Editor vs. Reviewer

As a writer, I often don different hats: novelist, short-story writer, poet, critic, reviewer, editor.

Occasionally—and frustratingly—the hats collide when one function strays over into another. For example, I am the Senior Publications Editor at JournalStone Publications, which means that when working with a manuscript, I need to be alert to anything that impedes the flow of the narrative while simultaneously remaining as true as possible to the words and rhythms of that most marvelous of creatures, the author.

I am also a reviewer for my own site, Collings Notes (michaelrcollings.blogspot.com), for Hellnotes (hellnotes.com) and for Dark Discoveries. When I wear that hat, I am responsible for assessing the effectiveness of narrative, taking into account as many elements of writing as possible.

Once in a while, however, I find these two hats at odds with each other. I recently read a novel that had compelling characters; a well-constructed story; a clear setting; and a distinct beginning, middle, and end—in a nutshell, the author had conceived of an intriguing story, structured it imaginatively and interestingly, and told it well.

Or almost well.

By the time I finished the novel, I was frustrated.

The reviewer in me wanted to conclude that this was a strong story that deserved an equally strong review. The editor in me, however, balked.

The problem rested, not with the story per se, but with the words used to tell it. At the level of editing—correcting grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax that might otherwise create distractions and derail the story—there were so many problems that they eventually took over. The story as story dissipated and finally disappeared.

In this instance, the problems dealt primarily with punctuation, with the all-too-common sense among many authors and editors alike that little things like commas and hyphens really don’t matter that much. If you want a pause in a sentence, throw in a comma, regardless of how that actually changes meaning. Or, if you wish, just leave such trivialities out altogether.

At the moment, there are two popular memes on the social networks, designed to remind people that punctuation counts.

One is a sentence that reads:

I enjoy cooking

my pets

and my family.

Writing the words on a single line reveals the essential problem: “I enjoy cooking my pets and my family”—a truly horrific meal in progress, presumably. The solution to the problem: two small commas: “I enjoy cooking, my pets, and my family”—three creditable activities although, one hopes, listed in reverse order of importance.

The second meme is similar but even shorter: “Let’s eat kids.” Again, a rather carnivorous, not to say cannibalistic intent worthy of Jonathan Swift at his most satirical. Add a comma, and we get: “Let’s eat, kids.” An entirely different statement.

As I thought about the problem, I came up with six words that, depending on how one punctuates them, are capable of several meanings:

He watched the grandmother eating bear.

Surface level, as punctuated—a man is watching an elderly woman consuming the flesh of a bear. Perhaps from a historical novel, perhaps from a novel about survival in the wilderness, but either way, perfectly acceptable.

Add a comma, however, and the meaning shifts:

He watched the grandmother, eating bear.

Now the man, whoever he is, is contentedly observing the elderly woman while he chows down on his evening meal of bear steak. Same words; different action.

To ring yet another change, delete the comma and add…a hyphen:

He watched the grandmother-eating bear.

By indicating that grandmother and bear are connected as a two-part adjective, the sentence now asserts that the man is hot on the trail of a man-eating (or grandmother-eating) carnivore and, having located it, is watching it…presumably prefatory to killing it.

[By the way, the possibilities of ambiguity and misunderstanding increase if homonyms come into play: bare instead of bear—something that SpellCheck won’t pick up.]

Granted, these sentences are contrived. In novel after novel, story after story, however, it is fairly easy to find parallel structures that—through the positioning of a comma or a hyphen, or the lack of same—assert a meaning wildly at odds with the tone and movement of the story.

“But the context will make it clear,” some will say, impatient at what appears to them as nitpicking.

True. It will.

But in the period, however brief, between initially reading such a sentence and fitting it into the context of the story, there is necessarily a pause, a break, a moment’s hesitation that for that instant fractures the story. And enough of those small moments, enough of those uneasy junctures, and there is the danger that the reader will not only back up sufficiently to put the sentence into context but will back out of the story completely.

That is a danger no writer should be willing to risk.


Words can be frustrating. Some are funny. A few are even whimsical.

Here is a bit of my favorite whimsy:

In general, English depends on word-order for meaning…and in general, most words will fill only a limited number of positions. If you take the following everyday-type sentence—“The carnivorous rats surrounded the blood-red barn”—and shift the main parts, chances are you will end up with:

Gibberish—“Surrounded the carnivorous rats the blood-red barn” and “Surrounded the blood-red barn the carnivorous rats” or

Surrealism—“The blood-red barn surrounded the carnivorous rats” or

A vague kind of Yoda-speak (and to get even that much sense you have to add a word)—“Surrounded the blood-red barn did the carnivorous rats.”

On the whole, subjects of sentences come first, followed by the action (the verb), and completed by whatever words or phrases are required by the verb. Adjectives usually come before nouns; adverbs before verbs or adjectives. There are, of course, exceptions to all of these generalizations, but following these conventions will usually result in intelligible English-sounding sentences.

There is one word, however, that basically ignores most of the accepted rules for its designated parts of speech. Only carries a wide range of meanings: as an adverb, it suggests ‘solely,’ ‘alone,’ ‘as recent as,’ and other possibilities; as an adjective, it emphasizes singularity—the only child, the only survivor, the one and only….

As an adverb, it should precede its verb or another adverb: “the only blue book.” As an adjective, it should precede its noun: “the only book.”

But the curious thing about only is that—unlike its fellow adverbs and adjectives—can often appear almost anywhere in a sentence, and with each new appearance it alters meanings and interpretations.

Let’s take a simple sentence: “I went to the store to buy a loaf of bread.”

Now watch the permutations possible when only shows up:

Only I went to the store to buy a loaf of bread”—no one else accompanied me, I was by myself, since everyone else was too frightened of the carnivorous rats to go.

“I only went to the store to buy a loaf of bread”—that’s the solitary place I went, nowhere else. Don’t blame me if the bank down the street was robbed. Or, it could mean that buying bread was my solitary purpose for going there. I promise I didn’t by a Snickers bar along the way.

“I went only to the store to buy a loaf of bread”—again, the store was my solitary goal. I’m still not responsible for the bank robbery. And, no, I didn’t stop at the cleaners to pick up your laundry.

“I went to only the store to buy a loaf of bread”—as above, I visited no other outlets of commerce, but this time I’m more emphatic in saying so. This version sounds slightly non-idiomatic so it would probably not occur often.

“I went to the only store to buy a loaf of bread”—here I am, stuck in this hick farm town, surrounded by blood-red barns and carnivorous rats, and there is but a single store anywhere to be seen.

“I went to the store only to buy a loaf of bread”—I could have been shopping for a shotgun or a bazooka to take out the carnivorous rats, but all I actually wanted was a loaf of bread.

“I went to the story to only buy a loaf of bread”—Similar to the one above, less idiomatic, however, in part because of the apparent split infinitive, but more so because the structure places two vowels next to each other. To speak it requires a glottal stop—an awkward pause between the vowels to keep them from sliding into each other.

