Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Big Announcement! Plus September Movie Preview, Movie Trivia Answers, and New Releases

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 Julie Flanders, Murees Dupé, Dolorah at Book Lover, Christine Rains, and Heather Gardner!


Today marks four years since the group began and two years since we opened the website. So what better way to celebrate than offer our members an amazing opportunity! Presenting…

The IWSG Short Story Contest 2015

After the success of last year’s IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond, we decided to create another book. This time it’s a short story competition with the top ten stories getting published in an anthology. (Authors will also receive royalties on sales.)

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 5000-6000

Theme: Alternate History/Parallel Universe. That’s right, we’ve decided to go the speculative route. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines, except erotica or graphic violence.

Story deadline: November 1st 2015

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to TheIWSG at gmail dot com before the deadline passes. Make sure to include your contact details.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges:
Laura Maisano - Senior editor at Anaiah Press for their YA/NA Christian fiction
Russell Connor – Author and owner of Dark Filament Publishing Startup
Candace Havens – Editorial Director for the Covet, Select, Select Otherworld, Select Historical, Embrace, Indulgence for Entangled Publishing. She is also a nationally syndicated columnist and award-winning and best-selling author.
Dawn Frederick – Literary agent and the founder of Red Sofa Literary
Alice Speilburg – Founder of the Speilburg Literary Agency
Michelle Johnson – Literary agent and the founder of Inklings Literary Agency
Kendare Blake - Author
Lydia Moëd - Associate agent at The Rights Factory

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title. The winners will also receive an exclusive badge to display on their blog.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

The #IWSG short story anthology contest is open! For details - http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2015/09/iwsg-post-day-and-special-anniversary.html #contest #shortstory #anthology

Ninja News

Battle of the Banned results:
The song was Powerslave and the votes were close. With my vote for Maiden…
Iron Madien - 12
Testament - 8

Truedessa wrote a beautiful poem about the Dragon and posted a shot of the book and swag she won!


Rhonda Albom’s daughter had this exciting news:
I have been accepted into the AFS student exchange program! I will be going to Argentina for the 2016 year. One of several ways I am fundraising for my portion of expenses is by creating an online Zazzle store and selling some of my photography works on different products. I started Sarah Albom Photography a few days ago.

Interesting article at Tiny Tickle - Leeds and the World's First Science Fiction Convention. Arthur C. Clarke was one of the attendees.

New Releases!

Garden of Lost Souls: A Collection of Flash Fiction by Madeline Mora-Summonte 
Find it at Amazon and Goodreads


Tiamat's Nest by Ian S. Bott
Find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBookstore


Just Another Day in Purgatory by River Fairchild
Amazon. iBookstore, and Barnes and Noble

Re-release:
Oppression by Jessica Therrien

Movie Trivia Answers 

1 – Where is your drill sergeant, men? Blown up, Sir! – 1981- Stripes
2 – In Mexico, you know what they call Twinkies? Los submarions. – 2009 - Zombieland
3 – Wild Thing, you make my heart sing. You walk everything. – 1989 Major League
4 – Hey, get a room guys… Oh that’s not right! – 1999 Galaxy Quest
5 – I’m going to call her Lunch. Hello, Lunch, hello! Ew! Avoid the green ones-not ripe yet. – 1988 A Fish Called Wanda

September Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for September! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

4 –

The Transporter Refueled
In the south of France, former special-ops mercenary Frank Martin enters into a game of chess with a femme-fatale and her three sidekicks who are looking for revenge against a sinister Russian kingpin.
Director: Camille Delamarre
Stars: Ed Skrein, Loan Chabanol, Ray Stevenson, Lenn Kudrjawizki
Now refueled with even fewer stars…



11 –

The Visit
A single mother finds that things in her family's life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Kathryn Hahn, Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan
It’s actually getting good buzz – it’s the director’s apology for the past four films.



