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?

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, First Love Release, RiffTrax: Live – Return of the Swamp Thing, and September 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 September 7 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

September 7 question - What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

Romance would probably be the worst. Just not my thing. Especially if it was erotic. Not going to happen! Mystery would also be challenging as my mind just doesn’t work that way.

However, today is about romance and the release of the IWSG Anthology!

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

The sweetness of first love…
Could a fiercely independent cop’s heart be stolen by the guy who makes her favorite doughnuts? Will a maid who used deceit to snare a mail-order husband get a dose of her own medicine? Can her handsome neighbor rescue a modern-day “princess” from a tenacious ex-boyfriend? Can two strangers in a rideshare be honest enough to fall in love for real? Can you remember your first love? How about your second? Third? Fourth?
Featuring the talents of Linda Budzinski, Melissa Maygrove, Michael Di Gesu, Sylvia Ney, Katie Klein, Kim Elliott, Templeton Moss, S.E. White, Denise Covey, and Sammi Spizziri. Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will touch your heart and rekindle lost feelings. Prepare to return to that first love…

Print ISBN – 9781939844880, $14.95
eBook ISBN – 9781939844897, $4.99
Romance - Clean & Wholesome / Contemporary / Historical
186 pages, Freedom Fox Press, an imprint of Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Find First Love on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Scribed, and Goodreads

“…a refreshing read! This is a gem of a book that I highly recommend.” - Rebecca Boerner M Ed., reviewer
“…this collection nailed the little bites of cute romance… recommend to anyone looking for an uplifting collection of sweet romance to fill an evening.” - Hayley Reese Chow, author
“This was a sweet, warm collection of love stories.” – Angie Titus, author

Here are the book selections with the IWSG Goodreads Book Club for September:

Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life IWSG Anthology

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

RiffTrax: Live – Return of the Swamp Thing

Just what a bad movie like The Swamp Thing needed – a sequel! But fortunately, it’s just bad and watchable enough that it was perfect fodder for RiffTrax. Absolutely hilarious. Plus there was a terrible short about teeth with marionettes before that. Another great evening – now, enjoy the slides!

September Movie Preview

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

8 –

Director – Petr Jákl Stars – Ben Foster, Sophie Lowe, Michael Caine
The story of fifteenth century Czech icon and warlord Jan Zizka, who defeated armies of the Teutonic Order and the Holy Roman Empire.
Michael Caine is going to get medieval on your ass!

14 –

The Retaliators
Directors - Samuel Gonzalez Jr., Michael Lombardi, Bridget Smith
Stars - Michael Lombardi, Marc Menchaca, Joseph Gatt
An upstanding pastor uncovers a dark and twisted underworld as he searches for answers surrounding his daughter's brutal murder.
If you don’t find the trailer disturbing and depressing, might I suggest therapy?

30 –

After the collapse of Earth's ecosystem, Vesper, a 13-year-old girl struggling to survive with her paralyzed father, meets a woman with a secret who will force her to use her wits, strengths and bio-hacking abilities to fight for the possibility of having a future.
Directors - Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper
Stars - Raffiella Chapman, Eddie Marsan, Rosy McEwen
At first I thought this was a film about a small Italian scooter…

What genre won’t you ever try? Picking up First Love? Did you see RiffTrax: Live? What movies catch your attention this month?