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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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What A Difference A Year Makes

(Picture from the LDStorymakers 2012)

            I just returned from LDStorymakers 2014 and the thought that came to mind at the end of the conference was about how much my situation has changed during the last year. And since this blog is about my journey as an author I felt that I should comment on that.
            At this same time last year, I attended the 2013 conference as an author in search of a publisher. My manuscript for The Gathering had already been turned down by Covenant and I had sent it off to Cedar Fort the previous month.
            Of course, that quickly changed. Soon after I returned home I received the notice from Cedar Fort that they wanted my book. Yahoo! I was going to be a bona fide published author. My dream had finally come true.
            Jump forward to the Storymakers 2014 and I am surprised to find that much of the experience has changed. Most of it reflects a change within myself and my new situation as a published author.
            For one, I almost didn’t attend the conference. And don’t get me wrong, I love the Storymakers event. These are great people putting together three days of activities intended to recharge the emotional batteries of the attendees and educate each of us on how to become even better writers. The need for me to continue my marketing efforts with The Gathering had led me to consider skipping it this year. Between my wife reminding me that I enjoyed the conference too much to miss it and the opportunity to do some marketing while I was in Utah I was eventually convinced to attend.
            I’m glad I changed my mind. It is too easy to get caught up with all the work that is required as a published author. Once in awhile, we need to take a weekend off to enjoy the ride. Spend some time hobnobbing with our fellow authors. Meet a few fans and talk about our books. After all, isn’t this what we day-dreamed about doing before we were published?
            Another big difference for me was the First Chapter contest. Or should I say the lack of the contest for me. During the last three years I have eagerly looked forward to this competition. It gave me a chance to work on new projects and get vital input on the stories themselves. The truth is I like making stuff up and this was a perfect outlet for my newly hatched darlings.
            As they announced the winners for 2014 I made an important connection. The First Chapter contest was a primer for unpublished authors. It prepares them for their experience in the publishing world. As a published author I am participating in a much bigger competition. I send in queries and usually the first three chapters. My judges are the agents and editors in the industry. The prizes for winning are book contracts.
            All of a sudden, I didn’t feel so bad about not participating—because, I am. Just on the next level.
            Not everything about the conference has changed for me. I still attend the classes and learn how to improve my skills as an author. I still get the chance to meet my heroes in the literary world and talk about our common love of writing. I still walk away from the experience feeling uplifted and ready to face another year as an author. And most importantly, I still get the opportunity to talk with the wonderful friends I’ve made during previous conferences.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Gathering: End's Beginning

Don't panic. This clip is just the book trailer for my speculative-fiction story, The Gathering.

I'm going to make this post short so you can go straight to the video and check it out. David Stipes, Douglas Monce, and Amber Nichols are the team of profesionals that put this together. A big thanks goes out to them. They went above and beyond what I asked them to do. Let me also thank the Jackson family, the Uchytil family, Jack, Jim, Ted, Paul, Tony, Larry, and Dan for the impressive performances they gave in the video.

Now, watch the trailer and try not to be afraid.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Movie Review - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier  $$$ 1/2

136 Minutes
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Redford.
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. 

            The Cap is back.
            With the horde of space-aliens defeated, the all-American hero can return to his normal routine. Catching-up on fifty years of pop culture. Riding his motorcycle. Visiting the girl of his dreams who is now more like the great-grandmother of his dreams. This first third of the movie is the part I liked best about the film.
            Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a super-hero movie if Hydra wasn’t plotting to rule the world and destroy SHIELD at the same time. To that end, we introduce the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). With his heightened strength and reflexes and a mechanical/bionic arm, he turns out to be a match for the Captain.
            I don’t know that I can say too much more about it without giving away plot elements that are better discovered by you, in the theater. I enjoyed the movie and would gladly watch it again, but wonder if Winter Soldier should have actually had more to do with the plot since the movie is named for him. 

            This is how I rated Captain America: The Winter Soldier: 

1. Fun – Lots of fun. Good interplay between Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Plenty of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) being furious about just about everything. I especially enjoyed watching Cap try to come to terms with his status as a man out of his time.
I gave Captain America a full MB for excellent super-hero fun.  

2. Story – I felt that the movie started off strongly in this area and then weakened as it went along. There was less focus on character and more reliance on fighting, explosions, and general mayhem as the film progressed. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch the destruction of high-tech facilities as much as the next guy, but not at the expense of the story. The lack of a strong villain didn’t help.
            A weaker story than what we could have had rates only a half MB.  

3. Technical – Plenty of explosions, flying aircraft carriers, and creepy computers to go around. Costumes, sets, and special effects were all top-notch, earning a full MB.  

            4. Acting – Good. There were no weak points here. Chris Evans does a wonderful job as Captain America. Samuel L. Jackson is a joy to watch as he chews his way through all of his scenes. Anthony Mackie turned me into a Falcon fan with his performance. I give this portion of the film a full MB.  

            Add all of it up and Captain America: The Winter Soldier earns a rating of 3 1/2 Movie Bucks. This is a film that definitely should be seen in the theaters. I recommend a matinee or other discount showing, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you paid full price. 

* I have made an adjustment to the score I gave to this film. The ratings are the same, but they added up to 3 1/2 and not the original 3 that I claimed it earned. My bad.

                        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.