Movie Review: King Richard

Will Smith delivers a stellar performance as Richard Williams, the larger-than-life father who created tennis superstars—Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton).

Despite the lack of physical resemblance, Smith captures the essence and dogged determination of the manic “interview-hogging dad” who drafted a plan for his daughters before they were even born. Unwilling to consider any deviations to that plan, he works tirelessly to train and promote the girls. Brochures and videotapes in hand, he approaches professional coaches who gently (and not so gently) turn him down.

Afternoons and evenings, he trains the girls on a rundown court in all kinds of weather. He endures regular beatings from gang members who consider the court their turf.

Richard’s persistence finally pays off when coach Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn) reluctantly agrees to watch the girls practice. Impressed, Cohen selects Venus to receive free coaching. Venus quickly finds success in Juniors’ tournaments while Serena continues to practice with her mother.

Richard has long been known as the man behind the tennis magic. Still, Oracene Price (brilliantly played by Aunjanue Ellis) knows when to set aside the role of supportive spouse and intervene on her daughters’ behalf. Her fiery temper emerges at pivotal points in the storyline.

Actresses Sidney and Singleton learned to play tennis at a level convincing enough to be believable. They also exhibit the childlike excitement and confidence of the real-life Williams sisters.

Part biopic, part sports movie King Richard was named one of the best films of 2021 by the American Film Institute. In last Sunday’s Golden Globes, Will Smith received the Best Actor award (Drama). The film received three other nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Drama), Best Motion Picture (Drama), and Best Original Song.

A strong contender in this year’s award season, King Richard is a must-see film.

An Inspiring Multi-Act Life!

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Barbara Mountjoy who writes as Alana Lorens. Today, Alana shares her multi-act life and new release, A Rose by Any Other Name

Here’s Alana!

I’d studied English and Journalism in college, because I’d always wanted to write, since I was a kid. My first and second round of job searches hadn’t yielded much, so I didn’t have a job in the field. Life attacked in the form of a husband and two daughters, which put my employment on hold. Motherhood and wifehood was plenty to deal with, especially as my husband was in the service, so we moved a couple of times even in his first hitch.

Given a year into our Homestead, Florida posting, I saw the local paper was hiring a reporter. I snagged that position and for several years, had a blast doing all the stories and columns. I was the religion editor, the schools’ reporter, and put together the special hurricane tabs—on a first name basis with local senators and mayors and even the head of the National Hurricane Center.

One of the small cities I covered was Florida City, the last town right before the Florida Keys. The city attorney and I became close, and he recommended I go to law school. Now, this was never a career path I’d considered before that time—and my husband and I had just divorced, so I was a single mom of two preschoolers. Law school? What a crazy idea.

But it grew on me.

So I started with the entrance exam, the LSAT. I’d take it and see how I did. I did really well.

Well, I’d have to have help going to school. I didn’t have much saved up. But the grants and loans came through.

Then I’d have to have somewhere to live with my girls, and there was only limited housing on campus. But we got it. Right across the highway from the day care center.

Since it all came together, I took the jump. Those three years of school set the stage for a second act career as a family law attorney, which I practiced for 30 fulfilling years before I retired.

And now I’m back to writing full time again. 😊

For those contemplating a change, as so many are at this point in America, I’d hope they’d try to imagine where their potential career might be in five years. With tech and culture changing so quickly, they wouldn’t want to cross train into a field that doesn’t have longevity. But also, don’t stay in a career that doesn’t bring you joy simply for lack of courage. Waiting too late to change jobs might be the saddest choice of all.

Blurb

Up-and-coming mommyblogger and single mom Marisol Herrera Slade returns to her old hometown in western Pennsylvania for her 20th high school reunion in 2005, reluctant and yet compelled to see her high school sweetheart, Russell Asher, who dumped her for the homecoming queen.

Russell’s marriage to the golden girl, however, ended in a nasty divorce, and he has been systematically excluded from his sons’ lives. In his Internet wanderings, he’s found feminist blogger named Jerrika Jones, who glorifies single motherhood, essentially putting a stamp of approval on what’s happened to him. His group of single dad advocates have vowed to take this woman down.