18 –

Everest 
A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Stars: Elizabeth Debicki, Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright
It looks good – I actually want to see this one.

Sicario
An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Jon Bernthal, Josh Brolin
Good buzz and could be another hit for Blunt.




25 –

Hotel Transylvania 2
Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Stars: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Nick Offerman
Adam Sandler – insert your own suck joke here.




What are your writer insecurities today? Picking up any of the new releases? Get any of the trivia right? Which movies are you seeing in September? And who plans to enter the IWSG contest…?

Monday, August 24, 2015

RiffTrax Live! Plus Movie Reviews, Trivia, and News; Dragon and Cassa News, Battle of the Banned, and Ninja News

Back from vacation! I’m starting to really enjoy those…

RiffTrax Live!

Two more shows remain in this year’s RiffTrax Live line-up – Miami Connection and Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.

You’ve read my reviews of their shows – this is your chance to see them for yourself.

Miami Connection is October 1, live in Nashville, TN. Get your tickets HERE.

Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is December 3 and you can get your tickets HERE.

If you’ve never seen RiffTrax live, you don’t want to miss either of these showings!

Movie News

JoBlo’s site announced last week: Regal Theaters announce bag-check policy in response to recent shootings.
About time!

Also from JoBlo’s Site: Blood & boobs run the red-band Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse trailer
Sorry, I was just drawn in by the blood and boobs! (And I assume there will be carnage…)

NetFlix Movie Reviews

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
After losing his family during a zombie apocalypse, a man goes searching for his sister in the outback. This Australian film breathes a little new life into the zombie genre.
It’s high on style, but falls short of making sense.
Don’t let that stop you, though. It’s gory, odd, and occasionally funny.
Worth a free rental

Slow West
A young Scottish man searching for the woman he loves pairs up with a bounty hunter.
This film is aptly titled – this isn’t a fast moving, shoot-em-up.
It’s quirky, but very enjoyable. It was a unique take on the Western genre and a refreshing one at that.
It’s a distinctive role for Fassbender, who was also one of the producers. Both he and Cavendish (who will be the next Night Crawler) were excellent in the film.
Recommended

Ninja News

We have a HUGE announcement next week at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! You don’t want to miss this – out most ambitious project ever.

New Releases!

Fight the Time Flight by Pat Hatt
Find it on Amazon

Hot Pink in the City by Medeia Sharif
Find it at Prizm Books and Amazon

Dragon and Cassa News

Thanks again to everyone who requested a copy of Dragon’s Destiny! I’ve already received some amazing feedback and even reviews at Beauty in Ruins and Edi’s Book Lighthouse.

Remember, it’s a short story that takes place after Dragon of the Stars and is free to anyone who’s read the book. Just send me an email – tell me what happened to Aden at the end and what format you want, ePub, Mobi, or PDF file.

There was also an amazing review of Dragon of the Stars from Jean Baldrige.

Finally, my publisher informed its authors that we had the opportunity to update one of our titles this month. I cringed, but I asked if I could update my first book, CassaStar. 
Now, I’ve never read any of my books after publication. And after going through CassaStar, I now know why. I have come so far as an author! The story remained solid, I just needed to word it better.
Now, I am happy to announce that an updated version is now available, both in print and eBook. (And for those of you who’ve read it, I will gladly share an ePub or Mobi version of the new one.)
I must say though – I still really like the story. My first one, it sparked my imagination as well as my career. Even if I never wanted to be an author…

Battle of the Banned

I am participating in Shady Del Knight’s Battle of the Banned. (Yes, Banned, not Band.) It pits two songs against each other and you vote for your favorite.

Today’s entry is a cool song called Powerslave. Originally done by Iron Maiden, it was also covered by Testament. I’m a big fan of both bands, so I’ll just let their entries stand on their own:

Testament


Iron Maiden


You know the drill – which one is your favorite?

Movie Trivia 

Comedy! Name the movie from the line. Answers next Monday.

