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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, May 30, 2012

Window View

            I actually had some difficulty deciding what to blog about this morning. However, since I am holding a writing prompt contest I decided that what could be better than for me to participate in someone else’s creative jump start exercise.

            This one is being held by Nicole Pyles and the rules are simply to write a story based on the picture below and include the following five words: File, Chest, Pirate, Nest, and Winner. It also needs to be under 500 words. I call this one . . .


            The view hasn’t changed. It hasn’t changed at all in the last thirty minutes I’ve spent staring out it; except for the shortening of the shadows. It hasn’t changed much in the three months I’ve been working on my “break-out” novel. In fact, other than seasonal changes it hasn’t changed that much since I moved here.

            So then why do I continue focusing my attention through it rather than on my writing?

            I tear myself away from the window under the pretense that I need to pull a file from the cabinet across the room. The micro-break from the view outside opens a crack in my creativity and the ideas begin to flow once again. Pirates. That’s what every good book needs is a crew of scurvy pirates.

            By the time I sit back down the ship of ill-mannered brutes has sailed away. My eyes creep towards the window view. I adjust my chair so that my back is directed toward the window as much as I can manage and still hope to write.

            My fingers linger lightly on the keyboard. Then not so lightly. Within five minutes my arms are crossed over my chest and the faint sounds from outside beckon me. So I close my eyes.

            The tree is there, on the back side of my eyelids; complete with last year’s bird nest and the initials carved into its trunk. Just as I curse my decision to select a writing spot with a view the image changes. The tree takes on a ghostly aura. Shadows morph into menacing shapes that dance upon the ground contrary to the stillness of their owners. Through the window of my mind a story takes shape.

            A broad smile spreads across my face. I have a winner.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Writing Prod Contest

            Since this is Memorial Day, I would like to start out by expressing my thanks to the brave men and women who have made sacrifices so that we might be free. Thank you one and all.

            Today I am going to give away a copy of City of the Gods: Mythic Tales, Volume One. Okay, I’m not actually giving it away today, but I’m going to tell you about the contest that will allow you to win it. This will be my first attempt at a give-away.

            Mythic Tales includes my short story A Coyote’s Tale in the collection. The book is beautifully illustrated and, so far, the reaction to it has been good. A quick run-down on the premise of City of the Gods is that all of the gods left the earth and now live together in and around the Eternal City. Mortals and immortals alike walk the city’s streets and represent every mythos from Earth.

            For the contest, I am going to offer up my usual Monday Writing Prod and then ask anyone who wants to compete to submit a short story, poem, or synopsis based on the prompt. Please, keep it under 300 words. Post a comment below and include a link to the entry. Or you can just post the entry in the comments section. The deadline is next Monday. I will review all of the entries (at least, I hope there will be some entries) and announce a winner on my Wednesday post.

            Tell your friends about the contest. The more the merrier. And I am requesting that the winner review the book and either post it on their blog or allow me to post it on mine.

            Now for the prod. I call this one the Extreme Holiday. The idea here is to take a holiday and push the celebrations surrounding it to the extreme. Once you have the holiday-gone-wild worked out think of how it got that way and challenge your hero to change it.

            Here is my example:

            The Family Bowl

One day a year determined a family’s fate until the next Thanksgiving. Life was great if you family won the annual Family Bowl. The rest of the people on your block were at your beck and call until next year. But Josh was twelve and had only Mom and his sister Stacy with which to put together a grid-iron monster that would beat the other families. He needed a “Hail Mary” plan or his family would be on the bottom of the loser’s column . . . again.

Friday, May 25, 2012

This Week In The Blogverse

            The blog I'm covering today just recently hit my radar. And by recent I mean within the last month or so. Hopefully, that points out that I do try to keep my eye out for quality blogs that have something to offer aspiring authors.

            Let me introduce everyone to Sher A Hart who runs a fabulous blog. So far, my weekly spotlights have focused on a feature that the blog of the week offers. That isn’t always the case. Some blogs have an enormous amount of valuable posts that just don’t fall into the weekly column format. Sher happens to run a blog that falls into that category. The link above will take you to the landing page of Sher’s blog, but I am going to cover a couple of the specific posts she has put out there that has made this a must read for me every week. I’ll include links to those specific posts as well.

            On Social Media: Marketing Your Writing Sher had a veritable cornucopia of links to sites that can help you market yourself better on the internet. I spent several hours checking them out and found them to be pretty useful. This is the post that originally caught my attention. (Among the links is one for Nathan Bransford that I highly recommend.)

