1000 Word Book Review: Firetok by Gordon Wilson

 

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Firetok by Gordon Wilson

From the first few chapters, there a few key facts to pick up. The main character has some psychic abilities. Much of the first chapter covered the relationship of the main character and a little girl, with child abuse playing a major part in the story. I’m sure the entire story has nothing to do with it, but for me, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea to read that as the beginning. I would have preferred getting the psychic ability story out in the beginning some other way. Perhaps the girl at the beginning comes into play later on in the book. Based on the cover, I assumed Firetok was a dog of some kind, so I was a little confused why the story didn’t begin with the dog instead.

Does the first 1000 words show it as edited?

There story was edited. It flows well. There is a key point the author is trying to make in the first chapter and accomplishes what he sets out to do, I think.

Do I care about the characters after the first 1000 words?

I don’t necessarily care about the character through Chapter 3. It is hard to really relate to what he is going through, and to be frank, the actions of the kid is and administrators are baffling. There wasn’t a date I saw, but if happened in the last 40 years, the girl wouldn’t have gone back home with the mother.

Do I like the world building?

There wasn’t much of a setting covered in the first couple chapters. Most of it is character driven and covers the relationships in the story. I did like that the language in Chapter 2 seems more of a regional dialect and local, giving it some authenticity.

Overall Assessment: Would I continue reading past the 1000 words?

I personally wouldn’t, due to the subject in the first chapter. Child abuse and non-action because of it wouldn’t have made me read on. It reminded me a little bit of Forrest Gump in a way, but the that story was told, Forrest was likable far before the child abuse stuff.

Overall Story Opening Rating: 0.5/5.0 Happy Go-Lucky Red Pandas.

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One thing I would have liked seeing:

Make me like the main character early on. Maybe use a flashback to cover childhood trauma instead of leading off with it. Then I would have cared when reading it. Another way is to actually make the first chapter the last chapter. This would be a reveal similar to the end of “Once Upon a Time in the West.”

Q&A with Gordon Wilson

How long did the first draft take to write?  

My first draft took pretty close to 8 months to write. I was working on the road and could only work on it Saturdays.

Did you change the ending in the middle of writing?
I did not change the ending, it pretty well wrote itself and even now could not imagine a different outcome.
Did you submit traditionally?
I don’t think I ever sent out any query letters. I had no idea how to really write a book much less go down the agent road. My initial intention for Firetok was to introduce the characters of what I expected to be a several part story.
Where do you want to go with the series?
I don’t have a firm vision of that yet. A couple of the characters have a lot of growing to do and much more wrong to right. They like me are still learning how to use their power.
Favorite author who has influenced your writing?
Favorite author, I kind of hate to say it because I get compared to him frequently but I would have to say Stephen King followed closely by Mark Twain. Have they influenced my writing? I think they must have because I have read so much of their work. I really enjoyed how Twain could make a story seem kind of straightforward and believable without being overdone.

 

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 10)

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He shoved the barrel of the gun into my lower back, directing me towards the waiting Mercedes just up the street. Blaring sirens and flashing lights overwhelmed my already shaky senses as I shuffled forward like a man walking the long mile. For all I knew that was exactly what I was, a dead man just waiting for the bullet in the back with my name on it.

Mr. Mercedes casually opened the drivers side door and motioned me to sit.

“Would you believe me if I said I can’t drive?” I asked wryly, momentarily surprised at the calmness of my own voice. Shock. Had to be.

“I’m afraid not,” he replied. “Get in.”

I did as I was told sitting down behind the wheel, wondering for a moment if I could speed off before he entered. I hesitated too long and felt the car shift as he sat across from me, his gun leveled at me as he held it casually just in front of his stomach. He seemed to be scanning the scene of chaos up the road, possibly looking for something in particular or just surveying the scene. I couldn’t tell which.

“Drive,” he said, tilting his head towards me. “Carefully. Do nothing to attract attention.” Gone was the mirth in his voice from moments before when he laughed at the mention of the sexy assassin’s death. I felt an involuntary chill, not just from the prospect of being in such close proximity to an armed man in a strange country, but the uncertainty of what lay ahead of me.

