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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Vow | Movie Review & Writing Lesson

(spoiler warning)
If you haven't seen The Vow yet and desperately want to, go check it out and come back before you read this. However, I would advise you to save yourself from some disappointment and try a different movie instead. Let me tell you why.

This review highlights something that is important for any writer to learn - fulfilling promises to your readers. I was going to give this movie at least a 4 out of 5, until I got to the end. Now I'm giving it a 2 out of 5. This movie was well made, I was really enjoying it, but then it failed to fulfill the promise it made to me. I never got to watch the story I was told I would see unfold before my eyes. When you write books, it's important to identify the promises you make to the reader and fulfill them. Otherwise they feel cheated, like I did at the end of The Vow.

In the preview the protagonist says, "I need to make my wife fall in love with me again." If only we could have seen that happen. Now this isn't a movie I would have ever chosen to watch, my wife chose it, but I did think it looked pretty good. That said I do like romantic comedies. They're not my first choice, but I enjoy them. We watched this movie because it has an interesting premise. Two people are married and in love, an accident happens, and the wife can't remember her husband. Watching him win her back and fall in love with him all over again sounds like a pretty romantic movie, and you're rooting for him the whole time. Unfortunately you never get to see that happen. I won't ruin it for you with spoilers if you still want to see it, but just look at its rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 29% That's just under 1 1/2 stars. Like I said, the acting was great, the cinematography was very well done, and I loved the characters - but we never got to watch the movie we were promised. It lead up to it, and then left us cold.

To hear more on fulfilling promises to your readers, check out this great episode from my favorite writing podcast Writing Excuses. These guys are pros making their living writing books, and they thought this topic was important enough to devote an episode to. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen. Just click on the Writing Excuses link above. Thanks for stopping by and remember - fulfill the promises you make to your readers!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Short Stories of DanDanTheArtMan 10 - The Day She Was Born

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A podcast short story where a husband sees an armed robber enter the store where his pregnant wife went to pick up something. Find out what he does about it. Thanks to Jeff Hite for the bumper!

Music "Summon The Rawk" by Kevin MacLeod:

Jeff Hite:

Promo at the end of the Podcast was for Flying Island Press:

My Info:



Sound Effects Used from

Central Locking.wav


Gun-Pistol(one shot).wav

Smag's Glass.wav

AE0090 Volvo 740 GLE handbrake turn 01.flac

Earth Wind Fire Water pack 1 » Earth1.aif

DangerousBedroom » slideropen.wav

Foley » CrackingDryWood.wav

Bone Crunching sounds » Bone Cracking.wav

human » male-fight08.ogg

Body Hitting Mat.aif

guns » Dropping a gun.wav



BABIES and KIDS mono and stereo » 00235 baby newborn first voice.wav
Currently /5 Stars.12345(72)

Public Spaces » IKEA_Cafeteria.wav


CARS individual sounds » 01019 car door 3.wav

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 11, 2012

TV Memories 14 | Sally Preston

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It's all about the theme song! Well... mostly! Maybe this is part of what sparked my interest in becoming a musician... ok, it could have also had something to do with my parents building pipe organs or my mom being a concert organist. But for me, the thing that could make or break a show was the theme song!

We rarely had access to cable as kids so it was mostly public stations. My favorite shows were well connected to whether or not the theme song was good. What little kid didn't get a bolt of excitement when they heard the opening riff to "Sesame Street!", Also, almost any child of the 80's can surely recognize this melody "Believe it or not I'm walking on air! I never thought I could feel so free!" admit it, you heard the melody and now it's stuck in your head!

Also, while I never really watched Dallas, one of my favorite childhood memories was that when the theme song came on, I with my head full of curly ringlets would dance to it with my mom. Then when the dance was done, usually in a fit of giggles I would march off and go to sleep.

As I grew, I found that my TV memories were less wrapped up in the theme song, but more punctuated by what stage I was at in my life, for example "Saved by the Bell" decent theme song, but more known for giving me a glimpse of what I would hope high school would be like when I got there.

In college it was "Friends." The whole dorm would gather together and see if they could get the claps right in the song... for those of you wondering there are four, not five.

However as an adult my TV memories that stick out do so because it's connected to a powerful memory or emotion, and now that I think of it each TV memory connects to music in some way...

Paul Simon singing "The Sound of Silence" at Ground Zero. Too profound to fully explain.

Throughout my life my TV memories go hand and hand with the music that accompanies them, the two work together in tandem to great effect. Whether it's to excite and spark imagination as the opening theme song to "Deep Space 9" or to bring out the silly "Phineas and Ferb" props to my kids for exposing me to that! My favorite is when TV and music work together to remind me of just how blessed I am. Listen to the guest appearance of the Canadian Tenors on Oprah singing "Hallelujah" I defy you to not see the beauty in life at that moment. So, as a favor to yourself... when you turn on the TV, keep your eyes open, but also keep your ears open and remember... It's all about the theme song.

