Listen to my Short Story "The Forest Trail"


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Re-posting of my Christmas Story

Download the .mp3
(Right Click, Save Target As...)

Now available as a free eBook at Smashwords in all the formats you could want.


Alfred Thompson can't wait to get his V.R. SuperCube game system this year for Christmas, but there's a problem. He overhears the school bully talking with his mom in the game shop and comes to a realization. He may have just found a way to never be bullied again.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Short Stories of DanDanTheArtMan 14 - A Dark Climb


Welcome to episode 14 of Short Stories of Dan Dan The Art Man! This episode is a narrated short story for Halloween about a new kid in town discovering just how real the local ghost story is when he's dared to climb up an old creepy tower that sits behind a mansion. Have a listen and I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!


Download the .mp3

Attributions:
Music used: "Tempting Fate" and "Beginning" by Audionautix.com.
Sound effects used were all Public Domain and came from Freesound.org




Now available in eBook formats here:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/489419

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Stock Trading

I've always been curious about stock trading. In the back of my mind over the years I thought it would be cool to start to learn about the stock market. In high school I had an economics class where we did paper trading for a few weeks. Paper trading is where you buy and sell stocks virtually by looking at stock prices and writing down your purchases and sales. So it's like trading in the stock market but with fake money so there's no real risk involved.

I finally found a podcast and an app and I've started "paper trading" in the app with $20,000 of fake money. At first I got lucky and make over $300 over the course of a couple weeks. Then I lost it all and more by keeping a ton of shares of Yahoo. I kept waiting for it to climb above my purchase price again but it never happened. Eventually I cut my loses and sold off all my shares.

Since then I've just now made all my money back plus about $20. I did more research and learned about different patterns to look for in stock charts to try and guess if they're going to rise or fall. It's worked well. Now instead of buying stocks and then selling them days later I spend just a few minutes combing through stock charts, finding some that look like they're about to go up or continue to go up, and buying them. Then I wait for them to go up which often happens right away, and I sell them off. All of this happens within a few minutes and I usually only make a few bucks. So I'm day trading now instead of swing trading. A lot can happen to a stock overnight and I'm not willing to let my stocks take a plunge as I sleep. I'd rather look at a five minute window and get in low and sell off high. 

A few times I've made more than a few bucks at around $40 and one time I made over $400 in a few minutes. There's also many times where I lose money too, but I'm learning to just dump those before they lose big and get the money I can back to put into another trade. I still barely know what I'm doing and it's all with fake money, but I'm having a blast and I'm hoping that after I've been doing it for a few years with fake money that I'll know what I'm doing and I can start to trade real stocks.

Do you trade stocks? Are you interested in the stock market? It's not something that really relates to fiction, writing, or audiobooks but it is kind of like the physical trading that takes place in Science Fiction novels with cargo vessels :) Also, if you are interested, here's the podcast I love. It's called The Trading Podcast with Rob Booker and they just released their 300th episode! Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Meet My Character Blog Tour!

Catbeard the Pirate!
My friend Matt Nelson who writes and draws the amazing comic Catbeard the Pirate tagged me to participate in a Meet My Character Blog Tour. I LOVE his comic.

Matt Nelson was born in 1976. That means he's super old. He lives in Spokane, WA with his cat, Jiji and draws comics all the time when he's not messing around with video games or stupid stuff on the internet. So basically, just like every other cartoonist ever. Isn't that embarrassing? Not very unique at ALL. You can view his work at catbeardthepirate.com and mattnelsonart.com

His Catbeard books one through three will all be available soon on his website through the Store tab on the top menu, but you can read all of Catbeard’s current adventures for free on catbeardthepirate.com! All of the books contain more adventures not found on the site.

Okay so, here’s the gist of the project:
“This tour highlights a main character from your WIP (work in progress), recently published work, or soon to be published work. The person who invites you will have a set day to post. You will post one (or two) week(s) after that, the authors you tag will post one/two week(s) after you, and so on.”

The Questions & My Answers


1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?


Longclaw is a fictional character.

2) When and where is the story set?


The story is set in modern times during the winter. It starts at an arcade where Longclaw, a stuffed animal monster, lived in a claw machine. Then the setting changes to the house of Longclaw's new human Zach. Then the tale takes a scary turn as Longclaw is forced into the cold and snowy park across the street from Zach's house at night.

3) What should we know about him/her?


Longclaw is an ugly stuffed animal monster won from a claw machine by a boy named Zach. He is a nice monster, however, and is thrilled to be taken home to live with other stuffed animals in Zach's home.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?


The main conflict is that Zach's cat Thompson finds Longclaw and takes him away to the garage as a play thing. He tortures Longclaw, toying with him and ripping holes into him.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?


The main goal of the character is to be loved. In order to do this he must find a way back to his human Zach and hope he'll take him back in his ripped and slashed state.

6) Is there a working title for this novel if it is a WIP, and can we read more about it? OR what is the title of this novel and where can it be found?


This is a short story titled "Stuffed Monster" which you can find in my anthology of short stories called "Danthology." It can be found on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, iBooks in iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo, and many other fine eBook publishers.

If a WIP: 7) When can we expect the book to be published?


I am also working on the paperback and audiobook versions. The paperback will be available this 2014 holiday season through Amazon.com, and the audiobook will be made available for free as a serialized podcast novel at www.Podiobooks.com by the end of the year.


That's it! I'm tagging my new friend who's awesome novel I had the pleasure to create the cover art for - Philip Carroll.

