Yesterday, we decided on a whim to go to the cinema again. The only option we had, with our daughter in tow, was Rampage, a science fiction monster movie. We were not disappointed.
The main character, and probably the main reason why people go and watch this movie as you know it’s going to be a good one, is Dwayne Johnson. He plays primatologist David Okoye, working at San Diego wildlife preserve. During his anti-poaching unit days, he rescued albino gorilla George and raised him, teaching him sign language. Okoye happens to have a special forces background (very handy).
Naomie Harris plays his side-kick, Dr. Kate Caldwell, the scientist who knows everything that is going on. Another major player is the cowboy OGA (Other Government Agency) agent Harvey Russell, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The bad guy in the movie is a woman, CEO of Energyne Claire Wyden, played by Malin Åkerman.
Energyne has done some experiments in space that are too terrible to perform on earth. Unfortunately, things go amiss, and the space station blows up. Amidst the debris that falls to the earth are three samples of the experiment which change the DNA of the three animals that come into contact with them: George the gorilla, a wild wolf, and a crocodile. They grow out of control and get very aggressive. Claire sends out a signal from the top of the company’s building, luring the genetically modified animals to the city. She hopes that the animals kill Dr. Caldwell and so prevent her from spilling the beans on the terrible things Energyne has done.
What I liked about Rampage
Rampage is a good old-fashioned humoristic action movie, up there with 2012, San Andreas, and Godzilla. Having Dwayne Johnson in there is a big attraction although I was a bit disappointed he didn’t show off his pecs bounce 😀 . The humor is funny, sometimes predictable, but well spaced.
The CG is spectacular. George is almost human with very life-like facial expressions. The people who have put their minds together to come up with the changes of the wolf and crocodile have been extremely creative. There was one revelation that made my jaw drop. They missed out on some opportunity for George, though.
What I didn’t like about Rampage
There were an awful lot of ‘WTF?’ moments in this movie. At one point, a whole building wall falls over while Johnson jumps out of the window (several stories high), yet there is not a scratch on him. Bullets don’t seem to hurt him either. Those are the little moments that take you out of the otherwise spectacular action scenes. But, as I already stated, the movie needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
Rampage is a fun movie that can be watched by teenaged children (there’s one graphic sexual innuendo at the end) and any lover of huge monsters. It is 107 minutes of fun, spectacular action, and awesome CG.
I have been struggling to keep my personal and professional life separate on Facebook. I had created a Facebook Shop page to this effect, but it wasn’t working as I wanted to. I couldn’t share posts from authors I had befriended on my personal page to my shop page. I also didn’t actually want to reply to these author posts with my personal profile.
Today I learned that I could change all this by setting up a professional profile page on Facebook. So that’s what I did. Now I can chat, laugh, and share all things writing related on my professional page. My personal friends have the choice if they want to follow my professional page or not. How cool is that? (Australian rhetorical question 😀 ).
In the weeks to come, I will address tenses as part of my grammar blog on Fridays. To most English-bred writers, tenses come naturally, but not to writers to whom English is a foreign language.
A few writers write in the present tense, but most prefer the past tense as it gives more options to describe what is happening. I myself prefer the past tense. Sometimes, however, I find that a simple present tense sneakily slips in. Hence, I love my beta-readers, and I edit and edit and edit…
Tenses in language are used for time reference. There are many different constructions for time reference and not all languages use the same one. Basic tenses have a past, a present, and a future. Some languages have a past and a non-past (which is both the present and the future), while other languages have a future and non-future (which is the past and the present). Some languages don’t weave time into their verbs at all. Some languages differentiate near and remote pasts or near and remote futures.
The TAM system
The English language uses the ‘TAM’ system; the Tense-Aspect-Mood system.
Verbs mark in what tense the action is happening: the past, present, or future (the tense proper).
The aspect shows if the action is happening (continuous), is completed before another action (perfect), is an action that had been ongoing but is completed at a certain point (perfect continuous), or is an action that is just stated (simple).
The four moods are:
indicative (assertion, denial, question of actuality, or strong probability)
imperative (request, direct order, permission, and strong suggestion)
The indicative is the most used mood form in the English language.