I put the car in drive and slowly edged it past the emergency vehicles and onlookers who were pointing and speaking amongst themselves. The hotel visitors shuffled about in the cool night air with looks of confusion and panic on their faces as emergency responders rushed to inspect them. How I would have loved to have been standing with them at that moment instead of sitting behind that wheel.

Once beyond the scene he told me to speed up and we started to put distance between ourselves and the hotel. It occurred to me that sitting in the car with a gun pointed at me was the most peaceful moment I had experienced since it all began.

“I don’t suppose you would like to tell me what this is all about?” I said, my knuckles white as I tried to keep the vehicle moving in a straight line. The streets were thankfully quiet leaving few obstacles for me to avoid and the orange glow of the street lamps gave the city a haunted look as we drove through the night.

“Not particularly,” he replied, still scanning the night. “Unless, of course, you want to tell me where it is?” I knew he must have meant whatever it was that Lila had possessed.

“I don’t know, honestly,” I replied, keeping my voice calm and hoping I sounded convincing. I shuddered to think what the man would do if he suspected I knew something, which of course I didn’t.

“She didn’t have it,” he said casually. “My guess is it’s either on you… or in you.”

“What?”

“Take the next left.”

I did as he asked and brought the car around into a poorly lit street. Is this it? I thought to myself. Is this where I die? Sure seemed like a likely place to get murdered.

“Pull over…” he started to say. There was a bright flash of light through his window from an adjacent alleyway. The world erupted into a chaos of broken glass and numbing pain. I felt myself become momentarily weightless, then blackness.

As I came to all I could sense was a sharp throbbing pain in my neck and pressure on my chest. It wasn’t long before that pain was joined by others all over my body. Disoriented, I dared to open my eyes. The car was on its side, passenger side down, leaving me half slumped half hanging from the seat belt that held me fast in place in the drivers seat. I groaned as my body shifted waking a whole new batch of painful sensations.

I glanced over and saw Mr. Mercedes, his head bloodied and eyes closed. His chest was rising and falling causing small fragments of glass to tumble clinking to the ground. The gun was nowhere to be seen, but the scrap of paper with the address lay partially crumpled on the cement showing through the shattered window. I felt an urge to reach for it.

Headlights faced me through what remained of the windshield forcing me to squint. Through barely open eyelids I saw a figure approach, backlit by the white glare. It was a tall lean figure moving with grace and confidence but I could not make out any fine details in the silhouette as it approached.

As the figure came closer I began to make out more. It was a woman, that much was sure, in a long coat and high heeled boots. Whoever she was she closed the distance quickly and finally stood before me, her face just hidden by the rim of the window shield. She leaned forward and looked at me with a face ringed by red locks of auburn hair.

“Lila?…” My heart skipped a beat. It was her. The face of the woman I loved. In every detail the same. Her full, red lips. Her skin like silk.  All of it the same. Except for the hair… And the eyes. The eyes were cold, like those of a predator.

“Not exactly,” she replied, a slender blade appearing in her black gloved hand.

PART 11

 

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 9)

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Everything in me, wanted to jump over the barrier that separated the walkways from the water. If only to drown away the emotions from the day. I could still smell the acrid stench of smoke hanging on my clothes. I could still see Ms. Cold Smile’s grin taunting my subconscious, as she fell to her death.

Just what the hell had Lila been hiding? Peering down at the paper I noted the address, which may have been in a foreign language, for all my knowledge of the area. The bustling of people around me hadn’t slowed, though it was near nightfall. Perhaps, if I could manage to be brave enough, I could find someone willing to help me.

The faces around me all had the same thing in common. They were unfamiliar, and I knew one thing. I was low on money, and I had nothing to prove I was who I said I was. Damn. I turned to face the water, resting my elbows on the wall, and buried my face in my hands.

“What the Hell am I to do?” I said aloud. I felt something hard jab into my back, and Mr. Mercedes voice slithered like a snake to my ears.

