Movie Reviews 3.5/5 Stars: The Upside

one of the movie posters for the movie


Dell desperately needs a job. Phillip needs a caretaker. Not really impressed with the stuffy candidates who trained for the job, Phillip hires Dell to be his hands and feet. Thus, is born an oddball friendship between men from very different economic spheres.

Additional Comments:

– Phillip only hires Dell because he’s hands down the worst candidate for the job. The rich guy battles depression stemming from losing his wife and being paralyzed.
– Flashbacks to Phillip’s wife are handled well. I typically don’t like flashbacks, but at least, it was competently done.
– Bryan Cranston’s performance is solid. It must have been difficult to portray emotion without moving his arms or legs.
– The story started in the middle for effect, but I found that to be more confusing than it needed to be.
– The trailer actually shows you probably about 85% of the movie.
– It’s not a comedy, but there are some lighthearted, amusing moments.
– Content warnings: Crude humor. Some cursing. Some recreational drug use. Some glorification of reckless behavior.


Don’t think it’ll go down as the best movie I see in 2019, but it’s worth watching once.

Associate Links:

(If you click through and buy something, there’s the chance I’ll earn like $0.04 ….)

Amazon Prime

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.


Movie Reviews 3.5/5 Stars: Glass

general promo pic obtained from google.

Spoiler comments after ads.


A crazy psychiatrist gets a week to break three men out of their delusions that they’re superheroes, or so she says… The three men in question: David Dunn from Unbreakable, Elijah Price (played by Samuel L. Jackson), and Kevin Wendell Crumb played by James McAvoy.  Dunn has super strength and the ability to sense things from people. Kevin’s got many, many personalities living in his head, and Price is smart, very smart.

Additional Comments:

  • It would definitely help if you’ve seen Unbreakable and Split. I have not seen either movie. You can still follow Glass without them, but it’s still like being dropped in the middle of the story.
  • James McAvoy’s an incredible actor to be able to believably portray a half-dozen distinct personalities. He does crazy very well.
  • Not a huge M. Night Shyamalan fan. I still haven’t forgiven the man for that awful adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Glass is a decent movie, but it’s almost like they’re working too hard to make it unusual and break the rules of the genre.
  • Plot followed a standard path until the last third where they just started throwing curves in for the sake of mixing things up.


Interesting to watch, but probably going to be forgettable in the long run.

Associate Links:

(If you click through and buy something, there’s the chance I’ll earn like $0.04 ….)

Amazon Prime

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.


Spoiler Comments:

  • I really wish they had dropped Ellie off a building. That would have made the movie so much better in my eyes.
  • One issue I had with the movies was the lack of likable characters.
  • Everybody dies? As a general rule, I kinda hate endings like that. Closure’s a wonderful thing, but there should always be some sort of option for a sequel. I guess they could work with the son, the mother, and the victim turned sorta friend.
  • The whole secret society thing out of nowhere seemed forced.

