Sunday, June 27, 2010

TOY STORY 3 REVIEW - by Movie Diva, Monique.

Toy Story 3 is another notch in Pixar's belt. Of course, everyone expected them to turn out another successful movie, but Toy Story 3 has advanced Pixar into a different realm of family filmmaking. I guess what I mean to say is this: even though Pixar had already advanced into more mature filmmaking with Ratatouille and Up, the fact that they can take toys and make them have such emotional depths, enough to where your eyes well up and your breath hitches at their plight, means that the studio really does know how to take story matter that would normally be boiled down to crap by lesser studios and elevate it into something that adults not only appreciate, but can reflect on. The way Pixar has manipulated these toys into well-rounded characters makes the audience once again think back to their own childhood and wonder if their toys probably can feel.

The storyline is about Andy(John Morris) getting ready to go to college, leaving the fate of the toys, led by Woody (Tom Hanks) Buzz (Tim Allen), and Jessie (Joan Cusack) open to uncertainty. When the toys expect to the taken to the attic (Woody is packed to go to college with Andy), they are mistakenly put on the curb as trash, leading the toys (including Woody) to Sunnyside Day Care, the domain of the strawberry-scented Lots O' Hugging Bear (Ned Beatty). When the toys realize the Day Care is more like a high-security prison, they hatch a plan to escape.

That small synopsis doesn't really do the film justice, but that's all I can tell you without giving too much away. Everyone's doing what they do best in this film--the film actors, especially Beatty and Michael Keaton as Ken, are all stellar. There are two notable cameos in this film, Sid and Totoro from Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro, which should make Pixar and animated movie buffs happy.

But the big thing to stress is that you should not take small children to this film. I know that sounds weird, to not take your kids to a kids' movie, but that's just it--this is a film disguised as a kids' movie. It really isn't. If it's for any kids, it's for seven year olds and up, not toddlers. NOT TODDLERS! I'm not sure how much more I can stress that. Case in point--there is a monkey character that you really need to watch out for in this film, especially if you see it in 3D. It made me jumpy, and I was watching the movie in its traditional form. Also, there is a lot more instances of loss, potential death, and serious-minded escape and action scenes that will make small children cry. In the first 15-20 minutes, a child was crying in the theater I was in. By the time the movie was over, there were at least seven different instances of scared children.

There are a couple of instances where things seem to happen too conveniently, but overall, this film is an excellent exercise in experiencing loss, death, the unknown, and new beginnings. Make sure to see this one in the theaters (perhaps more than once).

NEW WEEK NEW SET OF GOODIES - itunes card $25 being offered this week. CLICK here and send your address and email for placement in raffle. Don't worry - everyone will get something (poster, magnent, or keychain if you don't get the itunes card)

Thursday, June 24, 2010


How are you diggin the party?
The party is always good as long as the drinks are flowing! haha

Tell me about yourself?
Retired Navy, former suburban husband turned Yuppie. I prefer to think of myself as separate from the crowd, "abby normal", if you will. I have a natural aversion to trends, so I'm often doing things that others don't do or wouldn't do. I spend a lot of time in books; just trying to keep up with the 100+ I've bought and haven't read yet.

Are you in the book business? What do you do?
I dunno if I'm in the business, but I am writing a series of novels, always cranking out social commentary on my blog, having fun with pictures and words and sentences, and occasionally I'll pump out a short story.

Have you read any of LM Preston’s books?
I have not read the two books she so sweetly sent me; however, I have given them to my daughter, who is also a read-a-holic, and I'm sure I'll be hearing something by the end of the summer. I asked her last weekend, but she's caught up in "Vampirates" at the moment.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on the marketing aspect of my first book "Dying Light", putting together my website, writing short stories for my New Baltimore world, trying to get back to the sequel "Midnight Sun", and considering helping a friend write a screen play for an indie film. I'm also reading 5-6 books at home and at work, have three magazine subscriptions, and am looking for someone to do a graphic novel with. Finally, I'm helping as many people as I can in their own endeavors.

Big things in your future?
You bet. Always.

