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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, March 24, 2014

Movie Review - Divergent

Divergent  $$$ 1/2


139 Minutes
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, and Jai Courtney.
Director: Neil Burger.   

            This is one of those cases where the trailers hadn’t convinced me to see the movie, but I went along with my son and was glad that I did. I guess I should listen to his suggestions more often.
            After a war in the future, the survivors in Chicago have devised a system to ensure a peaceful existence for society. They have divided everyone into five factions. Amity, the peaceful, are farmers. Candor, the honest, are involved in matters of the law. Erudite, the intelligent, are scientists and thinkers. Dauntless, the brave, are the police and soldiers of this society. And Abnegation, the selfless, are the leaders.  
When teens reach a stage of accountability, they take an aptitude test which will tell them which of the factions is best suited to their talents. They are free to choose whichever faction they want, but once they have they must remain within that group for the rest of their lives.
            Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) comes from an Abnegation family, but is not happy in this faction. She wants more than the selfless acts of service required by the faction. When she tests, the results are inconclusive. She has aptitude for multiple factions and must choose on her own which one to join.
            But that’s not all. Soon after she joins Dauntless, the reborn Tris finds herself in the middle of a plot to overthrow the faction system.

            This is how I rated Divergent: 

1. Fun – I enjoyed the film. It turned out better than I had expected. I gave Divergent a full MB for popcorn-munching entertainment.  

2. Story – This was the weak point of the film. Several flaws with the premise subtracted from the movie experience. And frankly, it felt like more of the same. I have read and seen plenty of dystopian stories that follow a similar path. The lack of a truly original story only rates half a MB from me.  

3. Technical – The film had a wonderful dark-future look to it. The costumes, sets, lighting, and special effects all convincingly transported me to another world and earned a full MB.  

            4. Acting – Shailene Woodley did a good job with the title-role, but I can’t say that I sympathized with her character. Her performance was not that strong. On the other hand, Theo James had my complete attention whenever he was on screen. The supporting cast brought unique personalities to their characters without upstaging Shailene Woodley – just as they are supposed to do. I give this portion of the film a half MB for a good, but not great performance from Woodley.  

            Divergent earns a rating of 3 Movie Bucks. This is a film well worth experiencing in the theaters and is probably more suitable as a matinee or other discount showing. 

                        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, March 17, 2014

Make Things Happen

My post for this week is small, but mighty.




            The world as I knew it has changed for me. My Author-In-Training days of spending huge blocks of time writing and thinking about what I wanted to write have gone the way of the Dodo. Endless hours of marketing have taken its place.
            Marketing isn’t bad. It helps you find an audience so that you can actually have people read what you write. And I find it amazingly fun now that I have a better grasp of what I’m doing. 
            The reason I’m writing about this today is because I am excited to see the progression of my career as an author. I have found that each step along the way leads you to the next. Built on the foundation of your previous work each new step takes you to greater heights.
            As an example, thanks to a suggestion from my publisher I contacted my local Barnes and Noble store and arranged a book signing. The obvious benefits of that event is the opportunity to sell a few books and meet some readers who may become fans. That alone is reason enough to justify the effort to make that happen.
            However, the Community Relations Manager turned out to be not only an amazingly friendly person, but one who had plenty of keen insights on marketing. Based on a discussion we had during the book signing I agreed to help setup a science-fiction panel for the store. My efforts to network and recruit other authors to join the panel have resulted in my connecting with individuals who have knowledge of resources and events of their own. Those in turn will no doubt result in even more marketing opportunities.
            The important point in all of this is to get out there and make things happen. I realize that not every effort will pay off in a big way, some of them may even be a waste of your time, but if you continue to plug away enough doors will be opened for you to succeed.
            Or as Nike has said for years, “Just do it.”




Monday, March 10, 2014

Stephanie Worlton Interview

            Marketing a novel is a difficult and time-consuming effort. However, one of the great things about it is the opportunity to meet my fellow authors. These are people with a similar passion for storytelling. And on occasion, I am able to involve them in my blog, thereby giving you the chance to meet them as well.
            Today, I am interviewing Stephanie Worlton. She has written three books, and her latest, All the Finer Things, is a romance novel that explores some important issues about love and the pursuit of wealth. If, like me, you’ve wondered what goes on inside the head of a romance novelist, then this is your chance to find out.

Q1) What was your motivation for becoming an author?