What Russell doesn’t know, when he thinks to rekindle what he had with Marisol, is that Marisol and Jerrika are one and the same. When his group discovers the truth, will their drive for revenge derail any chance the couple have to reunite? Or will they find they have more in common than they ever expected?

Excerpt

Heather Armstrong had books out now, spawned by the popularity of her Dooce blog. The Julie and Julia movie deal started with a simple blog. That Shatner show on TV, “$#*! My Dad Says” came from a Twitter account. If she could get noticed, really noticed, the big time wasn’t so far away in this brave new Internet world.

So. Better to stir the pot, right?

She closed her eyes, summoned up the image of Jerrika at her cheekiest, and started typing. Apparently I stomped on a couple of hearts yesterday when I pointed out the joys of raising my son without having to kowtow to the demands of an irrational non-custodial father. You know what? I’m not sorry, either.

People like FreeDad91 hide in their troll costumes and take pot shots at other people instead of addressing their own issues. Sounds to me like this guy has problems from his past. Either his own father walked out on him, or he walked out on his own kids, and he’s decided the best way to handle his guilt is to dump on the mothers.

Well, honey, this is one mother who’s not going to just sit by and let you. I love my son dearly. He’s been my morning, my evening, and lots of my midnights over the years. Maybe he didn’t have a father by his side during those days and nights. But he never lacked for attention, from men or women. I made sure he had that village he needed, the one it takes to raise a child. Would it have been easier to co-parent? I expect it would have. But that option wasn’t open to me. So take your hatred and turn it back where it really belongs: on yourself.

She added a few more choice stabs, and filed the post for the day.

Book Trailer

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Walmart | Wild Rose Press

Author Bio and Links

Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years, after working as a pizza maker, a floral designer, a journalist and a family law attorney. Currently a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, the aging hippie loves her time in the smoky blue mountains. She writes romance and suspense as Alana Lorens, and sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal mystery as Lyndi Alexander. One of her novellas, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, is set in the city of Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter on the autism spectrum, who is the youngest of her seven children, and she is ruled by three crotchety old cats, and six kittens of various ages.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Amazon Author Page | Bookbub

Don’t Allow the Past to Rule Your Present Thoughts and Emotions

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A longtime fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to receiving their daily emails. Here’s a thought-provoking excerpt from a recent post:

In the present moment, we all have some kind of pain: anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment, regret, etc.

Notice this pain within yourself, watch it closely, and see that it’s caused by whatever story you have in your head about what happened in the past (either in the recent past or in the distant past). Your mind might insist that the pain you feel is caused by what happened (not by the story in your head about it), but what happened in the past is NOT happening right now. It’s over. It has passed. But the pain is still happening right now because of the story you’ve been subconsciously telling yourself about that past incident.

Note that “story” does not mean “fake story.” It also does not mean “true story.” The word “story” in the context of your self-evaluation doesn’t have to imply true or false, positive or negative, or any other kind of forceful judgment call. It’s simply a process that’s happening inside your head:

*You are remembering something that happened.
*You subconsciously perceive yourself as a victim of this incident.
*Your memory of what happened causes a strong emotion in you.

So just notice what story you have, without judging it, and without judging yourself. It’s natural to have a story; we all have stories. See yours for what it is. And see that it’s causing you pain. Then take a deep breath, and another…

Inner peace begins the moment you take these deep breaths and choose not to allow the past to rule your present thoughts and emotions.

Read the rest of the post here.

Happy National Cut Your Energy Costs Day!

Today is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, a day set aside to re-examine our daily habits and improve the overall efficiency of our lives.

Here are ten easy-to-implement tips:

1. Use daylight as much as possible. Remember, it’s free, and it doesn’t pollute.

2. Turn off all lights, even if you leave a room for a few minutes.

3. Switch all light bulbs to CFLs—the curly-looking ones. While they are more expensive, they can last up to ten times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs.

4. Turn the heat down one degree in the winter, and set the air conditioner one degree higher in the summer. You probably won’t notice and could easily go up/down an extra degree or two.

5. Use the refrigerator wisely. Decide what you want before you open the door, clean the coils periodically with a vacuum cleaner, don’t set the temperature any colder than necessary, and keep it full.

6. Eliminate vampire power. When televisions, computers, DVD players, microwave ovens, and appliances are turned off, they continue to suck the energy out of the wall and out of your wallet. Where possible, use smart power strips with on/off switches that can be turned off when you are away for an extended period.

7. Unplug the charger as soon as your digital device is charged. When plugged in, a charger continues to draw energy.

8. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth or shaving. On average, a faucet can use anywhere from one to three gallons (four to eight litres) per minute. If you take the dentist-recommended two minutes, twice a day, that could add up to 12 gallons a day—4,380 gallons a year. Note: Newer faucets tend to have lower flow rates than older ones.

9. Fix those leaks. In North America, the average household leaks nearly 10,000 gallons of water each year…a staggering amount of money literally pouring down the drain.

10. Wait until you have a full load of laundry before using the washing machine. Half loads use twice as much water. Consider setting the temperature to warm rather than hot. This cleans just as well and uses half the energy.

Any more tips to share?

Blurb Blitz: The Widow Wore Plaid

I’m happy to welcome best-selling author Jenna Jaxon. Today, Jenna shares her latest release, The Widow Wore Plaid.

Blurb

The Battle of Waterloo made them widows, but each has found new happiness. And Jane, Lady John Tarkington, intends to keep her freedom, even if love—and one particular gentleman—are determined to claim her heart . . .

It is a truth rarely acknowledged—at least in public—that a wealthy widow is free to pursue a great many adventures. For two years, Jane has privately enjoyed her independence. Why should she remarry, even when the gentleman proposing is as wonderful as Gareth, Lord Kinellan? She entreats him never to ask her again. But as her Widows’ Club friends—now all joyfully remarried—gather at Castle Kinellan, Jane begins to wonder if stubbornness has led her to make a terrible mistake . . .

Kinellan needs a wife to give him an heir, and he wants that wife to be Jane. They are perfect together in every way, yet she continually refuses him. Just as he is on the point of convincing her, a series of accidents befall Gareth and point to an enemy in their midst. He has promised Jane a passionate future filled with devotion, but can he keep them both alive long enough to secure it?

Excerpt

Throwing up his hands, he groaned and sagged against the wall, his banyan sliding half off him. “Have your way with me, woman. I surrender myself into your hands. Do with me what you will and I swear I will enjoy it.”

Panting, she stepped back from him, seeing the sculpted muscular form, strong arms, and dark eyes glazed with smoldering desire as if for the first time. This man wanted her, or had wanted her to be his wife for a long time. No one would ever make her feel this way again, no matter how many lovers she might take. She could look for the rest of her life and not find a man as kind or generous or loving as he. And she had all but thrown his love away with both hands. The revelation devastated her and she hung her head.

“Jane?” Kinellan straightened, peering into her face.

Sobbing, she threw her arms around him, laying her head on his broad chest, the only place she wanted it to be. Tears pricked her eyes. The fast beat of his heart beneath her ear should have given comfort, but did not, for her own heart was tearing asunder. The trickle of tears became a flood.

“Darling.” He slipped his arms around her, cradling her close. “What is wrong?”

“I…I don’t want to leave.”

“Sweetheart.” He cupped her chin and turned her face up to his. A thundery frown marred his brow. “Who has asked you to leave? Was it Aunt Prudence? Fiona?”

“N…no.” Jane sniffed, trying to blink back the tears and regain her composure.

“Someone else?” His frown grew darker.

She nodded. “You.”

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple | Google Play

Print copies are available at:

Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, Hudson Booksellers, Indiebound, Target, Walmart

Author Bio and Links

Jenna Jaxon is a best-selling author of historical romance, writing in a variety of time periods because she believes that passion is timeless. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories.

She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets–including two vocal cats, one almost silent cat, two curious bunnies, and a Shar-pei beagle mix named Frenchie.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

Jenna Jaxon will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Jenna on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Make Peace with Imperfection

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

One of my go-to books for inspiration is Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. Here’s one of my favorite passages:

The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquillity conflict with each other. Whenever we are attached to having something a certain way, better than it already is, we are, almost by definition, engaged in a losing battle. Rather than being content and grateful for what we have, we are focused on what’s wrong with something and our need to fix it. When we are zeroed in on what’s wrong, it implies that we are dissatisfied, discontent.

