‘A Rollercoaster Ride is Not a Story’

Well, there you have it. Independence Day: Resurgence is out in theaters. Meanwhile, critics everywhere lined up to beat it like a red-headed stepchild. I had forgotten that it was out. Am I that out of touch? So I skipped over to Rotten Tomatoes to see what everyone thought of it and that led me to some insights. Here’s some truth: Movie critics an interesting job. A good movie’s creativity will inspire you to wax poetic about its virtues. A bad movie will inspire you to great depths of creativity to talk about how much it sucks. It’s not enough to say it sucks. You must find a new way to discuss its suckage. In doing so, you deliver a passive-aggressive slap to the lack of artistic energy you saw.

The reviews for Independence Day: Resurgence are no exception. You can hear the rustling of feet and clicking of pens in the critics response. They’re jocking for position to deliver the single killing blow. Yes, it’s bad … so I better made this look good. Knock out the creature with a single punch. That’s why my review will get reposted to Reddit and/or Linkedin and other avenues of traffic.

Interesting point that one critic made, and it’s the title of this post. “A roller coaster ride is not a story,” says Tim Martain from The Mercury, Tasmania’s largest newspaper. I perked up when I saw this. People are starting to see the truth. Story matters. Big-budget blockbusters are not the box office gold they are purported to be. Continue reading

More Sea Stories! DiCaprio Producing Netflix ‘Seafaring Action Thriller’

Well that’s cool!

More Sea Stories! DiCaprio Producing Netflix 'Seafaring Action Thriller'Today I learned that Leo DiCaprio is producing a ‘seafaring action thriller for Netflix.’ It’s based on the true story of a vigilante crew who stalked a notorious fish poaching ship across three oceans. That’s exciting news for a series like Pac Fish and a book like Flotilla. Given the cyclical nature of Hollywood, it’s easier to be popular when you’re doing something that’s seen as ‘similar’ to other productions (Please see Armageddon / Deep Impact, A Bug’s Life / Ants, Abyss/Leviathan, etc.). If DiCaprio’s production is popular, it might introduce new interest in other ‘wet stories’ and pave the way for Flotilla to reach new audiences.  So yeah, that’s exciting – I’ll be watching how this develops.

No matter what, the battle for survival on our oceans is no laughing matter. I’ll be excited to see this real-life drama when it hits the small screen … hope you’ll see it, too!

Professional Storytelling: No Recipe

Spoiler Alert: This blog post is about a hard truth regarding writing, getting published and being a professional storyteller. If this will upset you, trigger you, discourage you from working to write your own stories, then feel free to stop now and go read something else. 

Professional Storytelling: No RecipeI forget why I did it but somebody recommended Ben Horowitz’s ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things‘ and I read it. I’m glad I did: Great book, can’t say enough about the advice given. It’s a book meant for CEOs, entrepreneurs and startup junkies. It also applies to us – the professional storytellers. Why? Because some of it applies directly to you if you plan on being a writer. As I said before, all authors are entrepreneurs. It’s important for us to see our world with that mindset. More often than not, you’ll find that someone has already tried what you’re trying to do. Their advice can help you avoid a lot of trouble.

We need advice. We’re trying to make a living in one of the hardest markets that has ever existed for writers. It’s not easy! There are literally *thousands* of books on Amazon about how to sell your self-published novel. How to write. How to sell what you write. How to engage with your readers. Every aspect of the process of writing professionally has been codified somewhere by a knowledgeable, successfully-published author. Guess what? Reading and following their advice doesn’t guarantee success! Continue reading

“I Am Patient Zero” – Available Now on Amazon and Smashwords

"I Am Patient Zero" - Available Now on Amazon and SmashwordsI’m pleased to announce that a new short story is now available on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

"I Am Patient Zero" - Available Now on Amazon and Smashwords  "I Am Patient Zero" - Available Now on Amazon and Smashwords  "I Am Patient Zero" - Available Now on Amazon and Smashwords  "I Am Patient Zero" - Available Now on Amazon and Smashwords

“I Am Patient Zero” is the story of a lonely and bitter man named Chuckie. He wakes up one morning to find destruction raining down on his cheap LA apartment. Before he knows it, he’s infected with a deadly disease and he only has a few hours of life left. How will he spend that time?

For many of us, the answer to that question would probably be something noble. We’d tell our family we loved them, we’d avoid infecting others. Chuckie’s response is different and it’s a revenge story not to be missed. Click ‘Continue Reading’ and I’ll tell you how the story got started … Continue reading

I Understand Where She’s Coming From But …

I Understand Where She's Coming From But ...… chances are she’s going to end up taking more hate than understanding by saying this.

Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing Me

Sarah’s making a number of salient points about the mind-bendingly frustrating world of pirated books and entertainment. There are no winners and there are many losers. Our ‘Thank You Economy’ has many fuzzy lines and it’s not always clear where your right to read ends and my right to eat begins. I wish, I wish, I WISH there was a simple answer to this. Sarah hasn’t provided an answer, but I really appreciate her at least asking the question.

I’ll take “Why do authors drink?” for 200, Alex

Professional Storytelling: Anatomy of a Book Cover

Professional Storytelling: Anatomy of a Book Cover

What We Started With

Professional Storytelling: Anatomy of a Book Cover

What We Ended Up With

I’m really excited to be doing this post – always love introducing a new book cover but this one is a little special. I’ve been doing new book covers for stories for a few years and it’s always been a bit of a heart-breaker. The vast majority of the time, every choice I made about a new book cover was made with stiff opposition. Your cover sucks, your font sucks, you suck … I’ve gotten a lot of crap over my book covers and I admit: the vast majority of the time it’s a self-inflicted wound.

Imagine my surprise when Imgur blew this cover up!

I’ve never had that happen before. The vast majority of the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and they had some great suggestions that led to the final version of the cover on the right (->). I’m going to be sending a personal link to the story to a lot of people on Imgur when I Am Patient Zero gets released on June 13th.

There were a number of people who asked ‘How do I write a book?’ and I told them to start looking at my ‘Professional Storytelling’ blog posts. This one specifically is designed to share some thoughts about how to go about making a book cover, since it’s a vital part to the writing production process. One thing that I should tell you first:

The Secret Recipe is That There is No Secret Recipe

Maybe you’re like me from a few years ago. I used to wonder if there is a shortcut to finding the right cover to tell the right story about my story. After many months and many failed attempts, I now know the truth: the answer is no. There’s no simple path and there are a lot of ways to get it wrong. These suggestions will help you to keep the mistakes to a minimum, but your mileage may vary.

Still invested? Okay, let’s go! Here are some suggestions on how to make a book cover that will help sell your story:

Continue reading

You’re Going to Hate Chuckie, And That’s Okay

You're Going to Hate Chuckie, And That's OkaySo one of the things you’re going to notice about ‘I Am Patient Zero’ when you first read it. You’re going to hate Chuckie, the main character. That’s okay. I hate him, too. I’m writing this now to warn you that you won’t like him, won’t agree with the choices he makes and you might be tempted to ask “Dan … is this how you really feel?”

So let me assure you right now, the answer is no. I specifically wrote a story about a character I hated because I’m trying to develop my craft as a writer.

It’s harder than you think to write an ‘unsympathetic character.’ Up to this point, all the main characters of my stories are people you can sympathize with. However, it’s not enough to just think about heroes, it’s important to think about villains. How do you make them well-crafted? How do you efficiently explain their negativity without turning it into a pity party? If I’m going to do this for real, I need to try and paint the canvas with some dark colors and ‘I Am Patient Zero’ is the result. Continue reading