Book Review of Stephen King’s “Billy Summers” — Derek Barton 2022

Billy Summers

by Stephen King — a Contemporary Fiction Novel

Released on August 3, 2021 — 528 pages

It’s been some time since I’ve done a book review, for that matter it’s been quite some time since I’ve read or listened to one on Audible! Anyway, I picked this up a few weeks ago, intrigued by the synopsis. See what you think…

The Synopsis:

From legendary storyteller Stephen King, whose “restless imagination is a power that cannot be contained” (The New York Times Book Review), comes a thrilling new novel about a good guy in a bad job.

Billy Summers is a man in a room with a gun. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business. But he’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. And now Billy wants out. But first there is one last hit. Billy is among the best snipers in the world, a decorated Iraq war vet, a Houdini when it comes to vanishing after the job is done. So what could possibly go wrong?

How about everything.

This spectacular can’t-put-it-down novel is part war story, part love letter to small town America and the people who live there, and it features one of the most compelling and surprising duos in King fiction, who set out to avenge the crimes of an extraordinarily evil man. It’s about love, luck, fate, and a complex hero with one last shot at redemption.

You won’t put this story down, and you won’t forget Billy.

The Review:

Now for anyone who has read a few of my other book reviews, you know I hold Stephen King as one of the top echelon of modern day writers. He has been an inspiration to me ever since my teen years. Even up through today, he wows me with original stories like The Outsider and Mr. Mercedes (which inspired my own Elude Novel Series. That being said, I have to say I was underwhelmed with this novel.

I love the characters in it, the main ones Billy and Alice are a great pair and instantly feel like old friends to the reader. However, the story is all over the map, literally, and King seems to struggle with what to do with the main character. The first 240 pages could have been easily reduced or structured better to accomplish what he set out to do which was build up the main anti-hero Billy Summers and show you his vulnerability and his strengths. The book seems to really meander especially when Billy himself decides to fill up his days writing an autobiography of his own past while waiting for his target to come to town.

Don’t get me wrong — the autobiography is well done and even heartbreaking in places — but it doesn’t move the story along. I won’t spoil it for you, but there is a nice little tie-in to his The Shining novel storyline that is a special treat for diehard fans (us “nerds” in other words, LOL!).

The Rating:

I found this more like a great example of a character study (at least until Alice comes into the story exactly on page 240!). The pairing of Billy and Alice is the highlight of the novel and the true heart of this tale. I give it an overall B or 3.5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend it, but I would not say it’s a priority read for your reading list. If you have other “must reads”, put them first.

By DEREK BARTON — Author of the ELUDE series (Parts I, II & III — a Horror/crime thriller), EVADE Series (Parts I, II & III)  & IN FOUR DAYS: a Horror-Suspense Novella (available on Audible.com!).  Also the Dark Fantasy novel series CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS and THE BLEEDING CROWN (both available on Audible.com!).

Five Years, Going Strong! — Derek Barton – 2021

This month I celebrate FIVE YEARS as an indie writer! Back in July of 2016, I published my first novel, Consequences Within Chaos and established my writer’s blog. See my first blog…

Day 1771 and Counting… — Derek Barton

To date I have accomplished 11 novels, including 1 novel collaboration with my father, sold 500+ audiobooks and 2 published short stories. You can see my whole Amazon & Kindle portfolio here: Amazon Author Central

My site has been visited and my work read in 32 countries by over 4,550+ people!!

Not too shabby for a simple guy from a small town in rural Indiana. I’m not one that likes to toot my own horn, but in all honesty, five years ago I would not have dreamed this as a possibility. I have much more road to travel down and I’m blessed to have you all walking beside me.

Thank you so much for your support and interests. You’re my inspiration and motivation!!

New Author Interview — Derek Barton 2021

Last week, I had the great honor of being interviewed and having EVADE showcased on the website ULTIMATE REVIEWER.

For more great reviews and other content posts, be sure to check out ULTIMATE REVIEWER’s site!

Got A New Smile — Derek Barton 2020

I wanted to check in with everyone and advise you of my current projects I’m working on.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Challenge was a big help and success for me this year! I used it to help me get Evade Part III written, edited, and soon to be published by the end of the year!!

Evade Part II has been produced and sent in to Audible.com for their final approve to sell the audiobook probably by the end of December.

I am also working on a secret side project — hope to have more news on that before the end of the year. Check back here for more information!

I’m back to reworking the outline for the third Wyvernshield Series book. Been a very rough year for everyone and I certainly have felt it — the first time in six years that I had a serious snag in my motivation as well as production. Anyway, it appears that this has eased up and I’m ready to create once again.