His bio:
Philip is an Army trained Certified Orthotist, husband of 30+ years, father of 3, and grandfather of 2, currently living in the Central Valley of California. He has always been a story telling, if only telling himself stories to keep himself awake while driving, entertaining his children as he was driving, or just to entertain himself as he went to sleep. In October of 2008 he decided to start putting some of these stories on digital paper.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Twas the Bite Before Christmas by Drac Von Stoller
An Audiobook I Narrated and Produced is Live!


"Twas the Bite Before Christmas" is now available as an audiobook with me as the narrator. This creepy tale is about Santa coming down a certain chimney of a castle to find that it belongs to Dracula. Dracula isn't pleased to see the jolly fat man, but takes advantage of the encounter. Listen to this fully produced audiobook complete with sound effects and background music that draw you into the story and enrich the listening experience. Find a quiet place and your nice headphones then go listen to Twas the Bite Before Christmas available at Audible.com, in iTunes, and at Amazon.com. You'll be supporting the indie author Drac Von Stoller, and me an indie audiobook narrator. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Review Podcast

So, I've noticed that my blog has become a bit of a book review website. I started reviewing every book I read quite a while ago and then I post my review here, on Amazon, on Audible if it was an audiobook, and on Goodreads. I often get emails from Amazon telling me that my review helped someone purchase the book. I also get likes on my book reviews on Goodreads. I try just to brush over the things I liked and/or disliked in the book. I don't summarize it because those can be found elsewhere online and I feel like putting that in the review is a waste of time.



The reason most of the posts on my site are book reviews is that I'm working two jobs so I haven't had much time for anything else. I do a lot of my reading via audiobooks while I commute 2 hours a day. So even though I'm busy I still get a lot of reading in. I'm reading more books this year than I ever have and I'm sure it's all thanks to the Goodreads Reading Challenge I discovered at the beginning of the year. I set my goal for 35 books and I've been a few books ahead the whole year. I've read a couple of shorter books but it all evens out because I've also read The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (47.5 hour audiobook, over 1,000 pages in paper) and IT by Stephen King (a whopping 45 hours of audio). So I'm cool with counting novellas and even the occasional short story or novelette. 

Photo by PJ Hudson
http://www.morguefile.com/creative/pjhudson
Anyway, it seems that I'm doing something right in my reviews, so I thought that eventually I would start to podcast my book reviews. I've already picked out a theme song for the intro and outro and I have a lot of book reviews piled up. I'm working two jobs and around 60 hours a week at the moment so it might be a while before I can get some reviews recorded, but they're usually only a few paragraphs so they'll be short. I bet I'll be able to knock out quite a few reviews in one short recording session, then I'll start releasing one every week until I finally get to the current book I just finished reading. At that point I'll release them as I finish books. I might throw in a little chatty banter after reading my book review too adding any more thoughts about the book or author that come to me, then close it out. 

It will be a nice little repository for people looking to find something to read - especially if they find that their taste matches mine. That will be easy to tell after listening to a few short podcast episodes. So look for Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Review to hit the interwebs in the near future. That's all I've got for now. Thanks for stopping by!

UPDATE 8/1/14

Today I recorded 11 episodes of this new Book Review podcast. I'll drop episode zero sometime this week, and then one a week for the foreseeable future!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Christmas Cave
An Audiobook I Narrated & Produced is live!


I had the pleasure of narrating author David R. Beshear's audiobook The Christmas Cave. You can find it for sale at Audible.com, in iTunes, and at Amazon. I'm very proud of this audiobook. A lot of what makes it great is of course the writing the author did that creates the story, but I had a blast figuring out all the different character's voices and personalities. There's an old woman, an old man, a few teenagers and two sets of parents. Not a huge cast, but sometimes I was very glad that I had made distinctions between narrating their voices so that the listener can easily tell who is talking. I think the story came out wonderfully in audio and is a really great listen. I'm expecting to get some promo codes soon for the audiobook from audible which will allow me to give copies away to people who will review it. Please send me a line and I'd be happy to send a promo code your way making the audiobook free with your Audible account. Head on over to the audiobook's page on Audible and listen to the sample. I hope it makes you click the buy button. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Moon Hooch | New Music That Blew Me Away

If you're not checking out NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts you're missing out on some incredible music and performances. I discovered an awesome band called Alt-J in this Tiny Desk Concert video and really liked what I was hearing because it was just so different from anything I'd heard before. The same goes for the band Moon Hooch. They are incredible. See for yourself:



You can also steam their entire album at their Bandcamp site here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Thoughts on Sanderson's The Way of Kings



This is me with Brandon Sanderson. He's one of my favorite authors. He mostly writes epic fantasy. His books are awesome. Today I will finish his novel The Way of Kings. It's the one he's holding in the picture. Look at that thing!It's a real door stopper at over 1,000 pages. I have the signed copy on my bookshelf. It's the first in what will be a massively long epic fantasy series called The Stormlight Archive. The next blog post you see on this site will be a review of his book. It will be an interesting review because I both loved and hated this book. Every book I've read by Brandon has been an instant favorite. The Way of Kings, however, was grueling for me to get through. I did not enjoy the first 75% of the book, and at 1,000 plus pages, or 45 1/2 hours of audiobook, that's a lot of book to get through when you're not digging it. It was just plain boring. That said the last quarter of the book has been amazing, riveting, and easily some of the best and coolest stuff I've ever read. I've heard the next book in the series, Words of Radiance, is amazing and doesn't have a bunch of the boring stuff the first book had while it was setting everything up. I realize that this first book had to set up what may be one of the longest biggest fantasy series ever written, but that doesn't mean it had to be boring. My two biggest problems were not caring about the characters until about 3/4 of the way through, and reading scene after scene where nothing is happening. I have had the same problem with The Wheel of Time fantasy series that Brandon finished for late author Robert Jordan. Talking heads scenes where the characters aren't doing anything and you have to really work to get through the chapters. Then you finally get to a chapter where something is happening and it's the coolest stuff you've ever read. That's been this book for me. Many of my friends were never bored by this book and loved every minute of it. More in my upcoming review. Now to finish the book. 

Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson's books? What about The Way of Kings? Did you love it? Did it bore you? Did every page make you yearn for the next one? Leave your thoughts in the comments.Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ghost Mansion | An Audiobook I Narrated & Produced is live!


A really fun audiobook called Ghost Mansion I had the pleasure to narrate and produce just went live. Think The Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland, but scarier, and you've got the gist of this story. It has a bunch of really fun added sound effects and background music to really enhance the audio story to be a great listen. Grab your nice headphones and go give this a listen. It's very short and very inexpensive so give it a purchase if you like what you hear and support an indie audiobook narrator, me and an indie author Drac Von Stoller. Not only are there cool sound effects and music in the background, as always, but I got to really have fun coming up with different voices for each character in this story. Also think old western shoot em' up story mixed with a ghost story and you've got Grave Robbers! Now available at Audible.com, Amazon.com, and in iTunes! Go have a listen. I know you're going to love it. Why not pick up a copy and support an indie author and narrator. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Still Busy But I Have Plans to Get Writing

Man, I haven't been blogging at all lately! Here's why:

My Typical Day

2:30AM Wake up
3:00AM Leave for first job
3:30AM Start first job
7:30AM Leave for second job
8:30AM Start second job
5:30PM Leave for home
6:30PM Eat dinner, play with kids
7:30PM Help lay kids down for bed
8:30PM Go to bed



I eat breakfast on the way to my first job and lunch at my desk during my second job. I just don't have time for creative stuff right now, or do I? Two words: speech to text. I have a lot of commute time during the day. I am working towards getting back in the groove of writing and I am currently producing an audiobook. Here's some of what I wrote in a writing group on Facebook a few days ago about my plans for writing during this busy time:

...I'm working 2 jobs so I literally have no time to sit down and write. But I do have a lot of commute time. In the past I've gotten a lot of words down by dictating my story and transcribing it later. The dialog comes out great and the transcribed text is kind of a second draft since I revise as I transcribe. It's a method I'm going to use to start writing again. Have any of you used this method? Once you get used to it it's a pretty great way to get the words out super fast. This time around I'm also planning on doing all the transcription using my iPhone's speech to text which works surprisingly well. I can spray a huge paragraph onto the screen in seconds. I'm excited to get back deep into that story and get it finished!

So I plan on getting the rest of the 10 chapters I wrote read today or very soon so I can start writing again. I'll be blogging about how that process goes. I haven't written this way in a long time, but it's how I wrote most of the first draft of my 80,000 word science fiction novel The Trading Family (also had the working title of Recession.) You can still read the whole thing on Wattpad, and while there's some great writing I'm proud of in there I wouldn't recommend it. That novel needs a lot of work and revision to get the story right. There are currently two chapters in which the players play a poker game. These chapters do not advance the story and stop it in it's tracks. I wonder when I'll set to reworking that novel because I still think it can be saved. Anyways, thanks for stopping by and for my one or two readers who come around here - sorry I haven't posted much lately. There may be more Book Memories guest post in the future but I'm not sure. That's been a fun series. Later!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Busy, busy, busy! An update on my projects.

Wow. It's been an interesting yet fun week. I started working part time for United Airlines. My shift starts at 3:30AM! Yeah. But my amazing wife has been helping me go to bed early and makes me huge lunches so I can make it through that early shift and then my normal shift at the software company I work fulltime for.

There hasn't been much time for - well anything. I'm thrilled that I finished that 7K short story for an anthology, read two posts down for more on that, and now I'm free to finish the novel I've been working on for a long time. I'm going to try and jump back into writing that book and get it done. I can't believe it's already June! It is my goal to do these things this year with my writing:
  • Finish, revise, edit, and publish my novel Zombie Super Powers.
  • Revise and edit and publish my fantasy adventure novella Sword and Urn.
  • Publish my anthology of short stories in audio at Podiobooks.com

If I'm going to get just one of these done I need to get cracking! I've been using my commute time to read a bunch of books via audiobooks, but I think it's time to start recording myself saying my story so I can transcribe it later. I need to find a way to write. Meanwhile the author of an audiobook I tried out for and was not chosen for months ago contacted me and gave me a contract to narrate his audiobook because his narrator had to stop halfway through due to personal events. So I'm really excited about that project. The author David R. Beshears is a great and his novella "The Christmas Cave" is a really cool story. What's going on with you? Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Memories 09 | Sue Leib Bernstein
GUEST BLOG POST




Download the .mp3

It’s All About the Words


There’s something about a well-crafted turn of a phrase that has always given me pause. Even as a child, when I would read a book and came across an unexpected, beautifully-turned phrase, I would stop and read just that phrase, over and over, until I could practically taste it. Then, I would continue on with the story.

For me to love a book, it must have more than just well-fleshed-out characters, an engaging story and snappy repartee. The books that stay with me are the ones whose word choices surprise and delight me, whose phrases are both unexpected and exquisite. One of the first books I can remember staying with me is "The Age of Innocence," by Edith Wharton.

