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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, October 30, 2013


            Frankenella walked, hand-in-hand, alongside her mother. The bolts in her neck itched in nervous anticipation. This was the first time she had been to the village. All the scary stories of angry farmers roaming the countryside with pitchforks and torches had given her a healthy distrust of the place.
            Mom had laughed at her fears, pointing out to Frankenella that that is what she deserved for listening to Father’s absurd tales of horror. There were no monsters in the village anymore than there were in the graveyard. After mother and daughter attended the grand festival tonight, Frankenella could see that for herself.
            Up ahead a mother and child walked along the road. The child looked normal enough with his green, patchwork skin and dusty, work clothes, but the mother was something of a fright. All of her parts matched as if put together from a single corpse and not a stitch or seam to be found.
            Frankenella remembered her manners and growled at the two as they walked past. The boy returned her growl and the malformed woman laughed.
            “See,” said Mother. “Just what I told you. Perfectly normal people.”
            The next street had lights along it. Small groups of people walked, strolled, and even skipped on the sidewalks there. A man and four children crossed the street and accompanied Frankenella, and her mother, to the house up ahead.
            “This is the fourth time for us,” said a girl who had glittering wings and a bright pink dress that dazzled with miniature fake gems. She had creepy smooth skin like the woman before. In fact, so did the man walking with her and a boy.
            Images of monsters chasing Grandfather into a dark, shambled mill sprang to mind. Perhaps the stories Father told had been correct after all. The thought of an entire village of smoothies gave Frankenella the chills—and not in a good way.
            Not sure what else to do she growled at the pink monstrosity walking next to her.
            The girl flinched at first, but then reared her shoulders back and said, “That is not the way to treat a princess. I’m not going to talk to you anymore.” And she stuck out her tongue.
            Mother had always warned Frankenella not to stick out her tongue, it might fall off. Now she had no doubt that Father was right. The village was filled with monsters. She looked up at her mother, hoping that they would turn around and go back home, but they didn’t.
            “Follow the rest of the children and do what they do,” said Mother.
            Reluctantly, she ambled forward. The monster children knocked on the door of a house and waited. Frankenella stood at the back of the group and watched.
            A monster opened the door and flashed her fangs at them. Of all the scary things Frankenella had seen this evening, this was the scariest. The monster had wrinkled skin and teeth that were too white and too perfect to be natural. Sure, her hair was tangled and of a healthy gray color, but that didn’t set off the sense that the insides of the creature had somehow shrunk, leaving the outer layer in such a horrifying state.
            The village children shouted, “Trick or Treat.” They held out open bags and the hag dumped small packages into each one.
            “What about you?” she cackled at Frankenella.
            Taking tiny steps forward, Frankenella stopped just out of reach of the hag. Not having a bag, she held out her hand, palm up.
            “That is an amazing costume,” said the hag. She leaned forward and tugged on one of Frankenella’s neck bolts. Her lips covered the bleached fangs in her mouth and her eyebrows creased.
            “Those are really connected to you.” The hag looked up at Mother and then back down at Frankenella. Then she screamed.
            Frankenella screamed, afraid that the wail of the hag might steal her soul.



Friday, October 25, 2013

Movie Review: Escape Plan

Escape Plan   $$ 1/2


R (For violence and a few F-Bombs)
155 Minutes
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Jim Caviezel.  
Director: Mikael Hafstrom.

            My favorite part of going to the movies is watching the trailers for coming attractions. And sometimes what they show you in those previews is exactly what the movie delivers. I found that Escape Plan fell into that category. You have Arnold Schwarzenegger. You have Sylvester Stallone. You have a movie about people attempting to break out of the perfect prison. If you go to see this film that is exactly what you are going to get.
            Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is an expert on prison security. He is a partner in a company that tests maximum security facilities by inserting him into the prison and allowing him the chance to escape. He is approached by CIA operative Jessica Miller (Caitriona Balfe) with an offer to test an international detention center for high profile bad guys.
            Once Breslin is inside he finds out that things are not run according to the normal rules. He is trapped and will need to find a way to escape this perfect prison or die there. Then along comes Emil Rottmyer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who takes an unusual interest in Breslin. The two of them work together to escape before they are killed.

            I enjoyed the movie. It has no chance of earning any Oscars, but then again that isn’t why we go see either of these iconic action heroes. They did what they do best and I felt that it was a reasonable effort overall. Escape Plan earned 2/12 Movie Bucks. This is how I rated it in each area.  

            1. Fun – Good. Problems with the plot provided small obstacles in fully enjoying the film, but overall I was pleased with the experience. I especially liked the character of Hobbs (Jim Caviezel) and that more than anything else made me decide to give a full MB for fun.  