I have decided to have one new goal: for a whole year, I want to write 400 words every day. Now, I won’t say this will be in stone or that I can reach the small goal every day, but it does give me a minimum to obtain. In other words, it will be easier to say to myself, “C’mon…It’s only 400 words. Stop being lazy, you can do this easy!”

By the end of one year, it totals to over 124,000 words (I am basing this on six out of seven days reaching 400 words). So for a nice kickstart to this, I wrote tonight 1,108.

Thank you all for your support and your fantastic energy which helps fuel my work! Got a lot more horror to share…

Writer’s Favorite Things (Pt Two #17 to 31) — Derek Barton – 2020

  • 17. Notebook: I am very much into the digital age so I don’t use notebooks, journals or anything that I have to handwrite. I used to have a much better penmenship but these days, it is clear I’ve not used a pen often. I probably couldn’t write cursive to save my life!
  • 18. Favorite Work In Progress: Every WIP is your favorite at the time! You pour your blood, sweat and tears into the work. Of course, you want the writing to be the best every time. It doesn’t always turn out that way and you will find yourself wanting often to go back and rewrite passages or chapters in your books, but like children, sometimes you have to let them go, cherish them as a whole including flaws.
  • 19. Writing Group/Buddy: I don’t belong to any writing group currently. That’s something to think about though. I do have a small circle of people who read the work and critique it for me on occassion but I don’t have anything formal.
  • 20. Writing Spot: No “spot”. I have more of a “get it down and done” philosophy than a Zen Garden spot for writing. I have bought a new writing desk which I am absolutely in love with but it’s not a necessity for me to write.
  • 21. Writing Snack: My key ingredient to a lengthy writing session is caffeine so I tend to mainly drink instead of snack. I do have plenty of favorite snacks but I hold off of those while writing.
  • 22. Ways to Prewrite: I am a big proponent for backstory and character depth. If you can visualize or get into the heart of the character before the story writing takes place, you’ll have a better understanding of that character’s POV and how they would realistically react. One of the infernal sins of any writer is to have unrealistic or unlikely character actions. If the action slaps the reader in the face then they are thinking it over in their mind versus being in your story. You lose credibility and story immersion in one fell swoop!
  • 23. POV to Write In: That’s easy. 3rd person. I have some 1st Person but it definitely is a challenge for me.
  • 24. Pantser or Plotter: I have covered my eccentric, obsessive need for outlining so there’s no way I could even pretend to be a writer that flies by the seat of his pants. I have at the very least a simple “beats outline” to write by and keep me on track.
  • 25. Favorite Villain: Far as movie villains — the usual list of suspects being The Joker, Pinhead, Pennywise the Clown, Jack Torrence. My own written villain would have to be Auste, the Pale Chaos Mage, from Consequences Within Chaos. He had cause to want vengeance but the means that he took made him so hateful. It was that core of pure evil in him that turned another character, LLasher, from the evil path to the repentent hero.
  • 26. Favorite Bookcover: I wish I could say it was one of the ones I have done for my books, but to be completely honest, my favorite is The Bleeding Crown’s book cover done by artist Joy Landa. It truly brought to life that character. One look at the cover and it just pulls you in!
  • 27. Favorite Heroine: Signorney Weaver’s portrayal of Ripley in the Alien franchise was always a fantastic inspiration on how to write a female character. Strong and independent one moment, sensitive and compassionate the next. I think that many women have the mix of the two and many men portray only one side. My favorite heroine that I wrote would be hands-down, Princess Letandra. I am really chomping at the bit to write the third installment of The Wyvernshield series and give you all a glimpse into the hell she’s been put in and what she must do to save Wyvernshield.
  • 28. Writing Cup: Nope. Don’t have one. I think it’s because I don’t drink coffee or tea.
  • 29. Favorite Book on Writing: The writing book Save the Cat that I did a blog on has become very instrumental to my writing and I would still credit, Structuring Your Novel and Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weland as a fantastic set of reference books to help any manuscript!
  • 30. Favorite Writing Inspired Quote: Not much of a quote person. I like some but don’t memorize them.
  • 31. Favorite Halloween Tradition: My father and I started making my Halloween costumes at a very young age (I think maybe 5). It was the chance to really explore my creativity and imagination. The holiday meant a lot to me and I still like to dress each year.

Writer’s Favorite Things (Pt One #1 to 16) — Derek Barton – 2020

Here’s a little peak into my world as an indie writer.