“I went to the store to buy only a loaf of bread”—an emphatic assertion. No matter what else might be offered on the shelves, I will be blind to all but that loaf blasted of bread.

“I went to the store to buy a only loaf of bread”—as it stands, this one is not English. However, with two small emendations, it become perfectly acceptable, and only fits comfortably in the slot. First, a and only begin with vowels. We could insert a glottal stop, but the conventions of English have long since provided a neater solution for a—add an n to the article, making the phrase the easily pronounced “an only.” Then, since the two resulting words contradict each other—a means ‘any one of several’ and only indicates singularity, and grammar won’t accept both—shift the general article a  to the specific article the and we get the perfectly grammatical, “I went to the store to buy the only loaf of bread”—the single remaining loaf in the whole place. Whew! Took some work, but there is only, working hard for us as usual.

“I went to the store to buy a loaf only of bread”—That’s all, just bread. No cinnamon swirls, no raisins, no nuggets of unground wheat, just bread.

“I went to the store to buy a loaf of only bread”—This seems to mean the same as the one above, but it also seems awkward. Still, pronounced with sufficient emphasis on only, it does work…after a fashion.

“I went to the store to buy a loaf of bread only”—Nothing, not a half-price package of Gummi-Bears or a brand-new box of dynamite to blow up the blood-red barn and slaughter all of the carnivorous rats will deter me from my purpose. Just the Bread!

And there we have eleven out of twelve. And, as far as I know, only only can do that.

At least, I can only hope so.

Michael R. Collings is the Senior Publications Editor for JournalStone Publishing; an Emeritus professor of English from Pepperdine University; author of the best-selling horror novels The Slab and The House Beyond the Hill, as well as other novels and collections of short fiction, poetry, and literary essays; and an inveterate fan of all things grammatical and syntactical. His writing are available here, at starshineandshadows.com, at journalstone.com, and at hellnotes.com.

Interview with Annastaysia Savage, an author at JournalStone Publishing

Many writers have crowded personalities. They are plagued—or entertained— by multiple Muses. Authors who write for Young Adults and for grownups must have some very interesting internal conversations. Characters of any age can be arguing for space within their heads. Sorting out all that commotion and making a coherent story from the noise is a true talent. Add mythical, magical creatures to the din…well, that’s altogether something harder to control.

Author Annastaysia Savage has no difficulty at all with the characters she brings to life.

Fantasy characters and real-life people share her pages. Fantastic events and a good dose of life-lessons make up her narratives. Annastaysia writes to entertain, and to share a few of her own experiences. Whether writing a book for middle age kids, or a story to frighten adults, she skillfully guides all the voices, and creates stories as different from one another as night and day.

Influenced by everyone from Dr. Seuss to Edgar Allan Poe, Annastaysia lures readers of every age into her pages. They will find something delightful and delightfully scary—everywhere they go together.

JBK:  I recently found a short story of yours on 69FlavorsofParanoia.com call The Boyfriend. When was that published there, and how many other shorts do you have wandering about?

AS:  I have a short story called “Grimalkins” published in Crow’s Nest Magazine (a YA magazine and imprint of Black Lantern Publishing), another called “Perspective” in Doc Mania’s Tales of Terror.

JBK:  That story is 180° from the direction of Any Witch Way, your novel about a young girl who learns she has special powers. Which came first, your Horror leanings or the YA themes?

AS:  I would have to say that the love of horror came first and I just write what comes to me, if it fits YA, that’s good, if not, it usually falls into another horror/paranormal/sci-fi category for readers.

JBK:  How much of the parent shows up when you write for young adults?  Are you guarded in any way what you say to them through your writing?

AS:  It all depends on what the story is or is about.  The Parent is involved if the Parent is a part of the story or a character in the story.  I am very guarded in what I say to YA in my writing, since anyone, children as well as adults, can be influenced by words.

JBK:  There is a growing debate in the industry about the increase of very dark themes in books for teens. Have you read any recent offerings that you believe might have crossed a line into sensationalism?

AS:  No, I can’t say that I have.  But then again, I’m an extremely open-minded person.  When I’m reading, I read for me, not necessarily the reader the story is intended for.

JBK:  You won a contest with a poem when you were five years old. Have you continued to write poetry?

AS:  Yes, I have.  And I’ve begun including them in my paintings.

JBK:  Many authors, who began in writing in childhood, kept a regular journal or diary. Was that something you did growing up?

AS:  Of course.  I had a very “dark” childhood, some say I didn’t get to have a childhood at all and my diary was where I got my “angst” out … among other things.

JBK:  Where can your fans see samples of your artwork? Have your writings or your art been influential in your real world career?

AS:  My artwork is usually posted on my Facebook page.  I sell my work through various boutiques, take commission requests and my pieces are also for sale through the gift shop at the school where I teach.  My real-world career is that I’m an art teacher for underprivileged youth, so both my writing and my art have been very influential there. I get my students to journal, as well as create art.

JBK:  You have described yourself as shy. Could you sit bravely through a book signing, and meet a couple hundred fans? Have you had a book signing event?

AS:  Sitting through a book signing, meeting a couple of hundred fans would be extraordinary.  Yes, I could do that simply because it would be such a momentous event for me.  I have never had a book signing, not like that.  I’ve had people buy my book and send it to me to sign, but that’s nothing like the aforementioned.

JBK:  Where do you spend the most time: reading other books, or writing something new of your own?

AS:  As of late, most of my time is spent reading other books and painting.

JBK:  Any Witch Way is not your only novel length work. Tell us about Ghosts in the Fire.

AS:  Ghosts in the Fire is an adult, almost erotica, and paranormal thriller.  I self-published it before I understood the publishing world.  (Which honestly, I still don’t understand, lol.)

JBK:  You described one of your homes as a dark hollow in the mountains of West Virginia. That region has spawned some outstanding Horror stories. What makes that area as mysterious as Old World Europe to us?

AS:  Everywhere I’ve lived has been unique.  My husband used to be a forest ranger so we were subject to live in various out of the way and very secluded locations.  The mountains have their own mysteries.  As does the place I live now.  We live by the sea in a house that was built in 1650.  It’s amazing the things we’re finding in the walls.

JBK:  Which is more frightening to you: ghosts and spirits or some murderous fiend?

AS:  I’ve never been afraid of ghosts; I welcome them.  The murderous fiend is definitely more frightening to me because he/she/it already has intent.

JBK:  What sort of writing activity is sparked into motion by a new story idea?

AS:  I love to keep a notebook full of ideas, paragraphs or lines for a new story.  Characters, character names, plots, etc., seem to fill it up quickly and then I have a story to flesh out from those pages.

JBK:  Do you make regular time to write, or do you only catch opportunities when all the other chores are done?

AS:  As of late, I have to make time to write.  Usually in the early morning hours or late at night with just a candle and my computer.

JBK:  If you could be an author full time, but write only one genre…could you, and what theme would you chose?

AS:  I definitely could be a full time author should life allow it.  I would write strictly paranormal, horror, sci-fi books for YA through Adults.

