Dani Stone

I Hear Laugh Tracks


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This Is Where I Leave You – Cynical Critics No Longer Enjoy the Movie Experience

this is where i leave you movie

A few months ago I listed Jonathan Tropper’s, This Is Where I Leave You as one of my favorite novels of the year. I ended the post in typical excited-Dani fashion with a “Weee” and a “clap clap” after mentioning that a movie based on the book was scheduled for later this year.

Well, later is now and last night I went to see it. I was supposed to wait for my book club ladies, but on opening weekend I decided to be a jerk and go by myself. They’ll forgive me when I buy a round of queso dip and guacamole at our next meeting.

After the movie I sat in my car and ugly-faced cried while texting messages to my four siblings. My emotional sonnet of undying love took three paragraphs to convey. Their replies consisted mostly of emoticon faces and pictures of fist-bumps. Also, my brother told me to quit being the weird crying chick in the parking lot. God love ‘em. And they’re all mine!

The movie, about a dysfunctional family who has to sit Shiva for seven days after their father/husband passes away, was a nice homage to the book. Was it better? No. But what movie-based-on-a-book is? This is Where I Leave You has a stellar cast with a few of my favorites including Jason Bateman (does he EVER age), Tina Fey (go read her memoir, Bossypants, right now), Connie Britton (Mrs. Coach from Friday Night Lights), Dax Shepard, and the bald guy who played Peter on House of Cards.

this is where i leave you

I loved it. Critics hated it. WHY?? *dramatic fist-raise to the sky* I cannot tell you how many times a critic has bashed a book or movie that I adored. Do I have perpetually bad taste? Possibly. On Roger Ebert.com, one uptight staffer gave the movie two stars and reported that all the siblings did was, “gripe gripe, gripe and snipe, snipe, snipe.”

Um, YEAH. You put four adult siblings in their childhood home for seven days under stressful circumstances and that’s the reality. Though with my siblings it would be more like, “gripe, eye-roll, under-the-breath mumble, fist-clench, hum Amazing Grace 278 times and finally, shout, stomp, door-slam.”

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collage man lovely collage


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Facebook is Not the Boss of Me, But Okay, These Are My Top 10 Books

If you hang out on the book of Faces, you’ve probably seen people posting their 10 favorite books, and then tagging friends to do the same. I’ve been tagged twice and since I’m chatty, I decided to blog about my list. As one does.

My 10 Favorite Books of All Time and All The Reasons Why!

 

god scarlett to kill a mockingbird

The Books of My Youth

Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

When this book was released I was 14 years old and at the time it seemed absolutely scandalous. It was like Judy was reading my Garfield diary when she talked about cute boys, school girl drama, raging hormones, teen angst and even. . . psst. . . menstruation. Ewww! I know. I still can’t say it without cringing because I am a child. Judy talked about things that adults and even my peers weren’t comfortable discussing.

Scarlett – The Sequel to Gone With The Wind by Alexandra Ripley

I’m a card-carrying member of the Scarlett O’Hara fan club so I was skeptical about a sequel to Gone With The Wind, particularly one that was not penned by the mighty southern hand of Margaret Mitchell. Then, Alexandra Ripley showed up out of nowhere to put Scarlett on a horse and send her roaming the Irish countryside in search of Rhett, responsibility and true love. Picture me clutching the book to my chest whilst I twirl in the mist with an ancient castle rising up behind me in the background. Why do I love Miss Scarlett? I think Tina Fey said it best, “Bitches get stuff done.”

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I don’t remember much about high school (probably all those Aqua Net fumes) but I do remember inhaling this book and being completely consumed by the lives of Jem, Scout, Atticus, Calpurnia and the other characters in their sleepy town. Boo Radley scared the bejesus out of me, right up to the point where he became the unlikely hero. The courtroom scenes were tough on my little kitten heart, but they definitely cemented my love for the courtroom drama genre and led me to seek out future authors like John Grisham and Michael Connelly.

collage man lovely collage

Dark and Twisty Favorites

The Man From Primrose Lane by James Renner

It’s safe to say I’ve written more about this book than any other. And once again there’s only so much I can say without giving too much away, because as much as I don’t want to believe it, there are still people out there who haven’t read it and I don’t want to ruin the moment. This book is memorable because I thought I was reading one kind of story, but then it turned into something completely different and I was spellbound. Recently, that rapscallion, James Renner let it slip that there is a sequel-of-sorts in the works. I’m giddy, I tell you.

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Patreon is like Kickstarter and Comics are Way Better Than Potato Salad

I have a pal, his name is Joshua Unruh, and he’s such a talented writer that I’m letting him take over my blog for a day. He writes stories about superheroes. I’ve read them. So has my young daughter. I never thought Katie and I would be superhero lovin’ chicks, but we totally are. We’re fan girls for these stories anyway because he empowers his characters instead of diminishing them, and the best part, he has plans to make a whole host of characters that people can relate to.

Y’all know how chatty I am, so I’m just going to let Joshua have the floor and tell you about his latest venture.

catfight and hellkitten

Catfight and Hell Kitten!

If I were going to compare imagination to real estate, I am a guy with great tracts of land in my head. But even among the seemingly endless rows of knights, dragons, barbarian kings, Doctors in TARDISes, Jedi, starships, action scientists, and a whole host of other things, you can pick out the superheroes. Because if imagination is land, they’re taking up all the prime real estate in my head.

