Caffeinated Convo: Marvel or D.C.?

Yep! I went there!! But with the major motion picture Wonder Woman releasing in just over a week, the question had to be asked! Are you a Marvel or D.C. fan?

It’s no secret that these two universes have long fought for ultimate control over the geekdom that makes up the comicbook/superhero world.

While Marvel totes Stan Lee as their Commander-in-Chief, they lay claim to some of the most iconic heroes of all time: Black Widow, Spiderman, Captain America, Hulk, Thor and Wolverine, just to name a few. Heck they’ve got the entire Avengers, X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy and Fantastic Four crews to their credit.

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But D.C. has just as much superpower with their cast. I mean, who can deny Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and The Flash all have serious chops in the superhero world? Not to mention the Amazonian woman referenced above? And D.C. also has the Justice League, Suicide Squad and Watchmen, among other teams on their side.

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It’s clear that both of these geekdoms have bragging rights on all levels. But where does your alliance fall? For me, I prefer Marvel. Yes, it has everything to do with the fact that more Marvel movies have gotten it “right” compared to the D.C. films. And maybe this doesn’t make me a true geek, since I don’t read the comics. But it’s where I side, so that’s that.

What about you? Do you favor one universe over the other? Which one and why? Please share below so we can get chatting!! 

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Photo credit Unsplash Korney Violin

Book Review: SPARK by J.M. Hackman

This week, I am honored to have the chance to review Spark: The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One by J.M. Hackman! Hold on to your seat! This action packed YA fantasy novel will take you places you never expected and will leave you yearning to read the next book in the series!

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The Synopsis:

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil. Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?

Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin (Um, hello, Hottie!) pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. Exactly. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time? And more importantly, why on earth doesn’t this alternity have Belgian waffles?

The Review: 

This YA fantasy novel is filled with fun (Can you tell by Brenna’s sarcastic wit in the synopsis?), adventure (Romping around an alternate reality will do that to you!), and suspense (Will she be able to save her mother and return the Veil, or will there be a price to pay?)

Brenna is your average 21st Century teen–her favorite shoes are Chucks, she’s always on the search for waffles, and she tosses around adolescent-attitude like it’s confetti–until she’s drawn into a hidden world she never knew existed! Once in Linneah, we are introduced to a cast of characters that will keep you on your toes! From faithful griffins to questionable royal figures, Brenna must learn to navigate a new culture and find her purpose in this unfamiliar alternity. Baldwin (the hottie!) is always a source of attraction (and tension) and she can’t decide if his presence on the quest for the Veil hinders or helps. Hackman’s twists and turns within the story–and a villain with a secret you won’t see coming!–will keep you glued to the book. And wait until you meet Anna! She’s sure to become a favorite character for all! Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: No Trespassing

No Trespassing.

Mary Ann read the words allowed as she and her three friends stood on the sidewalk outside the abandoned, dilapidated Cape Cod.

“So, the old witch finally died,” Sammy said. At thirteen, he was the oldest of the group.

Sarah crossed her arms. “Oh posh, Sammy. She was just an old lady. Weirdly reclusive and totally mean to anyone who walked by, but still just an old lady.”

“Yeah, but she’s been around forever. I mean, at least as long as we’ve all been alive.” Thomas scratched a hand through his shaggy brown hair.

“We’ve only been alive for twelve years, Tommy. That’s not forever.” Mary Ann pushed her glasses up her nose.

“Whatever.”

“Well, I’m going in.” Sammy walked around the side of the house as the rest of the group sprinted to catch up.

“But—” Sarah whisper-yelled as she glanced around for nosy neighbors.

“You can’t just—” Mary Ann pled in a high-pitched voice.

Thomas just laughed. At five feet ten inches, he was the thinnest and tallest in their class, always ready for an adventure.

“Sam!” Mary Ann begged. “Would you just—”

“Too late,” Sammy sing-songed.

He jiggled the latch on the backdoor and it swung open. Amid protests from the girls, the four slipped inside the dark house.

“Whoa,” Sammy said. “This place hasn’t been dusted in a while. Gross.” He dragged a finger along a tabletop and cringed.

Sarah huffed. “Be nice, Sam. She was super old. Like, a hundred or something.”

“Yeah, and she was also a witch, remember?” Thomas gave her wink and laughed.