"The Age of Innocence" is the story of upper-class mores of New York society beginning in the 1870s and how, with the turn of the 20th century and passing of generations, change affects every aspect of the traditions they held so dear. This is a world where style and form are the highest values. Sounds dry as dust, doesn’t it? But, Edith Wharton’s words and descriptions bring this world to vivid, delicious life.  Instead of merely advising the readers that the matriarch of that New York society, Mrs. Manson Mingott, is fat, Ms. Wharton wrote: “The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon.” I clearly remember reading this for the first time in high school and rolling the words “the immense accretion of flesh” around on my tongue. 

Instead of a mundane throw-away line about the matriarch no longer being physically active, Ms. Wharton wrote: “The burden of Mrs. Manson Mingott’s flesh had long since made it impossible for her to go up and down stairs….” The burden of her flesh – I love this phrase. It is succinct, concise and descriptive without being maudlin. It is perfect.

The protagonist of the story, Newland Archer, is a young man of modern values who is constrained by the traditions of the society in which he, his family and friends lived. As described by Wharton, they lived above the “unruffled surface of New York society.” Newland was engaged to be married to May Welland, which would accomplish not only his own betrothal but the merger of two honored New York families. While watching his fiancĂ©e from across the audience of the old opera house, Newland “contemplated her absorbed young face with a thrill of possessorship in which pride in his own masculine initiation was mingled with a tender reverence for her abysmal purity.” With all deference to modern culture, isn’t this a much nicer way of saying that he was proud of himself for being the one to snag this beautiful, young virgin? In literature, whether old or new, it’s all about the words.


Bio:

Sue is a typical Gemini – she craves novelty and variety and gets bored easily. These traits have served Sue well, leading her to try her hand at many fields. Over the last 25% years, Sue is and has been an attorney, corporate risk manager, personal caterer and editor. Currently, Sue is exercising her passion for voice acting by narrating the fabulous fiction of author Imogen Rose.http://www.imogenrose.com/index.php?p=1_52_Audio- You can also catch Sue on TV in a national commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts. Sue lives in New Jersey with her husband, son and three very large cats.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Submitted a Story & Story Structure

I just submitted a 7,500 word short story to an anthology. Even though this is a short story it's longer than most of my short stories and I worked really hard on it. I'm really excited about it. I hope they accept it and it gets published in the anthology. Beyond that I am going to make it into a graphic novel and an audio book. I used what I've learned about story structure to plan out the story in four parts before writing it. I broke it into four parts to match the four parts of the three act structure. If you're not familiar with that you have:
  • Act I - the first 25% of the story
  • Act IIa - the first part of act 2 is the next 25%, the end of this is the midpoint of the story
  • Act IIb - the third quarter of the story, the end of this pushes you into act 3
  • Act III - the last 25% of the story and the last act that gets you to the resolution of the plot.

Quite a few things happen at key parts of stories - or at least they should. Watch just about any movie and you'll see these things happen at the same time. For more on this, check out these breakdowns of popular movies.

  • Act 1 introduces the character, the setting, and the conflict.
  • Act 2a is when the characters start wandering through the "new world" they've been thrust into.
  • Act 2b is when they change from reacting to acting and start fighting back.
  • Act 3 is when the final showdown happens with the bad guy and everything gets resolved.


My favorite tool for wrangling my story into the right structure as I outline is Blake Snyder's Save the Cat Beat Sheet which I linked to above. It has several story points that do specific things and go in specific places in your story. Making sure you hit these points in your story really help it to flow better and hit the reader on an emotional level better. They also seem to help me fix my stories when I can't figure out what's wrong with them or where they should go next.

What tools do you use to write better stories? Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 19, 2014

It's Been Quiet Around Here

It's been mighty quiet around here as of late, but I have been working on my writing and audiobook narrating. I've also been traveling to get screened and tested for a job with United Airlines. I'm going to work part time with them. We've also had extra kids around lately with foster care and my oldest son has a couple baseball games a week. We've been crazy busy. I've been really busy at work too, finishing up a 3 month project. So that's why I haven't found the time to blog lately - I even missed last Friday's Book Memories guest post because I was in Texas and Denver Thursday and Friday.

But I did manage to get some things done while waiting for airplanes.

  • I finished editing my short story.
  • I finished editing an audiobook.

The short story is a fantasy adventure story I wrote to submit to the Portal Under My Sink anthology. It came in around 7,300 words and that's good because their limit is 7,500. I'm pretty proud of it and I've been getting some pretty good feedback on it so far from beta readers. I hope it makes it into the anthology. If it does it will be my second book put out by a publisher. Five Rivers Publishing is going to release this one like they released A Method to the Madness. I'm excited to see what comes of it. Whatever happens I'm also going to make it into an audiobook and put it on Audible, and make it into a graphic novel too. So those are exciting things for the future. I've always wanted to create a comic book and I can't wait to see what all is involved in that process. A very talented friend will be doing the artwork instead of me because he draws comics and is amazing.

As for the audiobook, it's a really fun title by an author I've worked for before. Drac Von Stoller has another awesome creepy story. This one is titled "Ghost Mansion," and is though it's still very short it is quite a bit longer than the other ones I've done for him so far. I will be finishing it this week. 

So that's what's up with me, what have you been working on? Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Book Memories 08 | J.R. Murdock
GUEST BLOG POST



Download the .mp3

When I was three or four, my mother had a subscription to two different books clubs for my older brother and me. One was to Gold Key, the other to Disney. Each month we’d get two new books in the mail; one Gold Key, one Disney. We got all the traditional books that you’d expect from a collection like this. We also got many obscure books.

My brother loved the Disney books, I preferred the Gold Key. Until I was a little older. Sure, my mom and step-father read books to both of us, but my brother was able to read on his own and he soon graduated from the kids’ books to comic books.

