Movie Review: Samaritan


Samaritan starring Sylvester Stallone is now available to stream for free on Amazon Prime Video. Check out the video review below for my thoughts on this Amazon-exclusive movie starring Sly.

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A Conversation with David Morrell


It’s rare that you meet a thriller writer with a PhD, but that’s David Morrell. He perfectly mixes fact with fiction, and has an immense appreciation for and understanding of the thriller genre. Morrell is a co-founder of International Thriller Writers, and he’s the father of John J. Rambo. Without his novel First Blood, the iconic film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone wouldn’t exist.

I first met David at ThrillerFest in 2013 and have enjoyed getting to know him better over the past couple years. Below is an interview I conducted with David. We cover everything from what inspired him to become a writer to what it was like working on a novel while his son was struggling with a rare disease. After you’ve read it, please make sure to pick up a copy of David’s latest novel, Inspector of the Dead. It’s receiving rave reviews from critics and fans alike.

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Movie Review – The Expendables 2


I finally got around to watching The Expendables 2 and it was great. Like its predecessor, it was a balls-to-the-wall action movie that featured a ton of gunfire, explosions and humorous one-liners. Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the references the characters made to some of the real-life stars’ iconic films, such as The Terminator and Rambo. The acting, while not Oscar-worthy, was appropriate for the subject matter, and I loved Chuck Norris’ role in the movie – especially when he dished out a line that could have easily been one of the endless “facts” people tell about him. Jean-Claude Van Damme was a terrific villain, and his showdown at the end with Stallone was awesome. The Expendables 2 was a non-stop action movie I enjoyed just as much as the original, and I highly recommend you check it out.

ThrillerFest VIII – Day 2


Hanging out with the best-selling author of the terrific Henry Parker series, Jason Pinter.

Today is the second day of ThrillerFest, and it’s been great so far. Not only did I meet the man who created John Rambo, I also ran into one of my favorite authors, Jason Pinter. Below are photos and highlights from some of the sessions. Enjoy!

Andrew Gross

Andrew Gross – 10 Ways to Keep the Reader Turning Pages

  1. Use short linking dramatic chapters to keep the reader hooked and wanting to know what’s next.
  2. In every scene eliminate what does not directly advance the story.
  3. Your writing cadence should reflect what’s happening in the book.
  4. Don’t bog the narrative down by showing off, being boring or using unnecessary description.
  5. Try to eliminate the parts that readers tend to skip.
  6. Remove extraneous words.
  7. Don’t provide too much information – decide what you need, and cut it in half.
  8. Orient the reader quickly when you begin a scene to avoid taking the reader out of the narrative.
  9. Know what each chapter or scene is trying to deliver and don’t do more.
  10. If all else fails, use a larger font.

Steven James

Steven James – How to Discard Your Outline and Write Better Stories

  1. Root yourself in what a story really is.
  2. Let the narrative forces, not formulas, drive your story forward.
  3. Trust the fluidity of the process.
  4. Follow rabbit trails – you have to explore.
  5. Write obligatory scenes.
  6. Make a promise or keep one – explain what the desire is, what’s at stake.
  7. Re-evaluate where you’re going – to understand the reader’s point of view.
  8. Ask those three vital questions that solve any plot problem (see below).
  9. Take the time to meet your characters.
  10. Give readers what they want or something better.

Three questions to solve any plot problem you encounter:

  • What would this character naturally do?
  • How can I make things worse?
  • How can I end this scene or story in a way that’s not predictable?

Meeting David Morrell, the author of First Blood.

David Morrell – Setting 

  • “Be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.”
  • “Writing is a vocation, not a profession. It’s the history of our souls.”
  • “Forget about sight and concentrate on feeling.”
  •  “Writing can be one of two things: stained glass or Windex. Readers can either be aware that they’re reading a book or, like a window after being wiped down with Windex, they can see right through it and be completely absorbed. There’s a place for both.”
  • “Use stealth description, so the reader isn’t aware of it.”