            My eyes really perked up when I read Turn Your Book Into a Script and Get $200,000. Kevin J. Anderson may be fortunate enough to be getting calls left and right to work on writing project, but I’m not. At this stage of the publishing game I have to make opportunities happen. This post brought an opportunity to my attention. I took second place in this year’s First Chapter contest at LDStoryMakers12 and plan to finish that as a script and submit it for consideration. Kudos to Sher for posting this opportunity.

            Dan Wells Free Video Seminar is another example of how the blog shares information helpful to writers. Dan covered a lot of this material in the class he taught at LDStoryMakers12. It’s good stuff. If you couldn’t attend the conference here is your chance to experience it yourself. (Alright, you won’t be experiencing the actual conference yourself, but you will get to see what it was like to sit in a class taught by Dan Wells and learn about the seven point plotting system he advocates.)

            I’ll stop at three examples, but Sher provides a constant stream of writing links, helpful advice, and notices about contests and giveaways. How great is all of that?

            Trust me, it’s awesome.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Conference Report - Part 2

            Alright, here is the second half of my report on LDStoryMakers12.

Creating An Awesome Author Website
with Marion Jensen and Able Keogh

            Marion use Josi Kilpack’s blog as an example of what a good web page should include. If you want ideas of what you can do with yours just visit Josi’s site.

-         Suggested that the landing page (the main page that people are directed to when they visit your website) should have the author’s name prominently displayed, a good picture of the author, a picture or description of what the web page is about (which should be your books), and a brief bio.

-         Include items on the webpage that will be of interest to your fans. For example, Josi includes recopies on her site that play off the unique nature of her culinary mysteries. Whatever your stories are about there will be something you can include that your fans will find interesting.

Creating White-knuckle Chills and Bone-chilling Suspense
with Gregg Luke

            Gregg went into detailed explanation of the six elements of suspense.

            - The six elements that create suspense are: 3-Dimensioanl characterization, good pacing, anticipation, detailing each scene, resolution of conflict, and trimming all the fat.

Creating Page-Turners with the Elements of Suspense
with Rachelle Christensen

            Rachelle described the methods of creating suspense in your writing.

-         “There is no terror in a bang – only in the anticipation of it.” Alfred Hitchcock.

-         Give each character something to worry about and something to hope for.

-         Use setting and description to evoke suspense. (A scene that takes place in a dark, abandoned house is much more suspenseful than one that takes place in bright, cheery outdoor cafĂ©.)

-         Villains need to evoke a sense of suspense and fear.

-         Keep the stakes high for the protagonist.

-         Create questions in the reader’s mind that they will need to continue reading to get the answer.

Creating a Podcast from Scratch
with Jeff Savage, Howard Tayler, and Robin Weeks

            In addition to the technical aspects of the class they discussed the fundamentals that need to be established before you start creating the content of the podcast.

            - Is there something I really want to talk about?

            - Who will be on the podcast?

            - What is the theme of the podcast?

            - How often will we post?

            Then they went on to discuss the actual technical prep for podcasting.

-         What microphone is right for you? (Based on their comments, unless you need serious production value from it you could use the Logitech Clear Chat Comfort / USB Headset that runs about $30.)

-         What editing software is available? (Audacity is free to be downloaded from the internet and allows you to record audio files and edit them.)

-         You will need web hosting. No recommendations were made since there are so many options out there, but they did mention BlueHost and PodBean.com.

(I worked this week on getting ready to podcast. PodBean not only will host the podcasts, but you can do all the recording and editing on their site as well. As for hosting, I took a look at Weebly and it hosts my webpage for free as opposed to the nominal charge that BlueHost requires. Those are just my observations and not part of what Jeff, Howard, and Robin talked about.)

Writing Young Adult Novels that Kids Want to Read 
with Janette Rallison

            It took me a few minutes to realize that I took this class last year. I stuck around anyway because Janette does such a great job with it. The one thing I’d like to point out is that I feel this class applies to writing in general and that makes it a wonderful class for getting your writing tuned-up. However, there were a few points that applied specifically to YA novels.

-         Protagonists should be a year or two older than the target audience.

-         Include issues that teens care about. Like dating.

-         Make it fast moving.

-         Should be 200-300 pages in length.

-         Often written in First Person POV, but can be third.

