Friday, July 27, 2018

It's all about you...

People ask me if I talk with a Texas twang (For those of you who have never heard that term it's another way of saying a Texas accent.) I would have to say yes to that. but my neighbors might disagree. As a teacher for 24 years I suppose midwestern English has been browbeaten into me and as a result I sound Texan to people from other places but not so mush to my brother Texans. But, enough of me for now. I was going to talk about you guys. I was setting here thinking about you... oh not you personally, but the many yous that make up the viewers and readers of my blogg and how you come from such vast backgrounds. I'm sure some of you who read my books have a variety of accents. Here on my blogg I get a breakdown of where my audience is from. I love looking at it. I have viewers from the UK, Germany, Philippines, Spain, France, Malaysia, the USA and other countries too. Thank you for just being you...  and reading my work. 

In the novel I'm currently writing much of the action happens in Fort Worth. So here is a pic I took the last time I was at Sunshine Square. For those of you who have never been to Sunshine Square I think it's terrific. It is a small town atmosphere in the big city - quaint shops, and historic buildings. There is even a bed and breakfast where in the cowboy days it was one of those places where men went to party with the ladies. (Can anyone say the best little 1880's whorehouse in Texas.) Of course today it is all posh and modern in the décor with original Picassos, Warhols and other fine art hanging in the library room. You don't get in there without being a guest, but there are lots of other things to see  and do at Fort Worth's Sunshine Square. Oh and while you're there take your copy of my book "Spies Lie and Spies Die"... and if you don't have one yet... get one.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Tribe is a Powerful Thing

Title: Tribal Spirit
Media: Polychrome Pencils on Watercolor and Ink
Artist: Dan Dwayne Spencer

This is a mixed media piece... It's a drawing and it's a painting too. It represents the will of a people, a tribe as they walk through life. A Tribe is a powerful thing. Sometimes the people are lied to and it causes their journey hardship. Sometimes the people are cheated and it makes the steps harder to take. But, the people persist. They continue their journey. They seek vison to know what is the right way to go. They listen to their hearts and discern the words of men. They are a tribe. They are a people. 

In my new book which I'm currently writing my character of Janie Fulbright, a District Attorney from Tarrant County in Texas, says she has a tribe. Her tribe is on social media. They help her find the clues she needs. No... I'm not telling you more... you'll have to wait till it's published. Check out my books on Amazon... "Spies Lie & Spies Die" and "The Secret King and Poetry of Praise"

As High As They Will Go

Title: As High As They Will Go
Media: Graphite
Artist: Dan-Dwayne Spencer

Dear Reader, 
I'm sure that you are looking at this saying..."Dan-Dwayne I thought you were a better artist than that. those hands are way out of proportion." However, this is not the case. This is a drawing of one of my students who graciously posed for my art class. He was in a wheelchair and suffered from some kind of MS that caused his body to be out of proportion. I'm sure there are different kinds but I don't know which he had. I do know that people suffer greatly from it and it shortens their life... But frankly I don't understand why people must have such terrible afflictions... like MS, Cancer, Parkinson's, Dementia, or Alzheimer's. Anyway - Sorry, I strayed from my story... He loved art. He truthfully wasn't a craftsman and his art wouldn't be considered creative or clever but he loved the making and doing of it. Everyday he rolled in with his attendant to his assigned desk where his aide attached the desktop I made for him. He had special attachments connected to his paintbrushes and drawing tools so he could manipulate them with his contorted hands. They told me he wouldn't live to graduate, but they didn't know his powerful little spirit. I was very happy to know that he did graduate. In this picture he is raising his hands as high as he can. I've never made prints of this drawing and probably never will. Like this student... it is one of a kind.  

In my story "A Deal of a Lifetime" which is in my book "Spies Lie and Spies Die" Ten year old Blair and his mother stop in a souvenir shop and buy what they believe to be a fake Pre-Columbian Idol. The thing turns out to be the real thing and the gangsters who stole it from the museum wants it back. He wants it bad enough to kill Blair and his mother to get it. To find out more read my book "Spies Lie and Spies Die."  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Just a Thought

“In everything, almost in everything, I wrote I was guided by the need of collecting ideas which, linked together, would be the expression of myself, though each individual idea, expressed separately in words, loses its meaning, is horribly debased when only one of the links, of which it forms a part, is taken by itself. But the interlinking of these ideas is not, I think, an intellectual process, but something else, and it is impossible to express the source of this interlinking directly in words; it can only be done indirectly by describing images, actions, and situations in words.”
― Leo Tolstoy
       I was reading this quote and thinking... Dan-Dwayne, you have 150 pages written on your new Novel. It's rough right now but it has murder, adventure, suspense, romance, humor, and intregue. All the things I like to write about. As I see it... I'm about half way there. When the first draft is all on paper, so to speak (Flash drive for us in this century) It's rewrite... develop and flesh out the characters and increse the intensity of the drama. To quote Ernest Hemmingway - “The first draft of anything is shit.” Sadly this is true from a technical point of view. The thing is even Mr. Hemmingway had to have a first draft of his phonomonal literatary works. Yes, everyone must have a first draft or the final cut will never appear. It's what we learned from all the other first drafts we had that can make a difference in the quality of the next story. Notice I didn't say sucess... Success depends on what the people (the readers) decide to do with it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Paulo Coelho on Teardrops