I remember my favorite Gold Key book was the pokey Little Puppy. I’d flip through the book again and again waiting until my mom or step-dad had time to read it to me. When I was a little older, it was the Disney book, The Magic Grinder. In this book, a dragon gives a magical devices to a poor woman with two little boys. It provides them with anything they needed as long as they said the magic words.

Once I was older and could start checking out books at school, I still remembered the dragon from that book. I read everything I could about giant lizards, and was fascinated by books with dinosaurs. In a year I checked out everything the library had and even though I could read well, I devoured those books. I was good at math, history, or any subject in school really, but ask me about any dinosaur, and I could regurgitate any of the facts I’d read including when and where the fossils were discovered.

I never lost my love of dragons and once I was old enough to start checking out books from the high school section, I graduated from dinosaurs to fantasy and science fiction. Worlds that took me away from my childhood life and into worlds unknown. Places I’d rather be. During that time I probably read two or three books a week. Anything I could get my hands on.

Yes, my grades still suffered, but it wasn't because I didn't understand the subjects in school, but because they held no interest for me. When forced to do homework or study for a test, it was discovered that I could retain almost anything. I went from a D average student, to an A average student with only a little effort.

Still, I preferred reading. Once I moved to live with my father, I still read voraciously. I would check out books from the library three or four at a time and return them all the following week for three or four more. I got an allowance that allowed me to go to the book store and buy books in bulk. I didn’t matter what books I bought, I would read them quickly, usually give them away to friends that wanted to read them, and go buy more.

When I didn't have money for books (growing up and living on your own is a lot more expensive than it seems) I took my collection of books to the used book store and started trading for books I hadn't read. Again I’d be reading one or two books a week. Until my supply of books and money ran out.

There was a drought in my reading period during the mid to late 90s. Years where I didn't read anything. It wasn't until someone put the first five Harry Potter novels into my hands that I rediscovered my love of reading. Those books brought back the magic I’d been missing. Sure, Harry Potter is intended for younger readers, but I could relate to much of what he’d gone through. I spent a lot of time as a kid with a flashlight reading books I had checked out from the library trying to escape from the life I had. Harry wanted to get away to a magical place, and he did. In a way, I had also done that.

I was never hungry as a kid, but I did grow up with an abusive step-father, a difficult time in school, summers spent cutting wood to sell to help feed our family, and terrible winters in Minnesota. Books got me away from all that. They made me feel that there was something else to look forward to in life.

If ever I met a dragon with a magic grinder that could give me anything I needed in abundance, it would fill my life with all the books I could read. I still try to read at least one book a week, but many times life intrudes and that doesn't always happen. I will likely never stop reading, and I’ll always be looking for that special place to escape to.


Bio:


J.R. Murdock is an avid reader of almost anything he can get his hands on. That being said, he also writes with near reckless abandon in any and every genre. His style is intended for pure entertainment. Over the years he’s written nine novels and over one hundred short stories. Only a few short stories have seen print (in actual print and on the web) so he’s decided to throw his hat into the podcasting arena with his novel V & A Shipping. Since then he has also podcast his novel Billy Barbarian and released his YA novel Astel: Chosen, not to mention the great short stories he's podcast in his Murdockian Tales series. Also V&A Shipping 2 is now available! Find out more at www.jrmurdock.com. When not writing like a mad-man, J.R. Murdock does have a day job as a computer programmer and loves to spend time with his lovely wife and beautiful daughter.

Find J.R. Murdock online at:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Memories 07 | Dan Absalonson
GUEST BLOG POST



Download the .mp3

This week you get to hear from me again! Yeah :) As I wait for more guest posts to come in I share two memories of being transported by reading The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. Enjoy, then write your own book memory and send it in to me! See this blog post for the details.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Grave Robbers | An Audiobook I Narrated & Produced is live!

An awesome audiobook I had the pleasure to narrate and produce just went live. This was a really cool story and my favorite I've been able to do so far from the author Drac Von Stoller. Not only are there cool sound effects and music in the background, as always, but I got to really have fun coming up with different voices for each character in this story. Also think old western shoot em' up story mixed with a ghost story and you've got Grave Robbers! Now available at Audible.com, Amazon.com, and in iTunes! Go have a listen. I know you're going to love it. Why not pick up a copy and support an indie author and narrator. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Memories 06 | Sally Preston
GUEST BLOG POST


Download the .mp3

WARNING:  This post contains high degrees of saccharine and dairy. I.E. it's pretty overly sweet and more than a little cheesy.

First let me start with a shout out and thanks to Dan for including me as an occasional writer for posts. It's fun to share, put my own spin on things and since for the most part when I express myself I'm singing or playing an instrument writing is a nice change of pace! Now on to my favorite book memories.

My first and most vivid memory from my childhood would be when Mom would read to us every night before bed. "Make way for ducklings", "Charlotte's Web" and "The Trumpet of the Swan." A chapter each night, my favorite thing about it was time with Mom and sharing in the story. 

Many books since then came and went... I grew, so did my taste in books. Never one to go for books that would scare or depress me I eventually would go for books that involved intrigue, mystery and drama. I read Grisham for a while, and then I found Michael Chrichton and loved the pacing of the stories, the complexity of the characters and the less than subtle nod to geeked out science weaved throughout.

Time marched on, I went to college, met my husband and we both worked furiously on our majors. Every once in a while Laith would come up with some incredibly obscure fact on something I'd ask "How did you know that?" The answer was always the same, a crooked grin, a glint in his eye and the words "I read!"