 A1) Honestly, being an author was something I never aspired to. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a creative person, I just never saw myself sitting long enough to write anything substantial, especially a novel. My whole writing journey started when my youngest child went to kindergarten and, with new-found time on my hands and a few great business opportunities on my doorstep, I asked Heavenly Father what path would be best. The answer I got was, “Write your book.” At first I laughed then, after getting the support of my husband, I moved forward. Not only was I able to create a beautiful story of love, forgiveness, and self-worth (Hope’s Journey), but I also discovered a love for writing that I never knew I had! I feel like I’ve been blessed with a talent and an opportunity to create value-based clean fiction. Writing has become a huge part of who I am. 

Q2) What was your hardest obstacle on the road of publication?
A) Fear of rejection. And it doesn’t get any easier with each subsequent book. I hate, hate, hate the very idea of failure. It took me a year to talk myself in to sending out queries for Hope’s Journey. It actually turned out to be a very painless process but then came launch time and all that anxiety started over again. Here I am at the launch of my third book and I’m just as anxious as ever.

Q3) What is your strength as an author? What part of the writing process do you do best? 

A3) I get a lot of compliments about my ability to write banter. This always makes me smile because those banter-filled conversations are my favorite thing to write. I love to play the words back and forth in my mind. I often smirk at the things my characters say…. sometimes I even make myself laugh out loud.  

Q4) What is it about “All the Finer Things” that compelled you to write it rather than another story?

A4) I woke up early one morning with a very clear image of who Megan was and where her story needed to go. I could see her face and feel her pain. I’ve witnessed the horror of physical and mental abuse in the lives of women that I love. And it’s not always a spouse or a loved-one that deals that abuse. Often women are their own biggest oppressors. But I’ve also witnessed the strength and the beauty in those women as they’ve conquered their fears and moved past the oppression. I couldn’t wait to introduce Megan to the people that would help her get to that place of peace, joy, and self-love.

Q5) What is your favorite scene in “All the Finer Things”?

A5) Oh dear, this is a toughy! I have a few faves! … The first one that comes to mind is a scene where Megan gets stranded in the pouring rain and Carter comes to her rescue on his four-wheeler. Imagine this pampered princess, fancy shoes and designer pants kind of girl, fresh from getting her hair done, stuck on the back of a four-wheeler in the pouring rain! She is horrified by the whole experience and every time Carter splashes into a mud puddle or takes a corner with the slightest degree of speed she freaks out. He, however, finds great humor and entertainment in the drive.

Q6) How much of your own life went into this story?

 A6) In every novel that I write there are fragments of my own life. The biggest pieces of me are in the character of Carter. He’s a graphic designer by trade but his real love is carpentry. I, too, love to design and build things. My favorite smells are fresh-cut lumber and new paint. The concept to cast him as scoutmaster also came from my life. I spent five years on our district scout committee and my husband has been involved in scouts for the better part of his adult life. Some of the greatest men I’ve ever known are scoutmasters so it just made sense to make the hero of my story one, too. 

Q7) Why a plastic surgeon? Is there a deeper meaning to choosing that career for Megan’s husband?
A7) The whole concept behind Doctor Hamilton’s character was this societal push that physical beauty is everything. He represents the very ugliest part of our culture – vanity, greed, artificial popularity.

Q8) Is there a sequel in the works involving rich Washington DC politicians? Or how about one set in Hollywood and involving the entertainment elite?

A8) No sequel (at least not that I’m aware of at this point). My next novel Beyond Tomorrow deals with corruption within a big city police force and the DEA. It also features a very strong undertone of our connection with those who’ve passed on. It’s a bit more intense than my other novels but it still has a surprising element of romance woven in. I’m very excited about it!

Q9) What has been the most exciting part of your author journey so far?

A9) There are two things. First, it never gets old seeing my covers come to fruition (especially when I get to be involved in the process). There is something about seeing my name on the cover of a book that sends shivers up my spine. I hope it never loses that rush!

The second thing is when I get emails from readers telling me how much my book helped them. I love to go to book clubs and participate in their discussion on my books. And I absolutely love all the new friends I’ve made in the process.

Q10) What do you hope people walk away with when they have finished your story?

A10) While I consider my novels to be “escape literature” I always hope my readers walk away with a message that will help them in their personal journeys.  The message I hope they take from All the Finer Things is that money and prestige don’t buy happiness. Cliché as it is, we live in a world that very much worships vanity, fashion, money, and fame. Sadly we often set our sights on these things thinking they will make us happy when, in fact, real peace and joy have nothing to do with the quantity or quality of “things” we manage to gather.  I hope my readers walk away with the reminder that the finer things in life aren’t things at all.


