Gimme a Rocket Any Day



FYI: I do not do spoilers.

After seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, I feared Vol. 2 would be a disappointment. At the opening of the first film, I knew it would be a big hit when Peter Quill starting dance-punting vicious alien vermin to the tune of Come and Get Your Love. Then came Rocket. I adore that snarky-mouthed little guy. His asides make me laugh until my belly aches no matter how many times I do a repeat—especially when told he can’t use his homemade mega-bomb to blow up large planetary objects and mutters that she just “sucks the fun out of everything.” I gotta say, he’s even more adorable in Vol.2. I want to take him home with me, even though I’d probably end up punting him and his smart mouth across the room at some point.

While itching with impatience for Vol. 2’s release, I also worried that it wouldn’t be able to match the fun and quirkiness of Vol. 1, but it does, in spades but with a different flavor. And what’s not to like about Kurt Russell? How does a sixty-six year old guy still look so yummy? Maybe it’s the dimples. Anyway, I loved Vol. 2. It’s like, and yet not like, the first film with some nice twists. It was such a relief to not be disappointed.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
Follow on Twitter @RigdonML




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The Great Wall

Comments have been made about a Caucasian taking part in a Chinese legend. The gist of the complaint questioned why a white guy is in the story at all. (Hello! Probably because the story is about a white guy, a thief and mercenary, who comes of age a bit late in life.) Matt Damon’s manner of understated acting is an added bonus in the fantasy-slash-action adventure film genre, where characters tend to gnaw every available inch of scenery. (Insert eye roll here.)

Another relief while watching was the judicious use of blood spatter. Typically, buckets of red are splashed everywhere. Injuries and dismemberments happened, but were quick and not gratuitously gruesome. (IMHO that’s a sign of poor screenwriting and direction. Can’t think of something original, so let’s throw some blood and gore at it. Yawn.)

China has the resources, dedication, and centuries of exquisite cultural artistry to create visual beauty. (Who can forget the magical bamboo forest scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?) Asian films tend to overwhelm with their vast casting and equally massive production budgets. Sometimes it gets a bit much, but this film is a perfect example of controlled excess. American made fantasy and sci-fi films tend to compensate with over the top graphics. Sometimes it’s done well. For me, the best work in US productions are the Star Wars films. (I do not include Rogue One. The facial reconstruction at the end, and you know what I mean, was absolutely creepy!)

Keeping that in mind, some things can be overlooked and others can’t, such as blatantly sloppy production work. There is none of that silliness in The Great Wall. The costuming is gorgeous, lavish colors for the different military divisions in contrast to the utilitarian and coarse armor of the round-eyed mercenaries, which in subtext, illustrates the honorable character of the Chinese and the utter lack of elevated values in the white mercenaries. A nice touch, that.

In current fantasy filming, it often boils down to the graphics. The scenic design in this film was laid out on the sort of grand scale only Asian films are able to financially create. Large scale graphics require discipline and a monumental effort in teamwork, and this film did it well. Compare it to the childish and cheesy backgrounds in Gods of Egypt and the absolutely horrible mess of the chariot horse somehow landing up in the stadium seating and trampling the audience in the flimsy remake of Ben Hur.

There was only one weak point in the story and to explain it involves a major spoiler. It’s not worth the fuss since it comes near the end and doesn’t ruin the whole. Artistically, I came away satisfied and impressed, even encouraged. The protagonist followed through on the classic story arc of personal change. A nation’s resolve to protect itself, to sacrifice to save others, to stand with courage and determination in the face of impossible odds is a familiar theme in fantasy. This film brought it to life—showed the meaning of honor and integrity to oneself and others—attributes sadly absent in our present political climate and culture of films exemplifying antiheroes smashing up the scenery and crashing cars. The Great Wall gives us real heroes, men and women, Asian and Caucasian, who give all they have to protect others and do their duty, as our military does today—our last vestige of national honor. This film is a reminder that it still exists in some of us. I left refreshed.

#SonofaPitch…Thoughts and My Votes

Some things MUST be shared.

Finding Faeries

As the second round of Son of a Pitch wraps up, I sit here smiling…tired and my mind a bit frazzled, but very happy.

I read 51 entries, which included a query and the first 250 words of the manuscript. I hosted eleven of them on this little blog! It was an honor. I read some once, others…after revisions were posted…twice, and some more than that. I gave all my opinions. I squeed at some of the words. I smiled at others. I gasped. I laughed. I sighed. From horror, to fantasy, to sci-fi, to romance, to women’s fiction, to literary…YA, NA, and adult…everyone brought something different to this event. Everyone came to learn. Everyone united to help.

Son of a Pitch is my favorite writing competition. Everyone gets feedback. Everyone participates. Everyone is involved. #sonofapitch has been my favorite hangout these last few days.

I am so proud of…

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Nothing’s simple

Terrific blog about writing.

Judi Lynn

You know, when I first started writing, it was a hobby.  I was serious about it, because I don’t seem to be able to do something half-ass that I care about, but I really didn’t expect much to come of it.  In the beginning–before God created computers and editing was a pain in the rear end–before you could move paragraphs and add and delete by hitting a button–I wrote short stories and writing was about having fun.  Writing is STILL fun for me.  Yes, it’s work.  Yes, it takes commitment.  But doggone, it’s fun to get inside other peoples’ heads and make their stories come to life.

