Category Archives: Art

The Write Stuff – Secrets to Creating Reader Interest!


So how is your novel coming?

We’ve covered the opening of your story or novel, the importance of description and sensory elements, what to write about, and even had a stupendous contest (results still being tabulated). Now it’s time to enter the inner sanctum. Time to learn the lost and hidden secrets to creating reader interest.

These secrets were taught to me in the context of movies, so that’s how I’m going to explain them. It’ll also be easier to understand them this way as more people will be familiar with the examples. Basically, there are nine reasons, and only nine reasons, why mass audiences buy a ticket to see a movie (or buy a book), and they are all story-telling elements.

The rule of thumb is having two or three of these elements, correctly applied, in your movie guarantees a modest hit. Four or five elements equals a decent-sized hit. Six or seven elements turns your movie into a major hit. And if your movie (or novel) contains eight or nine of these elements you have a blockbuster on your hands.

What’s great about these elements is they work regardless of who the actors are. In fact, stars are made entirely because they play roles which contain these elements. Every major star was made this way, no exceptions. If you want to create a star, all you have to do is cast an unknown in a part that contains these elements. Harry Cohn used to say, “Gimme your aunt, gimme your dog, gimme a bum off the street, and I’ll give you a star.” And he was right. He knew all he had to do was cast someone in a role that correctly used these elements and the audience would be magnetically attracted to that person. Using these elements, you can write “actor proof” scenes and scripts. Scenes and scripts that no actor, no matter how bad or untalented they are, can ruin. For directors, that’s a dream.

For our purposes, we can use these elements to create bestselling novels that honor God, elevate men and women, or add beauty to the world.

These elements are powerful. In my estimation, there are less than ten people currently alive in the world who know how to consciously apply them. You are about to join that very select group, so use these elements wisely. Don’t waste them on trash.

Secret Element #1: Undeserved Misfortune

Undeserved Misfortune is the most powerful of all the elements. It occurs when a character in your story experiences something bad and threatening that they don’t deserve. This creates fear and pity in the reader or audience and causes them to identify with that character. In movies and plays, where a live actor portrays the character, it creates an identification with both the character and the actor. This is one of the three ways in which a star is created.

The movie Titanic contains multiple levels of Undeserved Misfortune. First, there’s Undeserved Misfortune for everyone on the ship. Through no fault of their own the ship is going to sink and most of them are going to die. Second, Kate Winslett is being forced by her mother into an arranged marriage with a man she does not want to marry. Third, Leonardo DiCaprio is framed for a theft he didn’t commit, then handcuffed and left to die when the ship starts to sink.

The movie Ghost offers double levels of Undeserved Misfortune. First, Patrick Swayze is murdered while in the prime of life, so the audience experiences fear and pity for him. Second, his fiancé, Demi Moore, loses the man she loves so the audience also feels fear and pity for her.

High Noon has multiple levels of Undeserved Misfortune. First, the killer that Gary Cooper put away is being released from prison and is on his way back to town with his gang to get revenge. Second, the townspeople and even his own deputy desert him. Third, his wife is threatened with losing her husband, only minutes after being married.

You can find Undeserved Misfortune in Bambi (Bambi’s mother gets shot), Cinderella (Cinderella is forced into servitude by her evil stepsisters and not allowed to go to the ball), Love Story (Ali McGraw gets cancer), Forest Gump (he’s not only crippled and forced to wear a leg brace, he’s picked on by kids at school), westerns (settlers attacked by marauding Indians and bandits), war movies (soldiers losing their friends in battle or being taken prisoner and tortured), thrillers like The Fugitive (innocent man framed for a crime), and every genre of movie you can name.

Every blockbuster movie and every bestselling novel contains some form of Undeserved Misfortune.

