE SNOWMAN by Yolanda Renée

It takes a true artist to pursue his victims in the art of seduction, and Stowy Jenkins is no exception, especially with blood as his medium.

There is a tour-wide giveaway HERE.
Find The Snowman at Amazon
Find Yolanda: Blog Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Dunkirk Trailer

The next film from director Christopher Nolan…
“Dunkirk opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces. Trapped on the beach with their backs to the sea they face an impossible situation as the enemy closes in.”
Dunkirk is set for release on July 21st 2017 and features a cast that includes Nolan regulars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy alongside Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, Jack Lowden, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Tom Glynn-Carney and newcomer Fionn Whitehead.


The IWSG is now partnering with Reedsy on some upcoming events, and today, May 8, is a big one!

Through the #IWriteBecause project, we want to raise awareness about the power of writing. Above all, writing is not just a vocation or a hobby; it’s one of the greatest ways to express our thoughts and get our message out.
At Reedsy, we believe that every child, regardless of geography, gender or economics, should have access to education and the freedom to raise their voice and share their message with the world. That’s why, for every writer who shares their story, Reedsy will donate $10 to Room to Read — a non-profit organization that seeks to provide girls in Africa and Asia with access to education.

The IWSG asks members to Tweet and re-Tweet #IWriteBecause Monday, May 8!

Story Bundle Deal

What is StoryBundle?
StoryBundle is a way for people who love to read to discover quality indie books written by indie authors. We take a handful of books—anywhere from six to nine—and group them together to offer as a bundle. Then you, the reader, can take a look at the titles we've chosen and decide how much you'd like to pay.
This month’s bundle includes books from Milo James Fowler and Catherine Stine. Visit StoryBundle to see all the books.

A to Z Challenge Reflections

The A to Z Challenge is now over and today is for posting reflections on last month’s event.

I participated in the first seven Challenges. But not number eight. I was on board as a consultant although no longer managing the Linky List, as there wasn’t one.

From comments on the main blog, it looks like around 500 blogs participated this year.
Last year, there were 1300.
The year before that, there were 2000.

With the changes in blogging, the participation has slowly declined. There was more emphasis on posting links on Facebook and Twitter this year, but it is still a blogging event.

The A to Z Challenge helped me grow my blog in the beginning and I will forever be grateful. Growth is hard to gauge now with GFC slowly dying and Google+ being a mixed bag. I can’t even follow blogs using GFC anymore – I get an error message. (So to those who have followed me in the past year, sorry I can’t reciprocate – I do try to add you to my Feedly reader or follow on Google+.)

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is now my focus and growing fast – our second anthology release, Hero Lost, Facebook group, Twitter, newsletter, Goodreads, #IWSGPit, and more. That is where I need to focus my attention.

Anyone else see Guardians 2? Think Snowman movies are creepy? (I do!) What do you think of Dunkirk? Can you Tweet #IWriteBecause? And what were your thoughts about this past Challenge?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Hero Lost Release, May Movie Preview, 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 today are Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!

May question - What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

I kept hearing how important research was. So, for my fourth book, I decided to do some intensive research before I began to write. Sea kelp plays an integral role in Dragon of the Stars. It’s an energy source, a food, and a drug.

I did extensive research online, gathering pages upon pages of information.

And while it helped to shape the story, almost none of what I learned made it to the page.

If anyone wants to know more about sea kelp, please let me know.  I can hook you up...

The IWSG anthology is out now!

Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Print ISBN 9781939844361
eBook ISBN 9781939844378

Can a lost hero find redemption?
What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?
Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

Find on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, and Goodreads

And visit Michelle Wallace today for a special feature with the authors of Hero Lost!

Ninja News

Special shout-out to Laura Brambrey! She featured CassaStar in a segment regarding non-romantic love stories. (If you’ve not read CassaStar, it follows two ‘brothers’ in a war.)
Laura says: The one that instantly springs to mind actually comes from a genre that sits outside of my usual comfort zone. Cassa Star by Alex J. Cavanaugh is pure sci-fi, but it’s a book that I have now re-read over half a dozen times for the central relationship - the friendship of the young pilot, Byron, and the older, more experienced navigator, Bassa. Cavanaugh crafts their story in such a way that, although they may be training and fighting in the far reaches of the galaxy, their friendship develops like a classic romance. And every single time I’ve read it, it has reduced me to an emotional, sobbing wreck.
I still feel bad I make her cry though.
Thanks, Laura!

Reedsy just posted a great article - Dynamic Character: How to write a compelling protagonist.
They have a lot of great articles and resources. If you’re not following the site or subscribed to their newsletter, then you need to check it out.

New release:

Where Words Fail, Music Speaks
A collection of short stories and poetry by writers from all walks of life.
Featuring stories from Annalisa Crawford, Clare Dugmore, Kyra Lennon, and more.

Ultimate Principle: A DCI Lane Rivers Novel by NJ Burggraf
The job is brutal. It sucks every ounce of life out of you.
Find on Amazon

May Movie Preview

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

5 –

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' continues the team's adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage.
Director: James Gunn
Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper
Now, repeat after me. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot!
Oh yeah – this is going to rock

12 –

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy - whether he likes it or not.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Annabelle Wallis, Hermione Corfield
Sherlock Holmes meets Excalibur. With Guy Ritchie, you know it will be quirky.

19 –

Alien: Covenant
The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, James Franco, Noomi Rapace
Hopefully the covenant is Thou Shall Not Suck as Bad as Prometheus…

26 -

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.
Directors: Joachim Rønning | Espen Sandberg
Stars: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Orlando Bloom
One day, dead series will tell no more movies…

Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchanan butts heads with a brash new recruit. Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.
Director: Seth Gordon
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon Larracuente
Why do they keep turning all of our 80’s dramas into slapstick comedies?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever researched? Picking up Hero Lost? What book made you cry? What movies are you looking forward to this month?

And we need IWSG co-hosts for June, July, and August! Let me know if you can co-host.