My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Reading Paper Books Is My Last Choice

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I just finished The Giver by Lois Lowry. It was the first time I've read a book in paper in years. I've owned the paperback for a long time and have been intending to read it for years. I grabbed it from my bookcase because my wife and I were going on a trip where we planned to lay by the pool for hours. I didn't wan't an eReader and my phone screen isn't great for reading in bright sunlight so I opted for a paperback instead of my usual reading habit of reading via eBooks and audiobooks. While reading this story in paper I probably stopped to smell the pages at least once every reading session - but I found it really frustrating that once we were back from our trip I had a really hard time finding time to read it.

I have two hours of communting a day during the week for work and during this time I listen to audiobooks. That's how I do most of my reading. Someday my circumstances might change but for now I just can't find time to read paper books. One of my good friends who also has many young children told me he's the same way and get's most of his reading done with audiobooks. 

Electronic books are great too because they're easy to chip away at in small bursts. They're always with me in my pocket on my phone. I have gotten through a few pages while waiting at appointments or while in a long line at the grocery store. It's so convenient. Here's the other thing though - I actually prefer reading eBooks on my phone to reading a paper book even when I'm lounging at home. I like to read lying down and I've got to tell you that after holding my super light weight phone up above my head and having the ease of turning a page with a tiny quick tap even small paperbacks feel clumsy and annoying. I like to read with the text very large and my screen horizontal. It gets to be so I don't even notice I'm tapping it just becomes automatic and I think I read faster this way than with a paperback, or at least it feels easier. Also having a backlit screen is so much better at night than a clunky reading light perched above my pages that I might accidently shine in my wife's eyes while adjusting my posture in bed.

Yes I love paper books and as I mentioned even the smell of them but I will always choose to read via eBooks or audiobooks when given the choice. They're on my phone so they're always just a click away. They don't take up physical space in my house. They're usually cheaper. I can buy a new one and be reading it within seconds without having to even get up. For me eBooks and audiobooks win out everytime. That said I have hundreds of paperbacks I haven't read yet so I'll keep reading paper books for years to come, but when it comes to buying new books the only time I'll be choosing to buy paper books is when I'm planning on getting them signed and putting them safely on my shelf where they won't get bent and cracked.

What about you? Have you tried eBooks or audiobooks and they're just not your cup of tea or are you a paper defector like me joining the new electronic revolution and loving it all the way? I'd love to hear your side of the story when it comes to reading. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Problem with Young Adult Dystopian Fiction
Guest Post by Maria Jane

Over the past several years, the combination of YA (young adult) fiction with a dystopian premise has seen a tremendous leap in popularity. Starting with the 2010 novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and continuing with other book-to-film series such as Divergent and The Maze Runner, YA dystopias perform well because they speak to the feelings of isolation and alienation that teenagers typically feel as they grow up. However, there are some specific issues many in their adolescent age experience that are hardly ever represented in these films and are therefore often ignored.
A common theme among YA fiction is the suppression of budding sexual feelings. Protagonists acknowledge their desire to form intimate relationships while realizing that those relationships may be inappropriate for the current situation. This allows teenage readers to identify with the hero's feelings and identify with the confusion and insecurity that often accompanies young love. One example of this is in The Hunger Games in which Katniss seems to struggle with her relationships with both Peeta and Gale in a time of war and government surveillance. Given the world she lives in, however, she seems to solely focus on her priorities as the Mockingjay. Another recurring theme is the disillusionment and mistrust with respect to authority figures and organizations. Teenagers at a rebellious age will certainly identify with the impulse to question the decisions and motivations of those in power, and to take a stand against actions by ruling or governing bodies that are they are morally or ethically opposed to. This is very obviously represented in Divergent and Insurgent in which teenagers are forced to choose separate factions to live in when they get to a certain age and if they don’t belong to any of them, their existence is deemed detrimental to society as a whole.

Unfortunately, some of the issues that would likely be present in a true dystopian society are simply not addressed in modern YA fiction. Racism, which has been a prevalent issue in actual dystopian societies like Nazi Germany and South Africa during apartheid, and is currently a huge social and political topic in the United States, is largely ignored in contemporary YA fiction, where both the heroes and oppressors are typically white. Divergent and Insurgent, both available on Vudu and cable TV, are based on segregation according to personality types, but somehow author Veronica Roth fails to highlight the obvious metaphor to race relations. In fact, the film predominantly features white people even in the backgrounds. In the case of The Hunger Games, many readers didn't even realize that two major characters were black until the movie adaptation was released, which caused a large backlash on Twitter. The absence of people of color in film is nothing new. However, one would think that in dystopian societies, they would be negatively impacted as much as white people.