Undeserved Misfortune is so powerful it transcends fiction and is cunningly used in advertising (the housewife who’s shamed because she doesn’t use Pledge or has “ring around the collar”) and politics. That’s why the Left is constantly framing themselves as victims. They know it will evoke fear and pity (and votes) from the public. Look at anti-bullying campaign. In reality it’s a thinly disguised attempt to corrupt children and society by promoting homosexuality, but it’s sold to the public in a way to make them feel pity for young people who are picked on for being “different.”

Creating Undeserved Misfortune in your novel is a surefire way to guarantee its success.

So how is your novel coming?

Editor of The Economist explains meaning of 2015 cover illustration

Please read Dr. Eowyn’s article on the same subject: 
Rothschild-owned The Economist’s 2015 cover full of unsettling symbols

economist_magazine_jan2015The following is excerpted from a article attempting to find some clarity on the very strange cover art. I did a search for the name of the illustrator of the cover art, and was very surprised to read there was no illustrator. The cover, they say, was created by a committee. This would explain the shameless borrowing of the Beatles album cover theme.

I have removed the theories expressed on, and show only the explanation given by The Economist’s editor. 

So here is The Economist’s explanation of the cover. ~TD 

Controversial Economist 2015 Cover Illustration Explained!

By Salli LaBelle Platt and Jacqui Deevoy

There’s been much controversy over the meaning of The Economist’s new year cover. YourNewsWire speaks to Editor Daniel Franklin about what those images actually mean…



Daniel Franklin, Editor of The Economist says: “The black & white versus the colour faces was a decision based purely on the strength of the design. There is no differentiation with the people featured in colour or not – it’s merely a way of representing a bunch of relevant folk in order that this be a stronger front cover.”



Daniel Franklin says: “Represents the rise of Nationalism and how it may be a world of conflict with regard to agreements. Many nations involved, some places angry, unsettled, others less so. The two faces of the moon disagreeing with itself as depicted on different sides. The article it refers to is called ‘Nationalism is Back’ and can be found in the International Section.”



Daniel Franklin says: “The drone is relevant to the US Section, where there is an article on the Fed Aviation Society who are set to announce the rules this Autumn on the regulations on Drone use in America. (To be found in the US Section).”


rocketDaniel Franklin says: “’New Horizons’ space probe which will be flying by Pluto in 2015 (the article on this is on page 137 of the UK edition of the magazine). However, at the last minute, after the cover had gone to press, they decided to use an illustration for that story showing the distance New Horizons had travelled to Pluto, which is why you won’t find the picture inside the magazine.”



Daniel Franklin says: “The mushroom cloud relates to the story on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty yearly review conference, set to take place in New York – article to be found in the ‘International’ Section.”



Daniel Franklin says: “The piggy bank flying from David Cameron’s chest
 relates to the article on how small banks should do well this year.”



Daniel Franklin says: “This iIllustration relates to the article on Hollywood 2015. ‘Lights, Camera, Fraction’, focusing on the downward spiral of wages and superhero movies being very popular whilst implying it’s less important as to who is behind the mask – i.e. a cheaper actor/actress would be used as opposed to the Celebrity A class. (Page 124, UK version).”



Daniel Franklin says: “The New Abu Dhabi LOUVRE Museum set to open this year. Apparently, the painting in the cover illustration may be one of the debut masterpieces loaned for the opening exhibition of this venue. (See feature in the Books & Arts section.)




Daniel Franklin says: “It’s the 150th Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. No particular reason for this part of the story to be depicted other than it is recognisable as such. The pile of dirt is actually a pile of sand and relates to the article on Abu Dhabi museum.” (See above.)



Daniel Franklin says: “The arrows are taken from the graphic illustrating the story of China’s economy “The numbers to watch” and are Chinese ‘targets’. As it happens, the numbers on the graphic were adjusted in the fact-checking process after the cover went to press.”



Daniel Franklin says: “We featured a white cricket ball because cricket world cup played with a white ball. There is the rugby world cup and the women’s football world cup all this year.”