They’ve been there since before I could read. I love superheroes. They have informed who I am as a grown up person in ways that make it hard for anybody who knows me to imagine a Josh without superheroes. It isn’t just t-shirts and comics, it’s who I am.

pulp diction pressAnother big part of who I am is an independent author. I have small-press published four short stories, a few magazines with other authors, and two novels. I’ve just recently started my own publishing imprint, Pulp Diction Press, to self publish my future offerings. I’m on the forefront of what it means to be an author in the modern world.

And that’s where Patreon comes in. Patreon allows me to set up a project where people are able to pledge money that is only paid when I send out an update for the project. If you are familiar with Kickstarter, think of it as a Kickstarter with ongoing, small payments to support a creator rather than one big payment to support a single project.

I’ve recently combined these two things into a Patreon project that will allow me to tell serialized, ongoing prose superhero stories. This is literally the marriage of my two favorite things in the world that aren’t actual human people.

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Old Cat Lady Chronicles – Episode One

Our 100-year-old cat (who has cataracts) decided to join us in bed at 2:30 this morning. She proceeded to use my face chest and hands as stepping stones (claws out). I tried to help her over to her designated sleeping spot, but instead, I accidentally placed her on Dougie’s sleeping face (claws out).

Following this cat-assist fail, there was so much spicy language exchanged that the old cat lady decided she should bed down somewhere else, so she fled the flannel and her bloody victims immediately fell back to sleep.

End scene

Also, never leave your water unattended because she will stick her face in it. Centenarian cats have no shame.

Lucy water


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Worst. Air Freshener. Ever. Taco Bell’s 20 Year Assault On My Senses

WHY DOES MY CAR SMELL LIKE A TRASH DUMPSTER, is something I may have asked in my outside voice this morning when I slid into the van to take the kids to school.

To clarify, I would describe the status of my housekeeping skills as, “comfortably lived-in, but never a pig stye.” We keep our cars the same way. You might find a stray backpack or gum wrapper, but that’s about it. Trust me, The Colonel wouldn’t have it any other way.

Immediately I turned to my son, because unless I had mistakenly purchased milk, tuna, eggs and meat from the store, then unwrapped them and left them in the back cargo bay of the van under a grow light for three days, I had a feeling the smell could be traced back to him.

He’s 13. He’s a slob. God love him. He’s always on my smells-radar.

Me –  Jacob – Why does my van smell like death?

Jacob – *looks around wildly* *mumbles* It’s probably the taco wrapper in my bag.

Me – What? Seriously? Get it. Now. *eyes of irritation*

Jacob – *Opens his backpack, retrieves wrapper without commentary, gets out of car, proceeds to trash can*

Jacob – *Starts to put on seat belt, stops* – Oh, wait. I think I have one in my other bag too. And I don’t think I finished that one.

Me – Tacos? From where?

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How I Write

This week I was invited to participate in the How I Write blog hop. I hesitated briefly because what I have to work on far outweighs what I’d like to be working on, so I wasn’t sure which type of writing to discuss, but when a blogger asks you to hold her hand and come hop, you don’t say no. It’s like saying no to a slice of homemade cake. That would just be rude.

I was invited by Lisa Allen, who is also affectionately known as my Ginger Bestie. We met last year at the inaugural Listen To Your Mother show in Kansas City. We were thrown into a unique situation where moments after saying hello, we immediately bared our souls with other cast members during the first read-through of the show. I was struck by her eloquence and poise as she read her emotional piece. I have since come to admire her for being a single mother and phenom writer. This year she’s part of a production team bringing Listen To Your Mother back to KC for the second year. I can’t wait to see it – this time from the audience.

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First Book Signing! Weee! *clap clap*

How I Write

What Am I Working On? Currently I’m a freelance writer contributing weekly to Diets In Review and Health Bubble. I also write dating profiles for a prominent matchmaking site (never a dull moment there.) And I’m always tackling miscellaneous one-and-done projects for editing, web content and marketing material.

I also have a super secret project on the horizon that I’m beyond excited about, but until I’ve signed the contract, I can’t reveal. When there’s a lawyer involved, you know it’s a big deal.

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Only My Father Would Have a Heart Attack on April Fool’s Day!

dad jakie 2001 blog

Dad and Jacob – Both of these fellas had a big week!

Over the years I’ve heard a handful of phrases that have rocked me to my core:

~Your Grandma Gordon has stomach cancer

~Your baby’s head is right THERE, do not push (This was said to me during a routine checkup for my firstborn who wasn’t due for another 6 weeks. Surprise!)

~Your daughter has a rare brain disorder

~Your father has cancer

and last week:

~We think Dad had a mild heart attack.

The message was delivered by my sister, Melissa, via voicemail. As I sat in a Girl Scout meeting and listened to her explain the situation on my cell phone, the shrieks of my daughter and her fellow scouts faded away. Missie’s voice was deliberately calm because apparently even though I am the oldest of five children I also have a reputation for overreacting. It’s not uncommon for my brother to tell me, “settle your crazy ass down.”

My sister swears she left everyone the same kind of slow gentle voice mail message, but I’m betting she’s a liar-face. She could just as easily have been talking to a child, small animal, or someone who was heavily medicated. I mean, it’s not like I fall out on the floor and start shouting, “Help me, Jesus,” like a guest on Jerry Springer, but I am prone to bouts of uncontrollable sobbing at the mention of illness or accident so in hindsight, that was probably a smart move on her part.

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