I still love writing and writers.  But as soon as you go to your first writers’ conference, the rules change.  You don’t just think of a story you want to write, but now, you think about markets.  What are the odds that my story…

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Girls are NOT sugar and spice

Judi Lynn

I wrote a blog a while ago about character flaws.  Something I don’t think about much.  I think of strengths and weaknesses–what are you good at, prone to, and what do you have to work at, try to avoid?  But maybe your weaknesses would be your flaws?  Or maybe your flaws are the things you want, but shouldn’t have?  The things you give in to?  Your temptations?  The bad choices you WANT to make and try to avoid?  Any opinions?  When you think of a character, how do you see him?  What do you consider his/her flaw?  I’d love to hear about a character you wrote and what his/her flaw was, how it affected your book.

I was thinking about a character that Julia Donner wrote in her Friendship Regency series. In the book Lord Carnall and Miss Innocent–an exaggeration of their personalities, but a fun one–Donner introduced two characters…

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Hold onto Hope

Finding Faeries

So many people are disappointed in the people of America. And I won’t lie, I cried on the morning after the election. Why? Because I’m scared. I’m scared of what our country could look like with Trump in charge.

Like truly scared.

That the forward, positive steps we have taken will be erased.

But America has voted and this is the result. I have been thinking about why. And I have a bit of insight because my husband voted for Trump. And yes, I voted for Hillary.

OMG, you say! My house must be a war zone, you think! Well, no. We are opposites. Always have been, always will be. We vote on different sides every single time. After revealing that I am married to a Trump supporter on FB, someone commented that they would get a divorce. Wow. Well, I am not getting a divorce from a man I…

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So, I’m toiling away on the last bits of Canticle of Destruction, the third installment of the Songs of Atlanitis YA fantasy series. I put dragons in my first fantasy series (called them fflorin) and figured, what the heck, might as well put dragons in this series. I like ‘em. So do others. In they go. But of course, they have to be part of a historical twist within the story arc and coincide with the previous books. Check. Check.

Anyway, the last six months have thrown my goals off track due to involvement with a friend’s estate and collaborating with her writing. Won’t do that again. Doing so proved painfully illustrative and validated a set of rules my critique partner, Judy Post, aka Judi Lynn, and I have learned to our cost. Rule Two—which comes after the sacred Rule One of writing one’s tushie off every day—is never, EVER let up on promoting your own work. I did for the last months, spending more time elsewhere, but always managing to get some writing done. Still, I dismally failed at Rule Two: promote and advertise your work until you die. Or lie bleeding out on the floor.

The year started off great with a fabulous bounce from an ad on BookBub for the regency series written as Julia Donner. Yes, I do the no-no of writing under more than one name. Here comes the whine: I gotta do more than one genre!

Fortunately, and blessedly, as writers in this day and present industry construct, we no longer have to line up under the sign that says writers MUST follow a formulaic code of composition. Of course, that outdated rule must be observed if one is signed with a traditional publisher. (Shoulder shrug here.) That’s a given, but writers now have a wide range of choices. Whether we go with the traditional publishing path or not, we all have to promote ourselves. The days of book junketing is pretty much dead and gone, unless your agent has signed you for a million buck deal with a clause that clearly states the publisher will provide this. Ergo, Rule Two (hence known as the Eleventh Commandment) is not to be forgotten, never ignored. I did to my cost, my sales sagged, and now I’ve got to get back on board the advertising express.

At the end of the month, I hope to have that new YA fantasy up and live on Amazon and two (yes, count them, two) campaigns running. This means (insert dramatic groan) I have to scour pages and pages of advertising ideas. As writer and playwright friend, Rachel Roberts has expressed, it’s not easy to toot one’s own horn. Can’t agree more. I’ve endured  the disappointment of three declines from BookBub in the last months. Have to wait for a while to resubmit, but in the interim, look out Twitter, here I come.

Wrapping up, publicizing one’s work is wicked heart-wrenching—a hair-pulling, out- loud wailing, and lying-on-the-floor-heel-kicking endeavor. But it’s the only way to sell the books we’ve sweated blood and rained tears on the keyboard to bring to life. So bring on the dragons and burn up the procrastination tactics. Your work and what you have to say is worth it.

While we’re on the subject of horn-tooting, Judi Lynn’s latest installment of the delicious Mill Pond Romance series, Love on Tap, is now available for presale. Please take a looksee on Amazon, Face Book or her webpage:







Hobby? Career? Or are you aiming for best seller?

Judi Lynn

My writer/friend, Ann, came to visit me on Thursday, and she brought me a Writer’s Digest she’d finished reading and the book section of the September 2nd Wall Street Journal that listed new releases coming soon by prominent writers.  Prominent, in this case, referred to what I’d consider literary fiction and nonfiction.  I’m more of a genre reader myself, but I enjoy reading about any author and his writing process, and it’s fun to read outside of my usual interests once in a while.  So Ann gifted me with a few hours of entertainment with a little bit of insight tossed in.

