Monday, June 18, 2012

A word (or more) on writing. . . .

John D. MacDonald once famously said that every writer has a million words of crap in them before they reach their first publishable story.

Given the fact that I have been writing since I was eight years old, (my first story I wrote was a HORRIBLE Star Trek story where I was the captain, and it started off with me having to decide who to cheer for on the on-screen viewer in a basketball game between Connecticut or Georgetown), I would hope that my writing has improved somewhat. I mean, my conundrums now are more world shaping than a simple basketball game, most times, they involve some intricate plot for world domination or a magician bent on destroying the world.

Along the way, I have “cobbled” together the first part of an epic fantasy story that is still in the midst of a rewrite (due to plot holes that you could send the whole Second Calvary thru) that will probably end up being in the neighborhood of a hundred fifty thousand words when rewritten, but was just over a hundred thousand words at completion. I also have put out two mysteries of about fifty thousand words each that are also waiting on rewrites, and a modern western that is waiting on me to put an ending on it that is over fifty thousand words. So, based on the premise above, I have a quarter of a million words right there just written during the months of November between 2006 and 2011.

I also wrote a second part of the fantasy story that, like Ray Bradbury, I sent up in flames, because I did not deem them worthy of publishing. Well, that, and I received a rejection letter from a single publisher who did not like the draft that I dared to send to them. *gasp* Yes, I know, I don’t take to rejection very lightly. Might also be part of the reason I have five other novels not ready for publishing yet. Who knows? Never did do a word count on it, but it took up two full five subject college ruled notebooks written single spaced on one side of each page. If anyone can tell me how many words that is, I would like to know.

Then there were the countless essays and speeches that I had to write out for all of my classes since fifth grade thru my senior year of college. I shudder to think about how many teachers I put to sleep with my droning on about mundane drivel over the years that I thought was exciting. . . kind of like I am doing to you now, for which I have to apologize, but every now and then a man has to rant.

Finally, we come to my blogs. Over the last three years I have written about any and everything: movies, books, weight loss, life, theater, and that will not change in the future, because I have not heard any complaints from you, my few, my proud few. Most of you have been here from the beginning, a few have joined along the way, but the blog is my way of carving my writing style so that when I do submit my book, be it Valqis: Reborn or Operation Blackout, it will be worth an editor’s and a publisher’s time.

So, I do need your feedback on this one!! Is my writing getting better, getting worse, leaving you bored, making you want to read more, wanting to not want to ever read another piece of drivel that I have to write? Please, I beg you, let me know!!!

I think I am almost to a million. . . only three hundred thousand more words to go . . .

As always, if you like what I have to say, please leave me feedback below or send me an e-mail at If you don’t like what I have to say, please leave me feedback below or send me an e-mail at

As always, be kind, please rewind, and remember two wrongs may not make a right, but three rights always make a left.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Grendel's Shadow Review

The Grendel’s Shadow was a good novella for Andrew Mayne’s first attempt at fiction.

It was a simple, straight forward adventure story of a man trying to get a creature before it destroys an entire civilization one person at a time. The way the story just drops you in the middle of a semi-primitive culture with dangerous animals and very few ways for a person to defend themselves automatically puts you on the edge of your seat, wondering how and if the hero is going to make it through the story.

The way that Mayne crafted this story made it hard to believe this was his first fiction novella. He seemed to take his cues from some of the greats in horror such as King, Koontz, and Stoker by weaving a tale that made the reader want to keep reading. The hero seemed believable, while his “side-kick,” if you want to call the reporter that was assigned to report on his activities, started out as a meager mouselike creature of a man, but after a while in the jungle of the alien planet, was forced to grow a spine and fend for himself and help the hero.

I started reading this story on my break one afternoon and was engrossed in the amount of detail that Mayne used to fashion the alien world, not unlike the way he did in Hollywood Pharaohs, but still leaving things credible enough for it to not leave you thinking that it could not happen. When I picked the book up again on the bus to Atlanta this past weekend, I did not put it down until I had finished it. Each page made me want to read more of the story.