“Well, you can start by coming with me, and not making a fuss… You see… Killing a man in broad daylight is minuscule compared to setting off a bomb in a building full of innocent people. Have I made my point?”

“Damn.” I muttered, and nodded my head up and down. “How the Hell did you find me anyway?”

“Wasn’t hard. You came running from that building like ants from an ant hill. Did you really think it would be that easy to be rid of me?” I shook my head ‘no.’ “Which leads me to ask…” He glared at me.

“What?” I responded indignantly.

“Was there a lady assassin in there with you? Sexy? Lethal?”

“Yeah.” I paused. “She didn’t last long.” The look on his face was one of total surprise.

“You mean, they got to her?”

“Actually, I would say ‘you‘ did. That nifty little bomb you planted sent her plummeting to her death.” I waited to see the look on his face. He stepped back from me at that moment and then, for no reason at all, started chuckling.

Mr. Mercedes laughed and laughed, tears coming out of his eyes. His cheeks reddened from the blood flow. Had he absolutely lost it?

“Oh, oh… I’m sorry. What a way to go…” He paused for a minute, regaining his composure. “Well, that takes care of that, I guess. One less person for me to deal with.” He was still chuckling, and without warning, yanked the paper with the address out of my hand. He quickly flashed the barrel of his gun at me. I nodded my understanding. “Well then, let’s go, shall we? Things to do and people to kill,” he said jovially.

Hot damn, what was about to go down? 

PART 10

Movie Reviews: Pixels (aka what went wrong?)

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Pixels directed by Chris Columbus

From the same director that sailed the ocean in 1492 … I mean, directed Home Alone and Harry Potter, and Adventures in Babysitting, you would think he would have received the script for Pixels and automatically known what to do with a video game movie.

I mean, how hard is this? As a big budget summer movie ($88M) you would think the goal would be to target kids between the ages of 8 and 18. To do this, you would imagine a story involving kids right? You know, you are making a movie about video games and main characters who fight video games, right? Instead the do the most ludicrous thing possible.

They get Adam Sandler (age 48), Kevin James (age 50), and Michelle Monaghan (age 40) to star in the film . WHAT? Not only was the source material old (arcade games from 30 years ago), but they inflict double the damage with old actors, as ex-players. What kid wants to play a video game and imagine an old man playing the game to win? This is crazy.

In the Last Starfighter, the story revolves a teenager who lives in a trailer park, who achieves a high score in a game and then gets taken off to another galaxy after setting a high score. The movie was targeted toward teenagers. Did they go get Bob Hope to be the lead star of the Last Starfighter and expect kids to watch it? Nope. They took an Obi-Wan and fish-out-of-water approach.

But no, the only kid in the movie is a weakling who gets captured. Plus, let’s not make Sandler give a crap about anyone ever and just make him a single Geek-squad repairman. Who cares to make him even try to act anymore. Lame.

The sad thing is the story itself was ok. A story of has-beens could be decent if it was a father son story maybe. I would have had the main cast like the Goonies, where the kids play modern day games and the father tries to bond with his son with his old games and they make fun of it, but when the shit hits the fan, the father’s skills come into play. Make the father like an Obi-Wan character, but the cast as young. What kids want to see the banter between Monaghan and Sandler? Is there an Obi-Wan type character in the film? Yes. How, you ask? Go older of course! They get 61 year old Toru Iwatani, the programmer of PACMAN, to make a cameo. Does anyone in America know who he is outside of arcade circles? I think 99% of arcade players back in the day have no idea who he is. But yes, he loses an arm … then gets it back in the end (How? Why? Are you kidding me?)

What is especially disappointing is how awesome Peter Dinklage was. He played Eddie Plant, an ex-champion and bonafide asshole with a heart of assholeness, until the last minute, of course. He plays it so over-the-top, it is entertaining to watch. He tried to play a character while the three lead actors above essentially played themselves.