Reading has been a huge part of both of our lives and we wanted to pass this love of reading on to our children. So naturally in addition to being sung to constantly they were also read to a lot even before they were born. The best and most vivid book memory that I will always treasure, is that some time during the third trimester with each child Laith read the "Heffalumps and woozles" story from Winnie the Pooh. This makes me smile for two reasons. The first it shows you just how dedicated a Dad and husband he is, but secondly... if you haven't seen your exhausted, dedicated and devoted spouse attempt to say "a wizzle woozle wizzle woozle was..." at 9 pm in the evening you are letting one of the best things in life pass you by...

It's worked though; all three of our kids have been bitten by the book bug. One of the best sounds is hearing your child read to you. Even before they can read, they look at a book and derive clues from the story and spin their own tale. Then before you know it they are in the 2nd grade and are zipping through "Tiki Tiki Tembo, no saw rembo, cherri bari ru chi pip puri pembo!"

Lastly if you'll permit, I'll bend the rules a little and talk about my favorite author memory. My favorite author memory is when Laith writes. Have you ever listened to someone type? There's a rhythm to it, a tempo. The beat changes with the level of excitement, when a new idea comes along, when inspiration strikes. For several years now, Laith has been writing. Blogs, posts, short stories. It's his creative outlet, his expression. He's participated in several writing challenges, but my favorite is when he participates in NaNoWriMo. Because he enjoys it, of course, but also... over in our home office I get to hear that symphony in several movements. The tempo of the clickety clack, the rise and fall of the orchestration as the ideas take shape and when the writing is complete the new work of art that conveys an idea. And after 18 years listening to this author type, create and express I can't wait to hear the song again.

Thanks

Now, go and read...


Bio:
Sally Preston is a wife, music teacher and mother of three. She currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa where she enjoys soaking up the rich cultural events Des Moines has to offer. She also is an avid scrapbooker and most of all enjoys spending time with her family.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Memories 05 | Laura Nicole
GUEST BLOG POST


Download the .mp3

The is the forth post in a series of Book Memories. This guest post is by Laura Nicole who chose to submit her guest post via audio. So sit back and enjoy listening to her book memory of reading by listening to audiobooks, falling in love with them, and then becoming an audiobook narrator herself.



Bio:

Laura Nicole has been making silly voices since a child. At the encouragement of her father, she started voice acting since 2004 starting with shows on BrokenSea.com and Circus13Productions.com. Her roles include strong artistic leading women, colorful villains, and a lot of computer voices. Currently she is narrating her novel Absolution and other projects to be named.

As a writer, Laura has written short audio dramas for GypsyAudio.org and has worked on the “Please Spay Your Tribbles” blog for Flying Island Press magazine. Laura's current work that she has out is “Stonebriar Casefile 186: Bad Alchemy” in both .epub and audio, and her podcast “Gypsy In The Attic”. You can find more information about her work at www.GypsyLaura.com.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Desecration | An Audiobook I Narrated & Produced is live!

I narrated and produced the audiobook Desecration for author Drac Von Stoller. It's another really short story with cool sound effects that add to the ambiance of the story. I had a blast recording and producing it. Go give the sample a listen with some nice headphones on. Thanks for stopping by!

A brief synopsis:
Graven Cemetery was once a very well kept place until Jimmy and his friends started camping out and drinking heavily around a campfire, breaking the tombstones, and leaving their empty beer cans on the graves, but their little desecrating games were about to turn deadly for the four teens.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Memories 04 | Scott Roche
GUEST BLOG POST



Download the .mp3

I've read so many awesome books and most of them are classics, but Dan asked for our fondest memory of a book or books. I've loved being read to as much if not more than I've enjoyed reading for as long as I can remember. My Mom read to me well past the age where I needed it. I've read to my own children and credit that for igniting a love of a good tale well told. When I was a kid, there were these things called records and it's a book and record and the journey it started that I'd like to share. 

The earliest memory of audio fiction I have are the GI Joe Adventure Team book and record sets. With it, you got a comic book and a 45 RPM record. The vinyl disk and book are, in my memory, a gateway to the worlds of action and adventure that I'd revisit a hundred thousand times over during the course of my life. The story was brief, since it had to fit on the record, but it was fun and suspenseful. I must have played it fifty times if I'd played it once, sprawled out on my bedroom floor. That taught me the valuable lesson that even the campiest stories can be enjoyed more than once. 

The sound effects were campy and the voice acting was overdone. This was something aimed at children, but re-listening to it even as an adult makes for a pleasant trip down memory lane. I certainly didn't know it at the time, but these kinds of stories would come back to my ears in the form of podcast fiction. It comes back to being able to enjoy the story in a slightly more passive form. I say slightly, because for me at least, it does give me the advantage of being able to close my eyes and use my imagination to paint the pictures. I know that's not the case for everyone. I asked my circle recently about this and some people just don't enjoy that sort of consumption. I get that. I do prefer to read where I can. 

Thinking about the lasting effect this book had on me has been eye opening. There was a time I'd worried about the future of the book. I look at the stories my mids are consuming through TV, movies, and video games and marvel. They have options as readers I didn't have. Inventions like Google glasses and Oculus VR headset open incredible opportunities both as creators and consumers. I don't worry as much any more. I know there are people that will always gravitate towards having stories told to them. The more I think about it though, the more I hope that it acts as the proverbial gateway drug to not just basking in someone elses story but telling your own. That's what it's done for me. 

Bio:

Scott Roche craves only caffeine and the clacking of keys. He pays his bills doing the grunt work no one else wants to take, bringing dead electronics back to life and working arcane wonders with software. His true passion is hammering out words that become anything from tales that terrify to futuristic worlds of wonder. All that and turning three children into a private mercenary army make for a life filled with adventure.