“Tears are words that need to be written.”
Paulo Coelho
Eleven Minutes, The Alchemist, and Like the Flowing River 
Dear Friends,
After teaching for as long as I did... I suppose it's not uncommon to have a few tragic stories along the way. Tragedy brings tears and tears need to be written down. This is a detail of a painting I did in class as an example of a certain technique. And yes, you might have noticed how the demonstration paintings were a bit hurried and less articulate, however, it wasn't unusual for me to paint one of my students as a way to demonstrate techniques. This painting is called Jeorge. Now Jeorge was one of my student who loved art. In fact he took the progressive track through my art classes meaning that he was my student every year for three years in high school. He was a senior when I did this painting. Right after graduation he was in an auto accident and died. It was a devastating loss and such a sad funeral as he was so young. Yes... lots of tears fell from many of us that summer.  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Wallace Stegner, On Teaching and Writing Fiction

“By his very profession, a serious fiction writer is a vendor of the sensuous particulars of life, a perceiver and handler of things. His most valuable tools are his sense and his memory; what happens in his mind is primarily pictures.”
Wallace Stegner, On Teaching and Writing Fiction

This quote says that a writer must have pictures in his head. Well that is what I have had in my head for years... As a visual artist I created pictures, icons, and images. I think it is the right time to put some of those pictures into words. Check out my books on and Goodreads. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Larger than Life

Here in Lubbock, we love our favorite son... Buddy Holly. We have a Buddy Statue, a Buddy Museum, and we have even moved the Allison House (Where one of the Crickets lived) to the museum grounds. (Funny they didn't move Buddy's old house too. It was just down the street from the Allison house.) Anyway, All to say that we love Buddy, his music, and his band (The Crickets). I guess you might say we've made him bigger than life. Here you see enormous Buddy glasses (a sculpture) which sets just outside the Buddy Holly Museum. I suppose being larger than life has it's advantages and it's disadvantages too. It would make it hard to fit into everyday society. I mean if Buddy was alive there would be people swarming to get his autograph and such... and imagine the paparazzi. Then I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be living in Lubbock Texas. As I understand it he had moved to New York or somewhere before he died. Why... you ask? Because Lubbock just didn't get his music. Some liked him but some really didn't. That is the way of things. Pardon the paraphrasing but I think that even the Bible says that a prophet is not respected in his own country. There is no denying that Buddy (and his band too) was a fantastic entertainer, songwriter and what some would call a poet. The Plains of West Texas has produced many musical talents like Waylon Jennings, Mac Davis, The Gatlin Brothers, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks; and Actors too like Woody Harrelson, Barry Corbin, and Chance Crawford (best known for his role in Gossip Girl.)   But, Let's not forget the famous (and semi famous) writers from West Texas which include Elmer Kelton, Kambri Crews, Carol Hall, and of course Me... Dan Dwayne Spencer author of "Spies Lie & Spies Die" and "The Secret King and Poetry of Praise."

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Do Spider Monkeys have six appendages?

I know this is a shocking picture. The question I have is this. Do Spider Monkeys have six appendages? (Not counting the tail of course.)  Is that why they are called Spider Monkeys? The answer to this startling question is that Spider Monkeys are only called that. They actually have only two arms and two legs. This picture is one which I photoshopped for the purpose of class discussions with my art classes. You might remember that I was a teacher for 24 years. In this modern world one must look out for the fakes. There are always those expert scam artists who would take advantage of your lack of knowledge. In my story "The Gaslight Gallery Mystery" which is in my book "Spies Lie and Spies Die"  I have my character of Mrs. Gloria Crawford. investigate a murder which involves the forgery of paintings. The forger murderer went to the extremes to make his/her fakes seem real. It may surprise you that the process I described in that story is actually a process used by art forgers who can make a modern painting look like a million dollar masterpiece. It is a process which has actually fooled several museums in the past. If you want to know more about what I'm talking about read my book "Spies Lie and Spies Die." It is on Amazon and Goodreads.  