  1. Introduce yourself: My name is Derek Barton (no middle name – my parents hated theirs and didn’t want to curse me with one too!). I live in Peoria, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix) and I have a family of my wife, two teenagers, and a fiesty yet adorable five-year-old. They are the core of my entire world.
  2. Writing Goals: My goals are to actually publish the Evade Series by the end of the year. Next year to wrap up the Wyvernshield Series (my fantasy trilogy). But my biggest goal is to get back into writing. It’s not a writer’s block situation, but more of a lack of motivation. I am pushing myself where I didn’t used to have to. That’s why it has become my biggest writer goal.
  3. Writing Tool: I am using my writer’s site for blogs and short stories, using Word for my shorter works (novellas) and using Scrivner for my long fantasy novels. Google and YouTube would also be listed as my best and most used writing tools.
  4. My Favorite Character Written: OOOhhhh that’s tough. That’s like choosing a favorite child, of course. Vicente from Elude would probably be one of the favs due to his resilience, he streetwise drive. Yet Letandra for her constant love and support for her wayward brother and the independence streak in her soul.
  5. My Favorite Book I’ve Written: Another really tough question. Consequences Within Chaos was my first born so a natural favorite, but Elude Part III was awesome as well — wrapped up the series in stunning fashion and it was the hardest to write due to the pressure to be perfect! It’s not perfect, but I love the work all the same.
  6. Favorite Reading Spot: My car has become my pocket library. I pop on an audible book everytime I’m alone and driving in the car. I wasn’t one to normally read a book (I love them, but couldn’t put the effort in getting them out or finding time to actually reading them). I would maybe read six a year if I was lucky. With the audible books I am “reading” one a month at least.
  7. Favorite Genre: I love reading epic fantasy like Game of Thrones, but writing horror is what I get the most satisfaction from.
  8. Favorite Trope: I guess I would say the hero’s journey. You know he’ll fail and yet in the end he always finds a way to victory at the end. Corny, predictable, yet satisfying.
  9. Favorite Author: Still the King, Stephen King that is, of course. Dean Koontz, R.A. Salvatore, Lee Child and Brian Sanderson are close runner’s up.
  10. Writing Fuel: The same fuel to get me out of bed! Diet Rockstars. If they ever outlaw caffeine, I am in such deep shit!
  11. Favorite Place to find Inspiration: Music has been a big part, but also I found inspiration in art and lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is the key to your story reaching out from your subconscious to you. It wants to be told and only you are able to free it!
  12. Favorite Writing Music: Epic fantasy requires epic classical music (my all time favorite is the collection called Cronos by Jo Blankenburg). For other works, horror especially, I put on background upbeat or suspenseful modern music (like dubstep).
  13. Writing Advice: Pay attention to your dreams (especially intense or lucid dreams) as you can mine some amazing and awesome stories from there. Stephen King was once asked about “Dream or Writer Journals” and he said he didn’t believe in them. Summarizing, he said that if you can’t keep the story in your head or if it doesn’t keep at you constantly, then they aren’t a powerful enough story to write. If you forget them easily if you don’t write them down, then they weren’t meant to be!
  14. Favorite Genre to Read: I said this already, but I read a ton in the two genres, fantasy and horror. I wouldn’t be able to say which one I like the most however.
  15. Favorite Book: The Stand by King is an alltime classic, but favorite fantasy novels are Homeland (the entire Drizzt Series) by R.A. Salvatore, or the Mordant’s Need series by Stephen R. Donaldson (incredible story of magic vs technology universes).
  16. Favorite Fiction Hero: Stu Redman from The Stand resonates with me. A simple but good man transformed to a great leader in a time of chaos.

Audible Book Review of Jessica Brody’s “Save The Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need” — Derek Barton – 2020

STC

Save The Cat!

by Jessica Brody — a Writer’s Resource & Reference Guide

Released on October 9, 2018 — 311 pages

Narrated by Jessica Brody

So, one of my bi-monthly goals in June (as per the post, Looking Back & Looking Forward – Bi-Monthly Goals) was to read a writing craft reference book. This awesome book,Save The Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need is it. A fantastic guide on how to evolve your stories organically, captivate the reader with the pacing and structure, and how to win lifetime readers over with incredible themes and character arcs.

Originally Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need  written by Blake Snyder was developed as a way to help screenwriters. He found an almost universal pattern in every award-winning film. In his book, he shares his discovery and shows you the master template he crafted based on his findings.

Side note: The title Save the Cat! is a phrase pinpointing a decisive moment when the protagonist demonstrates that they are worth rooting for. Especially needed in cases of an anti-hero like Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones or Frank Castle of the Marvel Series, The Punisher. “It’s the scene where we [first] meet the hero”, in order to gain audience favor and support for the main character right from the start.

