Monday, January 24, 2022

Movies About Writers, Publication Journey, #IWSGPit, Best Movies and Albums of 2021, and Jeremy Hawkins Tribute

Movies About Writers by Shannon Lawrence

As long as there are movies, there will be movies about writers. After all, who's writing the screenplays? Writers. The crazy thing about it is that movies about writers are rarely realistic, which seems odd, because, as we've already discussed, it's actual writers writing about writers. I suppose if they made them realistic the films would be pretty dull. Who wants to watch a person struggling over a typewriter, notepad, or laptop? There'd be no dialogue except muttered profanity and the same line read repeatedly aloud to figure out if it sounded right. Is this adverb too much? What kind of clause is this? Still, accurate or not there are many superb movies about writers. Here are five of the better ones, in no particular order:

1. The Shining - All work and no play makes writers...well, out of shape. But in The Shining, one of several movies about writers based on Stephen King stories, that plus cabin fever make Jack a rampaging madman. I guess we're lucky this isn't true, as we've all got a little cabin fever after the last couple years.
2. Dead Poets Society - I debated putting this one on the list, but come on, it's such an excellent film. "Oh, Captain, my Captain." If only all readers stood atop their desks out of sheer inspiration.
3. Romancing the Stone - Writers spend a lot of time at their desks instead of living life to its fullest. In this classic, a timid romance author gets the adventure and romance of her fantasies and takes us along for the ride.
4. Capote - With the excellent acting pair of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener, you can't go wrong with this film. Truman Capote gets in over his own egotistical head when researching a true crime with the intention of turning it into a full length novel.

5. Julie and Julia
- While the writing in this one has to do with cookbooks and blogs, it only seems right that the blogging community be represented. The least serious of the movies above, this one's sweet, light, and...tasty.

Though short story writers are rarely featured on film, many short stories are made into movies. All the better a reason to get into writing short stories!

Shannon's book, The Business of Short Stories: Writing, Submitting, Publishing, and Marketing, releases February 1 in digital and paperback. Pre-order The Business of Short Stories from Amazon

Shannon Lawrence has made a career of short stories, with over a decade of experience and more than fifty short stories published in magazines and anthologies. In addition, she's released three horror collections with a mix of new and previously published stories. Her true crime podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem is going into its third season.
Find Shannon here - Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub, Goodreads, and Amazon

The Journey to Publication

How did I get here —here being published with my first book (KNIGHT RISE) out in the marketplace? To say that I took a long and winding path would be an understatement and probably take more than 300 words to tell, but I’ll do my best. Knight Rise was my first attempt at writing a novel, penned in 2009. In the book a main character is a blogger, so I started a blog as research. That inevitably led me here to Alex’s site. Unfortunately, it didn’t take me long to discover that I’d made all the mistakes an aspiring author could make with KR. I decided to shelve it and move on, which I did, writing five more novels over the course of twelve years. Along the way I was signed by not one, but two different literary agents, had multiple books put on submission with publishers, came REALLY close a couple of times, but could never land the deal that would put a book into a reader’s hands.
In 2021 two things happened, both virtually at the same time. The first was I decided to pull Knight Rise off the shelf. I figured I had developed as a writer to the point where I could repair all the missteps I had made when I first wrote it, and besides, I always loved its story and the characters. Around the same time, I was contacted by a woman who I had become acquainted with at one of the writer’s conferences I attended years prior. She had plans to open her own bookstore (Wild Lark Books) and at the same time offer small press publishing deals – the kicker being the authors would keep all the rights to their material. The best part was she wanted me to be her first published author. The rest, they say, is history.
It’s been quite a ride and I want to thank Alex for all his support over the years, as well as the time here today. It means a lot!
Here’s the pitch. KNIGHT RISE is a fast-paced, intriguing page-turner with a lot of heart. Follow a crew of enjoyable characters through stunning plot twists for a thrilling ride you won’t forget! If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, or you want to find out more about DL or his journey, go HERE. The book can also be found on Amazon.

DL Hammons
wrote his first piece of fiction to impress a girl in high school (it was moderately successful) and he’s never looked back. A business graduate from Louisiana State University, DL now lives in Central Arkansas with his best friend (wife of 38 years) enjoying the empty nest his two grown sons and daughter have left him with. He has spent the last dozen years perfecting his writing voice, splitting time between YA and adult Mystery/Suspense. He also hosts an annual contest for other aspiring writers entitled WRiTE CLUB on his popular blog.
DL is represented by Tina P. Schwartz of the Purcell Agency.