Scott’s Website:
Tweet Scott:
Scott’s Blogs:
Baltimore Locked and Loved:
DYING LIGHT the novel:
Serialized Novel-Dorothy Locked and Loaded:


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

GRACELING Book Review by Teen Book Reviewer - Nyia

GRACELING by Kristin Cashore
Please welcome, Nyia, my spotlight Teen Book Reviewer.

Graceling was a cleverly written book. I have never read a book like this one and loved it. I enjoyed how the author put three parts together to make up their story. The mystery that was in Graceling with the kidnap of Tealiff kept me guessing. I loved the way the author made you fall in love with Katsa and gave her the misunderstood bad girl type story. There was one thing that made me laugh really hard about the book in a good way. There was also on part that confused me and I read it over and over and over Andover again. It was where Katsa was talking about the prince being beautiful and then got mad or something. Other than that I really enjoyed the book. I give it a 3.5 stars. I have to read the next now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Living in the city, I always had stuff to do in the summer. I did not have a lot of money, but in the city, there was always something going on for free. I bet you could find something to do too, no matter how old you are.


As a teenager I loved going to festivals. It was my way of saving money, meeting people, and learning about other cultures. Most every town has free festivals. They are a lot of fun and the food is fantastic. The Spanish festival in the city I live in has tons of booths of scrumptious authentic food that you can not get in restaurants. Diverse groups and cultures of the Hispanic community come out. Also, the best part is the parade.

Carnivals come to town and you do not have to be rich to enjoy a ride, game, or a flirt or two. Lots of times we would just pick several rides and games to play while eating the carnival food. Not to mention meet new people and watch the carnival lights.

Day trips to a local pool, museum or harborside entertainment. One of my absolute favorite things to do in the city was go to the museums. In Washington, DC where I grew up, almost all the museums are FREE. Yep, you heard me - FREE. So all it took was bus fare and we had a ton of stuff to do for the day. We also would go to the FREE DC Zoo and picnic with our McDonalds lunch in designated areas.


One of my favorite cheap, fun, things to do as a teen was to have a backyard slumber party. We would set up tents, tell goofy girlie scary stories, cook marshmallows on the fire pit and wake up to go to the matinee movies with our boyfriends after a weekend campout. When we could, we would beg one of our parents to take us for a daytrip to the beach or nearby park with a lake we could swim in. We would fry chicken the night before, pack a picnic lunch and a deck of cards to play.


Friday, June 18, 2010


How are you diggin the party?

Great people and books, what more could I ask for? I love parties and celebrating others' success. The music is great, too. *winky*

Tell me about yourself?

I am a former dental assistant turned stay-at-home mom. As mother to four humanoids (3 boys and a girl) and wife to my amazing hubby, life is never dull. With the kids being involved in every activity under the sun--ice hockey is the big one; ouch, I know--labeling us 'active' is an understatement. And yes, we have a dog.

Approximately two years ago, after a long hiatus from writing, I decided to take that leap from novice writer to serious writer aiming to hone my craft. At the gentile nudging of my hubby, I began reading insatiably, joined a writer's group, and took writing and publishing courses.

Being a former dancer and theater junkie, creative expression has always been important to me. I found a renewed love of the written word and a true passion I'd ignored. Thus, the evolution of ME has continued into a feisty writer of all that is YA and MG. I love dreaming up stories about angels, ghouls, vampires, faeries, and the average teenager who's not so average. Dropping my characters in places they obviously don't belong and helping them find their place, wherever that might lead them, is an adventure for me. I must also admit that my writing is usually flavored with romance; can't help it.

A quirky tidbit about me: I am a Monday Night Hottie--the group of ladies, ranging from ages 24 to 60, that I began dancing with two years ago. They are my angels of sanity. Oh, I also love homemade salsa with cream cheese on almost anything. Sure, odd. See where my characters get it?

Are you in the book business?

If blogging and hobnobbing with other writers who blog, reading in my genre daily, studying about the craft like crazy, and tapping the keys of my laptop until hubby wrenches it from my grip means I'm in the business...then sure, I'm in.

Have you read any of LM Preston’s books?

I haven't read EXPLORER X-ALPHA yet, but I have interviewed LM for the GRAFFITI WALL on my blog. She's brilliantly driven and a fountain of wisdom. Her organization skills are at masterful level, handling her family and her writing career. I know that must sound clique but it's true. She's also been extremely helpful to me, passing on some of her writing skills through critiquing my work.