JBK:  Which is more difficult: to write a realistic character in a Children’s story, or to write a frightening scene in a Horror story?

AS:  For me, neither.  It’s more difficult for me to write creative non-fiction.

JBK:  What has driven your own writing: the desire to be published, or simply your own need to write?

AS:  My need to write.

JBK:  Have you found it very difficult to get a work published? How hard have you worked to get your stories noticed?

AS:  I have found it very difficult to get a work published.  Except for my short stories.  I’ve tried everything to get my stories noticed and have kind of given up at this point.  Especially when so many author friends of mine tell me of all that their publishing companies do for them to get their name and book out there.

JBK:  How long was the period between completing Any Witch Way and its acceptance by JournalStone? How did that new relationship with a publisher come about?

AS:  Any Witch Way was completed and published within a year of each other.  I actually found JournalStone on Facebook.

JBK:  Was any part of the publication process a complete surprise to you? What did you learn about your own writing from that process?

AS:  Most of it was.  It was nothing like what I was taught in my Creative Writing MFA program or what I was told about by my author friends.  I learned, in the process, that my own writing either makes people love it or hate it.  But, you can’t please everyone…

JBK:  Many people believe it is too difficult—virtually impossible—to be published. What would you say to most of them now?

AS:  I’d have to agree.

JBK:  Tell us about your own editing process. Do you edit while you write, or do you complete a work then attack it with a different energy?

AS:  I edit as I write.

JBK:  Which of your works best defines you as an author?…or have you created that story yet?

AS:  It would have to be Any Witch Way and Perspective.

JBK:  Do you have any plans for a new novel that you can share?

AS:  I’m getting a lot of requests for a sequel to Any Witch Way … which I just might undertake should life allow.

JBK:  What is your opinion on the explosion of e-readers and electronic books? Do they encourage kids to really read books, or are they only feeding the digital craze that youth are addicted to sometimes?

AS:  I’d have to say my opinion is the latter.

JBK:  What type of sculpting do you do? Are you a modeler/molder, or do you chip away at wood and stone?

AS:  I work with clay, metals and glass … though painting has taken the number one spot in my heart lately.

JBK:  You’ve admitted an addiction to the art of Edward Gorey, which is instantly whimsical until you really look closely at it. What is it about his art that you love so well?

AS:  I love the darkness of it, the whimsical darkness and the stories/words that go along with it.

JBK:  Readers will notice Mr. Gorey’s style of subtlety in your own writing. Your short fiction stories are not entirely what they seem at first, and you even manage some delightfully shocking twists to your tales. Who else have you read, who can really surprise you with their clever plots?

AS:  I am completely in love with E.A.Poe, Anton Chekov and Holly Black.  Neil Gaiman is my absolute favorite – this week.  My favorites tend to change a lot.

JBK:  JournalJabber, Amy Eye’s web-radio show interviewed you a year ago. You were quickly into the subject of self-esteem and peer influences for middle grade age children. How much of your own childhood experience was written into your character, Sadie, in Any Witch Way?

AS:  Any Witch Way, the character of Sadie, you could and some would, say IS me.

JBK:  Not every author grew up surrounded by books. What was your childhood like? Were you an avid reader?

AS:  I tried to stay lost in a “book world” as long as I could—only coming out to eat.

JBK:  Every author sometimes gets critical reviews of their work. As a writer for a young audience, would you rather be reviewed by children, or adults? Do you get reviews from your intended audience?

AS:  I get reviews by all audiences.  I prefer to be reviewed by someone who understands and appreciates the genre I write in.

Readers can find other great interviews with Annastaysia at Purple Jelly Bean Chair, and Pamelareadz.

Here is the link to Annastaysia’s JournalStone bio.  Click

JournalStone Publishing Continues Expansion – Acquires Acclaimed Dark Discoveries Magazine & Website

SAN FRANCISCO, August 20, 2012 –JournalStone Publishing President, Christopher C. Payne is pleased to announce that JS has just purchased the acclaimed internationally distributed, quarterly slick full-color magazine, Dark Discoveries, and its related website from founder and publisher, James Beach, who will also be joining the JS team and remain as Senior Managing Editor of the magazine.

Dark Discoveries Magazine, founded in 2004 has an eight (8) year history and tradition as one of the Horror, Dark Fantasy, and Science Fiction Genre’s most respected, creative, and innovative magazines. JS President Payne and Founder & Managing Editor Beach both vow that the high quality standard that founder Beach had fostered will continue.  JS hopes to expand both the magazine and its related website—while maintaining the quality that Dark Discoveries has fostered over the past eight years.

We at JournalStone want to thank James Beach for trusting us with his legacy and are doubly thrilled to have him join the JS team. The JS acquisition of Dark Discoveries Magazine and hiring of James Beach follows JournalStone’s recent acquisition of the Hellnotes website and hiring of its founder David Silva. Hellnotes (http://hellnotes.com/) has, for the past seventeen (17) years, been bringing the best daily news and reviews concerning fiction, movies, television, and art dedicated to the Horror, Dark Fantasy, and Science Fiction Genres, to fans all over the world. Thanks to this planned expansion of the company, JounalStone now has a staff of ten distinguished employees.

JournalStone Publishing is a small press publishing company, focusing in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genres in both the adult and young adult markets.  We publish in multiple book formats and market our authors on a global level. We are also active with major writer’s groups, including the Horror Writers Association (HWA), and produce a monthly newsletter with exposure to thousands of people. Our online presence and marketing effort is constantly expanding and recently we began our own forum. The company’s main goal is to publish quality novels that will showcase an author’s work and promote that work utilizing our evolving presence. Assisted by a hard-working and distinguished staff of employees, President and Editor-In-Chief Christopher C. Payne has led JS on a rapid and successful journey to recognition and sales within the marketplace.

With two books nominated for awards in JournalStone’s first 12 months of operation, Chris and his team are still not willing to slow down.  2012 has already seen JournalStone on the front cover of Publishers Weekly magazine in an April issue; with three of its authors highlighted on the inside cover.  Additionally, Joseph Nassise (international bestselling author), Jonathan Maberry (New York Times bestselling author), and Benjamin Kane Ethridge (2010 Bram Stoker Award winner), have been added as JournalStone signed authors, complimenting Brett J. Talley and Anne C. Petty on a shared world anthology titled Limbus, to be released in the spring of 2013.

# # #

For further information –

Contact:           Christopher C. Payne, President JournalStone Publishing

Email:              christophercpayne@journalstone.com

Website:           http://journalstone.com

90 Minutes to Live – Interview – Bruce Golden by Brett J. Talley

90 Minutes to Live is an anthology dedicated to Rocky Wood.  Rocky, the current president of the HWA, was diagnosed with ALS and the proceeds from this book will be donated to help him purchase much needed medical equipment.  If you are interested in purchasing the book please follow this link to Amazon and know you will be supporting a great cause.