Top Movies and Albums of 2021

Movies were still a bit limited this year but albums certainly weren’t—near the end of 2021, I was downloading a new album every week. The following is my list of the best of the best. Understand that I lean toward science fiction, fantasy, and superheroes when it comes to movies and my musical genre of choice is progressive rock.

Top 2021 movies:

6 – Godzilla vs. Kong
5 – Dune
4 – Spider-Man: No Way Home
3 – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
2 – The Suicide Squad
1 – Zach Snyder’s Justice League

Top 2021 Albums

9 – Mastodon – Hushed and Grim
8 – Silver Lake – Silver Lake
7 – Jerry Cantrell – Brighten
6 – Insomnium – Argent Moon
5 – Katetonia – Mnemosynean
4 – Omnium Gatherum – Origin
3 – Gojira – Fortitude
2 – Chevelle – NIRATIAS
1 – Dream Theater – View From the Top of the World

Jeremy Hawkins Tribute

On January 3, we lost an amazing guy – Jeremy Hawkins.
On February 2, we are going to pay tribute and give back to one who was so giving and involved in our community.
To honor his life and support the family he leaves behind, on that day:
• Post a story or memory about Jeremy.
• Post photos of Jeremy.
• Share some of the graphics he made for you.
• Post a photo of you wearing one of the t-shirts he designed.
• And to support his family, between now and then, purchase one of his t-shirt designs, one of his books, or one of his prints. (He also created the IWSG t-shirt.)
Spread the word and let’s pay tribute to one of the most supportive and loyal guys ever to cross our paths, Jeremy Hawkins.

#IWSGPit is this Wednesday!

If you’ve never participated in a Twitter pitch party, this is your chance.
Dozens have signed book contracts as a result – you could be next.
Visit the #IWSGPit page for the rules and hashtags.
And then join us on January 26!

What movies about writers do you enjoy? Would you stick with it as long as DL did? What were some of your favorite movies and albums of 2021? Helping us celebrate Jeremy’s life next week? And who’s up for #IWSGPit this Wednesday?
See you February 2 for IWSG day!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Crazy, Jeremy Hawkins Tribute, and Movie and Series Reviews


Thank you, Alex, for your support, and for boldly trusting me with the spotlight today. You’re brave. You’re also as sane and as stable as they get. Me? Not so much. In fact, I’ve been called “crazy” multiple times—by myself alone, hourly.
Scarier still, I’m a mental health clinician. I know. There are many…“unhinged” (shall we say?) people in the helping profession. That’s one point I playfully underscore in InSanity.
Meanwhile, I ponder the terms “insane” and “crazy.” I’m perplexed by this antiquated yet still mainstream lingo. “Crazy” is used to stigmatize people. It’s not good to be crazy. That’s understood.
Wait, what about Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” Alex? It’s a fabulous song! I know this because, um, you mentioned it. (I then listened to it.) Of course you’re right. It’s crazy good, much like the man himself. He practically boasts about his craziness.
There are countless other songs with “crazy” in the title: “Still Crazy After All These Years” (Paul Simon), “She Drives Me Crazy” (Fine Young Cannibals), “Crazy in Love” (BeyoncĂ©), “Let’s Go Crazy” (Prince). Thus, crazy is good, thrilling, sexy, and exciting, right?
It seems there’s a good crazy and a bad crazy.
By the same token, perhaps there’s a good sane and a bad sane. A sane person like you makes for a loyal, dependable friend.
Yet according to R.A. Salvator, “Sane is boring.” We don’t like mundane predictability all the time.
Then again, you’re not at all boring, Alex. You’re a good sane. I’ve proven my point.
Me? Um, well I’ve rambled too long already. * Crazed smile*

Insanity by Robyn Alana Engel
Author of International Award-Winning memoir, Woman on the Verge of Paradise, delivers another hearty dose of optimistic love, painful heartache, and all the feels for which words don't suffice. In this refreshingly intimate search for the line between "sanity" and "insanity", a sassy seductress encounters human grit, benevolence, and one man who isn't weird.
"Never before has a book so completely changed my viewpoint on mental illness and suicide (with the exception of Moby Dick). InSanity has really sunk its teeth in me."-Ken Lynch, Author of a series of books based loosely on his childhood and not-so-loosely on his service in the Navy
Find Insanity on Amazon

Movie and Series Reviews

Descriptions courtesy of the IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes.