            2. Story – An escape expert inserted into the inescapable prison is not a new concept and it isn’t handled in a new way during this film. In fact, the massive holes in the plot really made me groan during the show. There is no emotional content for the characters; Stallone is the tough guy and Schwarzenegger is the likeable guy. Backstory and motivation seems to have been thrown in as an afterthought. I gave this area of the film production Zero MBs.  

            3. Technical – Most of the technical aspects of the film were good. The actual sets for the high-tech prison impressed me quite a bit, but there are a few directing gaffs that offset the highpoints. I give this aspect of the film half a MB.  

            4. Acting – Pretty good. Stallone, as the lead actor, was pretty wooden in his performance. Too much tough guy, not enough anything else. Normally, I would dock this aspect of the film half a MB for a substandard performance, but I felt that the effort put forth by the rest of the cast made up for it. Schwarzenegger was engaging. Faran Tahir, Amy Ryan, Sam Neil, 50 Cent, Vinnie Jones, and Vincent D’Onofrio all did well in their roles. However, Jim Caviezel really stood out in my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed his wicked warden role and give this aspect of the film a full MB because of it.  

            If you are in the mood for an action flick with two of the big names in that genre, then you should catch Escape Plan. Just ignore the gaping bullet holes in the plot and you should be fine. The final rating for the film is 2 ½ Movie Bucks.

                        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.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Free Book

Good news!!!

The ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) of my novel The Gathering are ready. I need to find a home for one hardbound copy and then make available electronic copies for reviewers. Do any of you have suggestions on who I can send my hardbound ARC to have it reviewed? And are any of my fellow authors interested in an electronic copy of my novel so you can review it on your blog or other venue?

Thursday, October 17, 2013



            This week, for your entertainment, I decided to write a piece of micro fiction based on the closest holiday. That just happened to be National Grouch Day. Go figure! Who wants to celebrate all the grouchiness in their lives? Then again, the question of how you would go about celebrating a holiday like this certainly jump started my creative center.
            In honor of all the grouchy people in the world I present:



            Bill Muffel sat at his assigned table, in an uncomfortable chair, with the remains of a meal that had not only been bland, but served by incompetents. He was surprised that the food actually made reached the table instead of landing in his lap. And then there was the matter of his dining companions that could be summed up in one word - IDIOTS.
            All-in-all this whole affair was nonsense. Who ever heard of giving out an award for Grouch of the Year? He half expected to see the room filled of furry-green puppets popping out of garbage cans. Instead, there was a cornucopia of curmudgeons sitting at the tables, one more sour-faced than the next. Why the organizers of this event had invited him, he couldn’t imagine.
            Finally, a thin man with a face that could curdle milk stepped up to the podium. He cleared his voice—about a dozen times—until the room settled down. All the while his baleful glare panned the crowd as if daring anyone to talk.
            “Let’s get this over with,” he barked. “Aren’t you all so very impressed to have been invited to the first annual Grouch awards?”
            The room rumbled with unhappy responses to the question.
            “Eh, pipe down,” said the emcee. “It was a rhetorical question. I don’t really care what any of you think. Now, don’t interrupt me again. The sooner you let me finish the sooner I can get out of here.”
            A murmur of consent coursed through the room. Bill nodded his head in response to the first sensible thing he’d heard all day. If Mr. No-Personality could just deliver on his promise, Bill could make it home in time to watch the last half of This Loser’s Life; the only true to life show on television.
          “This year” the emcee continued, “the award goes to Bill Muffet for apparently being the biggest pain in the neck that Phoenix has ever seen. The awards committee put together a list of accomplishments that earned him the award, but if I read all of it my ice cream will melt before I can finish it. Just know that Mr. Muffet has been a grade-A grump to all his neighbors and coworkers.”
          The wait staff clapped at the announcement. The attendees just turned in their chairs, looking for the winner, their faces even gloomier than before.
Since the people at his table had already started pointing at him he decided that the only way to get out of here in a reasonable amount of time was to go up and accept the award. He stood and stomped up front, thinking along the way that the awards committee must be made up of individuals of low intelligence and brooding temperament.
The award itself was a cheap wood plank, with a garbage green unhappy face on it, and the word “Grouch” printed in big bold, red letters. If they were going to perpetrate a face like this the least they could do is spend more than a buck and a half on the award.
Bill snagged the Grouch plaque out of the emcee’s hands and leaned towards the microphone. “Thanks, for nothing,” he grumbled. Then he marched back to his seat, ignoring the cacophonous sounds of booing and hissing that came from the crowd.
The emcee moved back up to the microphone and clearly announced, “That’s it. Now, go home!”