Married to one of the most lucrative and sought after plastic surgeons in SoCal, Megan Hamilton has it all. Her posh life, designer clothes, and stunning penthouse leave her wanting for nothing… or do they? Controlled by his obsessive pursuit of perfection, Doctor Matthew Hamilton will stop nothing short of breaking his young, spirited bride into a subservient trophy wife. But when parenthood enters their picture, the entire game changes. How far will Megan have to go to escape Matt's obsessive control and abuse? And how much will she have to lose before she gets there?
~Sometimes money costs too much ~
Stephanie Worlton is excited to announce the release of her newest novel All the Finer Things. As part of her book launch, she will be giving away one autographed print copy and one eBook copy of All the Finer Things.
To learn more about the book and TO ENTER TO WIN simply visit the author's Kreating Krazy blog.
  About the Author:  Stephanie Connelley Worlton lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains where she enjoys frequent opportunities to observe nature and feed her creative spirit. She has been blessed to be a stay at home mom to her four children, many of whom share her artistic tendencies. She spends her days designing, building, painting, drawing, landscaping, and snuggling with her dogs. She has her own collection of power tools, a plethora of camera equipment, and a passion for shoes. All the Finer Things is her third published work. To learn more about Stephanie and her other books, please visit her website

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ladies Night

            Last week I was introduced to Carol Malone. She is an author. Hurray for authors. Her first novel, Ladies Night, caught my attention because it is listed as a “Fight Card Romance.” Have you ever heard of one of those before? I hadn’t.

            Those of you who have followed my blog for any time probably know that I exhibit a keen interest in genre crossing. No. It’s not anything like street crossing, but if genre crossing guard position ever opens up—I want it.
            At first glance, boxing and romance seem to be worlds apart. I decided that I had to interview Carol and find out more about this intriguing combination. So, without further delay allow me to introduce Carol Malone.

1) What gave you the idea to combine boxing and romance into the same story?

A1) Before I answer that, let me say Randy, thank you for allowing me the privilege of being featured on your blog. I’m sure I’m not your usual suspect. 
Anyway, to answer the question. I have been forever reading boxing stories where the girl friends whine and moan that he’s going to get hurt or killed and she wants him to quit and do something else. I dislike that type of woman. I wanted to write about a woman who would be a support to her man, even be right there in his corner if and when he needed her. I had read most of the novels in the Fight Card series and there was never a gal like that. One boxer even left his gal behind in another city so she would have a better life. After all, what man doesn’t want the woman of his dreams on his side, pulling for him, rooting for him, willing to take on a murder rap to save him? My heroine, Lindy is that type of gal.

I'm often asked "why would a nice gal like you want to write a novel in an all-male dominated genre like pulp fiction boxing?" This is my short answer:

I wrote "Ladies Night" basically as a dare. A couple of years ago, my friend, Paul Bishop, along with his good friend, Mel Odom, created the Fight Card series – fast action boxing tales inspired by the fight pulps of the ‘30s, 40s and ‘50s. Being part of a monthly writers group mentored by Paul, I was familiar with these novels and was knocked out by their punchy style. When Paul wanted my husband, Tim, to write a Fight Card novella, I saw only one major problem – Tim, raised with four sisters, doesn’t like sports. He never played sports of any kind, nor does he enjoy watching sports on TV, which he considers wasting time. I, on the other hand, was raised with four sports-loving, older brothers.

If Tim wasn’t going to take a crack at writing a Fight Card story, then I wanted to jump in the ring. Without Paul’s knowledge, I started to write Ladies Night in March, 2012. With trepidation, I brought the first chapters of “Ladies Night” to our monthly writer's group and the excited acceptance overwhelmed me.

Paul encouraged me to continue. He’d had a notion in his head to expand the Fight Card brand – which he’d already done by adding in a series of Fight Card MMA novels – to include Fight Card Romance novels, and “Ladies Night” looked like it might fill the niche. You can see me listed as one of the Fight Card series authors at:  http://fightcardbooks.com/carol-malone

2) Do you have any plans to expand this concept to a hockey and romance series? Seeing as hockey is pretty much just fighting on ice.

A2) I know I’m going to offend some of your sports-loving readers, but hockey is the one sport I can’t get behind. It ranks right up there with curling. It wasn’t one my brothers played and I never learned the rules or saw many games. You are right about it being violent, but boxing pits one man against another, no sticks or heavy protective clothing. Just the beauty of learning the “Sweet Science.”

3) What was the wackiest genre crossing idea you came up with when you were deciding what to write?

A3) Blood sucking vampire, Darth Werewolf, and his queen, the witch Esmeralda Troll, are chiropractors who serve only zombies who strain their backs while consuming tiny fairytale creatures from medieval England who have been running from Martian who have been born again, and now flee tyranny of time-traveling and space-traveling Scottish Highlanders. It could happen.  

(Please tell me that you are actually going to write this story. I so want to read it!)

