Tuesday, August 31, 2010

As the blog tour winds down, two more reviews posted!

I love to get reviews from male authors / reviewers. David J. West was spot on for my feelings with the book. I thought the first 50 pages or so were a bit slow, but I was told by the female readers that they really enjoyed those pages. In fact, what I tell a guy who is about to read the book is, "Just make it through chapter 5, and you'll be fine." David also mentions he would have prefered a bit of a different type of ending. Well, without giving away too much, the second book starts faster from the male point of view, and the reader will understand why the first book ended the way it did. It's a great review and can be found here.

The second review is from Alison Palmer. She focuses more on the moral issues brought up in the book--which is good. The book was intended to be an interesting read, but also one with a message. She, too, gives some great advice to a first time author. Her review can be found here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Two more reviews!

I’m sharing two more reviews about The Hidden Sun today. Honestly, if you haven’t been convinced that this is a book you’ll enjoy, I’m not sure what will. The first review is from Andrea Pearson and can be found here. The second is from Elizabeth Mueller and can be found here. Thank you again to the reviewers for their time and effort to review my book!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review from the blog, "Why not? Because I Said So!

A great review found at the blog at the wondrfully world of “Why Not? Because I Said So!” She gives some great references to the book. She’s looking forward to the second book in the series. Funny, so am I! *smiles*

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review of The Hidden Sun from Berin Stephens

I do believe this is the first review from a person of the male persuasion—and it’s a good one. He has some great insight. It’s funny, it seems like women like the romantic elements of the story, whereas Berin liked the parts of the book which I liked more (the action, the political intrigue and the overall theme of making “right” choices”). A big old thanks to Berin for his time!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lessons learned from my blog tour thus far

What the heck is a blog tour anyway? Well, it is a great way to spread the word about your work by getting other authors, editors and reviewers to read your book and then the blog about it. Their readers, in turn, learn about the book.
It's like planting seeds.
It's gone very well so far. The overall response has been VERY positive. The story is something that people have really enjoyed, even if it isn't quite what they expect.
Case in point: The Hidden Sun is broadly classified as a fantasy due to its Medieval themes. But there isn't magic in the book, nor are there non-human characters. One of the reviewers pointed out this book was not a work of fantasy--and I couldn't agree more. It's more like an action / adventure / romance / political drama set in Medieval times.
I often hear people say their favorite stories to read are about castles, princesses, kingdoms, heroes, villains and happy endings. So, I decided to write one, but with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting.
The few criticisms have been around technical issues, such as typos or added / missing words. Granted, there are a few that made it to the final book, which I plan on getting cleaned up for the next release.
However, sometimes I think that people can get too caught up in the technical issues or have that be the focus of their reading. I'll be honest, if you enjoy a book that is 100% error free of technical issues (and this doesn't mean plot issues) then this version of The Hidden Sun isn't for you.
And sometimes there are things that seem to be technical issues that aren't. Here are a couple of examples I've gotten from readers:
"Captain Wayte is too formal in his speaking. I can't pinpoint quite why." The answer? Wayte doesn't use contractions. It's on purpose to help his character have a unique voice.
And then my favorite feedback about typos: "It seems like any time Cameron speaks, there are multiple typos." The answer? YES! The typos are there to give him a distinct way of speaking. It's important to the plot. Example: For the sentence, "You will begin your reading lessons later today," Cameron would say, "Yous will start learnin' to read laters today."
I've also had numerous people tell me that they got mad at me as the author when certain things happened in the book, only to finish the book later and then understand why. My response? Good! I think if you can evoke an emotional response from the reader then you have them invested enough in the story to care.
For me, that's harder to do than to remember "i before e except after c" and the like. That's what editors are for. *smiles*

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A trip to Asia

The two countries I've been to aside from the USA are Canada and Mexico. I've always had a desire to visit England because we've traced the Morgan's back to a little area outside of Bristol going back to the late 1600's. It's on my "things to do before I die" list.
Now the title of this blog may have you believe I will be visiting the world's largest continent--but you would be wrong. The "Asia" referred to here is not a place, but rather a musical group.
I've found it interesting to talk to people about their taste in music and how they acquired it. For some, they are drawn to the type of music their parents listened to. Yes, I'll have to admit I have fond memories of the soundtracks to "The Sound of Music", "Fiddler on the Roof" and "South Pacific". Heck, I even enjoy a good Andy Williams song.
But my main taste in music can be drawn back to one group: Asia. It was a rock group formed from members of other groups. The guitarist, Steve Howe, played in a group called "Yes" (probably most famous for their song "Roundabout"). The drummer, Carl Palmer, was one third of the group "Emerson, Lake and Palmer." The keyboard player, Geoff Downes was one half of The Buggles, a group known for their song "Video Killed the Radio Star" (the first video played on MTV) and the singer and bass guitar player had come from many different groups, most notably King Crimson.
They had a HUGE hit in 1982 called "Heat of the Moment" as well as other hits like "Only Time Will Tell," "Don't Cry" and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes." So, what do you do when you are a famous group from the 80's? You break up, of course. Asia continued over the years with different musicians, which I will say put out some pretty darn good music.
A few years back, the original members got back together to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the forming of the band. They've since toured quite a bit and put out two new albums.
I had seen them in concert 2 times--and they are amazing musicians. When I heard they were touring the USA in the summer of 2010, I was anxiously awaiting to see how close they would be playing to North Carolina. I've seen them in NYC and Virginia, so I was willing to make a trip if needed.
It turns out they were playing in Raleigh--15 minutes away. And get this, they were playing on my birthday! What a great birthday present!
So, I find out when tickets are going to go on sale and I hop on Ticketmaster ASAP to get good seats. As soon as I log in, it asks me for a password for early ticket purchases. Password? I need a password? Doh! So, I think to myself, "Self, what would they use for a password?" I guess the word "Omega", the name of their latest album, and I was right! Whoo hoo!
I get second row seats, dead center--and the people who bought the seats in front of me didn't make it to the concert, so it was basically front row seats. It was a total blast. Best part? Having a wife willing to go with me and actually enjoy the concert. Yes, it was a nice birthday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Debbie Davis' review of The Hidden Sun