Bruce Golden wrote, Acapulco Blue, one of the short stories included in 90 Minutes to Live and Brett J. Talley, author of That Which Should Not Be was kind enough to conduct the interview.

So sit back, relax and get to know what makes Bruce Golden tick and how he came about writing horror.

Brett:  Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Where are you from?  What do you do for a living when you aren’t writing?

Bruce:   I was born, raised, and still live in San Diego.  Even though I decided I wanted to write fiction as a teenager, for most of my life I made a living as a magazine editor/writer, a radio editor/reporter, and a TV news producer.  These days, all I do is write fiction–a “starving artist” as it were.

Brett:  What made you decide to submit your story, Acapulco Blue, to the 90 Minutes to Live anthology? 

Bruce:  It seemed to have all the elements the editors were looking for.

Brett:  Acapulco Blue is one of the science fiction entries in the anthology.  Do you write primarily in the Sci-Fi genre, or were you just looking to branch out? 

Bruce:  All of my fiction to-date is of the speculative variety.  My novels are all science fiction, but my short stories are both scifi and fantasy.  Many of my stories have been described as “Twilight Zone” types of tales–which I take as a compliment.

Brett:  Acapulco Blue is as much about a car—a classic Ford Mustang—as the characters who drive it.  What was your inspiration for the car? 

Bruce:  Actually, the car in the story is based on the first car I ever owned–a 1965 Mustang which I had painted in a color designated as “Acapulco Blue.”  Though I had to sell that car when I was drafted into the Army, I drive another ’65 Mustang today.  I’ve owned it for 25 years–though it’s red, not blue.  Friends say I’ll be buried in it.

Brett:  One of my favorite parts of the story was the invention of futuristic slang that the young people use.  How’d you come up with that? 

Bruce:  I’ve always loved playing with dialects and creating my own words or phrases.   When you write about the future, or about fictional societies, you get to do that.  My favorite creation of that type was in my novel Better Than Chocolate.  But you’ll have to read the book to find out what exactly “pow-whammy” means.

Brett:  How is writing a short story different than writing a novel? 

Bruce:  A short story normally only plays with a single idea, one or two main characters, and I can usually write the first draft in a day or two.  A novel, for me, is a product of various ideas pieced together–many of which may have been in my drawer for years.   My novels have all had numerous characters–from walk-ons to those whose viewpoints carry the narrative.  I make it a point to hone the characterizations of even minor characters.  And though a short story can occasionally call for some research, a novel can takes weeks of research to ensure accuracy.  And, of course, the biggest difference is the time it takes to write.  Barring any outside interruptions that life can throw at you, it takes me about six months to write the first draft of a novel.   Then I have several categories of re-writing that take at least a few months.

Brett:  Who is your favorite author?  Favorite book? 

Bruce:  I grew up reading Edgar Allan Poe, Robert E. Howard and Mark Twain, but Robert Heinlein was always my favorite.  Stranger in a Strange Land was my favorite book.  Years later I grew to love the Dune series.  These days I don’t have a favorite, but I like Greg Bear, David Brin, and writers of that ilk.

Brett:  What’s the most disappointing book you have ever read?

Bruce:  (can’t think of one offhand)

Brett:  What does your writing process involve? 

Bruce:  I outline pretty thoroughly and then push through on the first draft,  just letting the words flow  out, knowing I can go back and “fix it up” during the rewriting process.  But just because I outline doesn’t mean that sometimes the story takes off on its own tangent.

Brett:  What is it about science fiction that attracts you?  Why not write books about ponies? 

Bruce:  I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of other worlds–unique societies–and I guess I enjoy the chance to create my own.  Science fiction is also a good way to comment, indirectly, on our own societies, and on humanity.

Brett:  Obviously the electronic book is on the rise.  What do you think about that? 

Bruce:  Greatest thing ever?  Or creeping Communist subversion?  I like the idea of a book I can hold in my hand, and I like the idea of copies of my books on library shelves.  But I understand, if for no other reason than economics, e-books are the wave of the future.

Brett:  What are your opinions on self-publishing vs. the more traditional publishing route? 

Bruce:  Every writer wants a major publishing house to publish their book, and, barring that, a smaller publisher.  However, technology has made self-publishing a more viable option for those who get ignored.

Brett:  What book is next on your list to read? 

Bruce:  Actually, I’m going to read the other stories in 90 Minutes to Live.

Brett:  If you could give one piece of advice to new writers, what would it be? 

Bruce:  Write in the genre that you love to read, and read as much as you can in that genre.  And just keep trying.  When I started out trying to sell magazine articles, it took me more than four years before I got my first sale.  Many of my short stories, including Acapulco Blue took years to find an editor who appreciated it.  If you want to do it, you just have to keep on keepin’ on.

Brett:  What is your next big project?  

Bruce:  I’m in the final rewrite process of my fourth novel Red Sky, Blue Moon.  Its speculative ingredient:  What if alien beings visited Earth long ago, and culled people from dissimilar cultures and transplanted them to another world?  How would their various cultures develop?

Brett:  Where can we follow you and your career on the web? 

Bruce:  My website is http://goldentales.tripod.com/ and you can find links to my books there.  Occasionally I’ll tweet a twitter @goldenmissive or you can just Google my name and find my latest work online somewhere.

90 Minutes to Live – Interview – Jeffrey Wilson by Brett J. Talley

90 Minutes to Live is an anthology dedicated to Rocky Wood.  Rocky, the current president of the HWA, was diagnosed with ALS and the proceeds from this book will be donated to help him purchase much needed medical equipment.  If you are interested in purchasing the book please follow this link to Amazon and know you will be supporting a great cause.

Jeffrey Wilson, “The Writer”, is one of the short stories included in 90 Minutes to Live and Brett J. Talley, author of That Which Should Not Be was kind enough to conduct the interview.

So sit back, relax and get to know what makes Jeffrey Wilson tick and how he came about writing horror.

Brett:  Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Where are you from?  What do you do for a living when you aren’t writing?

Jeff:  Hey, Brett. I’m a Virginia boy, mostly, though I moved around a lot and spent much of my childhood in Berlin, back when the wall was still up. I live in Tampa now with my family. When not writing I still work with the Navy and also work as a Vascular and Trauma surgeon. Of all the things I do, writing is by far my favorite.

Brett:  What made you decide to submit your story, “The Writer,” to the 90 Minutes to Live Anthology?

Jeff:  Well, like you and JG Faherty, I have a great relationship with the publisher and was very excited to be a part of a project to raise money for Rocky Wood, the HWA president and a terrific writer, to help him with his fight against ALS. I liked last year’s anthology and was pleased to be in this one, especially for such a great cause.

Brett:  I found “The Writer” to be an excellent story, maybe because it preys upon that secret fear that all writers have—what if somehow, some way, the things I wrote actually came to pass?  Do you ever have that fear?

Jeff:  I guess that as a fear, it might be somewhat unique to writers of our genre, right? I mean, most people would be okay if their story about the cure for cancer bringing about world peace came to pass, but horror– no real upside there. I’m not sure I have the fear of my writing coming to pass. Maybe it’s more the other way around. Maybe I have some fears already and let them come to life in my writing. This story was just kind of a fun muse, I think, but once I started writing, it kind of took on a life of its own.