The special effects in the movie were actually pretty cool. The PACMAN chase was a good sequence. The Donkey Kong ending would have been epic if it was kids facing something foreign, and not Sandler playing the game. Come on, really? A 48 year old man has issues about a video game contest he lost? But wait, he has the confidence now to play?

So bad, but the concept had so much potential. I could have written 2 better scripts in a month. They could have done such cool stuff. What a waste.

GUEST POST: “DILLY DITCHELL”

What is with you? Are you out of your damn mind? This movie had everything a growing kid in 2015 wants. Pacman and Donkey Kong and Space Invaders will always be popular and relevant. These games age like fine wine. Did you see PACMAN chomp down five city blocks? Come on. That itself was worth the price of your Redbox 99 cent rental. The fine character study of Tyrion Peter Dinklage was a work of art. He was channeling his inner arcade champion like the best of them. They probably had some of the best consultants in the business on the movie set. You best back the hell up from this movie and focus on that art house shit you seem to love on your blog. Ditchell Out. 

Movie Rating: 4/10 PACMAN GHOSTS (2 of the ghosts is for Dinklage, 1 ghost for Donkey Kong, 1 ghost for PACMAN)

Movie Reviews: Trainspotting

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Transpotting directed by Danny Boyle

I’ve tried to read the book, but to be honest, I couldn’t understand the thick dialect. I flipped through to my favorite parts, but it wasn’t the same. As a writer, this is something that doesn’t happen to often.

The movie begins with beginning of journey of self discovery:  “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”

Not for everyone, this film depicts heroin users in Edinburgh and how they deal with their addiction and poverty. When I first saw it, I thought it was a little disturbing. If the most disgusting toilet in the world doesn’t get you, the scene with the baby will. Crazy and a bit nauseating … but this is the effect Danny Boyle is going for. He is a brilliant director and one of my current favorites.

I first watched the film after learning Ewan McGregor was going to play Obi-Wan in Star Wars Episode I and boy, was I excited after seeing this. How bold of a choice to pick such a gritty actor.  It wasn’t until my Senior year that I saw Episode I and denial, anger, and more denial set in. Ewan McGregor is a talented actor when given the right part. Johnny Lee Miller aka Mr.Jolie#1 is also in the film. He does an okay job. Robert Carlyle is who steals the show though. He is over-acting, but it adds to the picture.

The movie ends with the discovery: “The truth is that I’m a bad person. But, that’s gonna change – I’m going to change. This is the last of that sort of thing. Now I’m cleaning up and I’m moving on, going straight and choosing life. I’m looking forward to it already. I’m gonna be just like you. The job, the family, the fucking big television. The washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electric tin opener, good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisure wear, luggage, three piece suite, DIY, game shows, junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing gutters, getting by, looking ahead, the day you die.”

How Roger Ebert gave this only 1 out of 4 stars is mind boggling.

GUEST REVIEW: “SNOT”

AYA DID YUV ENJOYO WEE MOVIE DID YUV? I DINNAE WAN TAE SEE YA FACE IN YE PUB IF YE GONNAE NOT PAE RAESPECS. YE WISNAE SAE DA RIGHT STUFF. SO I DINNAE HAFTA CALL BATBOY TAE COM HITTIN YAE. HAE CANNAE STOAP HITTIN FOWLKES INDAE FACE. WHY AMAE YELLIN?!?!?

Movie Review: 9/10 Pints at the Pub

NEXT: A REVIEW OF A DANNY BOYLE FILM, STEVE JOBS

https://mmleonard.com/2016/03/19/movie-reviews-steve-jobs/

 

 

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 8)

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The bomb went off and flames flew up the elevator shaft. I dove out of the way to the sound of twisted metal and screeching cables. The building shook and the fire alarms went off. Water sprayed out of the sprinklers. I looked back and the hall was on fire. I didn’t know what floor I was on, but I knew there was no way I could make it back to the room. Guests of all shapes, sizes, and complexion poked their heads out of their doors to check on the sound.

“Was ist passiert?” asked an old woman in a bath robe. Her hair was as grey as the smoke blowing from the elevator shaft.