English is a Germanic language that has a past and a present (non-past) and these tenses are formed morphologically (the tense is created with the verb only). The future tense is made with auxiliaries, i.e. it is made of the same non-past tense with a supplementary supporting word (will or shall).
The table below may help you understand.
I will work
I am working
I was working
I will be working
I have worked
I had worked
I will have worked
I have been working
I had been working
I will have been working
Tenses in verbs are a large subject in the English language. Therefore I will limit the forms in the posts to come to regular verbs and the examples to positive sentence structures (no negatives or questions). I won’t go into abbreviations either.
For the following explanation of the tenses, please note that the root of a verb is the base form of a verb (= whole verb minus –ing).
As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted an update on my weight loss journey this week. I recently sent my readers a questionnaire about what they wanted to read via my newsletter, and the overall response to my weight loss journey was that they weren’t interested. Obviously, this was to be expected. This website is about writing and it doesn’t really fit here. I just wanted to make sure.
I’m also extremely busy working on new covers for my Suckers Trilogy. They’re going to be awesome but need me to concentrate as I’m doing most of the work (on Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign) myself. It’s a steep learning curve. In the meantime, I’m also working on ideas for my next novel which I hope to begin writing as soon as the covers are done. A writer’s job is never finished!
So, I’m no longer going to post about my weight loss journey. I’ll keep trying to lose weight and may give a quarterly update, just no longer every week. My sincere apologies to those who were following my journey. I hope that my meal photos inspired you to make scrumptious, healthy meals 😀
I’d like to introduce you to Christine Anne Asbrey, author of The Innocents, a historical mystery novel that will be available tomorrow. She did an amazing amount of homework before writing her book, and it’s a tantalizing tale of mystery, history, and romance.
Christine Anne Asbrey
Did you always want to be a writer?
I was always a voracious reader, my mother teaching me with flashcards at the age of two, and graduating to the adult section of the library about the age of ten. I easily finished three books a week for years and was lost without one. Mysteries were a real love, and I consumed the works of writers old and new constantly. The one thing I always wanted to do was to write but never had the confidence or time to do more than dream about it.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
That would be in my work as a young police officer. I learned that talking people down from spiraling emotions is a powerful tool in keeping people safe, and more potent than violence. I also learned that listening to detail is vital too. Noting the small things helped to push cases along in gathering evidence. I also learned the complex and intricate ways people use language to put you down and grab power in a situation. Understanding that really helps you stay in control of a situation.
Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
That would be either the Pope of the Queen – on a protection duty. When the Pope visited Scotland I was the police officer at the bottom of the aircraft steps. We then moved with him into the city. As a fun aside, the glass-covered vehicle he used was nicknamed the Pope Mobile by the press. The crowds were all still there when we returned to the airport in the Pope mobile without him. We stood in full uniform waving flowers out the top to cheering crowds as we drove the full length of Prince’s Street in Edinburgh (the big main street in Scotland’s capital city). The crowd cheered us and waved flags as we passed. Only a Scottish crowd could hail a car full of police officers like that. Great fun.
What inspires you?
Often fact is stranger than fiction, so I’ll start with real crime or criminals. I‘ll then change it to ensure that even people familiar with that particular crime can’t guess whodunit. The stories are inspired by real crimes and people but they are not a memoir. They are stories where everything is historically possible. It either happened or could have happened.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been playing with the characters for about ten years, but work and life got in the way. I started writing seriously about two years ago and spent about a year being turned down by everyone. I acted on every bit of feedback and continually got my work reviewed and improved until it was polished enough to be accepted.
Do you write under a pseudonym?
I kinda do. I write under my married name and feature on social media under my maiden name for social interactions. I also write under initials. I don’t hide my gender, but it’s not immediately obvious when you look at the book cover.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
That would have to be ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins. Not only is it considered the first proper detective novel in the English language, it also shows working class females as rounded characters instead of foils for male attention. It also is the first to introduce many of the elements we take for granted in mysteries such as red herrings, false suspects, the skilled investigator, and a final twist. Collins was actually vastly more popular than Dickens in his day, but is now largely forgotten in comparison.
How did you come to write The Innocents?
My grasp on the methodologies used by law enforcement, when applied the law in day to day enquiries in the days before technology was available, as well as historic weaknesses and blind spots in the both the legal and court systems, make for an authentic backdrop to the characters.