“Doesn’t look like a witch lived here,” Mary Ann said. “This place looks normal.”

“Normal?” Sammy held up a bowl filled with animal bones. “Does this look like something in your house?” Continue reading

Caffeinated Speculation: Buttercup to play in Wonder Woman?

Wow. Have I been living under a rock or something? How on earth did I miss the news that Robin Wright has a role in the upcoming “Wonder Woman” movie? 

Yes friends, our beloved Buttercup–constantly in need of saving from things like R.O.U.S.es and evil Prince Humperdinck’s, from the every-handsome Westley–has gone all Hulk on us and is ready to take the world down with her supernatural powers as Aunt Antiope! Eep! (See article here.)

I will admit, “The Princess Bride” has been–and always will be–one of my most favorite movies of all time. And although I prefer to think of Robin Wright as the precious Buttercup (sorry Jenny from “Forest Gump”–I gravitate toward the non-drug addicted fairytale character), I am sort of excited to see the new “Wonder Woman” movie, if only to see a super-buff, crazy kick-a** kind of Robin! Woo hoo!

So, who will be in the theater with me on release day for this baby? I can’t wait to see our very first female-warrior, stand-alone superhero movie! (Girls rock! *wink wink*) And I definitely can’t wait to see Robin flex those muscles! 

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Photo credit Empire Magazine (Holy Smokes! Look at those guns!!) 

Caffeinated Convo: How do you stay active?

Confession time: I would love to be a runner. 

Weird, I know, but it’s true. I’ve got lots of friends who run 5K’s, train for marathons, or even lead the local chapter of their Girls on the Run group. Every time I see a picture on Facebook or hear one of them talk about their adventures on the trail, a little niggle in my heart says, Take me, too! Alas, running is not for me. I learned back in high school that I inherited my grandmother’s knees (Thanks, Gigi!), which basically means they were made weird and do weird things and cause weird pain when it shouldn’t and makes it hard to do things in general. Like run. And jump. And climb stairs. *sigh*

But enough with that pity party. I also learned long ago how important it is that I keep my legs and core strong, so I can do those normal things (like climbing stairs) without (too much) pain. So I found a workout program that works for me and I have figured out how to easily modify if it gets too high-impact. Les Mills has a series of programs that my gym back in PA offered. My most favorite is Body Flowyoga, tai chi, and pilates mix–that I would absolutely do every. single. day. in a perfect world. (Here’s praying for that perfect world!) Next I love, love, love Body Combata mixed martial arts cardio program. Yes, there are jumping jacks and jump kicks, but if it’s too much for my knees, a good old-fashioned squat always does the trick! Of all the exercise programs or just plain cardio machines I’ve done over the years, this program definitely gives me the best endurance overall. I used to do Body Pump-a weight lifting mix–but my shoulder took a turn for the worse a few years back (old age or just bad luck??) so I haven’t done it recently. But I hope to strengthen my shoulder back up so I can try it again, sometime this year. (As I’ve said every year since I stopped doing it. *blink*)

Anywho, what about you? How do you stay fit? Are you a hiker? Do you love BeachBody? Or are you going to make me jealous and say you’re a runner? (No worries!! I promise not to hate!) Please leave a comment below and share your favorite ways to stay active. Maybe you’ll inspire someone to try something new!!

Let’s get to talking, friends!

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Photo credit Unsplash by Marion Michele

Caffeinated Speculation: Merry Christmas. You get Psych.

Whaaattt? Doth my eyes deceive me? Nay, I say not. This. Is. For. Real. People! Our beloved Psych is returning to TV! *runs around in circles squealing*

If you’ve been under a rock for the last few days–or if you’ve given up Facebook and have missed the gagillion shares on everyone’s newsfeed–then you may not have heard the exciting news! Gus and Shawn are coming back, y’all! Okay, it’s just a single reunion episode but hey, it’s pretty much the best Christmas present I could’ve asked for! *gush, gush* And yes, Lassie, Jules, Shawn’s dad (because who really calls him Henry?), and Chief Vick are all set to return, as well! Eee!!!

According to this post, here’s the official tagline for the show: “The ambitious friends — along with some returning fan-favorite characters — come together during the holidays after a mystery assailant targets one of their own. A comedic thrill ride follows, as the wild and unpredictable Psych team pursues the bad guys, justice …and food!”