Sexism, another prominent issue in many cultures throughout history, is also rarely addressed in YA dystopian films and novels. Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games shows little femininity beyond her affections for love interests Peeta and Gale, and there's no discussion of how her gender affects her performance in the Games or the way people perceive her. In The Maze Runner, there is only one girl among the 7 or 8 primary characters, and Ender's Game addresses no sex or gender issues despite the fact that most of it takes place at a co-ed military academy full of teenagers. There definitely are many strong female characters in these films, such as Katniss and Beatrice, but it seems that many of their actions are based on men. This is a common real-life problem many young women face but the message that you should base your decisions on men shouldn’t be something we need to enforce.

To tackle sexism and racism in a respectful and thoughtful manner could open up the readership for YA dystopian fiction beyond its current audience. Young females may respond well to the strength exhibited by their counterparts in these stories, but a narrative that directly addresses gender inequality could provide more emotional resonance. Likewise, a novel or film that actually addresses the practice of racism and/or segregation that would be likely to occur in a dystopian society could have a broader appeal to a demographic that stretches across all types of ethnicities.

To prevent the YA dystopia subgenre from becoming stale, authors must exhibit the courage and willingness to take on these controversial topics, and infuse their stories with parallels to real world issues beyond simple teenage identity crises. Then, the current fad would have the potential to grow into something much more meaningful: a platform for discussion that can lead to positive change and a movement towards equality.

This awesome article was written by Maria Jane. Click on the label Maria Jane below to find more articles on this website written by her. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Last Butterscotch - New Cover

One of my favorite science fiction short stories now has a third attempt at a cover. I've never liked the second iteration and I don't know why I've let it stay as it is for so long. In one sense it comunicates that it's a children's story which is what I was going for but it's just not a good cover. It is a good story for kids and so I changed it from the first scary looking cover into this one but now I'm trying again. So here it is. My new cover that hints at the twist in the story but hopefully doesn't give it away.

You can pick up a copy of the story for free in every eBook format you could want here on Smashwords. Let me know what you think. More of an audiobook fan? Listen to the story complete with sound effects here. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Calling All Beta Readers!

I am currently writing something unlike anything I've ever written before. I'm writing a romance drama novel. Think The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks as far as genre, but a very different story that revolves around love and tragedy. You know what's cool? My wife had the idea and sat down with me as we wrote the 1,700 word outline together.

It draws heavily from our life and the many struggles we've had with our children's medical conditions but also uses stories of other lives we've heard about to crank up the drama to eleven. The characters are going to go through A LOT of crap which is something I've really been trying to improve in my stories. Everything is always too easy for my characters. In the writing of this novel I'm going to put them through hell. The unimaginable is going to happen to them. Can their relationship survive? Can they survive? I don't know what I would do with myself if I went through what we've planned for this poor couple. 

I'm posting new chapters on Wattpad. I just started writing it so I'm only up to two chapters as I write this blog post, but I'm hoping to bust the story out fast. If you have a ton of patience and don't mind waiting for the next chapter to be posted every week or so then I'd love your feedback on what's working and what's not working in my story. It should end up being a pretty short novel at around 60,000 words but that's just a guess at this point. I'd really love your feedback and it could help me shape and mold my story to be a better one! If you go on this journey with me I'll be sure to send you a free copy when it's all said and done. So come join me on this long road and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Dumbest Comic You've Ever Seen

Ready for it? The dumbest  you've every seen. We all pick our nose, but when we see someone else do it? Sick!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I Finally Went for a Run!

I finally went for a run this Saturday. It felt good. I went nice and slow and slowed down even more halfway through then picked it up a bit at the very end. Today I'm very sore in my legs but also in my sides. Just goes to show how out of shape I really am. I felt great the rest of the day. I can't wait to run again.

Friday, August 7, 2015



What are you going to do?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Short Stories of DanDanTheArtMan 15 - The Forest Trail

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In this short story a kid named Nolan finally gets to join his big brother and his friends on a camping trip but on the way they realize they didn't bring matches. His brother makes him go back for them alone. The forest isn't so fun without people around. In fact it's kind of creepy, and that's before Nolan literally runs into someone.

Thanks for listening! Have friends you want to share the story with that prefer reading? They can get the eBook version for free in every format here at Smashwords.