Monday, December 26, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Rogue One

Holy fucking shit! This is the movie I wanted The Force Awakens to be with characters I cared about, motivations I understood, and action that kept me on the edge my seat. It was everything I loved about the original trilogy with a far darker edge just like The Empire Strikes Back.

I'm not going to give my normal spoilers warning because if you've seen Star Wars (I refuse to call it by the episode title. Yes, I'm that old.), then you've got a pretty good idea already how it's going to end.

On the other hand, if you haven't seen any of the Star Wars movies, why are you reading this? *smile*

Quite simply, Rogue One is the Star Wars' version of The Dirty Dozen, one of my all time favorite flicks. It fills in a few holes in Star Wars, how the Rebel Alliance stole the plans to the Death Star, how Princess Leia ended up with the files, and why there was one small hole in the Death Star's defenses.

This story also shows the truly ugly side of a rebellion. The overwhelming odds. The lack of solidarity between various factors. The dark, awful things that must be done to win. This isn't a story of innocence lost, like Luke, but of people trying to find the right path in a universe of fear.

Some familiar characters are featured prominently, such as Mon Mothma and a digitized version of Grand Moff Tarkin. Jimmy Smits returns one last time as Bail Organa, and the story confirms that yes, he was on Alderaan when it was destroyed. The best part was the final battle where a ton of familiar pilots appeared such as Wedge Antilles, Biggs Darklighter, etc. who will eventually participate in the Battle of Yavin.

Overall, this was the best Star Wars sequel/prequel since Return of the Jedi came out thirty-three years ago. I give 10 out of 10 stars!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Other than movie reviews, Wild, Wicked & Wacky is going dark for the next couple of weeks. See you in 2017!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


This picture in the form of a magnet rests on my refrigerator door. There's two reasons for it.

Reason #1: In any career, a person must continue to learn new things. Sometimes though, the lessons become so embedded in the subconscious that you don't realize you've learned it until you use it.

Reason #2: I love the TV show Supernatural. I didn't watch it for the first four seasons because I was afraid I'd jinx it.

On a side note: Every frickin' time I fall in love with a show in it's first season, it gets canceled. Misfits of Science. Cancelled. Quark. Cancelled. Almost Human. Cancelled. Hell, I didn't watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer until the John Ritter episode late in the second season because I didn't want it to get cancelled.

Anyway, back to Supernatural. Once the producers and writers got past creator Eric Kripke's original five-season story arc of stopping the Christian apocalypse, the following season dealt with the ramifications of Sam's last episode of Season 5 decision.  Subsequent seasons create a gigantic pile of decision/consequence until the stack tumbles with the twelfth (current) season back to the variation of the original problem, stopping Lucifer.

Consequences of past decisions has been an occurring theme over the last two seasons of The Walking Dead and in the last several books of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series as well.

As I'm working on the last three books of the Bloodlines series, I already knew they dealt with the consequences of Sam's creation. But I started wondering how to work in the consequences of the other characters' decisions into the last volumes.

And when I was re-reading a section of Ravaged the other night, I realized I had already done so. Specifically, the consequences of Bebe's decision in Blood Magick and Alex's in Blood Sacrifice. I knew these two characters need to be in Ravaged, but I didn't know why until I watched the mid-season finales of both The Walking Dead and Supernatural. And in separate conversations, Logan (who made a very brief appearance in Zombie Love) and Alyson (a new to readers character) come right out and say, "Yeah, it's your fault because of what you did/failed to do, but now, we need to figure out how to clean up the mess."

Wow! Talk about an epiphany.

So, keep studying the things you like, understand why you like them, and it'll improve your writing.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Moana

Go for the Disney princess; stay for the chicken.

There's been so much controversy over the House of Mouse's latest entry in the princess adventure genre that no one is giving it much credit for the things the movie does right.

I'm not putting the following under the normal Pros column because Disney should have been doing this all along:

- The producers actually used actors of Polynesian/Oceanic descent.

- There's finally a princess story that doesn't even hint at a romance.

My only address to one particular controversy: Maui is not fucking overweight! If people can't tell the difference between exaggerated musculature (just like Disney freakin' did with Hercules) and morbid obesity, maybe the critics need to go to medical school.

To me, Maui's appearance is based on two very popular Samoan public figures, both of whom do voice characterizations in this movie: Dwayne Johnson and Troy Polamalu.

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1) Moana is the princess I would have loved to see when I was a child. She's brave and curious, someone who tries to do the right thing even when it goes against her parents' wishes. Auli'i Cravalho embodies Moana perfectly, and she has a damn fine singing voice to boot.

2) The demigod Maui is one of the few consistencies across the many Pacific island cultures, so he's the perfect choice as Moana's antagonist/mentor. Yeah that's right. He works against our heroine for a chunk of the movie, not out spite, but a certain amount of denial/regret/shame for fouling things up.

3) Dwayne Johnson plays against his normal superdude stereotype. Maui has a major flaw that Johnson tries to earnestly convey.

4) Maui's tattoos as comedy relief (besides the chicken).

5) Lin-Manuel Miranda's gorgeous tunes.

6) This is a movie that you can definitely take your young children, too. No sexy stuff and no sly double entendres. This is a pretty straight forward adventure/quest story.

1) As much as I love Dwayne Johnson, I really hope he doesn't cut an album any time soon. I give him credit for trying something new.

