Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, December Movie Preview, Movie-Show Reviews, and IWSG Stuff!

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 December 7 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!

December 7 question - It's holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

I usually keep my goals a bit lower since there is so much going on this month. But I usually accomplish what I set out to do.

#IWSGPit is coming!

The next #IWSGPit will be in January 25, 2023
9:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On January 25, 2023, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.
Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.

Get the full details here.

Here are the December selections for the IWSG Goodread Book Club

Little Ragdoll by Carrie-Anne Brownian

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Nice tribute to Chadwick Boseman and the Black Panther character.
It was also a very emotional film as it dealt with death, grief, and moving on.
However, it just didn’t quite rise to the same level as the first one and something felt missing. (And beyond Boseman.) I just didn’t connect with it or Namor – just can’t quite place my finger on it.
And of course, it was way too long. Cut thirty minutes and it might’ve been a tighter, better film.
Certainly worth seeing once.

Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities

This horror series dropped on NetFlix late October. Eight episodes, eight different directors.
Interesting mix of horror, some worked much better than others. Quality and acting are all top notch, it’s just the story itself that lets me down a few times.
A couple of the stories are based on Lovecraft.
The best are polar opposites – The Autopsy will have you covering your eyes while The Murmuring will haunt and touch you.
I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would enjoy it. But if you like horror, it’s a decent mix of stories.

The Contractor

Chris Pine is a discharged Special Forces guy who is contracted out to a private organization. Then things go wrong.
The main problem is it takes almost a third of the way in before the film gets interesting. Once it does, it’s picks up the pace and your interest as it throws you full into the action. Pine holds his own in a movie that really isn’t anything you haven’t seen before.
Worth a watch if you’re a Chris Pine fan or bored.

December Movie Preview

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

16 –

Avatar: The Way of Water

Director: James Cameron
Stars: Zoe Saldana, Kate Winslet, Sam Worthington
Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na'vi race to protect their planet.
The Na’vi are blue because the water is really damn cold.

21 –

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Directors: Joel Crawford, Januel Mercado
Stars: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Harvey Guillén
Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for adventure has taken its toll: he has burned through eight of his nine lives. Puss sets out on an epic journey to find the mythical Last Wish and restore his nine lives.
Actually, his last wish is to reverse his neutering.

Don't forget that today, December 7, marks the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
I will be mostly offline after this week.
I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
As a Christian, I do celebrate the birth of our Lord, as it was His sacrifice that set me free – set everyone free who believes in Him. He is my Father, my salvation, and my peace, and I will never forget that. May He bless all of you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Black Adam Review, and November 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 November 2 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!

November 2 question - November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

Yes! I participated in 2010. It was right after the release of my first book, CassaStar. And during NaNo, I wrote most of the sequel, CassaFire. (I didn’t finish until mid-December, but I did win at NaNo.)

I also participated in a June event, BuNo I believe it was called. I didn’t win, but I wrote a good chunk of what would become CassaStorm.

So, I do recommend them for anyone needing a deadline or some real motivation!

The IWSG Goodreads Book Club selections for November are:

Black Adam Movie Review

The film is good, what you’d expect from a superhero movie, and it just falls short of great.
I liked Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam.
I also loved seeing Hawkman and Dr. Fate. Pierce Brosnan was an excellent choice for the latter. Some reviews say the Justice Society is in it too much – I didn’t think so.
It tries to be a crowd pleaser, sometimes too hard. But it does deliver on all levels and with the great special effects you'd expect.
I enjoyed it though and recommend it to any superhero, DC, or Justice Society fan.
Don’t go in thinking it will subvert your expectations – it’s exactly what you think it will be.

November Movie Preview

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

2 –

The Monkey King: The Legend Begins
Director: Soi Cheang
Stars: Donnie Yen, Chow Yun-Fat, Aaron Kwok
The Monkey King: The Legend Begins is the re-imagined version by Hollywood of the film The Monkey King: Havoc in Heavens Palace, the origin and birthplace of The Monkey King Story.
It was shot back-to-back with the sequel – The Monkey King II: Electric Boogaloo.