Brett:  What scares you?

Jeff:  That shouldn’t be a hard question, but it is… I’m scared of situations where you have no control over the outcome. Not like will you get a raise or win the lottery, but situations where the outcome could be deadly but you don’t have control. That’s horror to me, and really most horror stories can be boiled down in some way to that loss of control. I used to be a pilot and I hate not being in the pilot’s seat. However it turns out, I would rather be in control of my destiny.

Oh, and clowns. God, I’m terrified of clowns.

Brett:  You spent time in the military (special forces, if I remember correctly).  How does that experience affect your writing, particularly your novel, Traiteur’s Ring?

Jeff:  The Traiteur’s Ring , more than my other works, was inspired by my experiences working with the Navy SEALs overseas. It was the greatest honor of my life to serve beside these men and those experiences affected a lot of aspects of that book. My deployments showed me a lot about evil, the real life evil that exists in the world. In my books, that evil is usually an outside force, wreaking havoc and begging to be defeated. In war you see a more terrifying evil, a real evil that can exist inside man. I think you can write more comfortably about fictitious evil when you have experienced the consequences of real evil first hand. Another way my experience took on life in my book was in the characters of The Traiteur’s Ring. The book is about a small team of Navy SEALs, especially the team’s sniper and medic, who discover both an evil force while on deployment in Africa and also amazing powers that the main character inherits from a primitive village elder. I tried to write those characters, not as the super hero, larger than life characters we frequently see SEALs depicted as in film and books, but as the real people I know from that fraternity. They are fathers, husbands, friends, and sons–everyday guys doing extraordinary things. They have incredible skills and courage, but at their core they’re Shakespeare’s everyman, but  with an impossible job that they do, with little fanfare, and then come home to their families. That is the men I know and the characters I tried to create for The Traiteur’s Ring.

Brett:  How is writing a short story different than writing a novel?

Jeff:  In a lot of ways, for me at least, it’s a lot harder. When you have a 100,000 words or so in which to tell your tale, you can kind of relax and let the plot develop and unfold comfortably (I have been accused by some of taking a bit too much advantage of that). In a short story, you have to be concise, tell the story with a lot more economy, but somehow still develop your plot and characters in a way that brings them to life. I find it a lot more challenging, to be honest, and have a world of respect for folks that do it consistently well.

Brett:  Who is your favorite author?  Favorite book?

Jeff:  I grew up loving King, Koontz, Straub– the greats of our genre, but also loved the thriller writers like the old Ludlum books and John Le Carre. I still love King and actually find his later works even better than his older stuff. I’ve become a fan of Joe Hill and particularly liked HORNS. My favorite fiction book so far is King’s BAG OF BONES and my first pick non-fiction was Marc Luttrell’s LONE SURVIVOR.

Sorry, you just wanted one of each, didn’t you?

Brett:  What’s the most disappointing book you have ever read?

Jeff:  Truthfully, I never read a disappointing book far enough to really be disappointed. If I don’t care about what’s happening pretty early on I tend to put it down and move on.

Brett:  What influences you the most when picking something to read?  Cost?  Word of mouth?  Cover art?

Jeff:  That’s tough. A lot of books I pick because I know I like the author or have heard from friends that a book really rocked. If it’s an author I don’t know, cover art is important– it gets you to pick the damn thing up, but then the summary has to grab me.

Brett:  What is it about horror that attracts you?  Why not write books about ponies?

Jeff:  Ponies? Really? You know I think you tend to write what you love to read. I’ve always had pretty eclectic reading taste, but my favorite has always been horror or thrillers with at least a supernatural twist. I’m not really a gore fest kind of guy, but I love an exciting, character driven story where the writer makes me feel like I know his characters well enough to really care what happens to them when he or she places them in some terrifying situation. You get to ride along through such an incredible range of emotions when you read a well written book like that. Also, like most everyone who reads the genre, I LIKE that heart pounding exhilaration of being scared out of my wits. When you write horror you remove a lot of boundaries for how you develop your characters and what sides of them you can really show.

Brett:  Obviously the electronic book is on the rise.  What do you think about that?  Greatest thing ever?  Or creeping Communist subversion?

Jeff:  Wow, you live in a black and white world of real absolutes, don’t you Brett? I think the rise of eBooks is a great thing. It gives readers greater, easier access to books at a lower cost. It gives writers and publishers easy access to potential readers. Now having said that, I’m still one of those love-to-hold-a book-in-my-hands kind of guys. I’ve read a ton of eBooks on my device, but when a book is released that I’m really excited about, I am definitely more likely to buy it in print. One things for sure, though– like it or hate it the eBook market is sure to stay and likely to continue to grow. No way around it, and no real downside to that fact from a writer’s point of view.

Brett:  What are your opinions on self-publishing vs. the more traditional publishing route?

Jeff:  I remember when self publishing was completely taboo, but a lot has changed over the last few years. I still feel that a new author will have a great deal of difficulty finding true success by starting off in that realm. My writing and editing skills have improved dramatically as a result of working with professional publishers and editors in the traditional publishing world, though I know there are some notable exceptions to this. I think that self publishing is fast becoming an attractive alternative for established authors, who bring with them a good sized fan base. There are a lot of big name authors enjoying better creative control and financial independence by going to self publishing back list and even new titles. For a new author, though, I still don’t think it represents a real route to success, at least not yet.

Brett:  What book is next on your list to read?

Jeff:  I am about 50 pages into Richard Godwin’s first novel APOSTLE RISING and I really am captivated by both the story and the writing. I already highly recommend it. I just finished King’s newest book 11/22/63 and I loved it.

Brett:  If you could give one piece of advice to new writers, what would it be?

Jeff:  Write ‘cause you love it and stick with it. If you don’t love the process it will really be tough to make it, because the road to publication is long and full of painful rejection, often by people who never read your stuff. If you love the writing process itself, you can keep going because the writing becomes its own reward. I was at a lunch where Tom Clancey told the group that he hated every minute of writing and that if he could find another way to make the same living he would do it in a second. I remember at the time thinking that had to be bullshit, because how could you possibly write any length story if you didn’t enjoy the writing? Maybe it’s true for him, and if so he is way more disciplined and committed than I am.  I love to create a story and if I didn’t I could never do this.

Brett:  What is your next big project?

Jeff:  Well, like I’ve said in other interviews I’m weird about talking about unfinished work. The book I’m finishing up now involves a little boy with a supernatural gift that terrifies him, a Dad with a secret past, the ghost of a murdered little girl, a collection of long dead pirates with evil intent, a sailboat, and the family sailing vacation from hell. There is also a mallet, but I’ve already said too much.

