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Ever wonder what it's like to be in that moment between struggling artist and published author? Read on and find out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Writing Prompt #6

            PROMPT 6 – NEWS MINING

            The news is a rich source of story material. Take a look through the news items in your paper, any online news source, television, or radio. Pick one of the news events and write a story based on the event having a much different cause than what was reported. In other words, give them a story that is a bit more fantastic than the truth.
            Another interesting aspect of this prompt is that the genre of the story you are planning to write will affect how you interpret the news items. The unfortunate news of a commuter train derailing will generate a much different story for romance than it will for a mystery or an action/suspense novel.

            The news item I used for my example involved the trading of political prisoners.            

            Based on that idea I generated the following elevator pitch.

Catch and Release – The President orders the military in Afghanistan to start secretly releasing dangerous prisoners in exchange for information from the terrorists about their rivals. On the surface this looks like a standard political move, but it is really a vicious program of annihilation. Each of the released prisoners has been infected with a virus that will spread death to the terrorist network and their families. The situation changes when several of the service men return home and die from the same engineered virus that they are supposed to be immune, except that this mutated strain no longer targets people that share DNA with the carrier.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

2016 Author Events

     Another year is upon us and it looks to be a busy one for me as an author. I thought I would post the dates I currently have scheduled in case any of you happen to be in the greater Phoenix area and would like check them out.

February 27th, 201611:00 - 3:00

Red Mountain Library
635 N. Power Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85202
(480) 644-3253

Local Author Fair

April 16th, 201610:00 - 3:00

Tempe Library
3500 S. Rural Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 350-5500

Tempe Book Festival

October 1st, 201612:00-2:00

Tempe Library
635 N. Power Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85202

Hero Know Thyself - workshop
Vivid and believable characters are at the heart of every successful story. The workshop will cover a variety of ways of breathing life into the people that populate your novel.

October 22nd, 20169:00-5:00

Red Mountain Library
635 N. Power Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85202

Ready - Set - Write
Get ready for National Novel Writing Month by attending this one-day conference. Classes on generating story ideas, plotting, characterization, dialogue, and how to throw a little romance into your story.

Second Friday 6:00 pm-10:00pm

Downtown Mesa
Second Friday Out is an event held on Main St. in downtown Mesa. The event happens on the second Friday of every month and each month has a different theme.

Second Friday Out is an event held on Main St. in downtown Mesa. The event happens on the second Friday of every month and each month has a different theme. Come on out and join the fun. Then while you're walking around stop by my booth and say hi.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Movie Review: Norm of the North

Norm of the North $$  

90 Minutes
Starring: Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, and Ken Jeong.  
Directors: Trevor Wall. 

            It’s pretty early to start talking about the worst movie of the year. After all, we are barely halfway through January. However, I have a feeling that Norm of the North will be a strong contender for this dubious title.
            The strongest impression I had while watching Norm was that this wasn’t a movie at all—it’s a propaganda campaign targeting the development of arctic wilderness areas. Don’t get me wrong, I whole-heartedly support keeping the natural wonders of the world pristine. What I don’t need is to be hit over the head, repeatedly, with heavy-handed anti-development propaganda. Please, keep in mind that as an author I expect my fellow writers to write what they are passionate about. I don’t mind a story about a character wanting to keep their home safe from the ravagers of the world. Just make sure you follow the usual steps for creating an entertaining story.
            It has been a long time since I have been this miserable sitting through a film. Bring on Barney. Bring on My Little Pony. But please, leave Norm where ever you found him.

            This is how I rated Norm of the North.

1. Fun – No. The only part of the film I enjoyed were the lemmings, but jokes about bodily functions and jumping on furniture will only get you so far. Still, 90 minutes of them would have been immeasurably more entertaining. What especially annoyed me was the villain Mr. Greene (Ken Jeong) constantly screaming at everyone. He’s actually worse than my two youngest boys—combined. I hesitantly gave Norm half a MB for the lemmings and only the lemmings.  

2. Story – What story? I suppose there is a story idea at the heart of this fiasco, but there is so much propaganda piled on top that I had a hard time appreciating it. And really, the plot development was horrid. I gave Norm zero MB for story because while there was a basic idea simply repeating the themes of keep-the-arctic-pristine and developers-are-evil does not a story make. 
3. Technical – The animation was acceptable, but the editing moved the scenes along in a way that I found juvenile—sort of like yanking string in front of a kitten. I gave it half a MB for the animation. 
4. Acting – I didn’t even realize that Norm was voiced by Rob Schneider until I read the end credits. None of the energy that I associate with the actor was there. And the rest of the characters were bland – except Mr. Greene who was annoying with his one-note yelling at every situation. Is this the fault of the writers or the director or the actors or all of them combined? I’m not sure. Only the lemmings stood out and they have no understandable lines. I gave zero MB for voice uninspiring voice work. 

            If I only do one good deed this year let it be the chance to prevent even a single person from seeing this film. Then I can cheer at having improved the world in some minor way. By the numbers, Norm of the North gets 1 Movie Buck which rates it as a rental, but I hate to even give that recommendation. Children may enjoy the film—although my daughter did not.        

                        Randy’s Rating System
$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.