11 –

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Director: Ryan Coogler
Stars: Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, Danai Gurira
The nation of Wakanda is pitted against intervening world powers as they mourn the loss of their king T'Challa.
I tried to avoid spoilers but the shapely Black Panther suit gave it away…

25 –

Battle for Saipan
Director: Brandon Slagle
Stars: Casper Van Dien, Jeff Fahey, Louis Mandylor
A Surgeon defends a hospital from invading enemy forces in the Battle of Saipan during World War II.
Somebody thought doing a war movie with a low budget and B and C list actors a good idea. Make sure you thoroughly destroy all expectations before seeing it.

Are you participating in NaNo? Did you see Black Adam? Any movies catch your eye this month? It’s slim pickings…

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Family Ghost Movies, and October 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 October 5 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

First thing – we need co-hosts for the next three months! If you can co-host November 2, December 7, or January 4, please leave a comment or send me an email. (Natalie, I have you down for December.) Thanks!

October 5 question - What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

Ability to do anything and go anywhere. Science fiction gives authors the chance to explore new places, new races, new technology, and yet still use real life situations to tell the tale. And most science fiction shows that we are still thriving, still hopeful. I like that a lot.

The IWSG Goodreads Book Club selections for October are:

Sign of the Green Dragon by C Lee McKenzie

Business for Authors by Joanna Penn

Top 10 Family Ghost Movies by H. R. Sinclair

I love a good spooky story. When ghosts are involved, I’m hooked. Below are my top ten favorite ghost stories to watch with the family. I listed the years for the films as some have remakes, and I don’t think they were done as well. Most of these are comedies, and with kids that’s usually a good idea.

Blackbeard's Ghost (1968) G, comedy, old-fashioned Disney fun
Blackbeard’s ghost walks the earth until he can do one good deed.

The Canterville Ghost
(1944) NR, comedy, sweet and charming
Sir Simon de Canterville’s ghost is doomed until a descendant performs an act of courage on his behalf.

The Time of Their Lives (1946) NR, comedy, Abbott & Costello
Two ghosts from the Revolutionary War haunt a house until they can clear their names of treason.

Topper (1937) NR, comedy, fun with Cary Grant
A fun-loving dead couple is determined to loosen up their living friend.

Ghost Town (2008) PG-13, comedy, romance, moving
A crabby dentist gains the ability to see dead people, and they annoy him.

R.I.P.D. (2013) PG-13, comedy, action/adventure, plain fun
A recently slain cop joins the undead police force and tries to find the man who murdered him.

Child of Glass (1978) NR, mystery, charming
A boy must help a ghost solve a riddle to release her from a doomed afterlife on earth.

Lady in White
(1988) PG-13, horror, scary, haunting
A boy befriends a ghost and attempts to discover who murdered her before he becomes the latest victim.

Odd Thomas (2013) PG-13, horror, entertaining
A clairvoyant cook, his sweetheart, and the town sheriff try to prevent an otherworldly catastrophe from coming.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) NR, romance, sweet
A woman becomes friends with the ghost of a sea captain who's been haunting her house, then agrees to write his salty life story.

My own ghost story for children is out now!

Oscar, the Apprehensive Apparition
Chapter book for ages 5-8
Oscar the ghost dwells happily in his cozy cottage, where he hides from creatures that lurk in the dark. After a mysterious message arrives, he must find the courage to go out and discover what's waiting for him. Will he be brave enough or will the monsters send him rushing back home?

Amazon, iTunes, Nook, and MORE Want to know more about H. R.? Visit her website.

October Movie Preview

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

7 –

Set in the '30s, it follows three friends who witness a murder, become suspects themselves, and uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history.
Director - David O. Russell
Stars - Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington
Bale has become a chameleon - you can't find him in a good movie anywhere.

14 –

Halloween Ends
The saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode comes to a spine-chilling climax in this final installment of the franchise.
Director - David Gordon Green
Stars - Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Will Patton
For the love of Pete! Shove him in a wood chipper, collect the pieces, and shoot them into space. We’re done!