In theaters and free on Disney+
A young Colombian girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers.
This stunning animated film is set in Columbia but not sure if it’s based on Columbian folklore.
It is beautiful to look at and very charming. The colors, the animation – it all comes alive.
Could’ve used a little bit more editing and development, but overall very entertaining.

The Matrix Resurrections
In theaters and free on HBO Max
To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more.
Wait, Neo isn’t dead? Nope! They have brought him back to cash-grab for mor money.
The film’s story line is very similar to the first, albeit done a little differently. But you do watch the movie thinking you’ve seen it all before.
A couple stars return, but it’s mostly a new cast. They also shaved some money on special effects – now they aren’t quite as good as the first film (which came out twenty years ago). The action scene weren’t quite up to snuff, either.
It was nice to see Neo and Trinity again, and the movie was entertaining – but completely pointless.
Watch if you’re curious.

Ron’s Gone Wrong
The story of Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device, which is supposed to be his 'Best Friend out of the Box.'
This is a thoroughly charming and fun adventure!
B-bot is the device every kid must have and it was originally designed to help kids make friends – which now the bots do through social media instead of in person. But Ron isn’t connected or upgraded, so he bumblingly but sweetly tries to make friends for Barney. Of course, the top of the company doesn’t like Ron’s malfunction (independence) and wants to eliminate him. (Using other bots to spy – so much commentary on Bill Gates and other big-tech guys!) This is a great film for kids and adults alike.
Highly recommended!

Series based on the Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye, centering on the adventures of Young Avenger, Kate Bishop, who took on the role after the original Avenger, Clint Barton.
Absolutely the funniest of the Avenger series. It also kept everything fun and never grew too dark.
There are some great surprises and call-backs to previous NetFlix series. It also ties in with Black Widow and there are a lot of surprises.
Renner and Steinfeld play well off each other in a father-daughter/reluctant mentor-protegee kind of way.
At only six episodes, it’s the perfect length.
Highly recommended!

The Witcher – Season Two
Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts.
And of course for season two, he has a partner – Ciri!
The first season was a bit confusing as it jumped around in time. Season two offers a straighter narrative and is much easier to follow.
Season two is also far superior. The cast and writers have found their footing. If you are a fantasy buff, this is a much-watch.
Highly recommended!

The Wheel of Time
Set in a high fantasy world where magic exists, but only some can access it, a woman named Moiraine crosses paths with five young men and women. This sparks a dangerous, world-spanning journey. Based on the book series by Robert Jordan.
I started this series despite a few negative reviews. I’m not sure why any reviewers had issues though – I found the show to be spectacular.
I haven’t read all the books (they were a bit over-stuffed and I wasn’t sure the series would ever end) but the show follows them closely. It does eliminate a lot of the books’ minor characters that are just there for padding, which is a bonus.
It’s a hundred percent entertaining and engaging and another must for fantasy fans.
Highly recommended! 

Jeremy Hawkins Tribute

On January 3, we lost an amazing guy – Jeremy Hawkins.
On February 2, we are going to pay tribute and give back to one who was so giving and involved in our community.
To honor his life and support the family he leaves behind, on that day:
• Post a story or memory about Jeremy.
• Post photos of Jeremy.
• Share some of the graphics he made for you.
• Post a photo of you wearing one of the t-shirts he designed.
• And to support his family, between now and then, purchase one of his t-shirt designs, one of his books, or one of his prints. (He also created the IWSG t-shirt.)
Spread the word and let’s pay tribute to one of the most supportive and loyal guys ever to cross our paths, Jeremy Hawkins.

Any other crazy songs you can think of? Seen any of those movies or series? Will you join us on February 2 in honoring Jeremy Hawkins?

We need IWSG co-hosts for March, and April! If you can help, please leave a comment. We need three to four more for each month.

Next Monday is a holiday so I will be back on January 24 with two awesome guests!

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

IWSG Anthology Winners, #IWSGPit, Spider-Man: No Way Home Review, and January Movie Preview

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

The awesome co-hosts for the January 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

January 5 question - What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

Probably that I didn’t begin sooner or that I am such a slow writer. I did begin although I have never sped up my writing.

The Seventh Annual IWSG Anthology Contest Winners!

The genre was sweet romance and the theme first love.

Thanks to all who entered – it was a record amount of entries this year.