4) Are there any genres, or settings, that are just too silly to be combined with romance? And if so, what are they?

A4) I would probably say children’s stories, middle grade and possibly pre-teen. That might stretch a bit in today’s modern – free thinking world, but I would hold those as a NO ROMANCE ZONE.

5) They say "Three's a crowd." Is that true for genre mash-ups? Would a western, mob-war, romance be over the top?

A5) Actually, I think I read one of those. I believe the more you can mix it up, the better it will show on Amazon’s bestsellers list and the faster you can make your climb. It’s all about the niche market these days. My trick is how to write sweet romances in any genre, but do it in a 50 Shades of Grey world.

6) Briefly, tell us about Ladies Night. Give us an overview.

A6) Ladies Night is the story of a hard-luck orphan, Jimmy Doherty, who was taught the “Sweet Science” of boxing by his mentor, Father Tim Brophy to keep him off the mean streets of Chicago. Jimmy’s fists were good enough to receive further training from Pops Dominic, a professional manager in Los Angeles. Right off the train, Jimmy falls for the manager’s only daughter, Lindy. But when Lindy is arrested for killing a boxer with ties to gangster Mickey Cohen, Jimmy is forced to join forces with the arresting detective – who would like to do much more with Lindy than put her in handcuffs – in a desperate search for the real killer. It’s the sweet, tender romance of two people in terrifying trouble.

7) Boxing used to be such a popular sport. Why do you think its popularity has waned in recent years?

A7) As a kid I remember watching fight night with my dad and four older brothers. The greats like Marciano and Robinson. I think there are a lot of reasons people have lost interest. I know I wasn’t thrilled when they went to “Pay-per-view” fights on TV. Then you had to purchase an expensive add-on to your cable like HBO just to see a fight. I also believe greedy promoters like Don King ruined the sport for the average boxing enthusiast. When boxing bouts weren’t televised on regular networks, interest diminished. I know mine did. And then greed – pure and simple in another reason. It’s like the promoters don’t care about average fans or allow them to participate viewing the sport they love – man-to-man, physically demanding athletics like the gladiators of Rome.

8) Fun stuff:

Favorite genre to read:  what else, romance

Favorite childhood vacation spot:  Jackson Hole and Yellowstone

Favorite quote from a movie:  “Have fun stormin’ the castle.” Miracle Max,  from Princess Bride

Favorite smell:  baking bread

Favorite flavor of ice cream:  chocolate – is there any other flavor?

Favorite candy:  anything with chocolate and nuts

What’s on you “keeper shelf” of books: Nora, Harlequin Heartwarming, Linda Lael Miller, Sandra Brown, Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer:  pantzer for sure. You can tell from the skid marks on my jeans.

If you were a superhero, what would your kryptonite be:  chocolate, is there any other weakness?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be:  I might like a villa in Venice, a chateau in Steamboat Springs, a bungalow in Great Britain, or a luxury casita in Lava Cove in St. George, but I love living in Ventura County, California. The weather can’t be beat.

Piece of advice for aspiring writers:  write, write, write, edit, rinse and repeat

One food you would never eat:  probably chocolate covered ants. I might lick off the chocolate, but bugs, no way.

9) Any other projects in the works?

A9) I’ve just completed a 40s baseball novella for publication in an anthology of pulp sports short stories, and I’m working on a sequel to “Ladies Night.” I’m just about finished with a contemporary romance about a nurse and a fireman. There are always ideas floating around my brain like so much space junk.

10) What are your feelings about LDS authors writing romance? Can they keep their high standards of morality and virtue and still write a book about love in the modern secular world?

A10) This has been a question I have struggled with since I started writing. We all know Mormons (LDS) – Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold themselves to a higher standard in terms of morality. There are good LDS writers out there writing sweet romantic tales and I have no problem with that. There are certain lines, certain words, certain situations you don’t write about if you want to be published by The Big D. The feeling is, “you’re LDS, you can’t have a sex scene in your novel!” You’re limited because of culture.

In my story, there is violence, crime, murder, rape attempts, sexual situations - although off camera – and non-LDS themes. I don’t want to be restricted in my writing of novels because of my religion. I’m not talking about writing erotica, or anything like that, but I don’t want to be censored either. It’s a fine line we walk, almost as fine as a woman writing a romance in a primarily male genre. The romance turns off the guys, and the sports doesn’t interest romance readers. Can you see me walking a tight-rope as I write? But I live for the challenge.

            Thank you, Carol. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and wish all the best with your writing career. Carol has interviewed me as well. Make sure to stop by and see if my goofy interview style rubbed off on her.
            One last item. I bet all of you are wondering the same thing I am. When do we get the chance to read the first curling romance novel? Am I right?