21 –

Black Adam
Nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods-and imprisoned just as quickly-Black Adam (Johnson) is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world.
Director - Jaume Collet-Serra
Stars - Viola Davis, Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Shahiv
I got four words for you - Justice Society of America! Too cool to see them in this film.

What’s the best part of your genre? What are your favorite family ghost films? Picking up Oscar? What movies strike your interest this month?
And can you co-host in the next three months?
See you for the November IWSG!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Creating a Fantasy World and Reviews of Megadeth, House of the Dragon, Moonfall, and Morbius

Creating a Fantasy World by Deniz Bevan

As a lifelong Tolkien fan, I shied away from writing fantasy for many years, because I knew I could never develop a world as complex and consistent (even within its deliberate inconsistencies!) as that of Middle-earth.
But then I found myself writing about a talking, time-travelling cat...
From there, minor intrusions into fantasy realms became a possibility.
And suddenly, I found myself reimagining a fairy-tale. But, again, as a Tolkien fan, I wanted to be as accurate and consistent as I could.
I had three main elements: a Kraken-type creature; an ancient family spell; and the story of Beauty and the Beast.
I couldn’t address every aspect of these things, but I tried to get the nomenclature, personification, and history right!
The kraken was easiest; my kraken remains formless and vague. She is at the mercy of the spells cast by the humans that control her.
The spells were great fun to invent (a tiny bit of linguistic playtime!) and I ended up using the word “witch” for the antagonist, although I’m not entirely convinced that it’s an accurate term. She only really has one main evil action, as part of her family’s history: Capture the current generation from Frederick’s family to take on the role of the Beast.
And Beauty and the Beast? I read ‘em all! Or as many as I could, from the original story by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (in French!) to endless variations on the tale (including the brilliant recent one by Wendy Mass in her Twice Upon a Time series).
I also had great fun collecting images on my Story Inspirations board on Pinterest.
Do you enjoy story research?

Druid’s Moon
By Deniz Bevan

Print ISBN 9781939844866
eBook ISBN 9781939844873

A firm believer in burning the candle at both ends, Deniz Bevan is generally writing a new novel while editing another and blogging about her reading and research adventures. Other days, she tries to stay off the web altogether, as she delves into the history, mystery, and romance of her characters’ lives.

Find Druid’s Moon on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Goodreads


Megadeth – The Sick, the Dying, and the Dead

At sixty-one years old, Dave is still angry, and that’s not a bad thing.
Not sure if I like this better than Dystopia (the last album) but I give him credit – it’s a strong album.
Some of the standout tracks are Night Stalkers, Soldier On, We’ll be Back, and the cover of the old Sammy Hagar tune This Planet’s on Fire, featuring Sammy Hagar!
If you are a fan, this will thrill you. If not, this will not change your mind.

House of the Dragon

Very similar in tone to Game of Thrones.
Features all the requisite gore, nudity, and language you’d expect from HBO.
My overall impression is that I like it but I don’t love it. Maybe that will change over time. Perhaps it’s because the story is moving forward in time but not really going anywhere. Or perhaps it’s Martin’s obsession with incest. Take your pick.


Another end of the world from Roland Emmerich.
Leave your brain completely out of the room and suspend all belief. It will at times unintentionally make you laugh. With Halle Berry! Then again, she did do Catwoman…


Had high hopes for it. They were shattered quickly.
I was mildly entertained and mildly bored by this film.
However, this is one of those movies that the more you think about it, the worse it gets.
With the exception of Jared Leto, who is a fine actor, this movie was a failure in almost every way.

Have you created a fantasy world? Heard the new Megadeth? Seen House of the Dragon or either movie?
Offline for most of next week but I will be back October 5 for
Insecure Writer’s Support Group day!