What are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on the final edits of my YA Paranormal Romance, MARKED BEAUTY, and my synopsis. After a few helpful critiques from some talented writers and even an agent, I've revamped my query and written a new opener to the book.

It’s about sixteen-year-old Ana Tate, a beautiful tomboy, who learns she’s unwittingly bound to a centuries-old curse and her secret empathic ability could be the cure. She must overcome her fear of love and her family’s surprising immortal link to Viktor, the undercover yuppie lycan she despises, and save him or surrender to the curse.

As Ana struggles to unearth Viktor’s secret, he battles dangers to keep her safe, trying to figure out what to do. But when love creeps in and Viktor mysteriously disappears like her mother did years ago, Ana discovers this is much more than simply breaking a curse.

There were a few times Ana made me cry, reminding me how hard it was to be a teen--struggling to accept myself and what I felt, and trying to figure out what someone else felt. When Ana realizes that love is a sacrifice, she also sees that Viktor is not as human as she thought and neither is she.

Big things in your future?

Good gosh, heck yes! If anyone would have told me four months ago that I'd be blogging successfully and mingling with talented authors like LM, I'd have told them they were crazy. I've met so many incredible people. I am humbled.


Writers' Ally -- home of the famous GRAFFITI WALL

Oasis for YA - 5 YA writers join forces to celebrate all that is YA.

Twitter - @SherWordsGirl


Yay! I got a Versatile Blogger Award!

I just got two BLOG Awards! Whoop! Do you know what that means? Someone is actually reading my blog. Yippee!

I'll post one this week and the other next week. This week I'm spotlighting and happy dancing about my Versatile Blogger Award from Kelly.


Seven things about me:

1) I love being busy and have problems sitting still for long periods of time.
2) I grew up in the inner city of DC.
3) I went to Catholic School
4) Begged parents to let me go to Public School in 10th grade - they caved in.
5) I worked 3 jobs while paying my way through school.
6) I'm a vacation junkie and live for a getaway.
7) I'm an action flick junkie who watches karate flicks I get from the flea market.

Here are some bloggers that I visit all the time and would love for them to pick up their awards:

Adventures in Children's Publishing

Indie Bookman I love his online radio show.

Writer's Ally is a fun blog to drop in for book reviews and writing tips

Jill the OWL, YA book reviews and cute owl background

Color Online, has tons of book reviews about different cultures

BookMac, the ya reviews here from a fresh teen perspective

My Four Monkeys, Wonderful blog from the perspective of a young at heart mom that reads YA

For Blog Award Winners Do the following:
1) thank and link back to the person who gave you this award
2) share seven things about yourself
3) pass this along to 7 other bloggers with links


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, Review by guest teen reviewer, Nyia

Please welcome our Teen Guest Book Reviewer, Nyia. Here's her review.

The Princesses of Bamarre was an enchanting tale that I simply adored. There was adventure, romance, and an unsuspected ending. The creatures in the book were different then you would imagine them to be and that is why the adventure was so enchanting. I loved how the author made the book partly predictable, but different at the same time. I also liked how the author wrote it in first person, but in a way that you could know what all of the main characters were doing. The only thing that made me stumble in my reading was that there were so many quotes from the book Drualt. Even though they were overdone, as you read throughout the book, you find out the purpose of the influence of Drualt. I would give this book a three out of five… only because of all the Drualt quotes. Hey, you might like the way that they blend into the story and might think the book deserves a five, so just read it.


Monday, June 14, 2010


Check out Buffy’s blog at:
Find out more about THE PACK, Book Launch Party at

How are you diggin the party?
I'm absolutely lovin' the party. I love parties and I love books so the combination is pure awesomeness. Thanks for the invite.

Tell me about yourself?
I’m Assistant Managing Editor of Features and Niche Publications at the York Daily Record/Sunday News in York, Pa. I work with a terrific team of award-winning editors and reporters who make me proud each and every day. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine working with a better group of people. They are my heroes. We produce everything from a daily newspaper features section to a high-end glossy home magazine to a variety of online initiatives.

