Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ranking the Top 5 Boxing Movies and Why America Loves an Underdog

In this silly mixed up society of ours we love to build people up only to watch them fall back down again. Why is that? Because the world loves an underdog story. That struggle of coming from nothing, having something to prove, or even a return to former glory is one that we rally behind and champion because of simply this: We Can Relate.

Who hasn't struggled in our day-to-day lives? Everyone has. Even the celebrities put on pedestals like golden gods and false idols have their hard days and dark times. But no one ever said anything worth having was going to be easy. To quote Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own "It's supposed to be hard. It's the hard that makes it great."

That is why many of the boxing movies that have been made are always about the low ranked contender battling his way up the ranks until he gains the championship. Or else he is on top and then something occurs where he is knocked back down to the bottom and has to start all over.

We need that type of drama to feed off of. Why? Because we see the underdog reach their goal and something inside of us says "I can do that too." This is why so many athletes train to the Rocky soundtrack, the ultimate underdog who rose up and conquered, not just Apollo Creed, but captivated the world as well. We thrive on that, it gives us hope.

I was down and out recently when an employer unscrupulously let me go from my job for nothing more than office politics. If you don't play the game, if you're not part of the "clique" and if you're a unique individual with your own mind, values, and morals it is frowned upon by big business. Another reason the underdog resonates with people. He/she is the scrappy fighter who does not conform but wins anyway!

Point being that when I was feeling down and low I started putting on underdog movies to rally my spirits and it helped. I believed if they could make a comeback then so could I. It starts with believing in yourself. No matter what field you're in, or what you're struggling with, if you believe that you can overcome then you will! That's when they will write your story and celebrate your glory.

This Thanksgiving Creed comes out in theaters. The next in the Rocky franchise now follows Apollo Creed's son as he steps into the ring just like his father used to. With Rocky in his corner (looking like Mick from the original Rocky!) the young Creed must battle his way through contenders to reach the top...underdog story :)

So here now are my top 5 boxing movies:

1) ROCKY 1 - 3
I really can't separate these into individual movies. This iconic trilogy is the most recognized boxing drama on the face of the planet. Sylvester Stallone tells an impeccable story about a lovable character just trying to fight his way into a better life so that he is not "just some other bum from the neighborhood." The first three are classic with the rest of the franchise getting watered down from there. But everyone knows who Rocky Balboa is and there is good reason.

What can I say, I gravitate towards movies with tough chicks because I am one myself! But I like Million Dollar Baby for a whole host of reasons. Clint Eastwood does double duty as director and playing Hilary Swank's boxing coach, mentor, and almost father-figure. Like most of the movies on this list this story has alot of heart but also heartache. I don't really care for the end and I usually turn it off. This is one underdog story where everything doesn't turn out all sunshine and rainbows at the end but the journey throughout is the reason I have a copy of it on my shelf.


When I first watched this film I was surprised at how impactful it was. With a host of great performances from a stellar cast it takes the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster. Here we see the tale of the man on top (Jake Gyllenhaal) who loses everything and has to start from the bottom again while fighting his own demons as well. The father-daughter dynamic pulls at the heartstrings and the soundtrack backed by Eminem makes you want to lace up the gloves and get in the ring yourself. 

The Academy Award winning movie starring Mark Whalberg and Christian Bale was only ok for me. It is a really good movie based on real life experiences but it just doesn't draw me in as deep as some of the other films I mentioned above. Christian Bale is a chameleon though and he puts full effort into his portrayal of Dicky. 

I'd be remiss, and probably reamed, if I didn't mention Raging Bull. The reason I didn't is because I've never seen it! But this is a classic that is referenced in alot of different entertainment medium.
A few other noteworthy films are Cinderella Man, The Hurricane, Ali, Girl Fight, and if you're looking for something with some humor Grudge Match.


What's your favorite boxing or underdog story? Did I miss one? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Writing A Series: PT2 - Character Development

Apologies for the delay, I meant to get this up sooner. But we are continuing on our journey of Writing a Series. Last time we begin with a little background on me and why I decided to delve into writing a series.
To recap, I found that though stand-alone books can do well with audiences, most of the time they clamor for more. They like to follow their favorite characters on a journey through their fictional worlds.
Today, I'm going to focus on the initial development of a series. This can be as varied as one's writing style. If you're more of a panster (one who writes by the seat of their pants with little to no outline) this might be a different approach for you.
I found making a breakdown of each novel in the series helps me keep everything in order. It also builds my excitement as I develop subplots and drop clues to bigger reveals throughout the series.
As I said before I'm working on two different ideas at the same time so this cuts down in the confusion.
Now a peek into my writing process: It starts with the initial idea. This can come from any number of sources. Usually I'll get an idea in a random way (watching a movie, traveling, doing yoga, in the shower!)
I don't usually go searching for them. The seed gets planted in my head and if I'm excited about it I proceed. The next step is developing the main characters. For a series this can change with each novel. But you should have at least one character who is present in each novel.

