All posts by Dana Smith

Author and Entertainer

The Art of Change…My Mind is Made Up…

Self Reflective self Portrait...


How fictional characters change in Highway Home and Bankrupt Heart.


      Neuroplasticity is a term to describe how we build connections in our brains. We can build connections by physically moving our bodies and we can build connections simply by thinking. Old thinking tends to travel down familiar neural highways. New thinking tends to travel along new highways. Jugglers know that repetition leads to the ability to do new tricks. For a very long time it was believed that the brain was fixed in size and structure, but now we know that we grow our brain throughout our lives when we use our brain. When we use our brain in new ways we potentially grow new parts, new regions, (connecting one region with another in new and interesting ways). So, it seems there is something of a virtue in making up our minds to make up our minds…

Small Change Got Rained On By His Own 38

Dawn Sky


Resistance seems natural. Our survival techniques encourage us to reduce the number of variables so that we might reduce the number of threats in the jungle we hunt in. In this modern jungle we find ourselves interconnected to complexity is both ally and enemy. We cheer change we like and resist change we fear. There is no end to the paradox. As they say we are entitled to our own opinion, but we are not entitled to our own set of facts. Change happens! It is a fact. We are sure to be pushed by change, sometimes that push supports our opinion and sometimes that push is supported by fact. Climate change is one such fact. Getting a facelift after consulting our changing looks in the mirror another… Small Change got rained on by his own 38……resisting change in this jungle of life is self inflicted… If you listen you will hear facts speaking. An open mind is a ready mind…what are you open to? What do you resist?

Change I Can Remember

I am interested in thinking. Cognition is a word used to describe thinking. Metacognition is the process of thinking about our thinking. Dan Siegel a psychiatrist from UCLA has been doing brain scan research. He has been mapping brains of people while they think. We are learning many interesting things about how our minds actually work. Metacognition is a tricky thing. Our minds are always thinking and while trying to remain alert to being aware of our thoughts we can end up lost in them. Then, a light bulb goes off and we wake up and remember that we just forgot that we wanted to continue to think about this one thought and not the new thought that just swept our attention away… Now, Dr. Nora Volkow has been doing research on cell phones. Her research team did brain scans of people who are using cell phones and find that the weak radiation is having a measurable effect on the brain. In fact the brain is speeding up! Now, skeptics have already struck at the finding! It is important to raise doubt as soon as a fact has been established. My mind goes into ping-pong mode, bouncing from one thought and then back to the other. I am swept away by debate, and then find myself finally not knowing what to think! And then I wake up and remember that I am the species that remembers that I forget, and that what I had been forgetting is that I only get this one ride on this trip called life and I want to remember to take care of my brain, remember that, remember not to forget that I am the one in charge of that important action. So, I try to remember not to put that phone near my head, then I forget, and then I remember, and then I forget to remember, and then I remember that I forget….

Edgy Rate of Change


  Technological innovation is external change… Changing relationships, changing jobs, changing where you live… changing your own habitual way of thinking about the world is where change meets the interior human soul. Finding tools to work with our changes seem scattered here and there. It appears many people don’t know that what they are experiencing is a loss of knowing that they are going through enormous change and not knowing how to work with it, shape it, understand it, and nurture it. When you find a toolkit you can rely upon to work with change you have found humanities tranquilizer to the modern changing world we find ourselves born into at this lightening quick flashing phenomenal moment in time.

And with that I’ll leave you with an audio track, a fragment from my new novel Bankrupt Heart….

Click Here:   NewYearsDay09

Modern Guide to Change

Morty as talent agent


            Transformation, change, what is old, what is new, where we’ve come from and where we are going…sometimes we feel we are just standing still. I am married to an engineer, and she is married to an artist. I entertain and I am a novelist. We discuss what all this new technology means. Some discussions are about the technology and some of our discussions are about the content. Both discussions are about the nature of change. What do I mean by that? I mean that much of what we are now experiencing is already no longer relevant, no longer matters. One structure we thought existed is supplanted, replaced, or made obsolete by the emerging structure. I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference the last three days. The old order has watched while the new digital structure continues to unfold.