-         Teens relate to a more conversational voice.

-         Use shorter, easier to read sentences.

How to Blog Like a Pro
with Elana Johnson

            Elana is a master at platform building. And a really nice person too.

-         Build your author franchise with these 5 platforms: Twitter, FaceBook, GoodReads, an author website, and a newsletter.

-         ARCS are good prizes. Books are good prizes. Entice the fans that visit your social medias with contests that offer these prizes.

-         Headers and sidebars are good places to promote your book.


The conference humbled me, in a good way, by pointing out my writing flaws. And if you are going to come to that realization then there is no better place to do it than the LDStorymaker conferences. This breakthrough on my part comes from my first chapter contest experience. It taught me that thinking I can coast through the writing process is foolishness. At the point that any of us fail to give the writing process the respect it requires we stop progressing as writers.

Please, don’t let my comments at the end here lead you to think that the conference was anything but an educational and uplifting experience put on by a host of friendly and warm individuals. I love this conference and hope I can continue to make the trip north each year to attend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monster Party

            Here’s an extra post for the week. Normally, I reserve this sort of post for Wednesdays, but it has to be posted today and I have plans for part two of my report on LDStoryMakers12 for tomorrow.

            To get on with the important stuff, the fabulous Susannah Leonard Hill has a contest over at her blog and I am super keen on winning a picture book manuscript critique from her. (Yep. Bet you didn’t know I’ve written a couple of picture books.)

            Here is my entry. After you read it you could pop on over to Susannah’s blog and check out some of the other entries and see how I did in comparison. Without further ado, here is Monster Party.


            Nathan pulled his best friend Tori along as he raced home. Okay, not really racing as much as creeping along. With each plodding step he urged Tori to hurry. Everyone would be waiting for them.

            When they arrived, Nathan left Tori at the doorstep and rushed inside. The living room was empty and the rest of the house was disappointingly quiet.

            An eerie moan sounded from the hall closet. Maybe some of his friends were hiding in there ready to jump out and surprise him.

            The joke would be on them. Nathan swung open the door and shouted “Boo.” Except that it came out as “B-b-b-b.” A mummy stood inside and reached for Nathan.

            Tori took one look and fainted. Nathan backed away into the dining hall, where a scratchy noise came from under the table.

            When he looked a huge spider with a dog’s head popped out from beneath and skittered along the top of the table.

            Nathan turned to run and found his friends gathered in one corner of the dining room. The only movement they made was to shake and quiver. He had to save his friends. Nathan ran to a window and threw it open.

            In flew a bat. It settled on the floor and turned into a vampire. Now the only way out of the room was through the kitchen. He braced for a sprint that would take him beyond the Trio of Horror when the door opened. His mother breezed into the room holding a cake. Candles flickered on top of the cake. “Happy birthday” shouted his mother and his friends. The Mummy, the vampire, and the wicked cool spider-dog shouted something that sounded like “Happy Birthday.”

            “Mom.” Nathan clapped. “How did you know I wanted a monster birthday party?”

Monday, May 21, 2012

Writing Prod

            Today represents the last of the prompts I’ve used to generate story ideas. I’m sure more are out there and I don’t suspect anyone would be too upset if I cycled through the ones I have already used and post some new grist for the creative mills.
            I am calling this one Dream Guide and not so oddly enough I had a dream last night that I’m going to use for my example. This may be one of the simplest prompts for generating stories, but it will be difficult if you tend not to remember your dreams. Once you have an interesting dream, write down as many details of the dream as you can remember and then assemble it into a story. Like I said, simple.
            Last night I dreamed that I had two additional children. Boy they were a couple of cute little lads. They had names in the dream, but I didn’t follow my own advice and write them down when I woke up.
            The advantage this method can have is to start you off with a very strong image. There may be some powerful emotions to go along with the dream that you can channel into your writing. The drawback is that you’re trying to create a whole story from one, or two, scenes that may not make a lot of sense once you’re awake.

            Here is my example:

            Dream Family
Danny woke up to find that he had two more children than he did yesterday. Cute, vibrant, loveable he bonds to them immediately. By the end of the day he wonders how his family, and his life, was complete without them. But after he puts them to bed that night he receives a mysterious call that threatens the existence of his family – both the new and the old.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Conference Report - Part 1

LDStoryMakers12 Report

            Last week I attended the LDStoryMakers12 writing conference. This may seem a little late reporting on it, but I’ve been busy getting submissions ready for two separate novels. So please don’t get the wrong idea; it was great. As I understand it the conference sold out at 450 attendees; which doesn’t surprise me.