I first became interested in the female pioneers in law enforcement when I joined the police in Scotland. History has always held a draw and the colorful stories of the older officers piqued my interest, making me look even further back.
The very first women in law enforcement had been in France, working for the Sûreté in the early 19th century. They were, however, no more than a network of spies and prostitutes, the most infamous being the notorious ‘Violette’. Now there’s another story which needs to be told!
The first truly professional women in law enforcement worked for the Pinkerton Agency, and they were trained by the first female agent Kate Warne, an ex-actress and an expert in working undercover. Kate Warne was an expert at disguise, adopting roles, and accents. She was said to be daring and able to pass her characters off, even in close quarters. In the only known photograph of her she is dressed as a man.
These women were fully-fledged agents, with their skills being held in high regard by Alan Pinkerton who once said, “In my service you will serve your country better than on the field. I have several female operatives. If you agree to come aboard you will go in training with the head of my female detectives, Kate Warne. She has never let me down.”
I started to wonder why one of the female agents couldn’t be a Scottish Immigrant. After all, Alan Pinkerton was one. He came from Glasgow. Being a Scot in another land is something I know well. They do say you should write what you know.
The topic for ‘The Innocents Mystery Series’ simmered in the background for years, and all the time I was researching more and more deeply into the period. I love the rapid pace of innovation and invention in the 19th century. Nothing pleases me more than finding spy gadgets available at the time which were invented far earlier than most people would think possible.
Work and life got in the way of the books being anything more than an idea until I was suddenly grounded by a serious accident. The enforced leisure time of recuperation focused my mind and the old dream of writing resurfaced. It started as a short story which took on a life of its own when it grew and grew—then grew some more.
Eventually, ‘The Innocents Mysteries’ evolved and I found the perfect home for it at Prairie Rose. This is my first foray into fiction. I have produced magazine and newspaper articles based on consumer law and written guides for the Consumer Direct Website. I was Media Trained by The Rank Organization, and acted as a consultant to the BBC’s One Show and Watchdog. I have also been interviewed on BBC radio answering questions on consumer law to the public.
How long did you spend researching before beginning your book The Innocents?
Copious amounts. The Innocents has taken years of research into the work of the early Pinkertons, especially the female agents and the kind of work they did, including their methodologies. My work has taken me all over the world, but working in the USA and visiting the places where these women worked deepened my passion for finding out more about how they lived. I also researched the tools and equipment available to them at the time. Connections to police and Home Office experts allowed me to research the birth of forensics with people who knew their subject intimately.
I research everything, even the stationary which was in use and the correct codes for the telegraph stations mentioned in the books. The theatrical make up used as disguises in the book began to flourish right around the period the books are set in as lighting improved and people could see the flaws in the rudimentary stuff previously only lit by candles. The forensics are fascinating to dig into too. You name it I researched it.
How did you select the names of your characters?
As I write 19th century characters I try to keep them in period and maintain a sense of place. I’ll research popular or unusual names as well as using names of people I know if they’re appropriate. I’ve also been known to add really unusual names to my note as I come across them. Some are too good not to use.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The interrogation scene. I had to inject a sense of menace into it to make it work. I know it’s not usual to make your hero do bad things, but he’s a professional criminal and he has to find out who this mysterious woman is and how much danger the heroine poses to him.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
‘The Innocents’ is most definitely part of a larger body of work. It’s the first of a trilogy, but if people like them there’s plenty of scope to keep them going. I would still continue with each book being a self-contained mystery with the larger universe of the characters providing an over-arching connection between the books. The third book is written and at editing stage, but there are plenty of trials I can still put the characters through yet.
Thanks, Christine, for sharing your writing journey of The Innocents with us.
If you like to follow Christine’s writing journey, you can find her on the following media:
Yesterday evening I was browsing through the Netflix assortment for a good movie and stumbled upon The Blues Brothers. It was a movie I wanted to show my kids for a long, long time. I’m not sure for how long this movie will be available, but I suggest you watch it while it’s there!