Now we present the authors of First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts:

The Art of Making Doughnuts - Linda Budzinski
Paper Faces - Sylvia Ney
The Real Thing - Sammi Spizziri
My Heart Approves - Melissa Maygrove
Oliver’s Girl - Michael Di Gesu
Clyde and Coalesce - Kim Elliot
My First Love(s) - Templeton Moss
How to Save a Princess - Katie Klein
The Castle of Ohno - SE White
Marmalade Sunset - Denise Covey

A special thanks to our official judges:

Author Nancy Gideon
Nancy Gideon is the award-winning bestseller of over 70 romances ranging from historical, Regency, and series contemporary suspense to dark paranormal and horror, with a couple of produced screenplays and non-fiction writing books tossed into the mix. She’s also written under the pseudonyms Dana Ransom, Rosalyn West, and Lauren Giddings.

Agent Caitlin Blasdell, Liza Dawson Associates

Caitlin Blasdell has been a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates since 2002 with a focus on commercial fiction. Before becoming an agent, she was a senior editor at HarperCollins Publishers.

Author Susan Gourley
Susan Gourley is traditionally published in fantasy and science fiction romance using the name Susan Kelley. She is currently serving as the President of the Pennwriters writing group renowned for the annual conference.

Author Jennifer Lane
Jennifer Lane writes sports romance and romantic suspense with a psychological twist. She has published nine novels and two short stories, including Behind the Catcher’s Mask as part of the IWSG Masquerade Anthology.

Author Meka James
Meka James is a writer of adult contemporary and erotic romance. A born and raised Georgia Peach, she still resides in the southern state with her hubby of 16 years and counting. Mom to four kids of the two legged variety, she also has four fur-babies of the canine variety. When not writing or reading, Meka can be found playing The Sims 3, sometimes Sims 4, and making up fun stories to go with the pixelated people whose world she controls.

Author Loni Townsend

By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she writes fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head. People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don't let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human.

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts will be published by Dancing Lemur Press' imprint, Freedom Fox Press, later this year.

This is our seventh anthology! Previous titles include Dark Matter: Artificial, Voyagers: The Third Ghost, Masquerade: Oddly Suited, Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, Hero Lost, The Mysteries of Death and Life, and Parallels: Felix Was Here.

is this month!
If you’ve never participated in a Twitter pitch party, this is your chance.
Dozens have signed book contracts as a result – you could be next.
Visit the #IWSGPit page for the rules and hashtags.
And then join us on January 26!

Goodbye My Brother

On Monday, January 3, I lost a dear friend – Jeremy Hawkins.

Jeremy and I had been good blogger buds for twelve years. His blog was Being Retro / Hollywood Nuts and he was a producer for Howling Wolf Records. He also interviewed many celebrities over the years and visited many cons.

He also designed the t-shirts for the IWSG and A to Z Challenge and many more, sold at his NeatOShop.

This is a huge loss and we will miss Jeremy tremendously. He was a very giving person and did everything he could to help his fellow creatives. May we never forget him.

To find out more about Jeremy, you can read about him About - HERE.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

Spider-Man ask Doctor Strange to make the world forget his identity, but when the spell goes wrong, villains from other universes begin to appear.
This is the third of the Tom Holland films and definitely the best.
Tough review to do as there are so many spoilers and surprises. (At several points, our audience clapped and cheered.)
The movie hits on every level as it deals with the multiverse, portrayed well in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It tugs at the heartstrings, zings with action, and delivers a great story.
Only complaint – ten-fifteen minutes could have been shaved from this two and a half hour film.
But this is the ultimate Spider-Man film and you just have to see it on the big screen. And as always, stay for the two bonus scenes.
Highly recommended!

January Movie Preview

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

21 –

Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre
Special agent Orson Fortune and his team of operatives recruit one of Hollywood's biggest movie stars to help them on an undercover mission when the sale of a deadly new weapons technology threatens to disrupt the world order.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Cary Elwes, Jason Statham, Josh Hartnett, Aubrey Plaza
Statham is really growing as an actor – apparently in this film, he punches a lot of people.

28 –

Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Stars: Jared Leto, Michael Keaton, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris
Morbius trades one incurable disease for another…seems silly, doesn’t it?

What do you regret and did you overcome it? Excited about the IWSG anthology? Ready for #IWSGPit? Did you see Spider-Man? Seeing any movies this month?