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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Self Pub Book on the Grocery Store Shelves?

Last night I was picking up some groceries when I noticed an author's book, who I knew to be self published, was on the shelf in my local grocery store. You may have heard of him, John Locke. No not that one old dude who's the father of classical liberalism and long dead, I'm talking about the extremely successful self published author John Locke. He's known for his Donovan Creed series, and wrote a book called "How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!" That title says it all about his success self publishing eBooks. I thought he must have signed with a big publisher, because of course that's the only way he could have a book in the grocery store right? Only the best sellers are on the shelves there, they don't have much shelf space. So I picked up the book and looked inside to see what publisher he was with now, thinking here goes another self published author signing with the big six. It's not something I look down on, but I can see how someone would stay with self-publishing if they're making the kind of money John Locke has been making. I've been curious to see what the authors who have self published with amazing success will continue to do. So far I've seen a lot of them signing with a big six New York publisher. They usually still self publish other books as well, but I thought that they might all end up signing up. Not John Locke! To my surprise the publisher of the paperback I found in my local grocery store was John Locke Books. I thought, wait how can he do that? I made a mental note to look it up online later. A late night stop for some groceries became an intriguing and exciting trip. That was a couple nights ago, and last night I found this blog post on John Locke's website. It turns out that it is published under his own imprint, so he has full control over it, but Simon and Schuster is distributing his books. As far as I know this is a first in the publishing world. The book is not a long one, which is probably why he's able to sell it for only five dollars, but for the price of a Frapuccino, let's all support this self published author getting on to the grocery store shelf! This is big time stuff for us authors who like the idea of self-publishing and having full control of our work. The majority of his sales might remain in eBooks, but being in the grocery store and the book store in paper means that you're pretty much everywhere and that has to be getting him new fans that have never heard of him before. I'm really excited about the whole idea, and to think not long ago we could not have imagined something like this being possible. Go snag a copy at your local store, it is called Wish List and can be found at Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, airport bookstores, Walgreens, and others. I saw it on the shelf at Safeway. Let's hope the book does well so more self published authors can find their way in paper onto the shelves of book stores and grocery stores.

Friday, May 4, 2012

TV Memories 13 | Laith Preston

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When Dan approached me to do another guest post for him, this time on the topic of my TV memories, my first thought was that this would be an easy one to pull together. However, just like the previous post, more and more memories arose as I thought about it. Some of my earliest TV Memories revolve around, surprise, surprise, a children’s show - Mr Roger’s Neighborhood. I can recall the wonder as the trolley dinged along its track, taking us to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

I grew up in Kansas City in the 80s and 90s, so most of my memories were of watching TV on cable, rather than over the air broadcasts. However, there was one show I was somewhat addicted to that bucked this trend, The Secret City Adventures, a PBS kids art program. I can recall many times spending a number of minutes fiddling with the rabbit ears on an old television with dials on the front, trying to pull in the PBS station from Topeka, KS, 70 miles to the west. My deep interest in technology (and radio in particular) is partially due to trying to figure out exactly why I couldn’t get the show I wanted to see.

I have many fond memories of sitting down on Thursday nights after dinner with my parents for a family TV double header, first off was This Old House, I loved that show, it never was the same after Vila left.

After we finished watching the wonders of home restoration came Mystery!. I remember it well, the incredible opening sequence of Edward Gorey cartoons overlayed with the iconic theme music... I can hear it now. This solid, early introduction to logic and critical thinking had a strong influence on where I’ve ended up in life.

That I was a regular viewer of Saturday Morning Cartoons really goes without mention, but I do have a fond place in my heart for The Land of the Lost. I was fortunate in those days before massive syndication to catch the re-release of this and other genre classics: Star Trek, Lost in Space, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers...

As time marched on television changed, over the years I was able to enjoy such works in syndication as Mission Impossible, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., as well as less serious shows like Get Smart.

One thing I do know is that well before import animation reached the prominence it has today, I enjoyed the imports we had Robotech, Speed Racer, Tanzor Z, even if they were horrible adaptations to fit the US market and rules of the time. My interests weren’t limited to Japanese imports alone, Danger Mouse (UK), The Littles (FR/CA), Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea (FR) and The Mysterious Cities of Gold (FR/JP) all of these were important to me at one time or another.

TV has changed over the years, many great shows have come and gone. I am thankful that in our modern, fast paced, interconnected world; more and more venues like Netflix are getting the rights to these older shows, and I can introduce my daughters to some of the programing that helped make me into the inquisitive and creative person I am today.

Laith Preston is a voracious reader, aspiring writer and jack of many trades. When he is not at his day job as a web application developer, he can be found wasting way too much time on various pastimes in Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife, three kids and the cat. You can find his aimless meanderings at his blog,