1 – Where is your drill sergeant, men? - Blown up, Sir! - 1981
2 – In Mexico, you know what they call Twinkies? Los submarions. - 2009
3 – Wild Thing, you make my heart sing. You walk everything. - 1989
4 – Hey, get a room guys… Oh that’s not right! - 1999
5 – I’m going to call her Lunch. Hello, Lunch, hello! Ew! Avoid the green ones-not ripe yet. - 1988

Who’s going to the next RiffTrax show? Have you seen either of the movies? See any interesting news? Want a copy of Dragon’s Destiny or the new CassaStar? Which song version is your favorite? And can you guess any of the trivia?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dragon’s Destiny! Plus Movie News, War Movie Trivia Answers, Ninja News, Box Social Winner, and Internet Questions for Everyone…

Movie News

World Wide Box Office –
Jurassic World is now number three:
1 Avatar - $2,788.0 million
2 Titanic - $2,186.8
3 Jurassic World - $1,582.4
4 Marvel's The Avengers - $1,519.6
5 Furious 7 - $1,511.7
6 Avengers: Age of Ultron - $1,398.8
Other noteables:
34 Minions - $920.3
234 Mad Max: Fury Road - $373.1
299 Ant-Man - $332.5
333 Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation - $310.6

Only two movies have been number one at the box office this year for four weeks straight – Furious 7 and American Sniper.

A remake that should never be made…

Production continues to flounder on the remake of The Crow. According to the AV Club, yet another lead man departed this summer:
It was nearly four years ago that Bradley Cooper exited the project, after which the lead role was reportedly offered to notorious goths like Mark Wahlberg, James McAvoy, and Channing Tatum. Since then, the project drifted from Tom Hiddleston to Luke Evans to, finally, Boardwalk Empire‘s Jack Huston. Now, Variety reports, Huston is out too, the result of a “scheduling conflict.”

My wife and I recently watched the original film. There is absolutely no reason to remake it.

There is no way to recapture the mystical quality of the film. Ever. The creator of the graphic novel, James O’Barr, wrote it as a way to deal with the death of his girlfriend due to a drunk driver. That Brandon Lee would die on the set, and while engaged to be married, amplifies the powerful emotions this film captures.

Alex Proyas, who also directed Dark City, did an amazing job with the film. It contains so much atmosphere and the effects hold up well after over twenty years. Not to mention that the soundtrack is kick-butt.

I can only hope that this project continues to be sidetracked…

Box Social Contest Winner!

It's time to announce the winner of the box social contest!

Last week, I asked you to guess which box--red, blue or brown--contained the lizard. Everyone who guessed the correct box was entered into a drawing for a free e-copy of my new book, Precious Atonement.

The lizard was in the brown box!
For the record, I accepted brown, tan, bronze, cream, gold. If you didn't say red or blue, you got added to the list. ;)

*drumroll* And the winner chosen by Random.org is... J. E. Oneil!
Congratulations, Jeanne!!! :D

Thanks to everyone who played, and a big thanks goes to Alex for hosting me. Melissa Maygrove

Ninja News

Dianne Salerni is holding a cool giveaway! Win a Transitioner’s 16 Month Calendar — complete with 8 days a week! Open until August 31.

Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee have started up Write...Edit...Publish again. This month, it’s Spectacular Settings. See their sites for details.

Charity Bradford is hosting the Bold New Worlds Contest again for high school students. See her site for details.



Liesel K. Hill is hosting a great giveaway that includes a Kindle Fire HD.

New Releases!

The Box of Souls by Tanya Miranda
Available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iTunes, Smashwords, and CreateSpace
You can also enter the Goodreads giveaway.

Beyond Space Opera
Featuring Milo James Fowler

Movie Trivia Answers

War movies:

1 – Hugo Weaving, Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones 2011 – Captain America
2 – Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland 1967 – The Dirty Dozen
3 – Jude Law, Joseph Finnes, Rachel Weisz 2001 – Enemy at the Gate
4 – Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan 1995 - Braveheart
5 – Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender 2009 Inglourious Basterds

Dragon’s Destiny!