The Synopsis:

The first novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! story-structure series, which reveals the 15 essential plot points needed to make any novel a success.

Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing.

Revealing the 15 “beats” (plot points) that comprise a successful story–from the opening image to the finale–this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot that will captivate–and a novel that will sell.

The Review:

I found this book very well planned out and down-to-earth. She lays out this master template for you in simple and defined terms, but also how you can still follow the template without “the dreaded F word”… that F word being Formulaic!

Not only does she give multiple examples taken from great novels like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle to modern classics like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Misery by Stephen King, and The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, she provides in depth analysis to show where theme and story are laced together seamlessly.

There are ten complete novel templates broken down defining each of the original Ten Story Genres (including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill)

Brody takes you through the Opening Image, making it hook your reader and keep them on the edge of their seats, to incorporating meaningful themes, then shaking things up with Debate and Catalyst moments in your stories.

Jbrody

The Narration:

Jessica Brody narrates her novel and brings a ton of energy and excitement, she WANTS you to hit the ground running!

Jessica Brody is the author of more than 20 books for teens, tweens, and adults including Sky Without Stars, Between Burning Worlds, The Chaos of Standing Still, Better You Than Me, A Week of Mondays, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and the Unremembered trilogy.

She’s also the author of the Descendants: School of Secrets series, based on the hit Disney Channel original movie, Descendants.

Her books have been translated and published in over 23 countries and several have been optioned for film and television.

The Rating:

In summary, I took a lot from this audio book even though I had heard some similar story structure techniques before. This book was different and impacting in an all new way — it showed how theme can be woven in and character growth is essential to the outline.

I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to any author, rookie or veteran! The master story template has been there right before our eyes all this time, but now it has been brought out in a clear and organized manner for all of us to craft our own unique worlds!

 

By DEREK BARTON — Author of the ELUDE series (Parts I, II & III — a Horror/crime thriller), IN FOUR DAYS, EVADE series (Parts I & II).  Also Grim Fantasy novel series CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS and THE BLEEDING CROWN (both available on Audible.com!).

New Avenues to Me — Derek Barton 2020

Covers

I have been working hard on strengthening and fleshing out my two resources Pinterest and Patreon for you. These sites should give you even more access to me, my work and new materials I am developing.

For those who may not fully understand what Pinterest is, Pinterest is unique search engine for materials, reference resources and finding key elements that fit into your customized categories. In other words, I have currently fourteen “boards” (categories) where I can “pin” material that I feel fall into those categories. For example I have a board called Storyboard: Horror-Suspense & Crime Inspiration.

 

Horror Snip 1

When I find an image that intrigues me, I can pin it and keep in that folder. I also have a board for my Fantasy images. This gives me a handy place to get writing ideas as well as show you the readers where I get some ideas. In my board From My Writer’s Blog I have  six subsections with material showing my self-publishing tactics, some biography blogs, my writing prompt stories, etc.

Writing Snip 1

Some of the other boards are: From My Writer’s Blog, My Horror-Suspense & Grim Fantasy Collection, My Newsletters, Book Reviews, Book Cover Artwork, Landscapes, Batman & Other Comics, My Audiobooks, and My Favorite TV Series.

I can also do my own “pins” like these:

Pin Snip 1

Also on Pinterest I can place reviews on my books, details about my book & audio book giveaways, or I can share pins from other collaborators and authors I find on Pinterest.  If you want to see my work or other things on my site, you can click here and “follow” me so you can see my contributions and additions to the site.

Patreon Snip 1

Patreon I have previously talked about here. I want to this year do even better at maintaining and providing exclusive access to my work. I have decided that I will be writing a fantasy novella based on this:

Writing Prompt 3

The novella will be seen in chapter installments only on Patreon and sold only in paperback format once completed with signature and customized metal bookmarker to my patrons initially.  The other benefits for becoming patrons will still be there — now I just want to make it even better!!

Please see these two sites and let me know what you think of them and if you have suggestions, comments or ideas to provide even more value to you!!

 

 

New YouTube Page! — Derek Barton 2020

cropped-logo-2020-v2.jpg

 

In case you weren’t aware, I now have a YouTube Channel with several book trailers.

Elude Vid

Crime/Horror-Suspense Series

CWC Vid

Epic Fantasy Series

Hidden Vid

Classic Horror Story

These are great reading during your WFH downtime or… Go to Audible.com and immerse you in these narrated novels!

 

 

 

Stay safe – stay healthy!!  Thanks for all your interest and support!