            For a street performer it means less than it does to an author of novels. Distribution of a street act remains the same. Stand on corner. Gather an audience, do a show, pass the hat, and another turn of the wheel of life has been made. For an author the mechanics of distribution have been changing and remain in a state of rapid, revolutionary change. Writing evolves at the level of human time frames. Technology moves at another speed. The slow and careful composition of a novel has something in common with a street performer. This digital revolution, this new technology is frantic, fast-paced, breathtaking, and has created not just amazing uncertainty, but amazing opportunity. The challenges are many… as always the most important part is to finds way to use it and not let it use you… I want to think at my own rate of thought, I want to create at my own pace, and enjoy technologies convenience not its tyranny.

Davos 2011 Bankers Go Directly to Jail



      We begin with a Davos wrap up… First, you need to follow the money. Our financial system collapses in 2008. This was the Lehman bankruptcy and the credit crunch that followed, liquidity crisis if you prefer. Large and small corporations outside the financial sector were forced into lay off’s, something in the order of 15 million people in the USA…many still without any prospects for work. There were many possible solutions to this crisis, tools we could have elected to use other than the tools that were selected. Most of the policy actions that were taken were financial in nature, having more to do with trying to repair the financial system. Any economist could explain how the repair of the system could have been a bottom up repair rather than a top down fix. Next, we use extremely low interest rates and loan bankers money that they can buy Treasury Bonds with. Borrow money at one quarter of one percent and buy bonds that pay you one percent perhaps two percent, pocket the difference and like magic their balance sheets begin to look better. The money used to repair the system sits at the Federal Reserve in the form of debt and at the Treasury also in the form of debt to be paid back by the taxpayers. That would include corporate taxes as well as individuals.

 A few years pass the 6 largest banks are getting back on their feet while sticking us with their debts and complaining to us about our not feeling so good about how high their compensation packages are. They say this isn’t fair, that they have done us all a favor and are ready to help the economy again. Then, it turns out that these large Bond buying banks are going to start demanding higher interest payments to buy the bonds used to finance the debt that they created…

Unemployment benefits, social security, Medicare, and other forms of government services need to be cut back, yes it is true that we had a debt problem before the crisis, but they have added at least 3 trillion to 5 trillion dollars all by themselves…

So, it is morally despicable that they are now going to demand that we cut our social security system, curtail our Medicare system, begin to cut unemployment benefits off all so that we the very people they screwed in the first place can pay down the debt that was caused by them!

One last point…some will point to individuals who exploited the system to enrich themselves while this game was going on. But, you see it is sort of like an airplane pilot. You put people in charge of something and they should be expected to fly the thing without becoming greedy and enriching their own accounts or behaving so recklessly that they crash and kill everyone on the plane. Our bankers, regulators and politicians acted in collusion with one another. Bankers captured both politicians and regulators.

The financial system remains broken, dangerous and the world has an enormous debt hangover…. I believe the titans of finance have every reason to continue to remain in a kneeling position and to ask us for forgiveness, reform the banking system…

What does this have to do with Bankrupt Heart? Hope you will read the book.

In Prescott, Arizona tonight, December 1, 2010. Above a late afternoon in late September along the western front of Ruby Mountains. This is the location of the last chapters of Highway Home. Here is a location that evokes a reaction, it stirs up deeper currents in us. Beautiful sunset on this first few days of autumn. Exactly as I’d imagined while writing the concluding scenes of Highway Home.

Okay, Quick Note

Well, headed north tonight, in the midst of the first 10,000 words of Bankrupt Heart, my second novel, got Lacey curled up at my feet, and beginning to enter the writing all day mode…a few days of distraction ahead and then plunge full time into the task at hand.

Storyboard on Wall…

Bankrupt Heart Storyboard


     The plotting is done. Off to editors for comment. Chapter One drafted but will revise, refine, until we get the elements of the story and characters alive on the page. And then I’ll proceed to write the next 28 chapters arriving at what I estimate to be a novel of 100,000 to 110,000 words. This trains leaving the station and expect this drafting to be completed by October. Tinkering after that into some bracket of time, another three to four months. Finished by the end of year would be superb, but I am afraid I am not likely to be capable of going quite that quick. We shall see.

     I’ll begin plotting for the next book somewhere in the middle of finishing my second novel. At least the bones of ideas for the third.

     I’m very excited… I can feel this story’s life within me now…