Interview with Author/Narrator Steve Cook


Today, we have a special treat, an interview with an author who also happens to be a narrator. Or is he a narrator who’s also an author? Let’s find out. Welcome, Steve Cook.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve been voicing, producing and publishing audiobooks since 2006. Before that I produced radio and TV commercials and imaging for stations across the country. Previous gigs include KIIS-FM, XTRA Sports 1150 and Channel 103.1 in Los Angeles, AIR1 Radio Network, and Sportsradio 680 The Fan in Atlanta. After graduating from Berea College in KY, I spent many years acting on the stages and soundstages of New York and Los Angeles, appearing with Esther Rolle Off-Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre in New York in “Member of the Wedding”, with Helen Mirren at the Tiffany Theatre in L.A. in “Woman In Mind”, and on the daytime drama “Days of Our Lives”. Recently I was heard as the Narrator on the hit series “Swamp Murders” on Investigation Discovery Channel (2013-2017). My audiobook credits include five #1 Amazon Best-Sellers, The “1599 Geneva Audio Bible” (currently working on The Revised Geneva Translation), “Tom Sawyer: A One-Hour Classic” (Abridged & Fully Dramatized with cinematic music and sfx), a one-man 32-voice “A Christmas Carol” (Unabridged & Fully Dramatized), “Rowdy Raccoon and the Turtle Who Wanted to Fly”, “Danger at Wolf Rock”, “Plop! Goes the Blue Swirl Ice Cream”, “Gift of the Magi Audiobook” (Abridged and Fully Dramatized), Ken Ham’s “Ready to Return” and Randy Pope’s “The Answer”. My memorization devotional series called “Memo Devo” has been a featured resource on the most popular Bible website in the world,, and my audio devotional/study series called “Witness The Bible” is currently featured on BG and has been since 2011. The New Testament of the Revised Geneva Translation has just been accepted for streaming by BG, starting this Summer. Since October of 2017 I’ve also been blessed to be the podcast producer of Rick Warren’s “Daily Hope” program. Go Braves!

I’m gonna let the Braves thing go … we can agree to disagree on that.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy hanging out with my 10-yr-old daughter and 13-yr-old son, and getting away with my hard-working wife when we can. Otherwise, I suppose my main hobby these days is the parsing of the autographs and primary translations of the Greek New Testament. (I know, exciting stuff.)

To each their own. I collect Legos. To most people, they’re just painful things to step on.

Share a bit about your writing.

What other writers/people do you consider inspirational?

I especially enjoy biographies, especially political and historical figures.

I’m not much of a nonfic person, but history is pretty fascinating.

What got you into writing?

At this point I would consider myself more of an editor than a writer. I take existing historical manuscripts and parse them for clarity. Then fill them with as much passion as I can in performance.

Editing is a huge part of writing.

What is your writing process?

I have about 5 different websites I filter manuscripts through in order to arrive at a satisfactory translation.

When do you consider a work complete?

When I’m convinced that either I am in agreement with the best scholarship available on a particular passage, or barring consensus, I’ve satisfied my own sense of logic and revealed truth. This applies to both editing and vocal performances.

Tell us about one of your books:

Who designed the cover?

I design all the RGT covers.

Do you write in other genres?

Not yet.

What would you like to try if you were to check out a diff genre?

Tell us about one other book or series and why it’s important to you. Memo Devo: Memorization As Devotion (3 Book series) This is important to me because it’s part of a continuing mission to activate more of God’s Word in people’s daily lives, through a radically ancient concept called Active Scripture Memorization. I believe MD has the power to help us experience better intimacy with God, a better witness for God, and better protection under God, all while using time and resources we already possess.

Let’s dig deeper into the random side of you:

What’s one thing very few people know about you?

That I am a very good golfer.

Cool. Never tried it … er, more than mini-golf anyway.

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Cookie Dough

Ohhh, nice choice.

Where can we get in touch with you if we want to know more?

Website: Twitter: @5TalentsAudio

But wait… there’s more.

What brought you to working on this project?

I perceived a need among the faith community for a new modern translation of this particular type of Bible.

What was the hardest part of bringing this story to life?

The same as always: To tell a story well without self-consciousness.

Do you have a favorite character voice from the project? Why/ why not?

I enjoy them all. The antagonists are usually a bit more interesting dramatically, like Pilate or Herod, but the protagonists like Jesus and Paul can provide great vocal challenges too.

Do you have a favorite chapter from the project? Why/ why not?

I always relish the opportunity to record well-known sections of the Bible like The Beatitudes or the Lord’s Prayer or something because it provides such a great chance to reveal God’s heart in fresh new ways. Is there anything you’d like listeners to know about this work before they hear your performance? That this is the way most folks first received the Bible in the 1st Century – orally, through story. Most were illiterate and could not read the early letters and dispatches the churches would receive, so they had to speak them back out loud to each other. The great thing about that is that we know how amazingly vibrant in the community these churches were in terms of loving those around them. Hopefully these recordings can have a similar effect today.