 

Writing Prompt #1 — One. Last. Time. — Derek Barton 2020

Blog 1

I realize it has been awhile since you’ve read anything new from me — either in post, novella or even novel form. Then I ran across this “writing prompt” which piqued my interest.

A writing prompt to those that are unfamiliar to the phrase is a small paragraph to motivate or inspire a writer — a fill-in-the-rest-of-the-story exercise.  Thought this might be a fun way to get some “new” material out while I am still writing, editing, publishing my horror and fantasy series. On a side note, Evade Part One will be out next month!!

ENJOY!!

 



(Writing Prompt provided by tomiadeyemi.com)

She gripped the rim of the porcelain sink and tried to steady her hands. A long serrated hunting knife rested in the grimy sink.

“One last time,” she whispered to herself. 

One. Last. Time.

Evelyn Diane Joyce, or “Evie” as her friends called her, stood in the restroom, staring at her rain-drenched reflection in the mirror. She didn’t recognize herself, covered in mud, grease on her clothes and leaves in her dirty, haystack hair. Dried blood caked under one nostril and her chin was scuffed raw from an earlier fall.

They were in the Calamine Mountain Park. It was around 8 o’clock at night and a surprise rain storm chilled the fall evening air.

One. Last. Time.

He was here. Somewhere hidden among the park’s trees and brush.

Evie knew he’d make his way there. It was the only real structure in the park and on the way to the parking lot. He’d come for certain.

The fluorescent lights suddenly flickered and blinked a few times before completely turning off.

Holding her breath, Evie retrieved the knife then crept over in the blind dark to the nearest stall and went inside. She then climbed onto the toilet seat and crouched behind the door. Waiting was the worst part. All of the exertion weighed upon her and her body shook. Her muscles tightened in her chest as her heart beat furiously. Any moment now he’d walk in, but she wondered if she could actually do this. Sweat trickled down her neck and between her shoulder blades.

Moments later, her ears picked out a whisper of fabric. Then in spite of the pelting rain, she heard the subtle squeak of his sneakers. He was already inside the doorway to the restroom structure.

One. Last. Time.  Was she ready?

The hum of the lights filled the restroom as its motion sensor started the lights back on. He stopped — probably looking around. Jackson Allan Joyce always played it safe. Predictable and yet prepared. Always a slave to compulsive order and rules.

Across the stalls was a line of urinals. Satisfied that he was alone, he stepped over to one directly across from Evie. She peered out at him through the stall door crack. His back was to her. He rested his head on one arm stretched along the wall as he leaned into the urinal. Exhaustion written all over his form. His cyclist spandex suit was ripped at the shoulder and down the back. His arm was covered in drying blood as fresh blood pumped out of a long gash.

It had only been two hours before when they had taken their mountain bikes together along the North Face Trail. After a couple miles up, his bike tire popped when Jackson hit a sharp, partially buried rock in their path. He tumbled and bounced down the cliff then laid unconscious on the side of a rocky trench below the sand trail. Scrub brush and desert weeds shrouded him. She rushed to climb down to him and felt for his pulse. It was there but thready. His cheek and left eye were already bruised and swollen from the initial impact.

As she scrambled back up to their packs, she heard him call out. “Evie, help me. Evie!”

He sounded weak and vulnerable. Her mind whirled with possibilities.

She went to her backpack and from a sheath stowed inside, she removed the hunting blade. “I’m coming, Jackson. Hold on!”

At the bottom again, Evie knelt at his side. He looked confused, his eyes searched her hands spotting the blade. Before his first question, she thrust the knife aiming for his heart. His instincts were stronger and quicker than she expected. The blade pierced his arm as he raised it in defense.

Evie wasn’t done though. She pulled and twisted the knife handle, frantic to free it. When it gave up and popped free of his forearm, she was flung backwards into a small pile of boulders. Jackson wasn’t done either. He bolted up onto his knees then leaped onto her. They tumbled further down the incline of the trench as they wrestled for the knife.

She won the contest when she caught him with a surprise knee to the groin.

Evie ran. She ran not for her life but ran for another chance, another opportunity to escape the cushioned cage that was her doldrum life.  She would kill him. 

She would be free and have a new life. One. Last. Time.

All night, stalking and attacking him, she tried several times to ambush the son-of-a-bitch. Now they were near the parking lot. At the edge of the park.

He was exhausted. She was exhausted. They were both determined to live. Relentless in their endeavors.

Her legs were coiled beneath her, her muscles were taught, her breath captured in her burning legs. The knife was slick in her hand.

With a predatory smile and flash of gnashing teeth, she exploded from the stall…

One. Last. Time!