Side Effects May Include…

If you’ve ever seen a commercial for prescription drugs you are aware of the term, “side effects may include.” The commercial spends 20 seconds covering the many reasons why we should ask our doctor about their product. But the last 10 seconds feature the phrase “side effects may include” and then a laundry list of ridiculous things that might happen when starting the prescription. Many times the side effects outweigh anything that can be helped by the drug.

A similar thing happens in other aspects of our lives. In order to help, I will be offering 10 seconds of warning in a new segment called “Side Effects May Include…”.

When Finding Joy, Side Effects May Include…

– Chronic swelling of your ankles from jumping up and down so frequently.

– Abnormal feeling of resilience.

– Unusual ability to actually LOL.

– Developing Snow White-its — whistling while you work.

– Decreased appetite for grump soup.

– Jubilation oozing out of your pores.

– Strange tendency to lose track of time from having so much fun.

– Uncontrollable urge to juggle.

– Unstoppable shrinking of frowns.

– Increased ability to make friends.

Writing A Book Is A Lot Like This…

As the temperature jumped over 100 degrees last week, I realized one thing…writing a book is a lot like going outside in an Arizona summer.

To some people, just the thought of it seems crazy — it is too hot, too hard and not worth the trouble.

But to others, there is something about it that makes us want to go for it — our body, our story just won’t stay locked inside.

On the periphery, maybe it isn’t so scary — before we leave the air condition, before we open a Word document, we don’t really know what we are getting ourselves into.

But then we start to have second thoughts — did I drink enough water, do I have the right notebook?

We start to wonder if we should wait for a better time — fall is just around the corner, right? I am too busy at work right now, right?

Finally we realize if we want to get anything done, we better just start — it is going to be hot for months, it is going to be hard for months, let’s just suck it up and begin.

Before we begin, we come up with a plan — we map out everywhere we can find shade, we map out our story, all to lessen the impact of the heat.

The first step is nerve-wracking — we ask ourselves, “will I melt?” “will I finish?”

Eventually we think, maybe this isn’t so bad — our first step keeps us within the shade from roof, within the comfort of the first page.

But then it hits us — is this what heat stroke, or writers block, feels like?

Despite the pain, we decide to keep going and guess what? We begin to get used to it — maybe we are delusional due to massive amounts of water loss, or writer’s cramp, but this is actually kind of fun.

Finally we have had our fill and it is time to call it a day — we can’t wait to do this again tomorrow.

The next day we wake up, only to forget everything we felt yesterday and begin the process all over again.

What Was The First Disney Movie?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Disney movie Frozen and how the film underwent numerous overhauls and changed shapes many times throughout the writing process. In my research for that post, I stumbled onto a list of the history of Walt Disney films.

Prior to reading the list, I gave myself a pop quiz to see if I could name the first Disney film ever made. I guessed Fantasia. Let’s see if I was right in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

What Was The First Disney Movie?

I was wrong.

The first fully animated feature film release by Walt Disney Studio was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The movie debuted in Hollywood at the Carthay Circle Theatre on December 21, 1937, and was then released nationwide on February 4, 1938. The film was a hit with international earnings of $8 million, a record of highest grossing sound film at the time.

Fantasia was actually the third film made by Disney. Here’s a list of the first 10 movies created by the Mickey Mouse corporation:

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – December 21, 1937
  2. Pinocchio – February, 7 1940
  3. Fantasia – November 13, 1940
  4. The Reluctant Dragon – June 20, 1941
  5. Dumbo – October 23, 1941
  6. Bambi – August 13, 1942
  7. Saludos Amigos – February, 6, 1943
  8. Victory Through Air Power – July 17, 1943
  9. The Three Caballeros – February 3, 1945
  10. Make Mine Music – April 20, 1946



5 Things We Can Learn From The Great Wall Of China

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

We can even learn stuff from a really old wall…

5 Things We Can Learn From The Great Wall Of China

1. Greatness Takes Time

How long do you think it took to build the Great Wall of China? If you’re anything like me, you might guess 5 years, 50 years, maybe 500 years. Would you believe 2,000 years?