Daniel Franklin says: “This is all about predictive programming on your mobile/handheld devices. The phone could tell you when you are on holiday and support your lifestyle ~ helpful but at the same time arguably a little creepy, hence the ghoul image use.”



Daniel Franklin says: “Lonesome George” the famous turtle who died in 2012 is to be returned to the Galápagos Islands this year. The story on this appear in the ‘Events’ section.



Daniel Franklin says: “Japan’s biggest battery for storage has been produced – for excessive solar and wind power. (There’s an article on this in the ‘Asia’ section).”



Daniel Franklin says: “Represents Chinese Politics – ever more muscle.”



Daniel Franklin says: “The illustration of the Pied Piper depicts the story where the rats are being eradicated from the Island of St Georgia. 20th Century Whalers set up bases on the Island and escaped rats caused chaos to it’s ecosystem. (‘Science’ section).”



Daniel Franklin says: “This part of the illustration relates to the drone illustration with regards to the FSA. Both the little boy with the plane and the helicopter are from the illustration that accompanies the piece on drones (on page 60 of the magazine).”



Daniel Franklin says: “Where might you find the financial crisis? EURO – FED RESERVE & CHINA. (Finance Section).”



Daniel Franklin says: “There’s an article in the Chinese Section that reports on the growing fussiness of Chinese consumers. This image illustrates that article.”



Daniel Franklin says: “This illustrates an article on pollution that relates to the Paris, December meeting.



Daniel Franklin says: “This illustrates an article that reports on the ceasing of production with the LandRover Defender.”

– See whole article at:

There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. 

Now if you will excuse me, I have to talk to somebody who told me there’s a great bargain to be had on the purchase of a bridge in New York! 

Please read Dr. Eowyn’s article on the same subject:
Rothschild-owned The Economist’s 2015 cover full of unsettling symbols

The Road


jrrtolkiensmall“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,
The Fellowship of the Ring

I can picture 4 hobbits walking this path, on their way from Farmer Maggot’s farm in the Shire to the Prancing Pony in Bree. 

Sunday Devotional: “I will be with you always”

Today is the Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord.

Christ with angels

Acts 1:6-11

When they had gathered together they asked him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

I will be with you always

Sometimes, we must hit rock bottom and become utterly broken before we finally turn to Him.

Can’t Save You” by Dan Haseltine, from the 2010 movie What If…, directed by Dallas Jenkins and starring Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo and John “Cheers” Ratzenberger as the angel Mike.

Lyrics of “Can’t Save You”:

You sounded desperate when you called,
and the words are still ringing in my head.
We stood there silent on the phone
and no one spoke until I said,
“I’m still with you,
but I know I can’t save you,
save you tonight,
until you fall.
I can’t save you, save you tonight,
until it breaks your heart.”

You’re not the one I used to know
that made the stars so jealous
when you light up my soul.
You are the war I can’t get in,
but the battle that you’re dying from
is underneath your skin.
I’m still with you,
but I know I can’t save you,
save you tonight,
until you fall.
I can’t save you, save you tonight,
until it breaks your heart.

You lock yourself away,
but there’s no way out.
And how long can you stay,
can you stay?

You know I can’t save you,
save you tonight,
until you fall.
I can’t save you, save you tonight,
until it breaks your heart.

Now I can’t save you,
until it breaks your heart.
Now I can’t save you,
until it breaks your heart.

“Can’t Save You” MP3 download.

What If… on Netflix.


Higher Education is so enlightening! U.C. professor has students pose naked for final exam

Attention: California taxpayers!

This is what your hard-earned tax dollars are subsidizing!

Ricardo Dominguez U.C. San Diego

Alexandra Samuels reports for USA Today, May 12, 2015, that Ricardo (Dick) Dominguez, associate professor at the University of California-San Diego who teaches a course called “Performing for Self,” is asking students to pose naked for a final exam as a “nude/naked gesture,” whatever that means. Reportedly, the gesture takes place in a dark room lit by candlelight.