I love writing for kids and teens and hope to find an agent who believes in my work as much as I do.

I’m blessed with a wonderful husband and two awesome sons, all of whom think I'm way weird because I find things that only a 9-year-old would find funny. (Smiles)

I love running and had both of my knees operated on for medial meniscus tears. (OUCH!) I taught indoor cycling for five years and was called Buffy the Cycle Slayer (original, I know).

I'm learning to golf but I don't keep score because, well, I really don't want to know my score (yes, it's that bad). If I can hit the ball off the tee, I'm happy. Oh, and I get to wheel around a purple golf bag and use pink golf balls, which is way cool.

You can follow me (@Buffyandrews) and my fictional character (@Grandma_Dorothy from ELLA’S DANCE) on Twitter.

Oh, and my blog. I would love to have you visit my blog at,

Are you in the book business?
If being in the book business means having a book published, not yet. But I'm working hard to make that happen. (Fingers crossed)

Have you read any of LM Preston’s books?
Explorer X Alpha is on my to-read list. And, of course, The Pack will be too when it arrives in August. I love LM's enthusiasm and passion for her work.

What are you currently working on?
Thanks for asking. I'm getting ready to query my newest YA, THE LION AWAKENS.

It's about two teens, Annie Lange and David McClure, who learn their parents aren’t dead as they have been led to believe. Instead, they live in a parallel universe ruled by a tyrant hell-bent on taking over Annie and David’s world.

The 17-year-olds discover this secret when they find flash drives hidden in gifts left on their porches. The drives contain video messages from their parents and lead them to a mentor who helps the teens discover and master abilities they were previously unaware of. Mind Control. Telekinesis. Superhuman speed.

It's a fun read packed with action. There were moments while writing it that I cried. Annie and David fall in love and, well, sometimes things don't always work out the way we want them to.

Big things in your future?
Well, I hope so. (Even "little" things would be great.)

I love posting quotes on my blog that inspire me. Here are two:

"When your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme." --Jiminy Cricket. ... Gotta love the cricket! (Smiles)

"History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats." --BC Forbes, 1880-1954, ...Oh yeah. That's what I want to hear. You go everyone!

NEW WEEK - NEW SET OF GOODIES, Key Chain and Poster. Go to Party Website for more information,

Saturday, June 12, 2010

THE KARATE KID – Movie Review

This remake was comfortably familiar and yet surprisingly different – in a good way. I’ll be the first to admit that I fell in love with this movie when I was a kid and demanded that I take karate lessons. I even own the older version of which my kids watch from time to time. They really were excited about seeing the updated story and so was I. We were not disappointed.

This movie is so endearing because it really isn’t about the bullies or the karate. It’s about a boy that finds true friendship, a father figure and strength within himself. An amazing story. Jaden Smith who plays Dre did an awesome job portraying this role as well as the other kids that played the support characters. The acting in this version – in my opinion, was much better than the older version. Jackie Chan, uh, need I say more. The setting was wonderful and added to the feeling of alienation and misplacement that Dre felt. He was in a foreign land in which he didn’t speak the language or have any friends or family nearby. When a kid is in that situation, they cling desperately to the friendships that develop, and this movie portrayed that sweetly. His mentor and adopted father figure, shows his imperfections, his loneliness – only to find that a kid, not his own could love him.

The fight moves in this movie – awesome! I even got teary eyed. My kids all agreed, they could see it again. This is a great family movie and earns the 5 out of 5 stars, for scenery, storyline and just because it was an improvement of an already touching tale.


Friday, June 11, 2010

SHREK FOREVER - Movie Review by Movie Diva, Monique

Please enjoy this movie review from our guest Movie Diva, Monique, check out her website for movies and entertainment.


What does the title mean? Well, I think with the way that the story has evolved, the movie would've been better for direct-to-DVD treatment rather than the full silver screen treatment.