At the request of Truedessa, I have written a short story that takes place after Dragon of the Stars.

This short story is available for free to anyone who has read Dragon of the Stars! Just send me an email (alexjcavanaugh AT earthlink.com), tell me what happens to Aden at the end of Dragon of the Stars, and tell me what format you want – ePub, Mobi, or PDF file.

Thanks to everyone who has read Dragon of the Stars! It still amazes and humbles me. To think I never even wanted to be an author...



Questions!

And finally, just some Internet questions that really have me curious…

What compels you to put someone in your sidebar?
(I update mine once a month or so, and anyone who visits me every week, and I visit them, goes in my sidebar.)

Are you ever intimidated to leave a blog comment?
(I don’t think I’ve ever been afraid to leave a comment. We’re all just people after all…)

What other social platform would you recommend?
(I’m considering either Tumblr or Pinterest. Not sure which one.)

What’s the worst thing about Twitter?
(For me, it’s a toss-up between people who claim that can get you thousands of followers and those who constantly Tweet ‘Buy my book.’)

For those who have been around a while, what’s an aspect of blogging you really miss?
(I miss the variety. I used to have the most eclectic followers, and now it’s almost all writers and authors. I love you guys, but where did everyone else go?)


Do you think they should remake The Crow? Did you guess the brown box? Are you participating in Write...Edit...Publish? Get the movie trivia right? Want to read Dragon’s Destiny? And what is your opinion on the questions…?
And I will be visiting with friends later this week, so I won't be around Thursday through Saturday.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Melissa Maygrove: Boxes and Lizards, Book Trailers Still Relevant, Movie Review, Symphony X Underworld Review, War Movie Trivia, IWSG Updates, and Ninja News

The wonderful Melissa Maygrove joins us today to discuss history, boxes, and lizards.

I’m grateful to Alex for offering to host me today, but I wasn’t sure what to write about. After pondering possible topics, I decided to give you a brief history lesson.

C’mon, c’mon. I promise it won’t be that bad. There’s even a giveaway!

The box social was the Match.com of our ancestors. Young ladies would each box up a homemade meal, and young men would bid on them. The winner got to share the meal with the lady who brought the box.

In Precious Atonement, the boxes contain desserts, and the men joke about hiding a lizard inside of one of them. That scene was the inspiration for this post.

Below are three boxes. One of them contains a lizard. (Humor me and engage your suspension of disbelief. *grin*) Leave a comment by midnight, central ‘Texas’ time Friday, August 14, saying which box you think it is. All visitors who have the correct answer will be entered in a drawing for a free e-book of Precious Atonement. The winner will be announced on Monday, August 17.

Who says history can’t be fun. :)


Find Melissa at her blog and website.

Find Precious Atonement at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Ninja News

Today’s Themes That Rocked the Challenge feature at the A to Z Blog is Jenn from Scribbles From Jenn. She dared to enter… The Twilight Zone!

Out now!

Black Magic and Mojitos: A Zyan Star Novelette by A.A. Chamberlynn

Find it on Amazon

Find Alexia: blog Twitter, and Amazon page.

Available now!

The Rat Killer and other Weird War Tales by Sean McLachlan

Find it on Amazon and Smashwords

And sorry, no Fantastic Four review. Did you see the reviews? It’s 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and the reviews have been less than kind:
Much of Josh Trank's abysmal "Fantastic Four" is set in a barren place called Planet Zero - and you may feel stranded there yourself for all 100 minutes of this plodding, joyless and stillborn Marvel reboot. - Lou Lumenick
Fantastic Four feels like a 100-minute trailer for a movie that never happens. – Todd McCarthy
A movie so dull and awkwardly structured that you wonder why anyone would dare telegraph a sequel at the end. – Kurt Loder
Yes, a sequel is scheduled, but I doubt it will happen now. Fox, just sell it to Disney. Three strikes and you’re out.