Dominguez’s rationale for the assignment is that nudity has been a core part of performance art since the mid-20th century. He says, “The core canvas for many performance artists has been, and continues to be, the nude or naked body. If students are to learn about performance art as practitioners, this history of the medium is crucial for them to experience.” Blah, blah, blah.

After some current students in the course complained, Dominguez defended himself in an e-mailed statement that students were “aware from the start of the class that (the gestures are) a requirement” and that he has taught the class for 11 years without complaint. Dominguez says students who feel uncomfortable with the assignment or feel the gesture “will be too hard for them to do,” can drop the class since it’s not a degree requirement. He insists “I have always been willing to work with students to help them navigate the process, during my office hours and in the context of the class.”

Dominguez also cryptically offers that “Our advising team is also very willing to discuss the options for doing the performance without having to be actually nude or naked.”

Jordan Crandall

Jordan Crandall, chairman of the university’s visual art department, also defended Dominguez and described the class as an “extremely successful one” in the visual arts department.

In an email, Crandall said that while the gestures are necessary to complete the course, getting completely naked isn’t the only way to pass because students can do the gesture in a number of ways without having to remove their clothes because “One can ‘be’ nude while being covered” — whatever that means. Crandall adds, “the ambiguity around the question of ‘nudity’ and ‘nakedness’ is intentional. It is intended to be provocative, to raise issues. That is what performance art does.”

Shanise Mok

Shanise Mok, a former student who had taken Dominguez’s naked course in 2012, also leapt to his defense, insisting that the nude “gesture” allowed her to “challenge” herself “intellectually.”

Mok said, “It was clearly outlined in the first class (just like any other first day where professors go over the syllabus) that the final gesture would be a ‘naked’ one and what we could expect that day. We were not ‘forced’ to do anything. I was only…forced to think about how I can take my own art to another level. We all had the choice to drop or to find our own creative way to meet the nude or naked prompt as artists should. I personally feel strongly about making the human body an okay thing to talk about. We all have a body — nipples, butts and pubic hair in all their glory — and it doesn’t need to be sexualized by the news – which is why artists step in to desexualize it and turn the human body into something we can love and appreciate as an art form.”

Mok’s LinkedIn page says she presently is unemployed and that her most recent job was a 6-month stint as a “teen education & recreation specialist” at Redwood City Public Library, which ended in February 2015.

Call me a cynic, but I doubt Shanise Mok making national news saying she was “intellectually challenged” by stripping naked is going to help her find gainful employment.

While searching on the Internet for Dominguez’s naked class, I also came across this other piece of weird higher ed. news from October 2012.

A math professor at Michigan State University (MSU) stripped naked, ran naked through his classroom and down the hallway, screaming “There is no fucking God!” before police apprehended him.

Students said online that the professor, who was not charged with a crime and whose name was not released by the university, was “eccentric” and that they “could probably have seen this coming.”

A Redditor shared this (see below) grainy cell phone picture of the professor in the Engineering Building’s hallway as authorities restrained him. (Source: Huffington Post)

naked Michigan State Univeristy math professor

According to a chat-thread on Reddit, the professor is John D. McCarthy, Professor of Mathematics at MSU.


Let’s have a WRITING contest for the next great American novel!

FOTM is taking a brief vacation from our world-famous caption contest. Instead, we’ll have a new kind of contest.

Are you ready for the challenge?

It was a dark and stormy night

Do you have the “write” stuff?

FOTM’s Mike has been posting a series of tips for writing to encourage all of us to help change our culture toward the good by writing. In his words:

Today we have a nation that has turned its back on God, honor, and beauty, and embraced all manner of sin. This is due, in large part, to the influence of culture and art. This is not an accident…. It is deliberate…. This series, The Write Stuff, is about reclaiming that culture. It’s for writers and novelists who are dedicated to using their talent to honor God, elevate men and women, and add beauty to the world. If that sounds like you, welcome aboard!