Do you have any other narrated works?

So far about 30.

What was the most challenging other work you’ve voiced?

I just began working on The Ancient Book of Jasher. That is gonna be a bear, mostly because of the formatting of the text. I prefer nice big 20-pt font on 6×9 pages. This is a pdf on 8.5×11 so it’s not a matter of just enlarging the text. I just don’t like having to read a lot of words across each line, especially when the text is archaic prose like this. I may need to take the time to try and re-format that whole pdf. 18 hours of joy.

There are some programs that do that. Try Calibre. Change it to Word then mess with the margins yourself.

What is the easiest work you’ve voiced?

Interestingly, it was another ancient book, The Book of Enoch, which was the first project my publishing partner, Robert Bagley, and I recorded back in 2016. I don’t know why but that one just rolled off the tongue like no other before or since. It spent 35 weeks in the Top 20 of its Audible Category in 2016 and has sold nearly 13,000 copies worldwide as of this writing. Go figure!

That’s awesome. Congrats!

What’s the most fun project you’ve worked on?

Rowdy Raccoon and the Turtle Who Wanted to Fly I think the title says it all. 😉 Children’s Books will always reign supreme for me as far as acting challenges and fun.

It does indeed. It’s been hit or miss for me reviewing kids’ books.

Is this the only acting you do? If you do other forms of acting, which is your favorite and why?

Right now it is. I hear Atlanta is a pretty happening place to be these days for on-screen. I thought about getting my printed headshot/resume back together, renting an IMDB page, doing the website, agent, the whole bit. But decided I just don’t have the time or resources to do that right for now. Just too much on the plate. Maybe when I retire!

I didn’t know IMDB pages were rented. Learn something new every day.

If you could only leave 1 lasting impression on the world, what would it be?

The love of Christ.

What kind of movies do you enjoy?

I like war documentaries. The strategies, the geeks who they interview, the human interest, all of it. I get so mad at the horrible decisions the generals make and then so mesmerized when they describe a soldier’s letter home to his wife or a great act of heroism. I’m that guy who imagines he was born 200 years too late. My wife even just turned me on to Outlander. Just hopeless.

If you could meet one person from history or present time, who would it be and why?

Lincoln. Just read his biography.

It’s been a while…share how we can connect with you again.

Website: Social Media Links: Twitter: @AudioOven


There you have it, folks. Thanks for stopping by, Steve. I’m guessing we’ll be hearing a whole lot more from you.

Associate Links:

Means I make a few cents on your interest here… Amazon Prime
The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly. If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook. Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery. Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.

Songs for 2019 Playlist Explained

This is what Spotify prepped when I made the list.


This list is certainly not done yet, but I think it’s a decent start to what I’m feeling for the new year. 2019 should be about stepping out into the various things I was gifted in. In short, having more boldness and caring less about what others think or attaining success as the world defines it. That’s gonna be difficult, but I’m game to try.

Here’s the link to the Songs for 2019 playlist.

Most of my playlists end up being a tad longer, but I’m going to assume there’s room for a lot of growth. My 2018 list ended up being 48 songs and 3 hours 5 minutes. Pretty sure it was about 28 songs when I wrote the explanation post. Actually, many of the end songs for 2018 do carry over.

Song Explanations:

Prepare for Mayhem by Rosa Phelpson

I love this song for the beginning because there’s a mysterious, cool quality to the general song flow. It doesn’t need words to be a good “gear  up for what’s coming” song.

Be Thou My Vision by Audrey Assad

Audrey Assad didn’t write it, but I love her version of the classic hymn. She’s got a nice, clear, angelic voice that comes across as very soothing. The hymn itself is ones of my favorite. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always enjoyed it.

Believe by The Sidh

A lovely, soft, contemplative sort of song. “Believe” is a nice follow up to “Be Thou My Vision”. It’s instrumental and inspirational. I sometimes pick songs for their titles. This one has a very fitting title.

