Friday, October 31, 2014

My Newest Published Article: Ticks and Tricks

"Ticks and Tricks," an article just published in TRC Magazine, brings my list of published writings to ten! I'm glad to have reached double digits, and I plan to keep submitting.

"Ticks and Tricks" is based upon my experiences with ticks, and it humorously encourages us to squelch temptation whenever it appears. It's perhaps the quirkiest article I've written so far, which made it fun to write.

You can read it for free here: "Ticks and Tricks"

What do you think of the article?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

National Novel Writing Month 2014

A just-for-fun cover.
National Novel Writing Month starts on November 1st, which is only a few days away. The past two years, I’ve enjoyed doing NaNo, and won both years. This year, I’ll be working on a YA horror novel with the working title Ghost Reign.

Ghost Reign’s logline: When a teenage boy’s ghost unleashes supernatural vengeance on the bullies whose dangerous dare killed him, only his still-living best friend has any chance of stopping him.

Are you doing NaNo this year?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: Machiavellian (Firmament: Book 3) by J. Grace Pennington

The Story: Starship nurse Andi Lloyd’s adventures in space continue as her ship, the Surveyor, rescues the crew of a science station. The charming captain of the science station reveals that he has a plan that could bring much good to a hurting planet. But since his plan is illegal, would it be worth the cost?

My Thoughts: If Star Trek had a Christian worldview and was told from the perspective of a young nurse instead of the captain, the result would be something like the Firmament series. I enjoyed the first two installments of Firmament, and found the third book to be just as good as the first two.

The characters are what drives the Firmament series, and of course the regulars appear in Machiavellian, from the heroine Andi to the stoic Guilders. The villain reminds me a bit of Long John Silver from Treasure Island, due to his charming manner and interest in the young protagonist. The moral questions the story raises are well worth pondering. Fans of the series are sure to enjoy Machiavellian, and it seems likely to win over new fans.


Content Overview: Some mild violence.

You can learn more about the Firmament series at firmamentseries.com and jgracepennington.com. Also, you can find out which Firmament character you are most like by taking the Character Test. I took the quiz and it said I’m most like Dr. Lloyd, Andi’s father.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Newest Published Story: Heart of Stone

My flash fiction horror story "Heart of Stone" is in issue 1.4 of the speculative fiction magazine Havok! The story follows the adventures of two soldiers who, while returning home after the Civil War, take shelter in an unusual house that is filled with statues.

Havok 1.4, the magazine issue that contains "Heart of Stone," is available at MagCloud.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Movie Review: Detour (1945)

The Story: While hitchhiking to California to visit his girlfriend, a man accidentally kills a stranger who gave him a ride. Fearing that the police will think he did it on purpose to rob the man, he hides the body and continues on his way. He thinks he’s safe until a greedy young woman who figures out what happened uses it for blackmail and quickly takes over his life.

My Thoughts: While watching this movie, I could easily see why it is widely considered a classic, and one of the best low budget noir films that came out during the peak of noir filmmaking. Its limited budget never shows, since the film uses simple everyday settings that fit well with the story and its everyman protagonist.

For most of the movie, things are tense and the premise is carefully played out, especially in the relationship between the memorably nasty villainess and the protagonist. The grim and weak ending, however, causes the film to stumble and fall short of the premise’s potential. It’s still worth seeing for thriller fans due to how well-made most of it is.

Content Overview: Some mild innuendo and mild violence.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Movie Review: The Neverending Story

The Story: A lonely, bullied boy hides in a bookstore, where he discovers a strange book. After borrowing it without the owner’s permission, he notices that he seems to be becoming a part of the book’s story. As the dying fantasy world in the book intertwines with his own life, he discovers that it may be up to him, not the hero in the book, to save the world.

My Thoughts: While this film has a brilliant premise and generally good special effects, it has many flaws. The fantasy world often feels a bit generic, and the story ends abruptly and leaves much unexplained. Still, the premise is strong enough and the filmmaking is adequate enough that any serious fantasy fan will want to experience it at least once.

Children will probably enjoy it the most. After all, who wouldn’t want to be able to interact with the fantasy world they are reading about, joining the hero in his quest to save it? Who wouldn’t want to be able to ride around in two worlds on the back of a friendly luck dragon? And all ages can benefit from the film’s reminder to always continue to dream.


Content Overview: There’s a bit of mild violence and scariness, the average sort for a PG-rated family film. The only notable concerns for parents are some nude statues of semi-human creatures and a few instances of bad attitudes and bad behavior.