I picked myself up from the red carpet and assessed the damage. The guests looked at me as if I worked at the hotel. “Everyone needs to get out.” They didn’t understand until I pushed the old woman and the couple in the next room over toward the exit staircase on the far end of the hallway. “Move.”

Smoke filled the hallway as I propped the exit door open and waited for the guests to depart. I yelled again a few times for everyone to evacuate the building and waited until I coughed to finally descend the stairs. Surely Mr.Mercedes wouldn’t know where to look for me. I could only imagine the chaos in the casino. Even if Ms. Cold Smile lived through the elevator drop, the explosion surely incinerated her. There isn’t such a thing as a fireproof vest, but who knows.

This was Zurich, and anything could happen.

Each flight of stairs I took down to the ground floor, a memory of Lila flooded my mind.

Our first kiss.

Our first road trip to Destin.

Our last kiss.

By the time I reached the exit, I decided to just leave, find a safe place, and reassess the situation. I didn’t have a passport, but I had the note with the address. My lungs welcomed the fresh night air. Hotel guests were crowding around watching the fire engulf the lower floor. I went up to a guy about my size and height and offered him a hundred swiss francs to swap shirts and to buy his blue cap. He was a British guy, who was evidently a fan of Arsenal.

By the time the fire department arrived on scene, I was almost around the block. I took a zigzag route away from the hotel, in hopes to avoid Mr. Mercedes. It wasn’t until I reached the embankment of the Limmat that I felt safe.

Then, I pulled the note out of my pocket and looked at the address.

PART 9

 

 

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 7)

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The elevator scraped to a grinding stop. I tried to stand, my legs wobbled as I steadied myself against the now leaning wall of the lift.

The smell, a cross between gasoline and gunpowder, assailed my nostrils and my lungs burned with the need to draw in a full breath.

My thoughts scrambled. Lila…what were you involved in? Why hadn’t you confided in me? Why didn’t you trust me?

The woman, the Swiss Ninja with the pearly whites aka Mrs. Cold Smile was lying on the floor of the elevator. An open gash on her forehead bled profusely, quickly staining her grey blouse. Blood was smeared all over her face and neck. I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t think she was dead.

I shook my head violently trying to clear my thoughts. I needed to think, and I needed to do it quickly; my very life depended on it. The only way I would survive is to get clear off this elevator.

I tried to pry the doors open with my fingers, but it was futile. I had little strength and it was as if they were cemented shut. I looked around the elevator, but there wasn’t anything I could use that would enable me to open the tightly closed doors.

The elevator again shifted and groaned. I knew if I didn’t get out of here I would most assuredly plunge to my death.

I began to panic, a fine layer of sweat coating my skin. Looking up I spotted the escape hatch, and an idea quickly formed in my head. I began pulling each body Ms. Cold Smile had incapacitated and built an unlikely ladder. I carefully climbed on top of the the bodies piled on the floor until I was able to reach the hatch. Then I pushed on it with everything I had until it grudgingly opened.

Just then the elevator pitched and I don’t know how, but I garnered what little strength I possessed and climbed out on top. Within a matter of seconds, I’d spotted a ladder that ran the length of the elevator shaft. Without thinking, I stood back and took a running jump towards the wall. My legs flailed, as I landed with a loud grunt, but I made it and clung to the wall.

Then with a creak, and grinding of metal on metal, the elevator shifted. I entwined my arms in the ladder pulling my body closer to the wall and watched in shock as it shook again. I saw the bomb on top of the elevator and looked through he small opening and glimpsed the ninja woman’s eyes as they fluttered open. Like a deer caught in the headlights she glanced around trying to assess her situation while she pushed a body to the side, freeing her legs, but it was too late. Her eyes widened and met my own as the elevator, with one last protest, moaned as the metal cable finally gave way sending it falling seven stories, landing in a loud crash on the ground.

The last thing I saw before it fell were her eyes focused directly on my own.

I could swear I saw her smile.

PART 8