I am also waist deep in edits (my least favorite part of writing) for my novel THE DONORS, which will be released this summer by JournalStone Publishing. It’s sort of a horror meets medical thriller book:

A powerful and evil force is at work in the Hospital where little Nathan is recovering from injuries at the hands of his Mom’s abusive ex-boyfriend. Demonic looking men with pale faces and glowing eyes lurk in the shadows and, worse, it appears that someone is harvesting skin and organs from living– and awake– donors against their will. In his dreams, little Nathan can see these demons in their true form– evil creatures who feed on the fear and hatred they help create in their victims. Nathan’s only ally is the young Doctor who cares for him. Bound together by their shared legacy of abuse, they also seem to share the ability to see the creatures for what they are. Together they must find a way to destroy the demons before their own loved ones become the next victims and the evil creatures grow too powerful to stop.

Brett:  Where can we follow you and your career on the web?

Jeff:  My website is updated frequently with information about current and upcoming works and also has a link to send in comments and questions. Find me at  www.jeffreywilsonfiction.com . You can also find stuff about all the JournalStone authors and books at http://journalstone.com

This interview was conducted by Brett J. Talley, author of That Which Should Not Be.

90 Minutes to Live, an interview with Rocky Wood and Joel Kirkpatrick

Interview – Rocky Wood & Joel Kirkpatrick – to help promote JournalStone’s 2011 Warped Words:  90 Minutes to Live anthology.  The proceeds from this anthology are being donated to Rocky Wood to help pay for much needed medical equipment.  Rocky has been diagnosed with ALS.

90 Minutes to Live – Purchase on Amazon

Rocky Wood’s Bio:  Rocky Wood is the author of an acclaimed series of books about the works of Stephen King, including the Bram Stoker Award nominated ‘Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished’, ‘Stephen King: The Non-Fiction’, and ‘Stephen King: A Literary Companion’. He also writes graphic novels, including ‘Horrors! Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators’ and the upcoming ‘Witch Hunts!’ A publisher writer since the 1970s, he lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Joel Kirkpatrick’s Bio:  Joel Kirkpatrick lives with his lovely wife and their two boys in Southwestern Colorado. He has authored four novels and is currently working to complete his fifth book. Not content with any one genre, he is attempting his first Alternative History, with very real characters. The research is driving him mad.


Cassie:  I have to say I am a little star struck!  I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed anyone with their own Wiki J.  So, here’s what I’ve learned about you this week:

  • You live in Melbourne and probably have (my favorite) an Australian accent.
  • You are the president of the Horror Writers Association.
  • You have won the Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Non-fiction, among other awards.
  • You are THE Stephen King expert (my husband loves you already).
  • You have been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Is there anything else you’d like to add to all that?

Rocky:  Well, actually I have not won the Bram Stoker Award – I have been nominated twice, for Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished and for Stephen King: The Non-Fiction.

I am originally a Kiwi (New Zealander) and have dual citizenship. My accent has morphed to largely Australian after 30 years, but I have also lived in Belgium and England and travelled extensively, so the accent is a bit confused to the ear of some! I admit to being a leading expert on the work of Stephen King (guilty, as charged).

Cassie:  What was your reaction when you were told that JournalStone would be dedicating 90 Minutes to Live to you? 

Rocky:  I was honored of course. I have a lot of respect for JournalStone, which has published tremendous work in its short history. Genre fiction always needs dedicated new publishing outlets, and horror has a great tradition of them – to me JS is adding to that tradition. And by honoring me, JournalStone also draws attention to a disease not many know about – ALS (Motor Neurone Disease, or ALS here in Australia), sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This is an awful disease, 100% fatal, that medical science has made very little progress in combating over the last 70 odd years. The more people know about it, the more likely it is they might donate to medical research on ALS, or to one of the community groups that support sufferers and their families. The disease is a great burden on all, as it slowly removes one’s ability to speak, walk and finally to move at all (except eye movement). Obviously, we who suffer bear a high burden, but I wonder if that is not a lesser burden than that carried by our caregivers – family, friends and professionals who have to give up some of their lives to care for us and who have to watch their loved ones suffer.

Cassie:  My heart truly goes out to you and your family and friends.  I cannot imagine the range of emotions that you all must deal with every day.  I commend you for being such a strong voice for the ALS community, and I pray that one day there WILL be a cure! 

Cassie:  Do you have a favorite story from the anthology?

Rocky:  Not really a favorite. What I like about the anthology is that it straddles a wide variety of strong new fiction, showcasing some exciting talent.

Cassie:  What have you been working on most recently?  Anything new we have to look forward to?

Rocky:  Two things – one is a King project that I can’t talk about yet as it hasn’t been announced. The second is a graphic novel – my second such book, titled ‘Witch Hunts – A Graphic History of the Burning Times’. I co-authored this with Bram Stoker Award winner Lisa Morton and it’s illustrated by the rapidly up and coming author/illustrator Greg Chapman (an Aussie). It was very interesting conducting the research and understanding what drove the witch-persecution craze of the Middle Ages – greed, lust, misogyny, politics, religious schism; and to see the full circle the Christian church went through – from not believing in witches about 1150 through to not believing in them again by about 1650! In the meantime, thousands of women, and men, were tortured horribly and died ghastly deaths. We document the whole crazy episode and call out some of the men who were most responsible. McFarland (who also published my first graphic novel, Horrors!, will release the book about April.

Cassie:  I’m keeping an eye out for that King project.  It’ll make a great gift for my husband!

Cassie:  Do you enjoy gummy bears?

Rocky:  Not me!

Cassie:  I’m not a huge fan, either, but don’t tell Joel! J


Cassie:  Who decided on the theme for this year’s anthology?

Joel:  That was a committee choice. We created a list of a few dozen ideas, and finally moved them all aside for 90 minutes to live, and a lock of hair. At first, there were quite a few questions whether we desired both themes or just one of them. The authors must have liked both, because nearly every entry had them woven into the narrative.

Cassie:  How did the decision to dedicate 90 Minutes to Live to Rocky come about?

Joel:  That is a question for Chris, as I learned the good news when the dedication was made.

Chris says:  I wanted the anthology to be about a cause and Rocky Wood is somebody I hold a tremendous amount of respect for.  I wanted to do something specifically for him so I decided to dedicate this year’s anthology to Rocky Wood.  He is an incredible man.

 I just decided it was the right thing to do.  :)

Cassie:  How many stories were submitted?

Joel:  Close to sixty. We required a certain minimum number of words, and there were a few too short to include in the judging. I still read every one of them though. 

Cassie:  Which genre received the most entries?

Joel:  That was surprisingly even. Horror had the most, by just a very few. To my pleasure, we had a very strong showing in YA submissions and Fantasy as well.

Cassie:  How were the winning stories chosen?

Joel:  That was less work than it might seem, even for a single judge with sixty entries to read. I had a perfect foundation from our 2011 Horror Competition, which awarded Brett J. Talley with his well-earned prize. We developed scoring sheets and tracking tools for that contest, and I just repeated the process. I could easily read several entries each day in the judging phase, as they were nearly all under 10,000 words.