The swearing again posed a problem, but given the medium and the writer, I was not sure if it could not be expected. Other than that, The Grendel’s Shadow is a great read, well worth the 99 cents you will pay for it on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or, and you will lose yourself in a world of far off mystery and disbelief for a few hours cheering for a hero as you make your way to another world.

Overall rating: 4

As always, if you like what I have to say, please leave me feedback below or send me an e-mail at If you don’t like what I have to say, please leave me feedback below or send me an e-mail at

As always, be kind, please rewind, and remember two wrongs may not make a right, but three rights always make a left.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman review

This past Saturday, I bought into the hype machine and went to see Snow White and the Huntsman with my wife, starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth. First off, how has Chris Hemsworth not been in more movies? The guy is great. And I had NO IDEA that he was Kirk’s father in the new Star Trek until I pulled up his IMDB page, but I digress.

In the past few years, the fairy tale genre has been a hot commodity, provided you get a good story: Alice in Wonderland, Mirror, Mirror, and all the Cinderella movies for the Disney franchise, so Universal decides to stick its toe in the fairy tale genre with three hot actors and see what the result would be. What I saw was not your mother’s Snow White, let me tell you. Not that this was a bad thing, in all aspects.

First off, we know that the Evil Queen does not like Snow White because she is “fairer than the queen”, but we do not know why that was so important to the queen. Charlize Theron (best known for her Oscar award winning performances in North Country and Monster, as well as The Astronaut’s Wife, Hancock, and many, many, many other movies) played the queen to a tee in this movie. The first time you see her in the movie, you have a small bit of sympathy for her. But that sympathy soon fades as the evil queen (named Ravenna in this incantation) rears her head and begins to show what she must do to stay in control.

Then there is Snow. Oh, poor, innocent, pitiful, sweet Snow. *snortchortle* Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. This was one of the places where I had problems with the movie. (SPOILER ALERT) I know that it was put there to drive the movie, but do you really think that a girl with a “heart as pure as snow” would scratch someone with a rusty nail just to escape from her prison cell? And while we are talking about things that are as “pure as snow”, how did a solid white horse just “end up” laying in a cleft of a rock break just waiting for Snow to happen by and hop on him and ride off? I mean, come on, really? Kristen Stewart (known from the Twilight franchise) did her best to play the character of a girl that it seemed everyone was trying to either kill or follow, there was no middle ground. She does fairly respectably, but it felt like she was trying to play Bella lost in the big bad woods trying to find Edward or Jacob and not to get to the duke (which was her main objective).

The final “main” character is the “Huntsman”, since he was never officially given a name other than Huntsman, played by Chris Hemsworth (of Thor, The Avengers, and his reallllllll small part in Star Trek, along with four other movies to date). Hemsworth played a lovable drunk that you ended up wanting to win (which I don’t know if that is a good thing or not: the lovable drunk part, that is). First time you see him he is crashing through a wall, drunk out of his mind, fighting with a man that he owed money to. (He narrates the film, as well. Accent is awesome, helps to keep things moving, but again, I digress). Come to find out he is a widower, which is part of the reason he drinks. As I mentioned in the opening, I am trying to figure out why Hemsworth has not been in more movies, because his presence on the screen is amazing. He also helps to “mop up” the mess that Stewart makes with her Bella routine, as best he can.

Finally, we come to the seven supporting characters that you come to expect in a Snow White movie: I am speaking, of course, of the animals!!! *ducks thrown tomato* Sorry, again, couldn’t help myself. Universal again went out of their way to get a few A-list actors to play the dwarfs, with Bob Hoskins (Hook, Who Framed Roger Rabbit), and Ian McShane (Pirates: On Stranger Tides, and the TV Shows Deadwood and Kings) leading the people that I recognized right off. The dwarfs were not the typical “whistle while you work” dwarfs that you saw in the Disney films. Instead, these dwarfs are more like robbers and thieves and drunks than anything.