Thursday, July 5, 2018

A New Beginning
Title: A New Beginning
Artist: Dan Dwayne Spencer
Media: Oil on Canvas

Usually I share a drawing with my readers. This time I'm sharing a painting. The title of this one is "A New Beginning." It's depicting the first rays of morning light on the blue-green planet. We are not seeing this phenomenon from the horizon of the planet's surface but from far in space. A view only seen by God. Stay with me as I explain; by showing you the first light of day on the planet in this manner I am empowering you with the vision of God (or so it seems.) Empowerment is an important thing. It is the critical part of child raising that allows the child to stretch their horizons, or some would say, broaden their sails until the time they are ready to launch into the world. Then there is such a thing as self empowerment. Self empowerment allows you to start healing emotionally. Too bad we don't take that empowerment away from those who caused the pain. If we stop giving them power over our feelings then they cant hurt us. In my story/novella "Spies Lie & Spies Die" (published in my book by the same title) the character of Phineas King has separated himself from his first love, a high school sweetheart named Angie. He has never recovered from their relationship. He proved it when he confesses that he has kept her number (even though she has changed jobs.) He knows exactly where to get in touch with her and what her new phone number is. In the most primitive way he has never taken away her power over his feeling. He has tried to make a break and have a new beginning but he is tied to his past. Will that effect how he completes his mission for the NSA? Will she become a liability or an asset? If you haven't read my book "Spies Lie & Spies Die" check it our on Amazon. You'll like it.       .   

Albert Camus on the purpose of writing.

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”
Albert Camus -

Reading this quote my first impression is that Mr. Camus took himself way too serious. Accepting his philosophy would put a huge responsibility on my shoulders (or that of any writer.) I rather hope the people who read what I write will leave with two thoughts: First I hope they found it uniquely stimulating and secondly I want them to have enjoyed the read. What do I mean by uniquely stimulating? Well, that should mean different things to different readers.  To one reader it might mean that the plot was unique and interesting. To another reader it might mean that they believe my character of Aunt Gussie is a representation of our older social customs which have become lost in this postmodern techno fanatic culture where pleasantries are replaced with rudeness in everything from the music to politics. Not that I meant that at all... but one can never be sure what the reader will come away with. All I'm saying is that Mr. Camus in putting a lot on the writer to insinuate that he/she can defend the world itself  in the novelty of a humorous short story, or a romance novel. Then again... maybe he is right and maybe that is exactly what we are doing. Adding the spice to the mix so everything blends together better. A humorous story to act as an aspirin against the headaches of the real world might keep it running one more day. My short story "Aunt Gussie's got a Gun" is in my book  "Spies Lie & Spies Die." I think you would enjoy it.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy July Fourth
A special thanks to all the service men and women who 
have and continue to serve the USA with dignity.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Ray Brabury on plot development

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running, and reaching a goal. It cannot be mechanical. It can only be dynamic. So, stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers, body, blood, and heart do.”
Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451

Dan Dwayne Spencer is a retired school teacher. He taught public and private school a total of 24 years and for a while he was the Art Director for two West Texas news channels. He says that when he writes a mystery it’s like he’s putting together a jigsaw puzzle without a picture on it because even he doesn’t know where it is going to end. He says that most times his writing is a form of discovery. He insists that all his characters are only a conglomeration of words until the moment when the reader sees them with human flaws. It doesn't matter if the story is outrageously funny or deadly serious… because God is the author of life. Every misfortune and success, every birth and death is orchestrated by the author of life and Dan Dwayne spends a multitude of hours trying to imitate the adventure we call living. His Books ‘The Secret King and Poetry of Praise’ and 'Spies Lie and Spies Die’ are available at Goodreads and Amazon.    

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Fate doesn't hesitate... fate doesn't ask permission... fate just does.

Title: Fate
Artist: Dan Dwayne Spencer
Media: Polychrome Pencils

This drawing is one in my Earth Angel Series. Sadly it no longer exists. It is now only available as a digital print. (Which all my drawings are available as digital prints through my email but that is another subject.) Anyway this original drawing was one I used for many years as a class example when I taught this kind of drawing style. It hung in my office at school. (I was lucky to have a little room I used as an office and storage room.) One night the air conditioner broke and condensation started pouring back through the vents. Yes... you guessed it... through the vent over the picture and it ran down onto of the drawing. It was ruined. Fate was a great name for this work (titled before the accident, by the way) because fate didn't ask what the drawing was worth. Fate didn't hesitate to allow the air conditioner to break down, and it certainly did stop it from happening. What happened to this drawing was just that... fate. In my short story 'Midnight in New Orleans' My character, Minerva, starts to question the fates when she asks Alexis what business she had being at a séance for her Old Tom. That bit of foreshadowing might have started your thought wheels turning. If you haven't read my book 'Spies Lie & Spies Die' which contains my short story 'Midnight in New Orleans' then please do. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.