I first began to read and score by the guidelines. That separated the top tier from the rest. I then began to look at them in terms of how they used the themes, and whether the story had any special qualities I really enjoyed as a reader. I was quickly in dire straits; they were all so very good.

Cassie:  I think I’d really enjoy judging short stories.  I think it would be easier to score and compare them.

Cassie:  Do you have a favorite?

Joel:  Yes, I certainly do. It would not be fair to name it. Did it actually turn out to be the contest winner? No—because it really was too short to meet our minimum word count. It is a sublime little story though. A fairer question might be: did any of them surprise me? There was at least one in each category, which really turned me on my head as a reader. I found a couple of them shocking, too. We were thrilled to have that happen. But, readers will soon learn when they open the book; there are a gazillion ways to frighten people. Half of those will be shocking and in-your-face, and the other half will creep under your skin and give you nightmares a couple of days later…. You will find several in 90 Minutes to Live that are terrifying from any angle.

Cassie:  What’s next on the agenda for JournalStone?

Joel:  We’ve barely put the ink to the pages of 90 Minutes to Live and are already in motion with our next Horror Novel Competition. 2012 will award another $2000 Grand Prize, and Brett J. Talley is on the panel to judge the entries. If you have been watching the catalog of published titles as it grew this year, you will have noticed a wide range of authors and themes are represented. We constantly seek and request submissions in Horror and Sci-Fi, our foundations, but are thrilled to receive so many good works in YA and Fantasy. We promise to publish the next outstanding book that we discover…

Cassie:  I can’t wait to read some of the horror competition entries! 

Cassie:  When you eat a gummy bear, do you start with the head or the tail?  Which color is your favorite? J

Joel:  Brilliant question! I’ve heard there are different flavors in the little buggers and I don’t believe it. No sane person eats a gummy bear; they eat gummy bears. Six to ten in a mouthful and perhaps a Mountain Dew chaser… Never stop until the bag is empty, then go get another bag. J

Cassie:  I think my teeth don’t like Gummy Bears, but I do enjoy a good, cold Mountain Dew!  Thanks guys!  This was so much fun and an incredible honor…


You can find Rocky and his work at:




You can find Joel and his work at:



Interview by Cassie McCown – http://www.gatheringleavesreviews.blogspot.com

Forbidden – Tabitha Suzuma

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Pu

Date: June 28, 2011
ISBN13: 9781442419957
ISBN: 1442419954
BINC: 3273699
Age:16 and up
Available format : eBook, Hardcover


Forbidden – Tabitha Suzuma

She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But …They are brother and sister.

Will my words be able to cover even a bit of what I’m feeling?

When my friends told me, guaranteed me that this book will make me weep, I had high hopes, but what this book presented, it went so much more higher that that.

Incest, a taboo in our society, goes against every religion, every law, every thoughts that humans have. Often described as disgusting, vile, an act only pedophiles and psychopaths could perform. But what if? What if the ‘incest’ is just a product of forbidden love? Will that be so wrong? I don’t deny that the very thought of a brother-sister relationship made me uncomfortable, but after being absorbed into this unique and heartwrenching story, I guess these people who supposedly committed this ‘crime’ deserved to at least have a chance to be heard, to tell their side of the story.

Now, every since I’m hooked on reading, I’ve came across TONS of story on forbidden loves, ones which spun me off ground and ones which made me weep, but nothing could even compare to this. This, I proudly announce, is the best story about Forbidden love I ever read in my entire life. I was on an emotional ride throughout the book, the starting of the story gripped me until the end, for once, I don’t feel like I’m the reader, instead, I was the character. The way the story was written did that.

Time flies when I read.

Lochie was insecure. I was not freaked out by their relationship, despite what they are. It made sense, and it ached how much I have to read them living in the dark. Battling the whole world, Lochie is always trying to restrain himself from feeling what he feels, that made me so ‘tense’ reading from his POV, I just wanted to give him a big hug and say it’s all going to be okay. In fact, I think the inner turmoil of Lochie and Maya added the charm to the whole story.

Forbidden taught me a lot about life. The need to be independent, like how Maya and Lochan did to raise the children. To me, reading about their genuine concerns about their family warmed me, unlike teenagers in general who often take advantage of their family, I feel the love and turmoil in the Whitley family (minus the mum and dad). Being neglected by both their parents, Maya and Lochan did everything it takes to keep their remainding family intact, and if that meant sacrificing, time, and effort. I saw them take over the parents role, controlling a rebellious teenager, and comforting two innocent kids; they worked as a great team.

It taught me about love. Love is an affection, which many people take for granted these days. For Maya and Lochan, it’s a forbidden emotion, they cannot love each other for something more. That is the only love that they could not have. Lochan was a social-phobe, and he often felt truly alone and frustrated, with Maya in his life, he felt noticed because she was the only one who truly understood him.

The whole read was amazing, but what baffled me most was the ending, that was the main point of my undoing actually :P I never expected the story to end as such! Left with so much emotion it’s sort of hard to close the book and return to reality land. I found myself still depressed the next day, that proved the magnitude of effect Forbidden has on me.

Lochan, Maya, thanks for changing my perspective on love!

Reviewed by,

Natasha Anne

Season of the Witch

Title: Season of the Witch

Director: Dominic Sena

Rating: PG-13

Format: DVD released July 2011

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Ron Perlman

Season of the Witch is about this dude (played by Nicholas Cage) who is a Knight for the church. The movie is set back in the AD times so it was a long time ago when they fought in chain mail and carried swords. Instead of a general they were lead by a priest who stood around and spouted bible stuff as they fought and killed those who opposed the bible and God. (At least that’s my take on the movie)

So one day, the warrior got tired of killing innocents and he and his loyal friend walked. They were labeled deserters. In the first town they came to, they were thrown in jail. But, because of their Knight status they were offered a deal. (Note:they were offered said deal by some Priest or Bishop who had contacted “the plague” and he looked gross).

The deal was to transport a witch who they thought was responsible for a deadly plague that was sweeping every village she passed by. They were to transport her to another city where the monk had the only surviving copy of a holy book. The monks would then read something out of the book over her and exorcise her witchness.

At first the two Knights refuse but then Cage decides to accept and asks the witch be given a fair trial.

So the two Knights set off with a guide a priest and a stowaway, carting a witch in a cage. Is she a witch, really? And what of all these things that keep happening to them along their route? Will they make it to the monks and will the plague be stopped from sweeping the villages and killing innocents everywhere?

Do you believe in witches?

I didn’t think I would like this movie. I hadn’t planned to watch it but a friend let me borrow it so I did. Oh. My. This movie wasn’t really what I suspected but then again I wasn’t really expecting anything. Yeah, that about sums it up. Everyone following? Good.

First, off let me say this movie is pretty action packed, and I don’t mean like car chases and explosions. I mean like creepy action. What is creepy action you ask? It’s the kind of action that keeps you watching because you just know that something creepy is about to happen and also that you know not everyone is what they appear.