The Blues Brothers
This musical comedy is from 1980, nearly forty years old, and a classic. It brought back good memories of my teenage time. I was amazed at how I still could sing every song along 🙂
The cast in this movie is outstanding. Next to John Belushi as Jake ‘Joliet’ Blues and Dan Ayckroyd as Elwood Blues, there’s a whole list of music greats such as singers James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker, musicians Steve “the Colonel” Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Murphy “Murph” Dunne, Willie “Too Big” Hall, Tom “Bones” Malone, “Blue Lou” Marini, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, and “Mr. Fabulous” Alan Rubin. There are guest roles of actors Carrie Fisher, Henry Gibson, John Candy, and model Twiggy.
When Jake Blues comes out of a three-year stint in prison, he finds out that the ‘Penguin,’ i.e. the nun who runs the orphanage where Jake and Elwood grew up, owes $5000 in taxes. When they visit the church (where James Brown delivering the gospel), Jake is enlightened, and they decide to ‘put the band back together’ to raise the money to save the orphanage. Unfortunately, in the past three years, the band has been dissolved and Jake and Elwood have to convince their ex-band members to leave their current jobs to join the band again.
What I liked about The Blues Brothers
This movie is extremely funny and just rocks! It’s not a true musical where dialogue is sung. This is rather a show of great songs with some (dubious) acting around it. Most of the songs texts have some link to what is happening, but mostly it’s about the music itself. The plot is fun, slapstick like, the dialogue full of funny one-liners (see image above), and the car chases unbelievable (making it one of the most expensive comedies according to Wikipedia).
Another thing I liked about this movie is its unpretentiousness. Even though the movie was made in 1980, there is no hint of any form of discrimination (leaving out the far right extremists in this remark, of course 😀 ). Yes, there is a scene where Aretha Franklin is left by her ‘man’ (so he can join the band) after her pleading him not to go, but she is the owner of the shop; a very independent woman. There are no remarks about looks or disabilities, and people of all shapes and races sing and dance together without putting emphasis on the fact. What I’m trying to say it that I like that people are in it for their abilities, not for what they look like.
What I didn’t like about The Blues Brothers
Don’t expect to see great acting. They must have been time-deprived when filming John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd tiptoeing to the music as any five-year-old would be able to do it better 😀 . It’s a fact that John Belushi’s drug problem made filming take longer and more expensive, but this didn’t make his acting better. Their singing is also not of the best quality and is better left to the professionals 😀
Even though John Landis edited Dan Aykroyd’s script, the dialogue is still quite stinted most of the time.
The Blues Brothers is a fun movie with great music that needs to be watched at least once in your lifetime.
My family and I were in town for a cup of coffee when we saw a pamphlet informing us of a craft fair in the town hall of Inverurie. Of course, we had to visit, and who did I immediately see when I walked in? Nancy Jardine!
We chatted about all things writer-related, from how long it takes to write a novel, to being on fairs and selling books. I learned something new from Nancy too, to about making files especially for Amazon. It was great to talk to another author about the trials and tribulations we have to go through from putting pen to paper all the way to get people to read our books.
I bought the Taexali Game for my daughter and you can expect a review of it soon (but she has to finish reading the Harry Potter books first)!
I have a little gem for your today. I’m particularly proud of this one as I’ve helped the author, Troy A. Hill, a little bit with it. It is published today!
You may remember the Dark Fantasy Spring Giveaway Event not long ago. I won this book in Troy’s competition after guessing the correct shifter form of Ruadh (and no, I didn’t see the bear in the moon on the image that he showed us 😀 ). That’s the first thing that attracted me to this book; the cover. The artist did an excellent job detailing the atmosphere described in the story (not that I knew that when I saw the cover for the first time, of course).
It’s a short read, with only one hundred pages. This doesn’t diminish the reading entertainment, though. Mr. Hill has a particular way of writing, one that suits the character of Ruadh very well. He gets you to experience exactly what Ruadh is going through as he shapeshifts and on his flight from evil but without getting overly descriptive. His words are straight to the point yet transporting you into the scene. You get drawn into this ancient world with shapeshifters, banshees, and godesses creating havoc. There even is a comic relief in there, although this may not have been intended 🙂 . There truly is not a dull moment in this story. It is a good set up for the main novel to come, and I hope to read the other books soon.
All of Troy A. Hill’s books are available on Amazon and Cursed is on sale at the moment, so grab it while it’s hot!