The plot of the movie was pretty straight forward: Queen doesn’t like that Snow was “fairer” than her so she has to kill her, Snow escapes, Queen sends Huntsman after Snow, Huntsman lets Snow live, Snow comes back and battles Queen, the end. As I have pointed out earlier, there are some issues with writing that I think were just put in the movie for plot’s sake, and if you leave them out, the movie would have been able to move along just as well, because Snow could have gotten away from the Queen’s brother another way, and she could have run instead of ridden, but that’s just my thought. The revival of Snow as well as the actual ending were both twists that I did NOT see coming, so I have to give the writers kudos on that. Of course, I have never read the Brothers Grimm fairy tale to know if that is the way the story plays out for them or not. I may have to put them on my GoodReads reading list just because of this movie.

All things considered, this is a fairly good movie to lose yourself in for two hours, with only a smattering of curse words, none of which are too offensive to even warrant mentioning. The violence was a little over the top in places, and could have been dialed back, but seeing as how Snow White and the Huntsman found itself going up against The Avengers and Men in Black 3, I guess they figured they had to throw in the extra violence to stay competitive. The drinking was definitely there, with the Huntsman and the dwarves, and it seemed as though it was a plot point, so I don’t know what to think of it. There was no drug use, obviously. The only nudity, if you want to call it that, was the back of Ms. Theron that you saw twice, and her front once, with her arms covering her breasts.

Plot: 8.0/10
Humor: 9.0/10
Family Friendly Language: 9.7/10
“Family Friendly” Violence: 4.0/10
Nudity/Suggestive Situations: 8.5/10

Overall Rating: 8.7/10

As always, if you like what I have to say, please leave me feedback below or send me an e-mail at If you don’t like what I have to say, please leave me feedback below or send me an e-mail at

As always, be kind, please rewind, and remember two wrongs may not make a right, but three rights always make a left.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Through My Eyes" by Tim Tebow Review

Through My Eyes is Tim Tebow’s retelling of his life from his birth to the end of his rookie year in Denver. For someone like myself that has only recently (as in the last four years) become a Tebow fan, I really had no idea what his parents went through, especially his mother’s ordeal prior to his birth. But it just goes to show that God has a plan for each and every person, no matter what anyone thinks.

Having just started trying to get myself in shape, I found myself inspired by some of the things that Tebow said in his book: “If I didn't work as hard as I could, then I think it would be a bit like saying, 'God, thanks for giving me this ability, but I don't really care about it. I'm going to do something else, and I'm not going to work quite as hard.’” "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." And “Somewhere he is out there, training while I am not. One day, when we meet, he will win.” (The last one took me a while to actually find because I did not have the book with me currently and it seemed like no one had the quote attributed to him….UGGH).

Tebow is definitely not shy about sharing his faith in this book, not that I was going to expect any less from the son of a missionary, but the way that he interweaves his beliefs into his story, it makes you understand why he believes what he believes.

This book took me a little more than three weeks to read, and that mainly only reading on the weekends going to and from town in the back of cars or on long trips. It is definitely a good read if you want a strong Christian role model to look up to. If you are looking for a football strategy book, this may not be the book for you, even though Tebow does tell the plays that made the games exciting for people to watch during his high school and college career.

I am sure that there will be nay-sayers and downplayers of this book because of who the author is, but for those of you, I say, “Look at the total package before you judge. Just because of where the man went to school or who he played for is not a reason to not like the man, until you know more about him.”

Overall rating of the book: 4.25
If you like what I have to say, please leave me feedback below or send me an e-mail at If you don’t like what I have to say, please leave me feedback below or send me an e-mail at

As always, be kind, please rewind, and remember two wrongs may not make a right, but three rights always make a left.