Check out the IndieGoGo campaign for his newest book here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Memories 03 | Michael J. Sullivan
GUEST BLOG POST

Download the .mp3

Book Memories: How I became a reader by Michael J. Sullivan

It’s probably not a good thing to admit, but when I was young I hated reading. Yep, even though I make my living now from writing books, there was a time when I had no interest in the written word. One of my worst memories was the summer I tortured myself with Big Red, a 254 page “chapter book” that I suffered through just so I could say I’ve read a book in my lifetime. But this post is supposed to be about my best memory not my worst, so I’ve already wandered off track.

How I came to reading probably doesn’t seem like an overly pleasant experience. It started in the dead of night (or at least what I thought was the dead of night at the time).  My brother and I shared a small bedroom and since he was ten years my senior he stayed up much later than I did.  He rushed in, switched on a blinding light, shook me awake, and then spend the next several hours rambling about a book he had just started reading. Apparently he was so enthralled with it that he just had to “tell someone.” Even if that someone was his younger brother that he really didn’t have much in common with.

This went on night after night, and I only caught half (or less) of what he was telling me…it always takes me a while to gather my wits when woken in the middle of the night...but one thing that came across loud and clear was his enthusiasm for the story. Much of what he was telling me didn’t make sense. There were strange words I’d never heard of and places that were nothing like where we lived in the suburbs of Detroit. But I tried to stay awake and there were some cool things that stuck with me.

Eventually the nightly visits ceased, and while I didn’t realize at the time that I would miss them, I can look back now with great fondness. Both my brother and I are “getting up there” in years and this was the first time we shared anything together (besides our room). It was a binding tie that stays with me even to this day. But again, I’m wandering off track.

So anyway, it was sometime later…I really can’t recall how long. It was a Sunday, which I remembered because back then there were only three network stations and Sunday afternoons contained golf, bad black and white movies, and not much else. It was raining, and I was bored enough to do some organizing of our bedroom.  In doing so, I came across a book. The book. If there had been anything else to do, I might not have opened the page, but since the story got my brother so excited, it was worth trying to see what all the hub-bub was about.

It started out with:


“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

Wow, I thought. This is much more interesting than the story about the Irish setter.

So I curled up and dug in. My life was never the same again. All that kept running through my head was, “So this is what reading can be like. Needless to say, when I finished it, I dug into Lord of the Rings. Then I was bugging my mom to take me to the library as I worked through all the Narnia books. It wasn’t too long before I ran out, which is what transformed me from a reader to a writer.

I wanted more…and I wanted stories to go the way I wanted them to. I’ve always been mad at Lewis for returning the children to ordinary lives after they had lived as kings and queens. The best way to manage this was to write my own books, so I started typing out stories on my sister’s portable typewriter. I illustrated covers on construction paper, and used staples or punched holes and used string to bind the pages together. A whole new world opened and not only did I discover the joy of reading, but the untapped potential of a nearly limitless world.

So for those who have read my stories you can either thank (or blame) my brother Patrick (his first name is John, although everyone calls him Pat) FRor waking me up in the middle of the night so share his enthusiasm for Tolkien. It was the spark that ignited the fire, and without that my life would have turned out much different. I hope that everyone has someone in their life that nudges them on the way to reading…and, I’d be even happier if some of those got the writing bug as well.


Bio:

Michael J. Sullivan is author of The Riyria RevelationsThe Riyria Chronicles, and his soon to be released science fiction thriller, Hollow World.  He has written twenty-three novels, published nine, and has been translated into fifteen foreign languages. His works have appeared on more than eighty-five “best of” or “most anticipated” lists including those compiled by Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and Audible.com. He spends part of his time trying to help aspiring authors learn the intricacies of publishing through a regular column on Amazing Stories, and he’ll soon be featuring author interviews on Adventures in Science Fiction Publishing.

Contact:
Website: www.riyria.com

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Cue Bull" is now Available in Text & Audio

The short story "Cue Bull" I wrote for the Every Photo Tells Podcast has been released! It is now available on their website in audio, and available in all eBook formats at Smashwords. I will also be adding the .mp3 to my podcast feed. They did an amazing job narrating this story so slide on some headphones and have yourself a listen. A big thanks to Mick & Katharina of Every Photo Tells for such an amazing reading of my story and for providing this outstanding avenue for writers to get inspiration to write and submit short stories.

Download the .mp3

Friday, March 28, 2014

Allred by Allred | Album Review


Every once in a long while you find an album that defines the way you feel in that time of your life. Usually it's a time of great change or reflection. For me it's a time of reflection with the possibility of big changes in the near future. It may not even be all the lyrics to the songs in the album but just the mood of the record. I've only had this happen to me a few times but when it does it's all you can listen to. I used to play music a lot. I've been in a couple bands and used to play every week at my church. I don't play music much these days, and I don't listen to it much either. Mostly I write instead of play, and listen to audiobooks instead of albums.

Right now it's Allred, a 2012 self titled album release I somehow just stumbled upon. It's the album I know I'll be listening to a lot over the next few days, weeks, or even months. It's a singer songwriter guy named John Allred I found way back in college when he was just some dude in a local band with a few really small albums not many people had heard. I found him on Myspace. Remember that website? It was THE social media website - everyone was on Myspace back then like they're on Facebook now.

Anyways the album is the self titled Allred. I've always loved John Allred's voice and his stripped down acoustic sound and in this album it really shines. There are some tracks with a full band but unlike in many previous albums the fuller sound doesn't make you wish he had chosen to go acoustic on the songs. They are less of a big barrage of sound with too many guitar things going on and more a unified sound that compliments his amazing intimate voice. He's not singing over the music on the tracks that have a full band in this album, but with the music. They nailed it on this album. An instant classic I'll cherish for years to come. I love this record. I can't wait to listen to it a billion times.