Despite our best intentions, however, all our efforts are for naught if no one reads what we write.

And that’s where Mike’s tips come in — to help us write well, so people will read what we write and, together, we’ll turn our wretched culture around.

Thus far, Mike has provided us with useful instructions and advice on:

Here are the Writing Contest instructions:

  • Enter the contest by submitting the opening paragraph (or two) of your story or novel as a comment on this thread (scroll down until you see the “LEAVE A REPLY” box), not via email or on Facebook.
  • The winner of the Caption Contest will get a gorgeous Award Certificate of Excellence and a year’s free subscription to FOTM! :D
  • FOTM writers will winnow the submissions to a select few, then you — our readers — will vote for the winner in a separate poll.

To get the contest going, here’s Mike’s opening paragraphs of his teen detective novel:

It was a crime that Mr. Kingman never expected, and that scared him half to death.

The math teacher had returned home after a day at work to find his living room window shattered, his front door left ajar, and his apartment ransacked.

The thieves had stolen Mr. K’s laptop computer and his prized collection of rare stamps. There were glistening stains of blood on the broken glass strewn across his floor, and more blood splattered across the top of his desk where his laptop had been.

Even now, two days later, as his heels clicked down the hall to his eighth grade class at St. Mary’s Elementary School, he felt a cold shiver run up his spine as he thought about the crime.

After reading that, don’t you want to dash out and buy Mike’s novel? :D

So put your thinking caps on, and write that first brilliant paragraph (or two) of your best-seller!

This writing contest will be closed in a week, at the end of next Tuesday, May 19, 2015.

For the winners of our last caption contest, click here.


God’s Not Dead

Not all movies or TV shows are junk.

An example of a superb movie is the 2014 God’s Not Dead, which I saw twice on a Netflix DVD, and will watch again before I return it. That’s how much I love it.

God's Not Dead

Categorized as a “Christian drama” by Wikipedia, the movie’s mainly about a college freshman, Josh Wheaton, who is commanded, as all the other students in the class are, by his atheistic philosophy professor to write “God is dead” on a piece of piece and affix his signature to it.

Wheaton, a Christian, refuses to do as the professor ordered. So the professor challenges the student to defend his faith before the class — a challenge that Wheaton accepts, at the cost of alienating and losing his girl friend.

Here’s the trailer:

In a series of three presentations to the class, Wheaton rebuts atheism and atheists, touching on subjects including creation (the Big Bang), evolution, cosmologist and atheist Stephen Hawking, free will, and the problem of evil.

The movie is directed by Harold Cronk; produced by Pure Flix Entertainment, a Christian film production company headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona; and stars Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo as the arrogant professor, Shane Harper as the student Josh Wheaton, David A. R. White as a good pastor, and Dean Cain as a ruthless heartless man.

God’s Not Dead is intelligent: It does not talk down to you as if you’re a simpleton, nor does it sugarcoat Christianity. The acting is superb, especially the performance by Kevin Sorbo, who is a Christian.

Not surprisingly, God’s Not Dead has been panned by critics, with a score of 16 out of 100 on Metacritic indicating “overwhelming dislike”, and a rating of 17% on Rotten Tomatoes as of May 2014.

Despite critics’ negative reviews, God’s Not Dead has met with significant success at the box office. In its first weekend of release, the film earned $8.6 million domestically from 780 theaters, causing Entertainment Weekly’s Adam Markovitz to refer to it as “The biggest surprise of the weekend”.  The movie has earned over $60 million in the U.S. box office, against the $2 million budget, and that’s not counting the worldwide box office. So eat your hearts out, critics!

Here’s the song “God’s Not Dead,” performed by Newsboys at the climatic conclusion of the movie. (I never thought I would like Christian rock, but I absolutely love this song.)

Click here to get your own copy of God’s Not Dead on