            What do these author gatherings have to offer you?
1.      Excitement – It is incredibly fun and exciting. You get to talk about writing; you get to learn about writing; you get to BREATHE writing for a couple of days. I love gaining this total immersion into the craft.

2.      Education – Every session I attended I was able to learn new ways to increase my skill in writing.

3.      Connections – If you subscribe to the notion that it isn’t what you know, but who you know then you can understand the importance of meeting agents, publishers, and your fellow writers who can all help you further your career in a tough field. Besides, making author friends is awesomely fun.

4.      Recognition – There exists a very real opportunity to have your writing talents recognized by the important people in the industry. Hit a home run in a pitch session and you all of sudden show up on the publishing radar. Win a contest and quite a few people know to take your writing seriously. (Unless you write comedy.)

5.      Drive – by the time the conference is over I am ready to go home and do a better job of writing. It really rejuvenates the authorial batteries.

           Enough of the preachy-teachy stuff; here is what I experienced at the conference.

Social Media and Self-Promotion
with Kathleen Ortiz

            Kathleen covered the major methods of social networking and a few points for each of them. I have the basics listed below:

-         The three necessary social medias are FaceBook, Twitter, and an author page.

-         Make sure you register the domain names you’ll be using before your first book is published. This includes: JohnDoe.com, JohnDoeBooks.com, and AuthorJohnDoe.com

-         The important thing to remember about social media is that it’s Social. That means you have conversations with people. Don’t just use them to spam everyone with news of your latest book release.

Hands-On “Fix the Easy” Workshop
with Weronika Janczuk

            Weronika mostly work-shopped the submissions she received for the conference. This lady really knows her stuff. I’ve included only a couple of the points she made, but left the class with a better idea of what needed to be cut in my writing.

            - If a character “could smell” something then you should just write that they “smelled” whatever it is they smell. It is more dynamic and you’ve cut out an unnecessary word.

            - Watch for passive language. Prevent your characters from “being” and make them do something instead. 

            - By focusing on just the two suggestions above a lot of wasted words can be cut out of a manuscript and in the process you really tighten the prose.


World Building: Wrapping Your Head Around a World, so You Can Wrap that World Around your Story
with Howard Tayler

            Howard had very interactive class; taking suggestions from those who attended to point out what works and what doesn’t work in world building. He hit upon two principles that mainly defined the class.

-         Make sure your premise makes sense. If aliens invade the planet make sure they have a good reason for doing so. There are easier methods of obtaining resources than traveling huge distances across the galaxy. Try to poke holes in why they invade.

-         Whatever process powers your story needs to be explained well enough that the reader can understand how it is overcome in the end. If your story involves magic you want to explain the workings of magic so that the reader understands how the hero is able to use it to win in the end.

Writing a Series: Telling the Same Story Again, and Better, and Totally Different
with Dan Wells

            Dan discussed writing a series of books that mostly focused on character arc.

-         Stories in a series provide the same things the reader liked, but in a different way.

-         Each story has a character arc and so does the series. Both sets of character arcs work together. It’s the big picture and little picture concept.

-         In the first book the character may discover they have a power. In the second book they do something new with it.

-         The series arc for Star Wars could be described as a journey from Padwan to Jedi Master. 

-         Explained the 7 point plot structure: Hook, Plot Turn 1, Plot Pinch 1, Midpoint, Plot Pinch 2, Plot Turn 2, and Resolution.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Writing Prod

            I hesitated presenting today’s item because I don’t know that I would classify it as a writing prompt as much as I would a plot generator. The difference is probably small and as you can tell I decided to go ahead with it anyway.
            This plot generator is very similar to the Mix and Mesh writing prompt I discussed a couple of weeks ago. I call this one the Fairytale Cocktail. (Pretty catchy if you ask me.) One of my creative writing teachers turned me on to this method of brainstorming plots. And while I haven’t written a story using this method two of my writer friends use it frequently to create some fun stories.
            The idea is simple. Pick a fairytale and transport it to a new time and location. Obviously, you want to change it up a bit and decide how the setting would affect how the story is told. Because of that it becomes a brand new story. For instance, what would happen if you took Hansel and Gretel and placed them in a wild west frontier town? Hank and Gertie might be captured by a mystic Indian medicine-man which will change the dynamics of the story immensely while still giving you a good starting place for the plot.
            Something else you can do with this concept is change the characters in the story. I would still recommend making some slight setting changes as well, but what would happen if Little Red Riding Hood climbed up the beanstalk? And you don’t have to stick to fairytales either. Imagine Dennis the Menace taking a basket of goodies to his grandmother across town.
            If you don’t write cutesy fairytales this method can still produce some useable starter material. Take the story of Sleeping Beauty and turn it into a dystopian, science-fiction nightmare. Wouldn’t that be a kick?
            Despite the name I invented for this method don’t feel that you have to harvest fairytales as the base structure for your adapted story. Use a classic novel and make it your own. In fact, this is what I am going to do for my example.