Listen to an acoustic version of the 6th track from the album:



Watch John play tons of popular songs all in one epic song Medley:

Book Memories 02 | A.F. Grappin
GUEST BLOG POST



Download the .mp3

I once actually had someone ask me if I was reading Dostoyevsky on purpose. 

While that's probably one of my favorite memories of reading, I pretty much just summed up the entire memory in that sentence, and that doesn't make for a very good blog post. I could go into more detail, like how I was reading The Brothers Karamazov in the hallway of the music building in college, when I should have been practicing, or like how my music theory professor once asked me why I wasn't majoring in English instead of music, and he's the one that suggested I read The Brothers Karamazov in the first place... yeah, those were good times. But they were some years ago, and honestly, I was a completely different character then.

Person. I meant person.

Books affected me differently then. Meaning... they didn't. Not really. While I did spend much more time reading words than music at the time, I really wasn't ready to truly read or appreciate books. Stories, yes. I could appreciate stories. I couldn't appreciate the books yet. At least, not on an emotional level. I had to go through a lot of crap first, a lot of emotional breakthroughs, and one really bad relationship.

But hey, that's what made me the way I am now. So, here I am a solid 5-7 years after the Dostoyevsky thing, and here's one of my favorite book memories.

This actually happened in late December 2013. After three years of being away from the stage, I'd been cast as the Prince in a heavily abridged, edgy cut of Romeo and Juliet. Community theatre, not for pay, that sort of thing. Fortunately, I'd performed the show before, pretty much the same cut, with the same director... and I was playing the same role I'd played four years ago. Not a huge role, and I actually remembered most of my lines. The Prince gives a lot of speeches, so I really didn't have a lot of onstage time. I'd go on, give my speech in the scene, and be done for 20 minutes, until my next scene/speech.

Well, as evidenced by the whole "not practicing in the music building" thing I mentioned earlier, I have a tendency to read when I'm supposed to be doing other things. Used to be, I'd have a book and some sort of pen light. Now, I've got my glorious kindle. It was easily hidden in my costume. I'm a terrible person, I know. Offstage after my scene, I'd already have the kindle whipped out and be reading. For the bulk of rehearsals and our performances (yes, I had the kindle with me during performances-- I know, horrible person), I was smack dab in the middle of Myke Cole's Shadow Ops trilogy. Specifically, much of this time, I was reading the second book, Fortress Frontier.

I don't know if I can honestly describe the emotional highs and lows the combination of Fortress Frontier and Romeo and Juliet put me through. One rehearsal in particular, about a week before opening night, I'm sitting in the wings, reading away. We've just gotten started, and I'm waiting for my first entrance, when I go on and yell at the Capulets and Montagues for fighting in Verona streets, tell them that if they keep fighting, they'll die, yada yada yada. My character was just ticked off for the entire show. I turn it off and on like a switch, pissed, not pissed. It's fun.

Well, this day was different, because I'd just read a passage in Fortress Frontier that made my jaw drop. I mean honest-to-God, my mouth was hanging open like a screen door on a muggy Wednesday afternoon in the deep South. Fly-catching, germ-spreading hanging open. I had not seen the return of this character coming. I thought he was dead. Sure, I'd had my doubts about his death, but I hadn't expected him to be alive, not really. So that jaw-drop was part, "I didn't see that coming" and part, "I KNEW IT!" Talk about an adrenaline rush, the euphoria of some amazing storytelling.

Then I heard my cue. I had to put the book-nerd away and turn into stage-nerd. Angrier than a bull getting hemorrhoids installed stage-nerd. I had to come on stage stomping and shouting my displeasure, when all I really wanted to do was tell the rest of the cast that [SPOILER ALERT- I'm not giving this away] was ALIVE!!! None of them would have known what I was talking about; even those other castmates that were big readers hadn't heard of Myke Cole (I have since evangelized at length to them). I didn't care. I was on a high of epic proportions... and now I had to use that energy to berate some of my best friends on stage.

This sort of moment happened TWO MORE TIMES, with the same book, during the same show. I tore through Fortress Frontier, finishing it during our third performance. I couldn't have planned it better, actually. You know that sort of low you get when you've finished a book, and you've already ridden the high of an amazing ending, then it hits you that it's over, and you're just in a slump until you pick up the sequel and/or find something else to immerse yourself in?

I finished Fortress Frontier about ten minutes before my big scene, when the Prince learns that Mercutio (his cousin, though in this production we made the character my sister (yes, played by a woman)) has been killed. The Prince is torn up at the loss of family, and I was torn up at finishing one of the best books I'd ever read. It seemed to fit. Couple that emptiness with the fact that it was my BEST FRIEND playing Mercutio, and that I was looking at her "dead", and... yeah. I sort of lost it. The actress who played Lady Capulet (who I've known for years and who has known me to not be the best at acting) told me I made her feel a little ashamed of herself for the Capulet/Montague feud. I was that affected, and it showed in my performance. 

Basically, here's what I'm saying: words are power, and words are powerful. I'd never really been one to get that emotionally invested in something I was reading, or even that I was writing. My mistake. Immerse yourself. Let it in. And then, more importantly, let it out.


Bio:

A. F. Grappin currently lives in Tennessee and writes in those spare moments of free time before and after the food-providing day job. Check out afgrappin.com for currently published works Empeddigo and The Trials of Hallac, and find A. F.'s blog, home to writing articles, book reviews, short fiction, and the serial novel Mere Acquaintances. You can hear a handful of short stories on the Every Photo Tells podcast.