Joy. (Fransis Derelle & Jinco Remix) By For King and Country

The focus of this song is that joy’s sometimes a choice. It’s also catchy and has some pretty powerful lyrics.

“Gotta get that fire fire back in my bones. Before my heart heart turns into stone.”
“Oh hear my prayer tonight … give me strength to testify”
“Time’s come to make a choice. And I choose joy.”
“Let it move you. Let it move you. Let it move you.”

The Silk Road by The Sidh

This starts slow, but picks up around 0:15 with the entry of the wind instrument and then 0:30 with the entry of the drums. Not sure about the title’s meaning, but the song itself is fun. You could imagine it being the soundtrack to a journey montage if this were a movie.

High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco

Don’t think all the lyrics fit here, but here are some I gravitate to.
“Didn’t have a dime, but I always had a vision.
“I was gonna be that one in a million.”
“Always had high high hopes.”

Guess the general message is dream big.

Hiraeth by Jo Blankenburg

Had to look up what the word meant. Google via Wikipedia says that it’s a Welsh concept of homesickness or longing for home. I just thought it was pretty, but that too fits. From a certain point of view, every Christian has a different home and it would be natural to feel a sense of loss and longing for it.

Shouldn’t Be Sorry by Cards, Sita

Once again, I am not certain that I gravitate to every single one of the lyrics here, but I do like the general message about being bold.

“You shouldn’t feel sorry when you speak your mind,”
“You shouldn’t be sorry…”
“Shouldn’t feel wrong cause you put it right.”

Becoming a Legend by John Dreamer

I tried to mix in instrumental and songs with lyrics. This is a good “in between” song. It’s steady and pretty.

Show You by Cameron James

This is a fairly bold song.
“Don’t underestimate. I’m more than meets the eye.”
“I was born to born to break through.”
“Show you. Show you I can.”

Emma by Steve Price

I didn’t think I saw the movie Fury, but I actually think I did and forgot all about it.  The song is both soothing and haunting. Perfect war movie music. Not expecting life to turn as hellish as the events of the movie, but the music fits a “hey, prepare yourself” theme.

Reeloading by The Sidh

The more I listen to this one, the more I think it’s probably the most hands-down fun on the list.

Around 0:15 there’s a quickening of pace. It stays fast throughout most of the rest of the song. I dare you to try to listen to the whole thing without tapping your foot. I have no idea about the title

Higher Ground by Wildwood Kin

Wildwood Kin would probably sound good singing anything. They have a nice, smooth sound.
“Worlds keep on turning. Cause it won’t be too long.”
“Powers keep on lying while your people keep on dying.”
“So glad I know more than I knew then”
“Believers keep on believing.”
“Gotta keep on trying until I reach my highest ground.”

In essence, life goes on. Pretty sure I don’t know what some of the middle line means “So darn glad he let me try it again.”

Human Legacy by Ivan Torrent

Interesting title on this one. Slow and gentle throughout. It’s on the longer side at just shy of 5 minutes. Changes around 1:30. Reminds me of a good “roll credits” musical piece.

A Taste of Freedom by Antti Martikainen

Really couldn’t decide where I wanted to place this one. It’s got the feel of a “continuing credits” song. I love the title. Just a taste of freedom is enough to spark a revolution. You can pick up that concept from most epic stories. There’s an overall triumphant feel to this song.

Good to Be Alive by Jason Gray

I didn’t want to end with all instrumental songs.
“Every breathe that I take, You’ve given.”
“I want to live like there’s no tomorrow. Love like I’m on borrowed time. It’s good to be alive.”

Simple but powerful.

Final Frontier by Thomas Bergersen

Some of you probably thought we made it through the whole list without one Thomas Bergersen because he shows up in quite a few of my playlists. What can I say? He does journey music awesomely. My favorite part starts a little over the one minute mark.