Overall, I give Moana 10 stars out of 10!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Doctor Strange

Despite my lack of blog posting lately, DH and I have been hitting a few of the holiday new release flicks for date night. So you'll get a stream of reviews before you hit the theaters on Christmas Day (in order to avoid your families, we all know it's true). *grin*

(I'll say this now. I refuse to go see Rogue One, so don't expect a review from me on that one. I was sorely disappointed in The Force Awakens last Christmas. I'd rather re-watch the original trilogy a zillion times than feel that disappointment again.)

I never followed Doctor Strange in the comics. My casual knowledge of him is mainly from the X-men and Avengers books. But hey, it's Benedict Cumberbatch!

I don't hold Star Trek: Into Darkness against Benedict. My issue was with the movie being a remake after wiping the slate clean in the reboot and the script writing, not his acting. But his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes made me believe he could definitely pull off the Sorcerer Supreme.

Except Benedict...

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...doesn't quite make it through the whole movie as Doctor Strange. Once again, I thoroughly blame it on the writing

Yeah, I'm starting with the cons first.

1) The writing in regards to Strange's personality and his personal growth is uneven. The first act was pitch perfect when it came to him as the arrogant, perfectionist surgeon. His initial depression and lashing out after the car accident was also well done, but when he becomes semi-proficient at magic, he becomes...Tony Stark. I swear to Dormammu, Benedict channels Robert Downey, Jr., through the last half of the movie, and not just because of the matching facial hair.

(Yes, I know the beard thing was a joke in the comics. And it was the comics. But Stephen wasn't acting like Tony in that particular scene.)

The sarcastic attitude didn't mesh with Strange's alleged spiritual revelation earlier in the story.

2) The pacing of the story was also uneven. The first half of the movie could have been one of those tearjerker lesson movies that A-listers put out this time of year in order to grab an Oscar nomination. The second half was a MCU action flick.

1) I don't want to ruin the movie if you haven't seen it yet, but the ending was a clever little stunt that would be apropos to Captain Picard or Doctor Who. Or even Starlord. If you go in expecting an massive beatdown ala the most of the superhero flicks, you'll be disappointed. Personally, I love it when a hero uses his head instead of his fists.

(And before anyone jumps on me, yes, I am aware that all three Captain America movies end with Steve using his head, but that's only after his fists failed.)

Before I get into the Ancient One casting controversy, let me start by saying I have absolutely love Tilda Swinton! I have since I first saw her, which was in 1992's Orlando. It's a damn shame that the controversy clouded her usual superb job.

Here's my assessment: No matter what Kevin Feige and the rest of the Doctor Strange team did in regards to the Ancient One, it would have been deemed "wrong".

If they cast a man of Asian lineage, they would have been lambasted for the racist attitude with which the character was originally designed. If they cast a white man, they still would have been lambasted for white-washing. If they had cast a male of another race than Asian or Caucasian, they would have been accused to changing the character for the sake of changing the character.

And if they put in a woman...

Oh wait, they did, and everyone lost their shit. *sigh*

This wouldn't have been the first time Swinton has played a male character (see Orlando or Constantine), but no one, including Feige and his team, was willing to give her a chance playing the Ancient One as a male.

If anyone should have been bitching about race crap, maybe it should have been about casting Mordo as a black man. (If you don't follow the comics, Mordo is a major villain in the Doctor Strange books.) Once again, I love Chiwetel Ejiofor's work, but does he have to always be cast as the black sidekick in American movies?

It's not just him though. The MCU is really big on black sidekicks. I think the Hulk is the only Avenger that doesn't a black sidekick. But hey, give 'em time...

Overall, I give Doctor Strange 7.5 stars out of 10, mainly for not having the punch it could have.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Blood Magick Is Free!

In a special one-time deal, I'm offering Blood Magick free on Amazon from now until December 10th.

Blood Magick at Amazon

In the meantime, Zombie Goddess is still $0.99 until Saturday, too.

On Sunday, they both go back to their regular price of $4.99.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Zombie Goddess Is Live!

After three-years, one-month, and four days, the latest episode of the Bloodlines saga is live! And it's only $0.99 until December 10th!

Sam Ridgeway really thought her little family was settling into their new lives in Las Vegas.

Except her vampire fiancĂ© turns into a jealous rage-monster every time Ares, the Greek god of war, tutors her in using her new powers. The daughter of one of her baby zombies sues Sam for desecrating her mother’s memory. And to top it off, Baron Samedi kidnaps her brother Max in exchange for a certain basketball-playing necromancer’s soul.

Which, by the way, she doesn’t have.

What’s a zombie goddess going to do? Because this time, Sam’s snarkalicious attitude won’t stop Armageddon.


NaNoWriMo Has Finished...

...and no, I didn't win. I reached 32,202 new words on Sacrificed. Which was good, but I kept losing focus because I got caught up in fixing some production problems with Zombie Goddess. Which needed to be done for the release, but now I'm a little more than a month behind on everything, i.e. my self-imposed schedule.

I'm not sure what the problem is. Is it SAD or not enough caffeine or too many people at my favorite writing spot or that the local stores have stopped carrying my favorite wine?

Is it the nastiness that seems to have infected the entire country? I've never gotten into a shouting match with another mother at a school before, but damn, I'm tired of people trying to bully me in everyday life. (She was trying to cut in line with her super-size SUV.) A few days later, a high school administrator got bitchy with me because I parked my car exactly where I was supposed to in order to pick up my kid.

Maybe it's dealing with the vagaries of teen hormones. One minute, I'm the greatest mom in the world. The next, I'm the Satan who's trying to destroy his life.

Or maybe it's simply that a project I've been working on since October of 2004 is coming to a close. Twelve years is a long time to be working on one story. And that's what the Bloodlines series is--one gigantic story.

I always get sad when something is over.