I especially enjoyed a sidebar on page D5, an article–How to Write a Bestseller–by Tobias Grey. Matthew L. Jockers and Jodie Archer have a new book coming out September 20th, THE BESTSELLER CODE.  They’ve identified certain things that make books sell.  They listed which verbs sell better than others.  What really caught…

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Ten years ago, not many hours after my husband passed away, I heard a car pull up in front of the house. Still in wrapped in the numbness of shock, I saw through the front windows a woman hop out of a car, hurry up the walk, and bend to set something at the door. It took a while to get up and go look. The corner of a white envelope stuck out from under the welcome mat. Jane and Steve from church had left a message that they didn’t want to disturb me but wanted me to know they prayed for me, shared my pain, and hoped I would call if I needed anything. And so began one of the most poignant, remarkable, and horrible weeks of my life.

So often we hear or whine about how the world is rotting away, people are hardened, uncaring of others. It’s then that I remember the weeks after John died. My brother, Karl, immediately drove my mom from Illinois to Indiana to be with me. Only days after, my writing buddies brought food and themselves for a diner party that lifted my spirits and started to bring me back to life. Cards and phone calls poured in from my church. Flowers, more cards came, but that which lifted me most were the prayers. A choir member, Helen, a widow herself, told me that I would know when the prayers for me stopped. I woke up one day, almost a year later, and felt the absence of the cocoon of prayer that had buffered pain and loss, but by then, I was healed enough to make it on my own.

Then there are the friends of childhood, Connie especially. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over fifty years ago when our aunts introduced us. Instant friendship. I admired her bright, lively mind, musicality, and the kindness that pours out of her, her stubbornness to accomplish a task and do it well, her romantic heart. Mostly, I love the fact that I can tell her anything, everything, and know that as kind and sweet-natured as she is, she would stand stalwart at my back through any trial or problem.

The wonder is that Connie is not my only friend like that. There were theater friends who stood by me during my first horrific marriage. Coworkers over the years I’ve never forgotten and still hear from now and then. Linda, a new friend from my part-time job, didn’t hesitate when I called. She gave up her day off and took me to the ER for sciatica pain, sat with me, and took me home, constantly cheerful and patient. And in the last decade, I lucked-out and joined Summit City Scribes, a band of determined writers, finding more brothers and sisters, like Judy, my critique partner. I trust her judgment implicitly, admire her ethic, her clean writing style, and ability to plot with deadly accuracy. Imagine a tall, red-headed, dark-eyed warrior with a quick laugh and quicker mind. She is someone else I can say anything to and she will instantly and completely understand—more importantly, she will contradict or readily spout a differing opinion. How I love that about her.

It is because of the blessings of so many amazing people I can call friends that I started the regency series about friendship. I lost my dearest friend when John died but have so many others and know that in the future, there will be more.

A Rogue for Miss Prim, now available and 9th book in The Friendship series:

And check out Judi Lynn’s webpage and Mill Pond Romances












War and Freaks


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I woke this morning with a comparison in my head generated from two vastly different genres—two stories about war done in film—War and Peace and Warcraft, which I’d never heard of until its recent release. War and Peace I read too young to fully understand its layers. I was probably twelve and too invested in Natasha. Both works have a great deal in common. (Don’t go fainting on me now, you lovers of classics.) Both are tales about family, responsibility and honor, how we respond to these on personal and national levels, which pretty much boils it down the basics.

The War and Peace series with Lily James, Paul Dano and James Norton wrestled Tolstoy’s massive work into submission. Previous film versions could not do it justice due to the scope of the story. Production work was, without exaggeration, extremely well done.

Warcraft was the surprise. The graphics were superior to Gods of Egypt, which was visually beautiful in the forefront but criminally childish in the backgrounds. If you’re going to do a flick like that, do it right. No, what impressed the heck out of me was Warcraft’s screenplay/script. Action films are just that, a lot a smashing up and intense movement meant to keep the viewer revved up. The Warcraft action was on a level above the usual action fare with subplots, in-depth characterizations, admirable reasoning, pacing and structure.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not in any way glorifying war. I think the term “necessary evil” is a feeble excuse for lack of nothing better to say. In Warcraft, Durotan fights to save and protect his people, his family, a drive beyond that of honor. He exemplifies the true meaning of sacrifice.

So now we’re down to the comparisons in my head. To paraphrase what Frank Langella said last night on the Tony Awards, strife will either define, destroy or strengthen us.

Both films deal with war and how the characters are carried along in its futile wake, doing what must be done. Natasha, Pierre and Prince Andre in War and Peace, Durotan, Anduin and Garona in Warcraft, these are individuals to admire even when war itself is not. What I found in both renditions, and from recent events, was validation for an opinion.

There is no comparison, whether fictionalized or not, to the sleazy cowardice of ISIS and its followers. They are pathetic and inferior. What they and terrorism perpetrate is valueless and in the end will come to nothing. History has shown that no matter how a people of courage and resolution are brutalized, in the end, it only makes them stronger. Gulags, death camps and rendition holes will pass away. Valor will not.

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML