Extortion Movie Review

Extortion Movie Review

Extortion Movie Review

It’s the worst-case scenario. You’re on holiday and you become stranded on a deserted island. Just when you’re desperate a rescuer comes. But then the person you think will save you ends up holding your family for ransom. This is what happens in Extortion.

What would you do?

How much is your family’s life worth?

This is the question asked of Kevin Riley (Eion Bailey) when he’s at his most desperate—or so he thinks. After two days of being stranded he’s dehydrated, exhausted, and starving. And to make matters worse, his wife and son are barely conscious. As his rescuer demands a reward for saving them, the situation escalates and Riley discovers how desperate things can become.

It’s a race against time to save his family in a foreign place with no one on his side. As I watched the situation go from bad to worse (and a solution unfold by the end) I reflected on how easy a picturesque vacation can take a bad turn. There is much we take for granted when travelling. Should we allow fear to hold us back? Of course not, but it’s a good reminder to take precautions and make wise decisions.

Extortion is an emotional, nail-biting 109 minutes. It is well acted, well produced, and I even believed the story line and the reasons behind Riley’s actions. As I reflect on the movie it’s difficult to say I enjoyed it because it was so intense, but it does make me wonder what I would do in the same situation. Would I put everything on the line to save my family? What wouldn’t I do?

Extortion is available on VOD/Digital/DVD across all platforms through Lionsgate.


Extortion Synopsis

An American family vacationing in the Caribbean find themselves stranded on a deserted island without food or water. They are discovered by a cold-blooded fisherman who demands a ransom for their lives. A gruesome turn of events leaves the father in a terrifying high seas race to save his wife and son, and punish those behind the cruel extortion plot.

Lionsgate’s “Extortion,” a new action-thriller in the vein of “Taken” and “Captain Phillips,” stars Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips,” upcoming “Blade Runner 2”), Eion Bailey (“Ray Donovan”, “Once Upon a Time”), Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon series, 2012”), Joy Lenz (“One Tree Hill”, “Agents of Shield”), and Tim Griffin (“Central Intelligence,” “American Sniper”).

How to Create a Blog Content Calendar

A content calendar helps you out!

  • It take the guesswork out of what to write
  • It keeps your blog on track with relevant content
  • It sets you on a strategic plan that moves you forward
  • It helps you avoid burning out
  • It aligns your blog with your core goals

How to Create and Stick to a Blogging Content Calendar

I’ve been a professional writer for a long time, but up until this year I didn’t put together a blogging content calendar.

Why?

A few reasons I suppose. First, because I create content calendars for everyone else so my blog was the last thing I touched in an average freelance day. Second, because I was a bit paralyzed in overwhelm. So many ideas. Too many things to write about. You know, the usual blogging problems.

#bloggerproblems

But I knew the value of a good plan—there’s nothing like a calendar to tell you what to write and keep you on track.

Long story short, I told myself to quit stalling and created a sweet content calendar. I built it last fall, I implemented it last January, and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it too.


How to create a blogging content calendar

(Also known as an editorial calendar.)

  1. Get clear on who you’re talking to (your ideal reader) and what you offer (what’s your goal? what are you trying to achieve?)
  2. I spent a few months figuring this out. Here’s what I came up with: My ideal readers are creative freelancers. I help busy people do marketing.

    To get clear on my blogging goals I took tips from people I trust but I found the most practical help from Denise Duffield-Thomas’ Planning Process. In this post she outlines her step-by-step planning process and links to her simple business plan. I filled it out and used the plan I came up with as the foundation for my content calendar.

  3. Decide what your topics are
  4. Once you know what you offer, it’s time to brainstorm what topics you want to cover. For example, my ideal reader struggles with time management, marketing/digital strategy, organization, and overwhelm. Look at that, I have four main topics.

    I used these topics as headings, then brainstormed blog post ideas for each one. From a short session I had 17 ideas. If I decided to blog once per week I all of a sudden had 17 weeks of posts lined up. Wow. OK maybe I could do this.

  5. Put everything into a calendar template
  6. There are a lot of options when it comes to editorial/content calendars, everything from paper planners to cloud-based task systems. You need to use what works for you. After some trial and error I found Trello works for me. If you haven’t heard of it before I’ll give you a little overview of how it works and how I used it.

    Trello is a cloud-based visual project management tool. It took me a while I understand how to use it but after a few video tutorials (I watched how other people used Trello) I figured out a system.

    First, I started different boards: Content Calendar, Goals, Article Ideas, Articles in Progress, Blog Post Planner, Newsletter, etc.

    Next, I populated the boards with lists. In my Content Calendar board I started with my four main themes and put them on a list of their own. I have found this keeps me focused on my big ideas when I’m brainstorming individual blog posts. In my Article Ideas board I created 12 lists for the 12 months and put 10-20 ideas/prompts under each list. For example, my August prompts are back to school, Labour Day recipes, beach crafts, scheduling, planning, gardening, canning, autumn, etc. These aren’t topics I’ll write about per se, but it’s a place to start.

    I have different lists in each of my boards. Some are tasks with due dates and some are just lists of ideas, links to articles I want to come back to, or goals for this year.

    This is what is working for me. Having a visual plan laid out holds overwhelm back. In fact I haven’t sat down and wondered what to write in months. Months! I also like my content calendar because it keeps my blog ideas separate from my freelance work or anything else I’m working on. Oh yeah, and it never gets lost on my desk.

Here’s how I plan each month of blog content using a content calendar

I try and plan at least three months of content at a time. When I say “plan” it’s not like I have draft posts written up, but I have a blog topic and maybe a few notes of the direction I want to go with it. I also have coloured labels for my different types of content and I label it right away.

All the blog topics go in a list I’ve called Articles in Progress. Then when I go to plan a new month I create a new list with the month name and pull the different brainstorms from Articles in Progress to the month blog lineup. From there I look to see each theme is covered (easy to tell when they’re colour-coded!) and assign dates.

Of course, none of this is set in stone so if a sponsored post comes up, I’m able to swap my calendar around to make room. Oh, and how awesome is it to actually know when you can post something when speaking with a client? I mean, how pro!

Once a month is over I archive the list and set up the next month of content, so I always have a rolling three-month plan. And when I have a new idea? I add it to the Articles in Progress list. A sponsored post comes up? I figure out when is the best time to post and move my calendar around. It was a lot of initial set up but now that it’s rolling I don’t know how I blogged before this. Not only am I keeping on track but it is an enjoyable experience. No more stress!

If my story isn’t enough to convince you to build and keep to an editorial calendar, I don’t know what will. You can’t be strategic without a good plan.


To create a content calendar you’ll need:

  • Some sort of calendar template
  • Themes
  • Monthly topics
  • Blog post ideas

There is so much value in a good plan—there’s nothing like a calendar to tell you what to write and keep you on track. I built my blogging content calendar last fall, I implemented it last January, and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it too.

One last thing.

Before I could plan what to write I decided how often I would write. I decided I’d post each Tuesday at minimum. I want to write more, but deep down I knew once per week was even asking a lot. My blog hadn’t been priority for a long time and I needed to get back in the habit of posting with consistency before I could do anything grander.

I also made posting on Tuesdays the priority over posting on topic.

Weird, I know. I spent all that time coming up with what and who and why and how and all that. But here’s the thing, all the topics I came up with were things I’m also struggling with. Some of them needed to simmer on the back burner while I figured out what I have to say about it. Some ideas needed testing. Like this topic for example. Can a blogging content calendar help a busy writer who doesn’t have time for a personal blog? Six months ago I wasn’t sure. Now I know.

So sometimes my posts aren’t 100 per cent on topic. And I’m good with that. Because I am still posting every Tuesday.

Need help cutting through the paralysis of analysis in order to get focused on what you want your blog to do for you? Let’s chat!

What’s a Social Media Manager and Why Should I Care?

But I’m a writer! Who cares about what a social media manager is!

What's a Social Media Manager?

I heard of the social media manager title years ago, but never considered I would or could be one. I figured it was for someone else, someone who went to school for new media or social media management (things that didn’t exist when I did my bachelor of journalism). But then my LinkedIn job suggestions started getting…obvious. Here’s a splash of what I see whenever I check in to see what’s new and who’s hiring.

  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Copywriter
  • Office Administrator
  • An Open Letter to _______’s Future Marketer
  • Client Success Coach
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Social Media Manager
  • PR Consultant
  • Marketing and Events Coordinator
  • Brand Publishing Specialist

Keep in mind these are the jobs posted in the past seven days in my area, which LinkedIn thought I’d be a good match for. If you’re a writer but have collected different skills, experience, connections, etc. you may have a different snapshot. But do you see what I’m talking about?

Two reactions come to mind I must choose between.

  1. Wow, this social network doesn’t know me at all
  2. When did I become a social media manager?

So I begin wondering, what’s a social media manager and is it different from what I’m doing now?

Well I’ll cut to the chase, all 10 of these postings are about the same. The type of work, the skills involved, the experience required, everything. No matter if it’s administrator level, coordinator level, or management level. Now that’s confusing!

This tells me a few things. First, I need to understand all the ways people think of the skills I have—calling myself a writer without attaching any of the other keywords strips out nine of these jobs. Wow. Yet all require the exact same skills. OK…

What now?


Wondering what a social media manager is? Want to be one? Here’s what’s in the social media manager’s toolkit.

  • Fluent in social—all social (paying attention to social trends, dos and don’ts, what’s hot and what’s not)
  • Strong writing skills (with a specialization in content marketing/copy writing)
  • A people-first approach to everything (a service mindset, which not only has you listening to your customers and industry chatter but being engaged in your community)
  • Graphically inclined (not a pro, but you need the basics of design and video production)
  • Comfortable with social selling (and understanding how this is done)
  • Competent at SEO and analytics (yes you will have to run campaigns and reports)
  • Confident public speaker (yes you will have to use Instastories and Facebook Live—you may even have to speak on a panelin person)
  • An understanding of human behaviour (you don’t have to have a psych degree but you do need to understand what works and what doesn’t, what people want and what they don’t)
  • Reasonable budgeting skills (show me the money! Er…show your clients how you’re spending their money!)
  • Adaptable (this industry is like a river—moving fast and constant, you have to keep up with the changes and adapt as necessary)
  • Curious and savvy (in order to succeed as a social media manager, you need to know what works—but if you’re ahead of the curve you’ll be able to move your clients’ business strategies forward faster and won’t be distracted by fleeting trends or vanity metrics)
  • Strong grasp of marketing (specifically strategy and digital, email, and funnel marketing)

If this seems like three jobs in one, you’re right. And if it seems like a lot of different skill sets wrapped up into one, you’re right again. But this seems to be where the industry is at these days and if you want to compete, you need at least a cursory knowledge of these tools.

Keep in mind the typical day-to-day tasks a social media manager executes each day are a little less overwhelming: writing and scheduling posts, running ads, replying to fans, and creating graphics.

See? Not so bad. However, the only way this works is with a strong foundation—a strong social marketing strategy. This is where the real value of a social media manager comes in. If you have good instincts and can build a great strategy for your client, you are going to see great results. So stay at it and invest in yourself!

Wondering what skills you need to be a social media manager? Anyone can schedule social posts and respond to fans. The real value of a social media manager comes in if you have good instincts and can build a great strategy for your client.

Are you looking to level-up your business on social? Need a social media manager? Let’s chat! Respond in the form below or message me on social. Let me know what problems you’re looking to solve and I’ll be happy to send you a quote.

Are you like me? Just discovering you’re really a social media manager (and that’s why you’re so tired)? I’d love to commiserate with you!

Going Viral: Creating Contagious Content

Have you ever wondering what makes something go viral? Is there a secret? What do viral-video makers know that you don’t? Learn the what and how of going viral and a few tips for what you can do to make your content more contagious.

Going Viral: The What and How of Creating Contagious Content

It was my niece’s first birthday and her mother threw a party, inviting the whole family to join in on the celebration. Everyone was excited to share in the festivities but the morning before the party, people began cancelling saying they weren’t feeling well.

But this was my niece’s first birthday! A big O-N-E!

With much pressure on, the family came together to save the party. Those who were feeling sort of better were encouraged to show up anyway and give my niece the party she deserved.

So they came.

And it was a lovely time. Good food, good conversations, good feelings all around.

Later that evening…

I haven’t vomited from being ill since I was a child. But vomit I did, from midnight till 8 a.m. the next morning. Who was the culprit? No real idea, since there were a few people at the party who weren’t feeling 100 per cent and we spent the day switching children, changing seats, and grabbing snacks from the same bowls.

And I learned I wasn’t the only one—most of the other non-sick party-goers spent the next day beside the toilet.

It all happened so fast. One moment we were minding our own business, living life like normal, and the next we were swept up into a wave of vomit-filled illness by no fault of our own except for attending the party and enjoying ourselves.

What happened? Our party went viral.


What does “going viral” mean?

Sans vomiting, going viral in Internet terms is seen as a good thing. It’s what happens when a piece of content (article, photo, video, etc.) is shared, copied, and otherwise spread across social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

How many shares does it take before something is considered viral?

I’m sorry to say, there isn’t an exact number. Viral status is achieved when the proportion of people seeing the content and then sharing it increases over what’s usual.

I know, could it be more vague?

Think of viral sharing like a secret. If you share a secret with someone, and that person shares it with someone else and then another, and another, then pretty soon everyone knows your secret. But if the person keeps your secret, that’s where the sharing ends. It’s safe, and no one knows about it.

The simple math of virality

Viral content is relative. When you share a piece of content on social media, how many shares is normal? If you see your shares go up from normal on a couple posts, you can consider those viral. However, if your shares go up and stay up—then it’s the new normal. Not viral anymore.

The more complicated math of true viral content

Of course, a few extra shares here and there doesn’t make a big impact. We want to know about the life-changing kind of viral content like Chewbacca Mom’s laughing video or Mandy Harey’s deaf singing audition for America’s Got Talent. How do you get those?

The next level of viral content

When you level up on going viral this is where stuff happens. On day one a piece of content is shared and you receive your regular likes, shares, and website visits, plus a few extras. This (according to ShareProgress) is called “first generation.” From there, a few of these first generation people share your content on their social channels and some of their friends check it out. They’re called “second generation.” By the second generation there should be more likes, shares, and website visits. Now it’s on the second generation of visitors to share your content. If a few more than the first round do this, then the third generation of visitors should be seeing your content. If this continues then you’ll see exponential likes, shares, and website visits. This is where things get crazy.

In the simple viral example, you’ll have a bump of activity and then things will go back to normal. In the next level of going viral, the momentum grows and keeps growing and, if you’re prepared for it, sends your life in a new direction.


How do I make something go viral?

Yeah, sorry. I don’t know how. Actually, I don’t think anyone does. No matter how many terms I Google, all I come up with is “there’s no formula, there’s no secret.”

But here are a few things you can do to help your content be ready for going viral.

People are more likely to share something if…

  • they have a strong reaction to it
  • they have a positive emotional response to it
  • they feel inspired by it
  • they are surprised by it
  • they find it practical and useful
  • they think it will help someone

Where to go from here

Before you write an article don’t think about what will or won’t make it go viral, instead think about what will help and inspire your audience. Think about what they’d like to read/watch/hear and then create it. Be genuine, be real, and be positive.

Here’s how Derek Halpern says it.

Positive uplifting content always gets shared. Remember, there’s a lot of unhappy people in the world, and while there are different reasons for being unhappy, content that is uplifting and inspirational helps people get out of their rut…even if it’s only for a few seconds.

I don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to help someone out of their rut today.

Going Viral: The What and How of Creating Contagious Content. Have you ever wondering what makes something go viral? Is there a secret? What do viral-video makers know that you don't? Learn the what and how of viral content and a few tips for what you can do to make your content more contagious.

If you need help coming up with content ideas or don’t know who you’re audience is, that’s where I come in. Drop me a line and let’s start a conversation. I’m here to help!

Passages by Anne Hamre [book review]

PASSAGES by Ann Hamre

I can’t get enough of Pioneer stories. Maybe it’s because my lineage is wound around this narrative or maybe it seems romantic and fascinating because our world is so different a short century later.

So when Anne Hamre’s book Passages came across my desk I was intrigued. And when I saw the journey leads to the Fraser Valley in British Columbia (where I live) it was a no-brainer. Yes I’ll read this book.

I didn’t know what to expect other than the adventure of moving to a new land and overcoming obstacles. What I discovered? Not everyone who moved to North America or Australia from the United Kingdom was seen as a hero or even a brave adventurer. And there wasn’t a lot of information of what to expect—people made huge, life-changing decisions based on RUMOURS!

What!?

It makes sense when I think about it, I mean, there wasn’t exactly a dummies guide to emigration to the colonies back then. So why would anyone go boldly towards the great unknown? In Passages by Anne Hamre, Frank Evans wants to leave North Wales so he can start a dairy farm and is convinced there’s nothing affordable in Wales, England, or anywhere else nearby. Does he know this for a fact? No idea. It doesn’t seem like it, but I don’t know what land availability was like in the early 1900s. So he travels the world searching. Kind of. Actually he just seemed to be travelling but perhaps that’s because the story is told from his wife Anne’s perspective. And she was left at home waiting while he searched for suitable farmland. For years. Years!!!

Franks motivations aren’t disclosed other than he really, really wants a dairy farm and Anne was gracious enough to pretend his dreams were hers to. Or maybe she adopted them as her own because she loved Frank so much. I never believed she wanted the life she lived but she said she did, so who am I to judge?

Or maybe that’s the point. In those days of big risk/big reward you had to put it all on the line for the chance at a new life. I don’t know what was so wrong with North Wales that Frank and Anne were so desperate to get out but I hope they felt like it was worth their trouble.

Because there was so much trouble. Frank was obsessed with his dream of a dairy farm but it didn’t seem like he was willing to adjust his vision based on actual research—he just expected things to go like they would in Wales. And when things didn’t go according to plan he didn’t seem willing to be open to what other opportunities might arise. He was single-minded in pursuing his dairy farm. Anne was too, don’t get me wrong. But was it the best way to go as life kept twisting and turning? Again, who am I to say. But my gut wishes they made some different choices.

Passages by Anne Hamre tells the story of when Anne met Frank in 1897 till when Anne lost Frank in 1908. Based on her grandparent’s lives, it’s a story of vision, courage, overcoming obstacles, perseverance, and (of course) love.

The story is gripping (I cried in the end) but I was left wishing it wasn’t all about Frank. I never loved him, not even at the beginning, and I wished to learn more about what happened next for Anne. How did she face her (new) challenges? How did she make it all work? Does she ever get to be a teacher again? She was so passionate about it. And, my biggest question, does she ever get to see her family again? She seems like she was a tough old bird. I would have liked to meet her.


Set in the early years of the 20th Century, when travel was measured in increments of days and weeks rather than hours and minutes, this epic family saga transports readers across three continents—Europe, Australia, and North America. It chronicles not just the disparate climates and lifestyles encountered in such far-flung places and the long passages between them, but the lives that are changed by these travels. We follow Anne Roberts and Frank Evans from their first encounter on Anne’s family farm in North Wales, through the evolution of their friendship, romance, and eventual marriage. While Frank goes off in a multi-continent search for affordable land where he can support the young couple and fulfil his dream of starting a dairy, Anne defies society’s expectations and, acting upon her considerable drive, intelligence, and independence, becomes a school teacher. When the two finally relocate to Canada and marry, Anne demonstrates the same determination, will, and adaptability that allowed her to flourish during Frank’s long travels and many travails and commits all her energy to making their marriage and their future successful.

With Passages, Anne Hamre offers an intricately researched, authentically rendered portrait of both the hardships and the triumphs of the age. Readers will share in the longing felt while desperately waiting for letters bearing news of a distant lover and in the joy—and the uncertain dangers—of discovering friendship among strangers when travelling in faraway lands and across oceans. They will experience the piercing ache of loss near and afar, recognize the myriad sources of a spouse’s worry, feel the lifting of spirit that is found in community, and celebrate the enduring steadiness of a couple’s true love.