Originally conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first stage of the Wall was finished around 221 BC, and it is believed to have taken about 20 years. However, what we consider the Great Wall today was built in the 14th through 17th centuries A.D., during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). All in all, many imperial dynasties built and extended the Wall over the course of 2,000 years.

Want to be great? Be patient.

2. Greatness Is A Team Effort

Given how long it took to build, it makes sense that it took effort from many people. But just how many people, you ask. Historical records suggest more than 1.5 million men were used during the peak of the Wall’s construction. Roughly 500,000 soldiers were assigned to both build and guard it during Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s era. More than 400,000 people died during the wall’s construction.

If we are looking to be great, we should also be looking for help.

3. Greatness Is Resourceful

Fun fact: not every part of the Wall is man made. The entire length includes natural barriers like rivers, lakes, mountains and trenches. After about 5 years on the job, I picture a very creative and resourceful construction worker coming up with the idea of building the wall into a mountain. If the goal is to create a barrier, why not use some some help from Mother Nature?

When we are looking for help to become great, it helps to notice anything and everything that might help.

4. Greatness Feels Bigger

It has been said that you can see the Great Wall of China from space. That is not true. The Wall stretches 21,196 km (13,170 mi), but it is not even close to big enough be seen by an astronaut. However, if you were to ask people on the street if you can see it from the moon, they would likely say yes.

When we become great, we feel bigger than we actually are.

5. Greatness Comes In Many Forms

Oddly enough, the Great Wall was never that great at preventing enemies from invading China. Throughout time, however it has become a symbol of China’s strength and is now seen as psychological barrier between Chinese civilization and the world.

On our path to greatness, we may not accomplish what we originally set out to achieve. But that doesn’t mean all is lost.



Sources: Wikipedia, History, China Highlights

Just A Few Of My Fears

Darn you 101 Dalmatians…you lied to me.

The Disney song says, “Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil / if she doesn’t scare you no evil thing will.”

I was never remotely afraid of that dog snatching tramp, yet there are still so many things I fear. What gives, Walt? I thought if I could handle Ms. De Vil, I was immune to fear.

No matter how much we watch 101 Dalmatians, we are still going to experience fear. So how do we deal with it?

I recently read that one way to fight our fears, we should sit down and create a list of things we’re afraid of. I’ve decided to give that a try.

Here are a few things that come to mind…

I am afraid I’m not working hard enough to promote my books,
I’m afraid of pushing my books too much that I will become annoying,
I’m afraid of being hurt,
I’m afraid of hurting others,
I’m afraid of making this list,
I’m afraid I won’t be honest on this list,
I’m afraid I’ll be too honest,
I’m afraid of change,
I’m afraid that my fear of change will make me miss out,
I’m afraid of collalosal squid,
I’m afraid that I wrote the last sentence because I am too afraid of listing a real fear,
I’m afraid my best years are behind me,
I’m afraid my best years are now and they are being wasted,
I’m afraid my best years are ahead of me and I won’t recognize them until it’s too late,
I’m afraid that if I talk to a girl at the gym her bodybuilding boyfriend will come out from behind the squat rack and throw me through a window,
I’m afraid if I talk to a girl at the grocery store her boyfriend will come out from behind the deli counter and throw me through a wall of pumpkin spice Oreos,
I’m afraid I’ll give up,
I’m afraid I’ll give in,
I’m afraid I won’t give enough time/effort to things that truly matter,
I’m afraid I won’t get a second chance,
I’m afraid I’ll rely on getting a second chance,
I’m afraid I won’t reach my goals,
I’m afraid that if I do reach my goals I didn’t make them hard enough,
I’m afraid of how easy it was to make this list.

Here’s One Way To Be Original

In today’s world we often feel like every unique idea has already been thought of and acted upon. Being original is tough.

Here’s one way to stand out from the crowd…use smoke bombs.

When getting married, most people announce their ‘save the date’ via email or Facebook. It is not uncommon to see a posting on Instagram from the happy couple or to receive a refrigerator magnet with the wedding’s date and location. While all of those things are great, they are hardly original.

My buddy Dorrell is not like most people, so it should come as no surprise that he chose a different route when telling friends and family his wedding date. While most people are showing their love with emoji, Dorrell is using smoke bombs. Check it out his video…

I love that the video starts off dramatic but quickly changes to funny. In the first few seconds, you wouldn’t be shocked to hear a voice over with a deep-baritone saying, “In a world with one wedding to end all weddings…”, but by the end, you expect to see the screen filled with the words, “from the makers of Dumb and Dumber.”

