Best fun I’ve had in a long time. Love readers and writers!

Judi Lynn

I joined three friends to give a writers’ workshop on marketing and promoting your book yesterday.  It was a beautiful Saturday.  We had a small audience, but that’s never bothered me.  I know and respect some of the writers who came to hear us.  I love and respect my fellow writers on the panel.  A win/win for me.  And then we went to the Outback to eat when the panel was over, and what can I say?  I can be had for a bloomin’ burger.  And the company?  There’s nothing more fun than talking to fellow writers.

All four of us have been writing for a while now.  Kyra Jacobs, the newest and shiniest writer in the group, is probably more savvy than I am at marketing.  I try, but I’m no whiz kid.  The thing that struck me is that we’re all good writers–all in our own way–and it’s…

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Wonder Women


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Confession time. I told a friend I would go with her to see Wonder Woman, fixed a time to go five days after its release, then couldn’t wait. That freaky theme music from Batman v Superman kept screaming inside my head. I love that wild electric cello sound, and anyway, when I like a film, I go see it twice. This one was just as fun the second time around—not an easy feat to keep me impressed twice the second time. The glaring problem of what happened to the German ship unloading soldiers to chase Steve in his downed plane continued to perplex, (probably edited out to save time), but everything else was so much fun, I blew it off. Or as some say, gave it the hand wave. For me, I was more interested in what was done differently.

At Cannes, Jessica Chastain made headlines when she censured the film industry for its treatment of women, consistently presenting women as secondary characters. I’ve always viewed it as keeping women in their place to act as the obligatory adjunct requisite for masculine enhancement. Not so in this flick, boys and girls. The men quickly learned how to follow the female leader, and what I loved was how it made them more, well, manly. Nothing turns any intelligent female off faster than male posturing. Men who have ego issues may get off on it, but women yawn. My favorite bit was when Steve (Chris Pine) hollers out in the middle of a skirmish where a desperate act is needed, “Shield, Diana!” Oye, my heart went pitty-pat, and you’ll have to see the movie to find out what that was all about. And perhaps I’m biased or ga-ga, but I’ve had such high hopes for Pine ever since The Finest Hours. I like the new Star Trek stuff, but he was so splendid as the self-effacing, courageous, and resolutely honorable Coast Guard hero.

Next difference—use of women over forty. Hollywood mogul types may need to sprinkle films (or cram them down our throats) with females meant for male menopause relief, but demographics have changed. When I look around in theaters today, there are often more silver-haired heads than younger generation types. When the Amazon warriors come charging on to the beach, the general in the lead is enough to make hardened soldiers think about a new strategy.

Robin Wright is superb. Nuf said.

Next comes the music portion. Many filmmakers think battering-ram music scores will cover up the fact that they’ve invested in a piece of schlock. I avoid films with rap music and not just because I’m not a fan. If a film requires that kind of loud, in-your-face score to help the pacing and lack of storyline, stay home and buy the music from the film. The only one I recall seeing where that enhanced the action was in the first Terminator. Its pulse-pounding, clanking metal score worked. In this version of Wonder Woman, I was surprised by the symphonic style, which enhanced the film and never distracted. Very clever but my favorite is still that electric cello and crazy drums theme introduced in Batman v Superman, which, to be sensible, could not have been used throughout.

The film is getting tons of good reviews and breaking records. You don’t need another content review. It’s the differences that made Wonder Woman more delightful for me. Maybe somebody in the LA portion of the industry will move beyond their tiny ego-centric mindsets to notice what the public already knows.

We all have favorites . . .

Judi Lynn

Okay, so I’ve probably mentioned before that I love Julia Donner’s Regency romances.  Her newest will be available on May 31st, and I had the pleasure of beta reading it.  Yowza!  If it’s true that a story is as strong as the adversary the author created, then this one’s a winner.  If I could have reached inside the pages and strangled Vincent, I would have.  And an American hero in a Regency romance?  Double points for Max!

Anyway, I liked this book so much, I asked Julia Donner to write a guest blog for today. And since she comes up with such strong characters in her stories, that’s what she chose to write about.  Here, then, is Julia Donner’s advice about creating characters:


If asked, would you know what flavor ice cream your protagonist prefers? Do you care? Is this important? Only if it’s important to you as…

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It’s that time of year when weirdly addicted persons go grubbing through the forests and fields for the morchella. If you like them, the crave for this specific fungi takes hold with something like zombie overdrive, hands extended, staggering blindly through the undergrowth, chanting, “Must have morels.”

As a girl, I remember Dad driving us home from doing something at the Ferry Landing on the Mississippi. No one in the car made a comment about the man walking along the country road without his shirt and pants. He’d tied the trouser and sleeve cuffs into knots and stuffed them full of morels. The only thought on anyone’s mind who saw this was: where did he find them and are there any left?

Wisconsin born, I came into the world preprogrammed to need to feed on a morel by the end of April. Since I no longer live in WI, I drive to the only local place I know of that sells them. Some years ago, I stupidly clued in my grandkids about morels (dipped them in egg and cracker crumbs then fried them in butter). Now they hunt them and keep them for themselves. No morel-lover assigns blame for this kind of selfishness. It’s normal. Picking spots are handed down through families, guarded to the death. Go ahead. Ask somebody where they found theirs. Good luck with that.

Last year I broke the piggy bank and bought big. Two weeks ago, I almost wept with joy to find a frozen pouch in the back of the freezer. Yum. It saved me from the zombie resurrection stage. The tasty treat allowed me to drive with a semblance of normal behavior to the buying place and snatch up a bag of gorgeous ones (brought in from Wisconsin!!!) and they were a bargain at forty bucks a pound.

I scurried home with my cache, soaked them in salted water as my mother taught me, patted the lovelies dry, cast the wash water into the back yard (it NEVER goes down the drain), and began to fry them up in butter in my grandmother’s cast iron skillet. All the while standing there in pre-eating euphoria, I gleefully estimate that I have enough for freezing a bag, eating some, and saving the stems and juice for scrambled eggs the next day.

The first taste is sublime. Have to have one more. While moaning through the second and third, it comes to mind what my brother calls my potato salad: a controlled substance. There is no stopping. Potato chips have nothing on morels, especially when there’s an addict hovering over the frying pan.

So, yes, I ate the whole damn batch. And you know what? Hit me again. They’re still picking up north, so maybe I can find some more. I have no shame when it comes to morels. Love’em, or leave’em for me.

Shameless Plug:

Because I have to do it or my critique partner (you know who you are, Judi Lynn) will thump me if I forget to tell you, the release date for An American for Agnes the 10th book in my Regency Friendhip Series is available on pre-sale now for release on May 31st.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML




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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