Monday, September 12, 2022

Harnessing Quiet Conflict and Reviews – Samaritan, Dynazty, Muse, and The Rings of Power

How to Harness the Power of Quiet Conflict by Angela Ackerman


We know that smaller conflicts layered together can sometimes have the biggest impact: misplaced car keys can cause a character to be late picking a child up from preschool, which leads to a stern warning from the teacher, judgement from other parents, and possibly even a fine. Now the character is in a bad mood and as she turns into the driveway, she misses seeing the cyclist on the sidewalk, and just like that, a whole new set of problems start.


Subtle conflict can also play a big role in the story. History is filled with powerful moments of quiet resistance—ordinary people who spied during a war, hid Jewish people from the Nazis, or sewed hidden messages into clothing to draw attention to unfair working conditions in second-and third-world countries. 


When you need conflict that’s subdued yet satisfying, give these a try: 


Subversion. Have a character use persuasion or manipulation to "turn" people inside a rival or enemy’s inner circle. 


Collusion. A character pursuing a goal that will disrupt the status quo and make enemies of powerful people—what can be better than that? Adding someone else who is like-minded, of course. Two characters, maybe even rivals, joining forces to conspire against an influential person or agency is the ultimate rebellion. 


Interference. Quiet conflict can always come in the form of disruptions and obstructions, such as an unforeseen delay, bureaucracy slowing things down, losing a resource, an opponent purposefully passing along wrong information, or someone causing small problems to hinder the character's agenda. 


Informing. No one likes having their private matters made public—often because it causes a loss of leverage. This is why information being leaked to the character's competitor or enemy can be so detrimental. Not only could this sabotage a character’s goals, having an informant in their camp will cause them to view everyone around them with suspicion, creating deeply embedded trust issues.  


Influencing. Influencers, by nature, win trust and favor and use their position to persuade others. A benevolent influencer can help a character make better decisions, but a malevolent one could use their resources to derail the character’s confidence, make them dependent, and lead them to choices and actions that will weaken them in the long run.

Intimidation. This is the big bad brother of influencing—the threat of violence or unpleasant consequences being used to pressure a character into making certain decisions. Intimidation can come in the form of a physical attack, someone's unwanted presence, or even a meaningful look. It can be mental, too, especially if the person doing the intimidating has information that can be leveraged if their target doesn’t fall in line.

Have you ever used these in your story? Let me know in the comments!

If you need more ideas for story conflict, check out The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Volume 1 & Volume 2).

Together they explore 225 conflict scenarios that generate power struggles, relationship friction, danger, moral dilemmas, ticking clocks, failures & mistakes, and much more.

Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, and its many sequels. Available in ten languages, her guides are sourced by universities, recommended by agents and editors, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, and psychologists around the world.  Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site Writers Helping Writers, as well as One Stop for Writers, a portal to game-changing tools and resources that enable writers to craft powerful fiction.

Movie and Music Reviews


From the IMDB: A young boy learns that a superhero who was thought to have gone missing after an epic battle twenty years ago may in fact still be around.
This is an original superhero film starring a now 76 year-old Sylvester Stallone.
It’s done well, but nothing I don’t think any of us couldn't have written.
Then, there is a twist near the end. Not quite Donnie Darko level, but it really elevates the film.

Muse – Will of the People

Every song on this British band’s album is catchy. And all over the map – pop to rock to metal. Very eclectic. But totally Muse.
It’s definitely a covid lockdown and restrictions protest album. Song titles include Compliance and We Are F*ing F*ed.
One of the best songs will surprise you – Verona.

Dynazty – Final Advent

This Swedish rock band knows how to write the hits. On par with 80’s Def Leppard.
Delayed for months, it’s well worth the wait. Every song is catchy and a potential hit.
Best song – Yours. It is epic!

The Rings of Power

The series takes place during the second age, giving it centuries to work with.
You get a young Galadriel and Elrond and it really fleshes out their backgrounds.
Plus, it’s of the same quality as the LOTR and Hobbit movies. The special effects, pacing, and everything – just great.

Are you ready to tackle conflict now? Picked up the Conflict Thesaurus? Seen Samaritan, Rings of Power, or heard either album?