Monday, October 7, 2013

Movie Review - Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2   $$$     


95 Minutes
Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Terry Crews, and William Forte.  
Director: Cody Cameron, and Kris Pearn.

            The previews of this film had me at “Taco-dile Supreme.” Okay, I’m not saying that it was a difficult task to convince me to see this movie, because I really loved the first one. I just wanted to say, “taco-dile supreme.”
            In the first movie, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) created a machine that turned water into food. That made quite a mess of their island home and everyone was asked to relocate while clean-up efforts were underway. For Flint this means a job with his childhood idol – Chester V (William Forte).
            Eventually, Flint and his friends are sent back to the island to help Chester V’s people. When they arrive they find that Flint’s machine has started making living food, which they call—foodimals. They must weave their way through a food jungle filled with shrimpanzees and apple pythons in order to find the machine and turn it off.  

            I enjoyed the movie, but found that over the weekend I had a hard time remember what film I had gone to see. So it didn’t leave a very powerful impression on me. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 earned 3 Movie Bucks. This is how it rated in each of the areas.            

            1. Fun – Excellent. I laughed a lot. Terry Crews did an excellent job as police officer Earl Devereaux (formerly voiced by Mr. T). The rest of the characters carried forth with the same comedy and antics that they used in the original film. It was very fun and earned a full MB in this area.  

            2. Story – Even though I liked the direction they went with the story, it felt like Jurassic Park in an animated food venue. The characters failed to take on any new dimension in this film, with the possible exception of the revelation of Chester V as Flint’s childhood hero. I also felt that this script fell far short of developing an emotional connection with the characters. Overall, the story was extremely weak and it earned Zero MB in this area.  

            3. Technical – The animation was great. It earned a full MB for the delivering one beautiful scene after another. Visually, a very effective film.  

            4. Acting – Excellent. All of the characters were funny and in family animation features like this that’s what counts. It earned a full MB, but please keep in mind that a rating like this indicates a lack of horrible acting and not and indication of Oscar winning performances.  

            I recommend seeing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 as a matinee or even at a discount theater. The kids will enjoy it and you might too. 

                        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.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Turkey Talk

            This week I have another piece of micro-fiction as part of the prompt over at Chasing Revery. By now you should know how this works. Carrie K Sorensen posts a picture on her website along with five words to use in the piece of fiction that is written. The picture is below and this weeks words are: System, Quarry, Ant, Bible, and Artillery.



            “All right,” shouted Big Tom, “let’s bring this meeting to order.”
            “Meeting,” said Tom354, “I thought we were just hanging out, you know, talking turkey and such.”
            “I thought this was the lunch line,” said Tom92.
            “Well,” said Big Tom, “you’re both wrong. This here is the first meeting of the revolution and I need all of you to shut your traps so that I can talk.”
            “Don’t you mean, cork our gobblers?” asked Tom719.
            “Whatever,” said Big Tom. “The important point is that we begin plans to overthrow the system. We are declaring war on Thanksgiving.”
            The crowd flapped their wings and gobbled with excitement.    
            “How are we going to do that?” asked Tom 560.
            “By bringing out the heavy artillery,” said Big Tom. “We’ll show men what it feels like to be the quarry.”
            “What’s artillery?” asked Tom560.
            “This here thing I’m standing on is artillery,” said Big Tom.
            “It looks like an old car to me,” said Tom719.
            “Yeah, Big Tom,” said Tom413, “I’m pretty sure that’s a car.”
            “Of course, it’s a car,” Big Tom stomped his claw on the hood. “I’m talking meteorologically here.”
            “Oh,” said Tom22, “that explains it.”
            Tom22 leaned over to Tom283 and said, “It don’t really explain his plan, but I didn’t want to upset him by saying so.”
            Tom283 gobbled in agreement. And so did Tom37, Tom136, Tom340, and Tom568. From there the gobbles spread out like a wave of ants descending on a picnic.
            “What are you planning on doing with a car?” asked Tom719.
            “We’re going to drive it down to the courthouse and protest,” said Big Tom.
            “Protest what?” asked Tom560.  
            “You bird-brain,” said Big Tom. “We’re going to protest them serving us up for dinner every Thanksgiving. Important people drive cars and when they see all of us inside this fine motoring machine they’ll have to rethink their holiday plans. Can’t you just picture us cruising down Main Street in this thing?”
            “You really think that will work?” asked Tom500.
            “I’d swear it on a stack of Bibles,” said Big Tom. “Everyone get inside.”
            The entire farm exploded with excited gobbles. Turkeys flapped in through the open windows of the rusted-out jalopy. When the interior wouldn’t hold any more they climbed on top, covering the roof, trunk, and hood.
            Then when they were all settled Tom719 asked, “Who’s going to drive?”