And the results of last week’s Battle of the Banned, hosted by Shady Del Knight, featuring covers of Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet:
Krokus – fourteen votes (including mine)
The Offspring – six
Nuclear Assault - eight

IWSG

Thanks again for another awesome posting day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

There were so many awesome posts and my co-hosts rocked.

Those of you who’ve never co-hosted before don’t know what you are missing. It’s ten times better on the host side. Here are some of the comments I received from my co-hosts this month:

I had a fabulous time visiting the sites and was amazed by the outpouring of comments on my blog.

I have been having a blast co-hosting the #IWSG, thank you for the opportunity.

I was surprised by the variety of posts, from humorous to thoughtful to very personal and tried to leave thoughtful and/or helpful comments.

It was fun and I got the most comments ever!

I’ll be looking for co-hosts for the last three months of the year soon. Plus, we are announcing the most awesome contest and opportunity ever on September 2. You don’t want to miss it.

I cull the list every month, removing as many non-participants as possible. I feel bad removing people, but it’s not fair to those who are posting and looking for other IWSG posts on the list. If you are cut, you can always sign back up when you’re ready.

Chemist Ken posted about perseverance last Wednesday and used Melissa Maygrove’s climb up the IWSG list as an example – and it’s hilarious!

Especially the graph.

You have to check it out.


Finally, this was something I created for Karen Lange. It was one of my guest posts for my Dragon of the Stars tour, and she asked if I could create a graphic that highlighted each point I covered. Karen shared it recently, and now I am sharing it with you.

Are Book Trailers Still Relevant?

I haven’t noticed as many book trailers being released lately, which is a bit of a bummer. I know they require money and time (my publisher created trailers for my first three books, but didn’t have time to produce one for Dragon of the Stars) but I’ve always enjoyed watching them.

What do you think? Book trailers still cool? Require too much effort? Do you enjoy them?

And since I have a lot of new followers who may not have seen any of my trailers, here is the very first one for CassaStar:


Movie Review

From The Dark
This Irish film finds a couple stranded in the countryside after a farmer has awakened a vampire-like creature.
This was a simple film that certainly had promise. But that was utterly destroyed by the use of every bad horror cliché known to man – characters splitting up, car stuck, cell phones don’t work, flashlight dies, etc. Not to mention the characters do some of the dumbest things throughout the film. (Example – the creature is afraid of light, yet the woman walks around with a box of matches, lighting them one by one. My wife spent the final third of the film screaming at the woman, ‘Light something on fire. Anything!’)
The one thing the film had going for it was atmosphere. Too bad it’s not enough to save the film.
Not recommended.

Music Review

Symphony X – Underworld

I am a long-time fan of the band, and this is one of their most accomplished albums yet. Conceptually, the album deals with Dante’s Inferno. (Or, what would you go to hell and back for?)
As a fan of hard rock and metal, this is some of the craziest guitar work I’ve ever heard. (Yes, this novice is in total awe.)
If you like progressive rock and want to hear some of the greatest shreddings ever, don’t hesitate to pick up this album.

Movie Trivia!

It’s been a while! The theme is war movies or those that take place during a war. Name the movie from the actors listed:

1 – Hugo Weaving, Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones 2011

2 – Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland 1967

3 – Jude Law, Joseph Finnes, Rachel Weisz 2001

4 – Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan 1995

5 – Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender 2009

Answers next Monday!

Which box holds the lizard? Anyone have the misfortune of seeing Fantastic Four? Or From the Dark? Enjoy last week’s IWSG? If you’ve been a co-host, would you agree it was even more fun than just posting? Fan of Symphony X or prog rock? What’s your opinion on book trailers? And can you get any of the trivia right?