The story focuses on Shrek (Mike Myers) living the lives most of the dads in the audience were living--helping their wives (in this case Fiona, voiced by Cameron Diaz) care for their kids and entertain friends (in this case, Puss in Boots, voiced by Antonio Banderas and Donkey, voiced by Eddie Murphy). However, Shrek gets a case of mid-life crisis and feels that he's missing the freedom he once had when he was a feared ogre. Enter Rumplestilksin (Walt Dohrn), ready to make a deal with Shrek so he can get his bachelor life back. The catch: he has to give up a day, which turns out to be the day he was born. So, in order to break the deal, Shrek has to kiss his true love, Fiona, but Fiona is now the leader of a ogre resistance with no time for romance.

This movie is, on the whole, very entertaining. But when you begin to dissect the film, the film just plays like an episode of "Shrek: The TV Series" instead of a movie series. You already know what the ending is (albeit there are some turns the movie took that mildly surprised me), but (except for Shrek), the characters have less to do and even less to say, which is a shame since Donkey, Puss, Pinocchio, and Gingie the Gingerbread Cookie are crowd favorites. Even the newer characters have nothing to do really, and the star-studded voice acting--including Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Jane Lynch, Jon Hamm, and Craig Robinson--are underutilized.

The main draw for this movie is for fans of the series to revisit their favorite characters one last time (supposedly, since this is supposedly the last Shrek film). The film is great for a mild diversion, but not one to match the quirky greatness of the original Shrek.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Just last week I decided to throw a Virtual Book Launch Party, for my book THE PACK. I wish I would have started it sooner, but hey, better now than never. Believe it or not, there was very little out there on the web about it. I even resorted to posting on and about them. I got a little feedback. So I figure I will let the cat out of the bag and share how to prepare for one of these.

Anyone can throw a Virtual Party for any reason and the set up is fun and free.


I had my publisher create a page dedicated to the party. Check it out at . I also created a PARTY BLOG. Here it is, . These are in the beginning stages, but I figured why wait? I decided to make a party blog, because I didn’t want to create a blog page and just let it sit. Hey, I’m a writer and resourceful. I decided to make it a party blog where the party never stops and I can talk about upcoming books, run monthly contest, and focus completely on the book I’m promoting. That way the followers of that blog will always know where the free prizes are and will be able to find out secret tidbits about my book characters.


Well I figure I’d have party favors, music (it’s coming), video interview of the author, video interview of guest, book trailer, gifts, contest, book excerpts, chat room, guest book, cover art, book reviews, email box, and anything you would think would improve the fun.


To promote your party you could do the following; press release, tweet it, facebook it, newsletter, email it, send out postcards to friends, tell everyone in the forums you visit and ask people to pass the word on.


Have a real party too! I plan to have a small local launch party and invite my guest to log into the Virtual After Party while they are at my party. Sign my guest book and to do video interviews and pictures. After the local party, I hope to post pictures on the PARTY BLOG and kick off the next virtual party.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Memorial Day weekend the kick off week for ‘Beach Week’ for High School graduating seniors everywhere. Some kids beg, plead, and sneak to the beach to party before they have to start working for the summer and get ready to grow up. I never participated in this when I was a kid, but my friends did. Not to mention, we ran straight on into ‘Beach Week’ in Ocean City during a family vacation. Needless to say, my High School Junior to be was in hog heaven.


Oh, let me tell you, I loved people watching at the boardwalk in Ocean City. The teens came out in the evening in full effect. They had on their swim duds and were flirting, waving off balconies and smooching on the beach and on the boardwalk. There were several dance clubs (H2O) that was a 15yr-21yr old club that had ‘Foam Parties’ and huge ‘Video Dance Screens’ of the kids dancing and gyrating. One of the clubs even had a ‘Dance Cage’ for the kids. Uh, why or why didn’t I come here for Beach Week. Anyway, I got the skinny on the club from my son…one of the conditions of him being able to get his party on at H2O. Let me tell you…he had the time of this young life. The club was clean, well staffed and safe.


Okay, got to put on the warning alarm here. There are definite dangers to these events, and as a parent I’m wondering if I’ll give my kid the freedom to do ‘Beach Week’ without me….not! I think I’ll let him go, but I’ll be in town at the same time. The danger of drunk driving, texting while driving, fights, and robbery are still possibilities. On the way up to the beach there were several accidents with teen drivers that were ‘behaving badly’. Not to mention cop cars that were out every two miles or so (no joking…I’ve never seen that many cops on the road at one time).