Monsters on the Midway

Based loosely on Frankenstein this novel chronicles the story of a college football coach who is obsessed with creating the perfect football team. He introduces a new method of training the players that takes them beyond their normal limits and transforms them into machines of flesh and bone. Unfortunately, this training affects their lives outside the football stadium. Seeing his mistake he attempts to step-down as the team’s coach, but the team has other ideas about that. They begin a psychological terror campaign designed to keep the coach in place and continue their inhuman training.

Friday, May 11, 2012

This Week In The Blogverse

            Before I get started on this week’s blogging gem, I would just like to mention that I am open to suggestions on which blogs are spotlighted. As it stands right now I have a fairly long list of blogs I plan to cover, but there is plenty that I’m missing. Or perhaps I haven’t quite figured out how awesome one is like some of you may have. Feel free to drop me a line or even make a comment. 

            In addition to having a snazzy looking blog, Julie Coulter Bellon offers a feature that she calls First Page Friday. This feature caught my eye several months ago and much to my disappointment I have so far failed to participate. Julie has arranged for a national editor to take a look at the first page of a novel.
             What a great opportunity this is for an unpublished author. If you have finished a novel and want to see if you are ready to start the query process either Ms. Shreditor, or Angela Eschler, will look it over and provide you with that valuable feedback. Or maybe you just want to know if you’re off to a good start. I’m sure her comments could be valuable in that light as well.
            The most awesome thing about this feature is that you don’t have to travel to a writing conference and sign up for a pitch session with a publisher to gain access to this sort of information. All you have to do is submit your first page to Julie.
            Contacts are essential in your journey to become a published author. And Julie, in essence, has offered to share a couple of hers with all of us. Thanks Julie!
            This feature provides a wonderful chance to expose yourself. (Not like that.) When your first page goes up it is going to be read by a minimum of one editor, some authors, and a large number of readers. If it’s good you may pick up some new fans.         
            Aside from the benefit of getting your first page critiqued this also gives you an opportunity to study what others have written and check your observations with those of a professional. Do this enough and you can develop a much stronger sense of what works and what doesn’t in a first page. Keep in mind how important that first page is to attracting an agent, a publisher, and an audience.
            If you’re on the path to authordom, like me, then I recommend you checking out this blog every Friday.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Cow Whisperers

Hurray, today is a two-fer (two for one). As I was cruising the blogverse I came across writing prompt that I just had to do something with. Here is the link to the site that grabbed my attention Chasing Revery. 

Here is the picture, followed by my entry. Enjoy.
            “We need you to come in,” said Ned.

            The wind rustled the papers the two men held in front of them. Ned repositioned himself on the bench.

            “It’s me, Ned.”

            “I know who you are,” said Joe. “You can just return back to the agency and tell them where they can stick this assignment.”

            “Can’t do that. This is a top priority mission.”

            “Then you do it.” Joe turned to the next page. “By the way, your newspaper is upside-down.”

            Ned fumbled with the paper. When he’d finished it was still upside-down. “Don’t worry about my newspaper. We need to discuss the situation with the cows.”


            “Yes, cows. Those things that sit in the middle of our burgers and say moo.”

            “Are they planning a revolution?”

            Ned’s paper lowered enough to allow him to glance over at Joe. “How did you know? That’s classified.”

            “I was being sarcastic,” said Joe. “Stop with the jokes and get on with the briefing.”

            “You need to understand that a conspiracy on the part of America’s dairy producing population is no laughing matter.”

            “I’m not laughing.”


            “Can you put your paper back in front of your face?”  asked Joe. “We’re not supposed to be seen talking to each other.” 