All We Are by Marcus Warner

Starts out with drums. It’s a good place to end with the beginning of the list. There’s a promise of more in here. You think the song’s about to end right in the middle. Once again, it’s on the chunky side at 3 seconds side of 5 minutes. At 2:30 something, it continues by starting on a new section. Aside from being moving and inspirational, there’s strength and even courage tucked into the chords of the song. I think this pairs well even when it loops around and plays you Prepare for Mayhem again.


If I’ve accurately picked music for the year, it’s gonna be an amazing time filled with growth and new paths on the life journey. I’m excited to see what happens.

Associate Links:

(If you click through and buy something, there’s the chance I’ll earn like $0.04 ….)

Amazon Prime

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.


Audiobook Reviews 3.45/5 Stars: The Kitten Who Didn’t Know How to Meow by Rich Linville

Picked up the cover at audible.


This is a very, very short children’s book that explores most of the sounds common farm animals make. Since the total runtime of the audio is 3 minutes and 16 seconds, my review probably has more words than the book. Literally a minute of that runtime is a note to kids, parents, and teachers.

Additional Comments:

– It’s cute.
– There’s not much of a story though. It’s just a survey of various animal noises because the kitten’s asking them how to meow. How would a kitten know the word without knowing how to do it?
– I know I’m way overthinking it, but the lack of logic drives me nuts. She’s also a lost newborn kitten in the beginning but talking to her mother at the end. She’s also a lost, newborn kitten trekking all over a farm. They don’t tend to walk that far for a few weeks. (Yeah, yeah, I get it, the whole animal talking thing didn’t bother me one whit. That meets general suspension of disbelief standards.)
– Also, if you’ve ever tried to teach anybody anything, you know that demonstrating it once isn’t really going to stick.
– Animals included: dog, owl, horse, goat, pig, chick, cow, mouse, duck.
What this book has going for it is the very clever wording. There’s a nice, poetic cadence to the arrangement.
– Audio performance is okay. The rendition of meow at the end is stellar, but the whole audio has a slight tinny quality to it. (That might be ACX’s processing of it.)


I’m going to chalk this up to I am NOT the target audience. If you have a small child or really love children’s stories, this will probably be a great experience for you.

Associate Links:

(If you click through and buy something, there’s the chance I’ll earn like $0.04 ….)

Amazon Prime

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.


Reshner Series/ Scifi and Fantasy Playlist Walkthrough


The explanations here contain some spoilers if you have not read the Reshner Series.


Instead of creating a list for each individual story, I decided to try for key moments throughout the series as a whole.

It’s Got my Name on it by Tommee Profitt and Sarah Reeves

The song’s probably about a competition crown and fighting hard to get it, but I love to think of it as Mavis Altran’s theme song. Most of the plotpoints in the trilogy get driven by her ambition for the crown.

Goldie’s Goldie by The Sidh, Colin Goldie

Fast-paced, light-hearted, and fun, this song is great for kicking off the Kireshana, the royal guard training exercise where the candidates basically tour a large section of the northern continent.

Drama Refinement by Leo Moody

I very rarely get flow right, but coming from Goldie’s Goldie, this song works out pretty well. It covers the switch to “things get dangerous” nicely. The prince gets ambushed.

The Legend of Lya by Philter

Prince Terosh meets Reia, the Ranger sent to shadow him and make sure he stays safe on the journey. They decide to travel together.

Dragonflies by Svrcina

The very beginnings of a forbidden romance.

Incendiary (Instrumental) by Tommee Profitt

A continuation of the dangers that can be encountered during the journey. Hidden dangers from people conspiring against the crown.

Tiger Battle by Steven Price

Second korver attack (A korver is sort of like a wolf.) More danger from unseen sources.

War of Hearts by Ruelle

The prince and the Ranger acknowledge that they love each other but it’s very complicated.

Homecoming by Thomas Bergersen

Prince Terosh finishes his renewing fire journey and returns to the palace.

The Prophecy by Tony Anderson and Aubrey Prunty

Reia gets drawn into a trap ultimately meant to draw out the prince.