Let’s face it. A day at the beach is fun. Even if you don’t like sand, try out a beach with a great boardwalk. Some beaches I love to go to that have great boardwalks are Virginia Beach, Ocean City, and Wild Wood (Cape May). They are all just a ride away.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I had to do it. There was nothing new at the movies this week, but I'm a movie hog and wanted to see some action. Did I get it? Yep, Prince of Persia delivered high on action. The storyline was really weak at first and I must say I got a little miffed at the cliche' boy turned Prince theme. It was endearing at first, but the movie seemed to have "action" for the sake of action and the villains reason for starting all of his deception in my opinion was very weak.


Yep there is a 'but' something happened towards the end of this movie. The depth of his relationship with his brothers finally came to light. It wasn't apparent in the beginning of the movie, which I wish they would have spent more time building up instead of going overboard with the action. By the time this change of depth happened, the movie was almost over.

I went through a series of emotions while watching this movie. It started with excitement, mid-way I felt 'blah' disappointment, but towards the end, I fell in love with it again. I give it a 2.5 stars.

Oh, and look for the line that has been in most of the fantasy adventure movies in the last year or so, "The gods have a plan for you." The catch phrase for 2010. Please name the movies you've heard that in. So far I've heard it in the Lightening Thief and Clash of the Titans just to name a few.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


When I first began writing, I hated the editing process. Now though, I love it and look forward to it.


So you finished the first draft. The next step is to edit what you've written. First, you must understand that 90% of writing is rewriting. With that in mind, here are a few things to look for?

1) Hooks. Read your first sentence. Does it hook the reader and made her want to read on? The job of a hook is also to set the tone for the book. Does it set the tone you want?

2) Rhythm and cadence. Read the first chapter out loud. Listen to the rhythm of each sentence. While it may be grammatically correct, it may sound wrong, or may be difficult to understand.

3) Style. Does the writing style fit the story or does it get in the way of the story? You want the reader to be immersed in the story, not impressed by your style.

4) Overuse or misuse of adjectives and adverbs. Begin with the first chapter and highlight each one. How many have you used? Do you need it and if so, is it the right descriptive word? Remember less is more.

5) Cliches. When you use a comparison or metaphor, you're telling the reader to stop and pay attention to a particular idea. You want your comparisons to be unique and precise.

6) Dialogue. Dialogue is a powerful tool that should be used sparingly, and at the right moment. Read your dialogue. Do we know who's speaking? Do you use identifiers effectively? Are you using 'said' to often? Could you replace it with yelled, cried, whispered, hissed, etc.?

7) Show vs. Tell. Remember as a writer your job is to show the reader what your characters are like by their actions. When you show instead of tell, where you used to have description you would have a scene.

There are several other elements to consider when editing such as point of view, vocabulary, punctuation, etc. But the above list will get you started.

Judith Marshall

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


This year I gave my World Building workshop to kids at Balticon. Balticon is a science fiction lovers weekend conference sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. As an author of Young Adult science fiction, I was so excited to attend and be a part of this event.

The event starts the Friday before Memorial Day weekend and last all weekend until Monday afternoon. They have renowned science fiction authors, speakers, events, film makers and games. Definite fun for science fiction lovers in which they have all different types of events that include gaming, dressing up, kids programs, film festivals, art auctions, costume contest, young writer's contest and more.

My World Building workshop was well received and the young people I worked with had great world ideas that they asked if I could put in my next book, lol! I was delighted. The group was cozy enough for me to give each participant my undivided attention as they described the species of their world. Each child left with a signed book, pin and key chain. They gave me hugs and thank you of appreciation. Needless to say, I love kids and this is the best part of being an author. When they look at you and smile as you sign their name in a new book.

After my event, I finally got to meet the artist, Shoshana Epsilon ( for the cover of The Pack, face to face. I gave her a big hug. We chatted about her art, her work in Second Life (the topic she spoke on) and our kids. She showed off her copy of the book to the other guest and was so ecstatic to see her finished product in her hands. That was also one of the best moments for me at Balticon.

Lastly, I just had to purchase books, artwork and movie posters after I attended some of the film festival. If you love science fiction and plan on coming to Baltimore, find out more about balticon at