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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.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ten Best Author Moments

            The author gig has me pretty busy this month. So I thought I would give you something short, sweet, and relevant to my current situation. Here it is, my ten best moments as an author—so far.

10. Putting the words “The End” at the end of the manuscript.

9. Having Earl walk up to me, a week after its release, and telling me he liked my book.

8. Reading the first review that wanted more.

7. Filming the book trailer.

6. Seeing the cover for the first time.

5. Holding a copy of the galley in my hands.

4. Signing my wife’s copy of The Gathering.

3. My Dad telling me how proud he was of me.

2. The notification that my publisher wanted The Gathering.

1. The look in my daughter’s eyes when anyone asks if her daddy is an author.

    Watch for a review of The Nut Job next Monday.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Movie Review - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit  $$$ 1/2


105 Minutes
Starring: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, and Kenneth Branagh.
Director: Kenneth Branagh.

            Based on the characters created by Tom Clancy, I classify Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit as a reboot to the series. This is definitely an origins story for Jack Ryan. As reboots go, I think it was successful.
            In reaction to the 9/11 attack, the brilliant Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) quits college and joins the military. He is quickly sidelined when he is injured during a mission. During his recovery he meets the lovely future Mrs. Ryan, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), and is then recruited by Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) to join the CIA.
            Jump forward a few years and Jack, in his cover job on Wall Street, has uncovered a series of financial transactions that he believes are part of a plot to destroy the US economy and possibly the prelude to a massive war. Harper sends him to Moscow to uncover evidence of the plot.
            The situation quickly turns into a full-scale espionage mission that places Cathy in jeopardy and has the fate of the United States teetering on the outcome.
            If this is what we can expect from Kenneth Branagh with this series, then sign me up for more. I expect Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit to do well in the theaters.

            1. Fun – Branagh really nailed the suspense scenes. I found myself on the edge of the seat as Jack chased bad guy, Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), through the streets of Moscow. I was equally entertained as I watched Cathy dupe Viktor as he attempted to seduce her at a restaurant. For fully capturing my attention, I gave the film a full MB.  

            2. Story – This is a solid story. However, there is a bit of having seen it all before. A brilliant young man is recruited into the espionage business, has his personal life dragged into the middle of his mission, and triumphs over the intelligent and resourceful villain. And the writers did a competent job with it. The standard story line only rates a half MB from me.  

            3. Technical – The cinematography on this film was good. It had a few explosions, a well executed car chase, and the rest of the standard effects that go into an espionage film. It looked like action/thriller and as such earned a full MB.  

            4. Acting – Chris Pine is good as the new Jack Ryan. I enjoy his acting skills and he didn’t let me down here. Keira Knightley did more than play Jack Ryan’s love interest; she put enough character into her character to make it stand on its own. I enjoyed Kevin Costner. But the scene I enjoyed best involved Kenneth Branagh as he portrayed the charming side of the villain. The secondary cast also did well. The acting deserved a full MB for this film.  

            Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit gets 3 ½ Movie Bucks. I don’t know how necessary it is to see it on the big screen, but it certainly is worth experiencing it at a first run theater near you.

                        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.



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Ten Best Movie Rentals For The Last Day

            Do you know what today is? I mean, other than Tuesday.

            Today is the release date of The Gathering. That’s right! My brain child is now sitting on the shelves of book stores all over the Southwest. To celebrate this awesomely awesome day I composed a list for the occasion.

            Here are the Ten Best Movie Rentals for the Last Day.
10. It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

9. The Omega Man.

8. 2012. (Drink a toast for every year they were off.)

7. The Day After Tomorrow.

6. On the Beach (1959 Version).

5. History of the World: Part I.

4. Testament.

3. Wall-E.

2. Armageddon.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life. (Might as well go out on a high note.)

            And if you get the chance, stop by my friend Shelly’s blog. The topic of the day—why The Gathering release of course.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Movie Review - The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug  $$$  1/2


161 Minutes
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and Evangeline Lilly.
Director: Peter Jackson. 

            My family anxiously anticipated this film since we saw An Unexpected Journey last year. For the most part it was worth the long wait.  

            Bilbo (Martin Freeman) continues his journey with Thorin (Richard Armitage) and the rest of the dwarves as they seek to evict Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) from their ancestral home. Along the way they run into a bit of trouble with the elves, but eventually send Bilbo into dragon-infested kingdom-under-the-mountain to retrieve a relic that will allow Thorin to reunite all of the dwarves.
            Watch for an unexpected romance between Kili (Aidan Turner), a dwarf, and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) an elf. It left me wondering what would you call the love-child of these two? A dwelf? Or an Elarf? I can tell that it’s got you wondering now too.
            I particularly like the scene where Bilbo and the gang are traveling down the river in barrels, but I am torn about which part of it is best. Is it the bouncing barrel of doom? Or is it the fantastic footwork Legolas (Orlando Bloom) shows as he runs across the tops of the dwarves’ heads. 

            This is how I rated it.  

            1. Fun – If you like action and adventure then this is sure to be a hit. There are enough orcs in the movie to ensure that everyone has a chance to kill a few. On top of that, Bilbo dispatches a few giant spiders along the way. The problem I had was that I expected more. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every moment of the film, but it was not as entertaining as the first one. As tempted as I am to give it only half a MB because of my disappointment I don’t think that would be fair to this film. The Desolation of Smaug earns a full MB for sword-swishing adventure.  

            2. Story – The story is definitely not as strong as An Unexpected Journey. Character and plot development take the back seat to the action of the film. At the end of the first movie we had a satisfied feeling as the dwarves finally accepted Bilbo as one of them. That allowed viewers to walk out of the theater with a warm fuzzy in their hearts. Bilbo shows early signs of being taken over by the evil of the ring, but there is not nearly enough of it in the film. That could have been turned into a great emotional hook for the audience. Instead, we have an unlikely romance between Kili and Tauriel. I enjoyed it. In fact, it was my favorite part of the movie. But it was a distraction from the story that I came to see. I gave a half MB for storytelling. A little more focus on the story would really have helped this film.  

            3. Technical – Excellent. The scenes with Smaug are amazing. Elves, dwarves, orcs, giant spiders, and wizards all running around in sylvan cities, underground ruins, and a town built on top of a lake. This movie is a visual feast. I give it a full MB for the technical elements and it could easily be argued that it deserves more.  

            4. Acting. This is an excellent cast. I enjoyed all of the performances. I think the actors could have benefited from a script with more emotional range, but they did great with the lines they were given. I give it a full MB for acting.  

            Add all of that together and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug rates 3 ½ Movie Bucks. Definitely, see it in the theaters, on a big screen, with big sound. I recommend this as a matinee showing, but doubt anyone will feel cheated if they pay full price to see it.

                        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.