Magic of Love by Thomas Bergersen

When things settle down for a second, the two lovers realize that what they have is worth the risks.

Windchimes by Michael Logozar

A nice, peaceful theme for the hopeful beginning of a new era. If there was an end of book one, this would be it.

Guardians at the Gate by Audiomachine

Book two starts off fairly calm, but things quickly turn dangerous. Threats loom large.

Requiem for a Tower

There’s a moment in the second book where the main character enters a friendly duel with his cousin, but things go terribly wrong. This song was probably meant for the siege of a castle, but it works for spiritual and emotional warfare as well.

The Other Side by Ruelle

A song of longing and fear of loss perfectly encompasses the mindset of the queen facing the possibility of ruling alone if her husband dies after the dueling accident.

Breaking Through by London Music Works

I think this song fits just before Reia attempts to heal her husband from his arena wounds.

Miracles by Two Steps from Hell, Thomas Bergersen

A good song to cover the wait time for the healing to take place. Sometimes, the miracles take place over time and take plenty of patience.

Chrono Cross – “Scars of Time” performed by Video Games Live

Wind instruments are good in representing the world as a whole. Reshner in the world language means “restful place.” Midway through things switch over to more exciting and dangerous, which also happens in this sort of really long adventure story.

Bird Song – Femke Remix by Through Juniper Vale

The song doesn’t quite ring true for the whole series, but if it was a movie, this would be the perfect second song of the credits.

“…when our hearts beat slow together”

Redemption by Zach Hemsey

The title doesn’t quite line up, but the soft, contemplative theme is great for wrapping up an epic saga.

Victory by Two Steps from Hell

If credits had to stretch quite a bit, then this one fits for the end. It also fits for the end of the third book’s events.


This one has a lot more instrumental music than the other two lists for modern stories. I think instrumental music is more suited for science fiction and fantasy as a genre. Hope you find something to love on here.

Associate Links:

(If you click through and buy something, there’s the chance I’ll earn like $0.04 ….)

Amazon Prime

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.


Beyond Broken Pencils Playlist Walkthrough

Find the playlist here on Spotify.



The discussion contains spoilers, but then again, so does the back cover copy and the subtitle. You know what’s going to happen in Beyond Broken Pencils. It’s really all about the how and why. Still, if spoilers aren’t your thing, just listen without the explanations.

I’ve recently made 3 lists, and as usual, I tried something different this time. They’re in order for ease of listening and the meaning they take on. Roughly, they’re in order of inspirational, then what would be going through one of the MC’s heads, danger, and aftermath.

Can’t Hold Us Down by Tommee Profitt and Sam Tinnesz

I love Sam’s voice! Knowing what’s coming, this is a reminder that even these sorts of tragedies can’t kill a community.

Take the World (Let’s Go) by The Phantoms

A nice, rousing, inspirational tune.

Strange by The Score

“Lately, I’ve been thinking everyone around me is insane.”
The song bounces back and forth between thinking the world’s gone mad and then thinking there’s something wrong inside. Teenage years are sort of confusing for most people.

High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco

“I was gonna be that one in a million.”
A lot of kids/people in general want to stand out from the crowd.

Never Going Back by The Score

I’ve put this song on a few different playlists, including the one I prepared for my current students. “I can’t slow it down.” “I’m never gonna follow just because they say so.”
“Never giving up. Never gonna crack. Never giving in. Never going back.”
Good song for capturing the indomitable human spirit

Stand Out The Phantoms

Pretty straight forward message about standing out. Even school shootings are a desperate cry for attention in at least some of the cases. “Ya gotta break some rules. You gotta take some chances.” This message appeals to most people, teenagers included.

Tightrope by The Score

“I can’t be everything that you want me to. Fill my mind up with silly dreams.”
“People look like specs of dust when you’re this high off the ground.”
“I am walking a tightrope. I am walking it for you.”
“I’m fighting with gravity. Trying not to fall.”
Haven’t had a chance to think too deeply about this one, but on first few listens it comes through about the weight of expectations, some fairly and some unfairly placed upon people.