            “I’m glad you’re finally taking this serious,” whispered Ned. “A herd of Holsteins in Iowa have taken over a lead mine and are using it as their secret base.”

            “Okay, now I’m convinced this is a joke. Can we just skip to the punch line?”

            “The punch line is that you’ve been chosen to infiltrate the suspected bovine terrorist organization and find out what they plan to do with all that lead.”

            “Maybe it’s a new method of fortifying the milk they produce,” said Joe.

            “Lead is poisonous.”

            “I didn’t say it was a good idea. Besides, I was making a joke.”

            “Well, next time you tell a joke make sure it’s funny.”

            “Then what do you think they’re up to?”

            “Our scientists think they could have stumbled upon a formula for creating heavy-milk; a key component for bio-nuclear weapons.”

            Joe folded his newspaper and set it down on the bench.

            “What are you doing?” asked Ned.

            “I’m going to the nearest printer and order a couple of dozen resumes. I need a new job.”

            “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.”

            “Why? Is the agency going to do something to me if I quit?”

            “No. It’s just that a subversive group of swine escaped from the pork factories south of here and control all the printer operations in town. They're working with the cows and may be on to you."

Movie Review: The Avengers

The Avengers  $$$$


142 Minutes

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Samuel L. Jackson, and Stellan Skarsgard.
Director: Joss Whedon

            The much awaited super-hero extravaganza has finally arrived. Back in 2008, Iron Man producers announced that this would be the first of several movies based on the well-known Marvel comic characters and would culminate with the release of The Avengers in 2012. I remember thinking that was such a long way off. And it was. But this movie was worth the wait.
            Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has returned thanks to a little intervention from an alien race known as the Chitauri and made possible by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s decision to recover the Tesseract; a device created during WWII that went down to the bottom of the ocean with Captain America. With the Tesseract Loki will be able to open a portal that will permit a Chitauri army to invade Earth.
            However, Loki cannot do this alone. He uses his magic to subjugate Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Professor Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), and a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to help him. Professor Selvig goes to figuring out the technology that will be needed to open the portal for the Chitauri army, Hawkeye recruits a team of enemy agents that have a beef with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Loki works on dividing the super-heroes apart before they have a chance to become The Avengers.
            The rest I leave for you to find out on your own.

            This is a well-made movie. The acting is top notch with stellar performances from Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk). I suspected that Ruffalo had turned in an outstanding rendition of Dr. Banner when it was recently announced that he’d been signed to a multi-picture contract to play the Hulk/Dr. Banner. After seeing the movie I can tell you that it was a good move on the part of the producers. I also appreciated the role played by Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) because it must be powerful enough to be a vital lynchpin of the plot while still remaining under the radar. Not an easy task if you ask me.
            Special effects were excellent. There are a lot of explosions, breakable scenery, and hideous aliens flying spiffy anti-grav platforms. As much as I hate to admit that the flash and glitter that is special effects help to make the movie as spectacular as it is – they did.
            My hat goes off to the story folk who put together a terrific tale of a bunch of ego-centric heroes who have to find a way to work with one another. They were also able to weave the stories of a large number of characters together without it becoming a confusing morass. The lines are funny at times and powerful when they need to be. I just can’t say enough good things about the craft that went into making this probably the best movie of the year.
            The Avengers easily earned my highest rating. The only thing I have to add to that is – Why are you still sitting there? Go out and see this movie.

            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.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Writing Prod

            I’m baaaaack!!!
            The conference was awesome and I’ll write more about that on Wednesday. Although, I think I could do posts all week long and not run out of material.
            This is only the fifth installment of Writing Prod, but it is not getting much of a response. I know that last month most of you were involved in the A to Z bloghop and really didn’t have time to participate. So I am giving it one more shot. If you like this feature please post a comment letting me know that I should continue.

            This weeks’ prompt I am calling News Mining. The concept is simple, look through the news items in your paper, online, or while watching television. Pick one of them and write a story that’s based on it having a much different cause than what was reported. In other words, give your readers the background story that hasn’t been reported and is a bit more fantastic than the truth.
            If you want to do this as a creative prompt to get your creative juices going for the week you can also select a specific genre for the news item; otherwise, you would just use the genre you normally write.
            As always, should you or any of your CW (Creative Writing) force be caught or killed, my secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Writer.

            For my example I am going to write a movie pitch based a news item I picked from MSN and in the techno-thriller genre.

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.