So…will you be settled in front of the TV in their PJ’s with hot chocolate in hand on release night? Or will you be the one to throw an all-out Psych-party for your family and friends? Leave a comment below on how you plan to celebrate this momentous occasion!! *sigh*

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Photo credit USA Network

Four Ways to Give Your Fantasy or Sci-fi Character a Name

Hello friends! The SFF post I wrote over at AlmostAnAuthor has gone live! Visit here to glean a few ideas on how to choose a name for your characters. I’ve had a busy week moving into my new home in North Carolina! Yesterday was official “signing” day and today we have a team of people coming to help us unload our moving pods! Yippee! Hopefully the next post I write will be from my official writing desk!! Prayers appreciated!

Happy writing friends!

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Photo credit Unsplash by NASA

Flash Fiction Guest Post: How I Became a Zombie Cheerleader

Hey folks!! Happy news! A Flash Fiction story I wrote for SlasherMonsterMagazine went live last week. You can check it out here. Interesting fact: It’s loosely–very loosely–based on something that happened to me in college!! Ha! Enjoy the story!

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Awesome artwork created by SlashMonsterMagazine. Go read the story! 🙂 

ACFW New Releases–May 2017

Wow. When did it become…erm, May?! Did I blink or was it just January a month ago? No? Okay, maybe not. BUT the good news is, at least there are some rockin’ new titles out from fellow ACFW authors this month! Check them out and gather your summer reading list! Yippee!!

May 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Amish Brides by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard — Under bright blue skies, wedding bells ring–fulfilling sweet dreams, impossible wishes, and joyous new beginnings among these three new stories. (Contemporary Romance from Kensington Publishers)


Sprouts of Love by Valerie Comer — An overzealous community garden manager delivers more than the food bank manager can handle. Can love sprout amid the tsunami of vegetables? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Summer Dreams by Delia Latham — God’s love…reflected in the waters of the Pacific, and in the eyes of a young couple who walk its moonstone shores. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican]) Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Doctor’s Office

The already cramped doctor’s office is packed. Seriously? I check in and grab a seat near the window.

A copy of In Style magazine with an attractive blonde on the cover catches my eye. I flip past Lose 10 lbs fast! to the recipe section. That’s always the best part, anyway.

Whispers distract me. I glance up. A little girl with dark hair that hangs in her face and ragged clothes that have seen better days, sits directly across. She’s barefoot, feet grimy and scabbed. I hide my disgust. How did they let her in like this? She quietly talks in the ear of the elderly woman beside her. The woman puts her hand to her head, moans, then grabs her stomach.

“Beatrice!” the nurse says from the door.

The elderly woman fights to walk to the nurse, hunched over as she shuffles.

I bite my lip. That was…strange. Whatever. The next recipe calls my attention and I ignore the room around me for another minute.

Until those whispers return. Those whispers.

My gaze jets around the room.

The girl has changed seats. She sits near a young man, now. He wears ear buds, his chin bobbing up and down to the beat of his music. The girl leans in. Whispers. His eyes glaze then crinkle as he grabs his chest, his side. The guy pulls the ear buds out and leans over, elbows on his knees, hands on his head.

“Jeremy!” the nurse says.

She stands at the door with a clipboard in her hand. He struggles to his feet and lopes after her, his jaw flexed the entire way. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This is weird. Too weird.

Once more, I shove my nose back into my magazine but I keep an eye on the girl and her movements from behind the pages. She moves from one person to the next. Each time she whispers. Each time the person reacts like they’ve just been stricken with sudden illness. Yet, no one comments on her presence, or even acknowledges her, for that matter. Not a single person looks in her direction.

Like she’s not real. An apparition.

I suck in a breath and my stomach clenches. I’ve had enough of this. It’s time I told the receptionist and got this girl kicked out of the office.

I toss the magazine on the table, grab my purse and—

The girl sits beside me. I can’t see her eyes from the way her stringy hair covers them. I cringe. A scent of something rotted drifts over, something sour and moldy. I cover my nose and lean away.

She whispers. Words I don’t understand. Can’t comprehend.

Pain lances across my forehead, shoots through my gut. My muscles go weak and my throat lights on fire with heat.

“Linda!” The nurse calls me.

I look beside me.

The girl is gone.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit LL Zimmerman