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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Free Halloween Stories

Happy Halloween! I have a couple of Halloween short stories so I thought I would share links to them on this week of Halloween. I also just made a Halloween eBook with 8 thrilling stories in it. You can find that HERE. If you like eBooks or audiobooks I've got you covered. Below are two of the stories in this new eBook that are specifically Halloween stories. They're available below in eBooks and Audiobook formats, but you can find those and others in the eBook pictured to the right and linked above. Also all my stories are available in audio if you find more in the eBook you'd like to listen to. Thanks for stopping by!

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

Music used: "Tempting Fate" and "Beginning" by
Sound effects used were all Public Domain and came from

Now available in eBook formats here:

The House Sitter 

Download the .mp3

When Tammy is house sitting, she get creeped out. She keeps hearing and seeing things in the dark corners of the mansion she is alone in. Then, she hears and sees something and this time it's not her imagination.

Now available for FREE in all eBook formats at

Bed Music Attribution:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Merlin and the Pendragons | The Story Behind a Book Cover

I had the pleasure of creating the book cover for Merlin and the Pendragons by podcaster and author Chris Moody. We started with a castle as all fantasy stories do right? He had a certian nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace in mind called the Neuschwanstein Castle located on a hill over the village of Hohenschwangau near F├╝ssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. So I went digging and found a great picture of it on Pixelbay that was in the Public Domain which means we could legally use it for commercial purposes.

I left the color of the photo alone and found a medieval fantasy looking font. I also tried seeing what the cover would look like without the medallion. It looked alright but left something to be desired. Chris thought so to. It wasn't there yet.

Then I went and looked at book covers of the other stories in The Chronos Files for style inspiration. The medallion you see above the author name I constructed from scratch in Adobe Photoshop. I grabbed the teal color from one of the other Chronos Files books and then worked on giving it a kind of glowing effect. I added bevels to the metal parts and kept adding layers until all the parts were there. Then I made a new layer in photoshop and splashed a teal to white gradient from bottom to top on it and changed the layer style to Hue to give the whole image that bright teal look. I also added a teal gradient on the top of the image which faded into zero opacity to brighten up the sky and make the title text stand out more and which also made it clearer and easier to read. I also found a new font that looked similar to the fonts used on some of the other Chronos Files stories. Then it was almost done.

Chris mentioned that Amazon would be putting on the Kindle Worlds square logo in the bottom left which might require some things to be moved around. So I copied that off of another cover and temporarily put it on our cover. It showed me right away that Chris's author name needed to be moved to the right and that the medallion needed to be smaller and moved up and to the right. Both would have been partially covered by the square Kindle Worlds logo. Then it was done!

This was a really fun cover to work on and I gave Chris a killer price. I'd love to do the same for you if you find yourself in need of a book cover for your story. Check out my hire me page for prices. You'll find that they're incredibly reasonable if not the cheapest around. I've been on Chris's cool author interview podcast called PodioMedia Chat a couple times so he got a really steep discount as my way of giving back to the podcast community. If you see my prices and still have trouble coming up with some change I've also been known to trade for covers. Shoot me a line and I'm sure we can work out a deal. I'm always in need of people to read my stories and give me feedback and edits! As always, thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Top 5 Dystopian Films
Guest Post by Maria Jane

Dystopian fiction is bigger than ever, and while not all films in the genre are critically lauded or well received by audiences, some manage to stand above the rest with tremendous stories of how society will turn out when the end of the world comes around. Here is a list of some of the best dystopian films in recent years. 

The Hunger Games (2012) 

Based on the trilogy of bestselling young adult novels by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games helped usher in the new era of post-apocalyptic popularity. Leading this list is the story of a young woman who offers herself for a match to the death in order to save her younger sister. Living in a totalitarian world where children are forced to kill each other for entertainment, the heroine Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself wanting only to survive and return to her family. But through her quest to be the last person standing, she becomes a symbol for a rebellion long brewing against the government.  

Snowpiercer (2013) 

In the future dystopian world of Snowpiercer, all of humanity that remains is living on a giant train, constantly circling the globe. Those people that live near the front of the train are wealthy, well fed, and sure of their superiority. Those in the back of the train are the complete opposite – abused, starved, kept in filthy conditions like animals, and constantly under threat of being killed. When Captain America himself, Chris Evans rises up to lead rebels from the back of the train to overtake the front, all hell breaks loose. The ending of this dystopian film is even more bleak than most films on this list, with little hope that humanity can survive what they have done to themselves. 

The Maze Runner (2014) 

The Maze Runner centers on all male teenagers dropped into a seemingly impossible to solve labyrinth, where monsters and machines are out to kill them and survival is a thing not to take lightly. Little is explained about the overall post-apocalyptic world the characters inhabit, though it is obvious that there’s more than meets the eye and the answer to a better future may lie in the survivors of the maze itself. The story is action-packed and ends in such a way that viewers want to see the next installment in the series, if only to have their questions about the premise answered. Although the second film in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, strayed away from the plot of the book, it still made for an engaging and action-packed feature. 

The Giver (2014) 

Based on the novel by Lois LowryThe Giver showcases a (seemingly) much more peaceful world than those in the other movies on this list. In this world, all emotions have been removed from the populace so that everyone can live in peace and harmony, with no more war or conflict. However, each individual is given a specific use in this society, and if they cannot fulfill that use they are removed from their community altogether. While less centered on action and fighting than some other dystopian stories, The Giver does present a lot of important questions about what it is to be human and to feel emotions, and what a world would be like if that part of humanity was stripped away.  

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) 

One of the biggest, best movies of 2015 was also the latest installment in a franchise that began back in 1979. Mad Max: Fury Road was everything a great, action-packed, post-apocalyptic film should be. It was set in a barren wasteland of a world, run by diseased warlords using water, fuel, and ammunition as leverage against the rest of the populace. One reason the Mad Max series continues to resonate is the feeling that something like this could easily happen in our own, real world, if our reliance on fossil fuels isn’t supplanted by use of renewable resources - for instance, Enmax energy has reported that we may have as few as 54 years worth of oil reserves left, and scarcity has historically led to warfare. The world of Fury Road is obviously a man’s world, run by men and defended by men. However, in this chapter of the Mad Max saga it is not Max that takes center stage in the story. Instead it is Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, who seeks a better life for herself and a truckload of enslaved concubines. Women are the warriors as well as the victims in this dystopian tale.  

While all dystopian stories have a central theme of explaining how the world moves on after an apocalypse-level event, the good ones also work to take their stories in unique, memorable, and surprising ways. And they seek to explain not only why we might be so fascinated with what would happen in a post-apocalypse situation, but why it is so important to work now to make sure those kinds of situations never take place.  

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.