Little Voice by for King and Country

Roughly the midpoint of the list was a great spot for an instrumental piece. In every arrangement, there’s always that calm before the storm. It’s from the soundtrack for Priceless, which I haven’t seen, but I believe has to do with setting someone free from human trafficking. In the face of darkest evil, shine the brightest lights.

Will I Make It out Alive by Tommee Profitt and Jessie Early

The title’s pretty descriptive. In the middle of a horrific event like a school shooting, I imagine that’s a thought that goes through most people’s head. Also, when it comes down to instinct, how will I react?

Only One by The Score

You’re probably sick of hearing this band on this list, but they just happen to have a lot of songs that capture the right mentality.
“It’s time to break out, so everybody just scream out. I’m the only one.
“I cut the strings a long time ago”
I’m probably not grasping the whole message here. I’m going to key in on the last line: “No chains, no chains won’t hold me down.”

Heroes by Zayde Wolf

“We are heroes in the darkest time when there is no light.”
“… we’ll rise above

Tragedy has a way of bringing out the best and worst in people. Some rise as heroes. Ordinary people placed in extraordinary positions show what we can be. If it were a movie, I think this is the kind of thing to play during a montage of various responders doing their jobs.

Carry Me by For King and Country

Another instrumental piece when the chaos is ending but nothing’s truly sunk past the horror of what’s going on around.

Hold Me Up by Sam Tinnesz

“It’s been some long days and some hard nights”
“I’m losing this fire in the valleys of my heart.
“I need somebody to lean on.”
“Can you hold me up?”
“I know it’s out of my hands,
But I can’t do this again.”
Great song about coming together after something awful has happene

Walk through the Fire by Zayde Wolf and Ruelle

“I’m always wonder if it’s ever gonna end
I can feel it in my bones x2
Standing in the dust of what’s left of us
I can see you in my soul x2”
“Did we take too many chances?”
“Did we light too many matches?
Turn ourselves into these ashes?”

“We walk through the fire…”
After the dust settles, comes a time of reflection and bandying about blame.
“Try to understand, how we’re here again
In the middle of the storm.”
As a society, how did we get here again and again? Also, just a lovely, haunting song.
“Is there a way out?”

Ubi Caritas by Audrey Assad

After the Parkland shooting, I happened to be sent this song by a friend. The timing fit perfectly. I could hear this song as a memorial for the lives lost. It’s in Latin, but there are translations available. Audrey’s voice is amazing in most of her songs, but especially so here.

Heaven Come Down by Becca Bradley

Kind of a mini-synopsis of what happens when there’s a school shooting (or any mass shooting incident). Beautiful cry for mercy and grace from above. “Will it ever change?
Oh everyone’s got someone to blame
For the hurt and fear and pain
In the mess, in the madness we will pray…
Heaven come down.”
“Nothing on Earth can give us what we really need…”
“No law, no money, nobody else can save us.”

Live Life by Zayde Wolf

If this were a movie, I think this would be a nice way to begin the credits. “What am I gonna do?
Live life like I never had
Live life through the good an bad”
Life goes on for those who survive tragedies. They might be haunted by events and struggle in other ways, but there is hope for them.

joy. (Fransis Derelle and Jinco Remix) By for King and Country

Joy is sometimes a choice.
“Gotta get that fire fire back in my bones.”
“Oh hear my prayer tonight…
Time has come to make a choice
And I choose… joy.”
“Let it move you.


Ultimately, this is the whole reason to write a contemporary drama story like Beyond Broken Pencils. We can’t always bottle the crazy. Sometimes, people unleash their inner demons on the world at large and innocents to down with them. At such times, after the natural course of mourning, you have to make a conscious choice to return to joy.

Associate Links to Follow:

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Amazon Prime

The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.

If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.

Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.