This links the series together and goes back to the main reason people enjoy a good series. Some examples of characters would be Katniss from Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Jack Reacher. In the case of Game of Thrones, George RR Martin chose to develop an entire cast of character but he did so in a way that made the reader invested in each of them.
How many POV's you have is, as always, up to you. For one of my series, a superhero suspense, I recently changed POV from 1st person to multiple. It opened up the story alot more and gave me room to play in this world I created.
My character development is succinct. However much I plot, or don't plot, the actual novel(s) I will do a thorough character breakdown.
I include their physical stats (eye color, hair, build, etc.) their background, quirks/characteristics; and for this novel what superpower they possess or will possess in the future.
I never let this get too far out of reach when writing. Keeping it as a handy reference guide will help you avoid making the mistake of giving someone blue eyes in one scene (or one book) and then green in another. Its all in the details and the more you give to your characters, the more well-rounded they will become. Then your readers can go ahead and start falling in love with them!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

On Writing A Series pt. 1

I've been fascinated with writing since I was a little kid. I used to read voraciously everything from Piers Anthony to C.S. Lewis and so on. When I was 18 I decided I wanted to be an author.
Ever since then I've been writing, and honing, and learning, and writing some more. In the past few years I've noticed that stand-alone books are not as popular as a full on series or even a trilogy.
Yes, some stand-alones come along the scene and blow up into international success stories but that's another topic all together.
In genre writing, which is what I do (supernatural suspense and adventure fantasy mostly) it is the series that lines bookshelves and e-readers alike. Why? Because just like the TV serials the audience likes to get invested in their favorite characters and follow them on their journey be it Katniss Everdeen battling against The Capital, Harry Potter and friends going against the dark forces of Voldemort, or the many, many faces just trying their best to survive in Game of Thrones, these characters become endearing to their audience. And those are just a few examples.
So in that vein I set out to begin my own series. What I've wound up with is about 4 maybe 5 different ideas! Some were born of books I've already published (Demon Hunter, Lucky Sevens) and some are new ideas altogether. It's exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.
For me this would be a new experience. I've written trilogies before. As I mentioned Demon Hunter was already born as a trilogy but has now spun off into a series with the follow up Demon Huntress.
But I've never actually sat down and penned a full on, 5-7 novel series before. It is a different animal and a game changer. I can see why they are as popular as they are. Just in writing them I've grown interested in seeing where the characters will end up down the road. Which was one of the reasons Lucky Sevens is getting its own trilogy soon. I've been asked so many times if that particular novel is part of a series. I have to answer with "no" because it was never intended to be. But the reason the readers ask, and the reason I've decided I now want to continue with the theme, is because the characters are that enjoyable. Lucky Sevens is one of my all time favorite books that I've written and that is because of the main character Luca "Lucky" Luchazi. I've realized recently that I missed him and I wanted to spend more time with him.
And THAT is why readers love a good series...the characters are like they're best friends, or in some cases their worst enemies. I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know but it was worth mentioning. As I journey through the rollercoaster that is writing a series I invited you to come along on this journey. Without giving too much away from the plotlines (ssshhh its a secret) I will be delving into character breakdown, continuity, important plot points, continued interest, and more as I find my own way in the dark. It's fun and exciting and promises to be some of my best work yet!
So what are some of your favorite book or TV series?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Aussie Hunks debuts at The D

In Las Vegas you can never have too many exotic, erotic dance acts can you? Certainly not, especially when it comes to the male variety. Us gals like to watch a little skin show every now and then as much as the next guy.

Aussie Hunks is the latest male revue to open in Las Vegas and I was fortunate enough to catch their act recently. The show delivered some great dance acts, hot hunks from down under, humor, and most importantly some fun! If I had one or two critiques I would say they need to add a few more dancers for solo acts. One poor guy was on stage back-to-back. That's alot of energy to expend when there's a room full of screaming ladies waving Aussie Bucks at you!

I've also noticed in my tour of male revues that they include ALOT of dancing with a minimal of skin showing. Don't get me wrong, these are some awesome dancers, even winning the Australian equivalent of So You Think You Can Dance, but ladies like to get a little crazy when we go to these shows and we're expecting "the fanasty." That means Adonis-like bodies oiled up and glistening in all their glory. I'm not talking full frontal by any means but a butt cheek here and there wouldn't hurt. Even the skimpy booty shorts featuring the Aussie flag is fine, but full on pants? That's a no.

The cast of Aussie Hunks pose for a photo before their VIP/Media grand opening at the D Las Vegas 

I do have to mention one particular act in Aussie Hunks that was a really smart move and highly entertaining. With the opening of Magic Mike XXL one Aussie Hunk named Tommy Gunn performed the Channing Tatum signature dance to "Pony" from the original Magic Mike. He even had the moves down! Now that was fun :)

Channing Tatum dancing to "Pony" from Magic Mike

To be honest if you are in Vegas looking to have a fun night out at a male revue I recommend Aussie Hunks over the other options. Why? Because of the intimate setting inside The D you get up close and personal with the performers...yes THAT personal!

About Aussie Hunks
Australian-based, the erotic hip-hip male revue known as Aussie Hunks is comprised of eight classically-trained dancers in street, break and hip-hop dancing. As seen on “Australia’s Got Talent” and “So You Think You Can Dance Australia,” the group takes male revue to a whole new level. Aussie Hunks explode with seduction and world-class choreography, performing seven nights a week at the D Las Vegas. For more information, please visit Follow us on Facebook, Twitter @AussieHunksLV and Instagram @AussieHunksVegas.