Whether it’s related to ourselves—a disorganized closet, a scratch on the car, an imperfect accomplishment—or someone else’s “imperfections”—the way someone looks, behaves, or lives their life—the very act of focusing on imperfection pulls us away from our goal of being kind and gentle. This strategy has nothing to do with ceasing to do your best but with being overly attached and focused on what’s wrong with life. It’s about realizing that while there’s always a better way to do something, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy and appreciate the way things already are.

The solution here is to catch yourself when you fall into your habit of insisting that things should be other than they are. Gently remind yourself that life is okay the way it is, right now. In the absence of your judgment, everything would be fine. As you begin to eliminate your need for perfection in all areas of your life, you’ll begin to discover the perfection in life itself.

Source: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, pp. 11-12

My Word for 2022

I am resurrecting a tradition that I started in 2015, continued in 2016 and 2017, and then stopped. Not sure why I stopped, but I now feel the need to anchor 2022 with a word. A single word that drifted into my consciousness toward the end of 2021: Simplify.

In November, I found myself decluttering and organizing, organically and digitally, and taking great pleasure in the results. I have decided to continue this paring down of non-essentials and streamline other aspects of my life.

In short, I intend to release what no longer serves me.

I like this definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary…

a : to reduce to basic essentials
b : to diminish in scope or complexity
c : to make more intelligible : clarify

And these quotations…

Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify. Henry David Thoreau

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. Hans Hofmann

SIMPLIFY ♦ SEMPLIFICARE ♦ SIMPLIFIER ♦ SIMPLIFICAR ♦ VEREINFACHEN ♦ FORENKLE

Have you selected a word for 2022?

Honoring Betty White

Betty White passed away on Friday, less than three weeks away from celebrating her 100th birthday. Actress, comedienne, author, and animal rights activist, she is one of Hollywood’s most beloved icons. Best known for her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls, Ms. White had a television career that spanned more than eight decades. In the 2014 edition of “Guinness World Records” she was certified as the longest ever female entertainer.

My favorite quotations from Betty White:

Butterflies are like women — we may look pretty and delicate, but baby, we can fly through a hurricane.

In my head, I’m the ultimate cougar. Animal lover that I am.

I just make it my business to get along with people so I can have fun. It’s that simple.

The older you get, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana.

Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren’t going to get rid of me that way.

You don’t fall off the planet once you pass a given age. You don’t lose any of your sense of humor. You don’t lose any of your zest for life, or your lust for life.

I know it sounds corny, but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside. I get bored with people who complain about this or that. It’s such a waste of time.

Everybody needs a passion. That’s what keeps life interesting. If you live without passion, you can go through life without leaving any footprints.

It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.

I have no regrets at all. None. I consider myself to be the luckiest old broad on two feet.

Step Forward to Whatever Is Calling You

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Whenever I need strong doses of inspiration and motivation, I reread the following excerpt from You’ve Got This! by Margie Warrell:

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh once wrote that it is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they’re not. So, if you are struggling with the fact that something in your world has shifted in a direction you don’t much like, consider what it is about your life right now, today, that you are not savoring fully given that it too, one day, will be gone.

To experience the richness of life, to dive deep into its waters and to avoid the perils of living only in its shallows, we must embrace its inherent impermanence, and open our hearts wide to whatever each moment holds—for all that it is and, every bit as importantly, for all that it isn’t. No thing is permanent. Every thing eventually falls away. Our children will grow up and leave home. Our parents die. Our firm bodies soften. Our vision dims.

Because life is the way that it is, it cannot stay the way it is.

Anything we cannot control is teaching us to let go. So don’t wait until the ground feels fully solid beneath you. Rather, feel grounded in yourself and step forward to whatever is calling you. Because those windows of opportunity that you see right now, they too shall one day close. And that surge of life energy beating within you, that too shall one day end. As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote, “it is the denial of death that is partially responsible for people living empty, purposeless lives; for when you live as if you’ll live forever, it becomes too easy to postpone the things you know that you must do.”

Source: You’ve Got This! pp. 177-179