I’ll give you an example. The opening of the movie is back in the day (like a long, long time ago) and there were three women being hanged for being witches. There is a priest and he is reading from some ancient holy book and then these thugs (yup there were thugs back in the day) push these ladies off the bridge and then caput. They’re dead.

Or are they? Ooohhhhhhh.

See the thugs untie the ladies and drop them into the river but the priest wants them pulled out so he can read something out of his fancy book and banish their evilness. Well the thugs are tired of working and want to go get a pint of ale. (No they don’t actually say that, but what else do thugs do after they kill three ladies?)

Anywhoo, night falls (of course the priest waits til dark, duh) and the priest gets the women and starts  reading (yeah, he has good  eyesight in  the dark) well  one lady is  NOT  happy and – surprise – she really was a witch and she comes flying out the water looking all ugly and stuff and she gets the priest.

Damn thugs. Should’ve done what they should have.

So that’s the beginning and it was creepy! But it was good. It’s probably my favorite part of the movie, just because it really grabs you and makes you watch.

So after that I was ready to watch. And can I just say that at first I didn’t recognize Nicholas Cage? He looks old in this movie. Like really old. And dirty, too. But they all looked dirty. I think that is because of the time period of the movie, you know dirt floors, carts and horses, blacksmiths….

I thought ol’ Mr. Cage did a good job portraying a jaded Knight who killed on behalf of the church until one day he decided that he was tired of killing. Who can blame him? So leaves the battlefield with his trusted friend and they are labeled deserters. He doesn’t want to work for the church anymore because they act like bible beaters. But he accepts one last job.

Why? Because he is human. And his humanity is screaming at him to try and right the wrongs that he had committed. He was a good character with depth. Was it original depth? Not really but it was there and he did a good job portraying a guilt stricken warrior. He also showed loyalty and leadership.

That brings me to the witch. A young girl who I spent half the movie wondering if she was a witch or she wasn’t…until I knew for sure. Want to know? Watch the movie.

I thought the story line was good and it had good graphics. The setting itself was very believable and so were the costumes that the people wore. I couldn’t help but marvel at their clothes, the layer upon layers that these people wore to stay warm and protect against the elements. And also the chain mail that the warriors wore. I sat there wondering just how heavy that stuff really was to wear. I also felt the hardship that the people who lived back then must have felt (the movie wasn’t about their hardship but I saw it anyway) and how they lived mostly out of necessity and not enjoyment. I mean, they ate when they could and showered hardly ever.

I enjoyed the forest scene with the wolves…who turned ugly and snarling.

The fight scenes were all really good and the ending had a twist. I hadn’t expected it to end the way it had but the ending still seemed logical. More logical than the usual happily ever after. So was the ending happily ever after? Maybe. Watch it and see what you think.

It wasn’t a scary movie but it was creepy. I would recommend this if you like fantasy type movies, if you like some battle scenes (the movie isn’t overly graphic but there is killing) and you like to try and figure out the plot as the movie goes along.

This wasn’t my most favorite movie but it had some good points and you know it was an easy watch. I didn’t look at the clock wondering when it would be over. It went by fast (its 95 minutes) and it isn’t drug out and very long. So, if you had a long week, want something to take you out of your head and still want to catch a full night’s sleep, watch this.

So there you have it. My opinion.

This review is written by Cambria Hebert

Divergent – Veronica Roth

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Date: May 03, 2011
ISBN13: 9780062024022
ISBN: 0062024027

BINC: 3256801

Available Format : Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
A girl. A war between factions. A Divergent.

If you are seeking for a thrill ride, welcome aboard, you would never want to leave the railways. I shouldn’t even compare Hunger Games to Divergent. Hunger Games was amazing, and I never thought there would be another dystopian author who is as brilliant as Suzanne Collins, I guess I should stop making assumptions, huh? Veronica Roth’s debut novel Divergent is definitely going to sate the thirst of thrill seeking readers.

Having been left breathless after reading the Hunger Games trilogy, I yearned to re-experience the kind of rush that surfaces when I am reading the books. For the rest of the year, I never found such book. Yes, I felt warm, and sometimes excited, but never have I had such ferocious emotions coursing through me. Divergent is always a ‘divergent’, the title proved it’s point.

Divergent, a unique difference:

1. Divergent is a compilation of Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Vampire Academy. The introduction of factions bore similarity to Harry Potter, with the sorting of houses through a person’s character. In Divergent, there’s Dauntless for the brave, Anemity for the kind, Erudite for the brilliant and Abnegation for the selfless, Veronica Roth is brilliant for coming up with the idea to create factions to sort us human! And Divergent is similar to Hunger Games because it’s as ‘adrenaline junkie’ as it was. In an odd sense, the characters in Divergent don’t go around killing people for the sake of survival as in Hunger Games, yet like the Hunger Games, they kill the people from their own clan for pride and glory. And the part of Vampire Academy, the romance between Tris and Four reminded me of the relationship between Rose and Dimitri, an awkward love affair between an instructor and his student.

2. Despite how Divergent might bear resemblance to those books, it surpasses them all. And I rarely say this, because I’m loyal to the other series, yet the truth hit me real hard (not that I don’t recommend the other series, still….) Divergent is worth giving praise for because of it’s remarkable characters. Of course, two of the most memorable characters in the book are Tris and Four.
Tris is like Katniss, she’s brave, she’s smart, she’s tougher than she looked. Reading through her eyes had gave me a new found respect for her, and for once, I do feel like I’m in the story more than I was a reader, a spectator from the outside in. There’s something about Tris that makes you like her.
Four, besides the fact that he’s hot (You got me, I love Hot Fictional characters okay!), he’s brilliant. He is a good planner, and a talented person not only in combating skills, but also in technology and when it comes to hiding things. He can be very intimidating one second and soft the next. Mostly, I like the Four who was with Tris.

3. I couldn’t turn the page fast enough, my veins were coursing with adrenaline as I was reading Divergent, and time seems to pass in a flash when I was engrossed in the world of factions and fights. I would say that the story plot was brilliantly written, every part was perfectly elaborated, the development of the story was just….flawless. It ended perfectly (though I was shocked when I turned to the last page, I swear tears were brimming in my eyes because I couldn’t stand to let the it go. I didn’t want the story to end. And it didn’t help when I was listening to a depressing song) and there was nothing I could wish more for. I think Divergent had patched something that was missing in my heart (I’m in a inspirational mode, :P)

4. Veronica Roth, an heir to the Hunger Games throne. I don’t know how she does it, but she has a way with words. I often found myself laughing at her quotes. And she could transform our daily life into something much interesting. Veronica’s the best!

5. Most of all, Divergent is a story about embracing change, accepting loss, dealing with hardships,overcoming fears, staying strong and love.

I feel so content right now, I just feel so light. Perhaps it was because I cried throughout the book and seemed to cry my sorrows away too, or maybe it was because it made me laugh and scream, and I am feeling adrenaline packed right now? I think it’s a bit of both.

Are you ready for a ride for your life? (There I go again….)

Reviewed by
Natasha Anne

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