The video is outside the box, unique and memorable.

Again, there is nothing wrong a cookie-cutter idea like announcing your wedding date on Facebook, but if you want to be original, take a page from Dorrell’s book and use smoke bombs.


What’s The Difference Between Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream & Gelato

Last week was a big week for me.

Over the course of five days, I had frozen yogurt, ice cream, and gelato. Best week ever!

Like many spectacular things in life, it wasn’t planned. It just happened. It wasn’t like I was training for a dessert decathlon or anything. Although, if there is such a thing, I will start training immediately.

After having all three, I started wondering about their differences. Quite frankly they all taste pretty much the same to me, so why the different names? Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

What’s The Difference Between Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream & Gelato?

The Thrillist article I used for research has possibly the best sentence ever written about sweet treats:

“The dairy world can occasionally be a daunting place, with people throwing all sorts of names for frozen treats at you like the least intimidating game of dodgeball ever.”

Dairy dodgeball would be a great event to add to my dessert decathlon line.

The article solicits the help of Neal Gottlieb, dairy expert and founder of Three Twins Ice Cream. Here’s what Gottlieb had to say…

Ice Cream

Believe it or not, “ice cream” is actually a federally defined term. It refers to a frozen dessert made with “no less than 10% milkfat and no more than 100% overrun, which is the percent by which the base is increased in volume by churning in air during the freezing process, meaning that it is no more than 50% air.” So, when you are eating ice cream, you are eating at least 10% fat and possibly 50% air? That is something I wish I never learned.

Frozen Yogurt

Unlike ice cream, “frozen yogurt” is not a term defined by the federal government. Neither is “fro-yo.” This dessert is “lower in fat than ice cream, somewhat tart, and contains yogurt cultures that may or may not be alive and active.” No word on how much of it consists of air.


Most people think “gelato” is the Italian word for “ice cream”, but Gottlieb points out that would be like “saying ‘cricket’ is the British word for ‘baseball’. It is close, but doesn’t tell the whole story.

This cousin to ice cream is usually made with whole milk and does not add cream, so the milkfat is around 3.8%. Unlike it’s relative, gelato contains little to no air, so it is served semi-frozen. Its composition makes it have a very short shelf life. Because of this, most of the gelato you find in grocery stores is actually, as Gottleb puts it, “low-fat, gummed-up ice cream in a nice Italian suit.”

The rest

In addition to the big 3, the Thrillist article discusses frozen custard, sherbet and sorbet. Check out the entire story here.

If This Can Happen To Frozen, It Can Happen To Us

Did you know that Olaf, the lovable snowman from Frozen was originally supposed to be a jerk?

Seriously, it’s true.

In the early versions of the movie’s script, Elsa was the villain and Olaf was her obnoxious sidekick. Elsa wasn’t even related to Anna in the first few drafts. Elsa was just an evil snow queen who terrorized Anna, a peasant, and destroyed the town with a army of snowmen.

Sounds crazy, right? For those of us who have seen the film, this version is hard to imagine.

Frozen underwent numerous overhauls and changed shapes many times throughout the writing process.  Drafts were torn apart and characters were changed. One version called for a troll with a Brooklyn accent to act as a narrator. Another suggested the sisters would reunite thanks to a shared love a reindeer.

The classic story that later won two Academy Awards and grossed over $1 billion didn’t come easily.

And I am happy to hear that.

I don’t know about you, but I just sort of assumed the story, along with all Disney movies, was created in about a week by a group of smiling pixies who sang Disney songs the entire time.

Turns out that isn’t the case. Disney is no different from the rest of us writers.

Sure the end result is different. Our work may never become the highest-grossing animated film of all time. Our characters may never be found on lunch boxes or Halloween costumes. But our struggle is no different than Disney’s struggle.

We all have poor first drafts that need revision. And if the mighty mouse corporation is able to get over their pride and rework a story until it is great, we should be able to too.

If we don’t, we may just end up making Olaf a jerk. And nobody wants that.