What a nice birthday present (shameless plug for myself) to wake up to the review from Deborah Davis. It is one of the more indepth reviews the book has received. It can be accessed here.

Thank you Deborah (Debbie) for taking the time to read and review The Hidden Sun!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Twin Memories

One of the many places I've called home was the wonderful town of Twin Falls, Idaho. "Twin," as the locals call it, is one of those central towns surrounded primarily by farming communities. Probably it's greatest claim to fame is the failed jump of Evel Knievel over the Snake River Canyon back in 1974. (Look it up on the web if you have no idea what I'm referring to)
It was actually a great place to live. And like most areas of the world, there were some quirky things about it. First off, it was named after a set of falls from the Snake River. At this point of the river, there was a big land section in the middle, with the river going around either side then off a deep drop causing "Twin Falls." Well, at least there was until they dammed up one of the falls and put in a power station or something. Perhaps they should have changed the name of the town to "Single Falls", or "The Town Previously Known as Twin Falls" with just a symbol representing two waterfalls as the official logo.
That part of the country is also next to the stunning Sawtooth Mountains. As a prominent landmark, it was the inspiration for many a business and schools in the area. There is Sawtooth Elementary, Sawtooth Vacuum, Sawtooth Heating and Air Conditioning, and my personal favorite: Sawtooth Dental. Granted, that last one could be taken the wrong way.
Twin Falls had several car dealerships. Though sadly it seems they have since changed owners, while we were there the local Ford dealership was owned by Jules Harrison. I still recall the sign out front. In small letters was the name "Jules" followed by large, bold words that read "Harrison Ford." (True story!)
Then there was the cruisin' of Blue Lakes Blvd on Friday night (or was it Saturday, or both?). Blue Lakes was the main street down the heart of the town. On cruisin' nights, people would drive up and down Blue Lakes with windows down, music blaring, girls trying to pick up guys, guys trying to pick up girls, and me, trying to get home after directing the 10 o'clock newscast. There was more than one occasion where girls would drive up next to me and honk and wave (me thinks they were partaking of the strong drink). I found this particularly humorous because I was driving what my wife and I called our B.M.W. (Big Mormon Wagon--AKA Minivan) It should have been obvious if I was cruisin' for chicks (as they called it) I would drive something that didn't shout "I'm married and have a lot of kids!"
But I think my favorite memory of all of Twin Falls was also one of the more surreal experiences I've had in my life. When I started training at the TV station, it was in the mornings. On my second day to work, I was a more familiar with the route, so I got it look around a bit more when driving. It was still dark, but there were store signs lit up. One of these stores was called "Tuesday Morning." I'm not sure what type of store it was, but I remember thinking, "Wait, there is a store there named Tuesday Morning, and right now it is Tuesday morning. When I drive by here tomorrow, will it say Wednesday Morning?"
The answer? Go to Twin Falls and see for yourself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My interview with Donna Hatch

The latest stop on the blog tour is a bit different. Instead of a review of the book, it is an interview with me about the book by Donna Hatch.

The full interview can be found here.

I'd like to thank her for taking the time for the interview and to post it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sharon Galligar Chance's review of "The Hidden Sun"

I would like to thank Sharon Galligar Chance for taking the time to read and review The Hidden Sun. Her review can be found here.

My response was:

“Thank you for the kind words, Sharon. I’m always happy to hear when someone has enjoyed reading the book as much as I did writing it. You were spot on that my daughters were the inspiration for book, though I’ve found adults have liked it as much, if not more, than the youth. I wish you the best of success with your future endeavors!”

Monday, August 9, 2010

The talented and amazing author C. K. Bryant has reviewed The Hidden Sun. Her blog, with my blog response, are posted.

I would like to thank C. K. Bryant for taking the time to read The Hidden Sun and reviewing it on her blog. The fact that she wrote: "All in all, this was a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good medieval tale. J. Lloyd Morgan is an excellent story teller with a vivid imagination. The twists and turns woven within the story kept me wanting more, especially toward the end when I could NOT put the book down," and "It isn't often that the ending of a book brings tears to my eyes, but this one did" leads me to believe there is hope for me as a writer. *smiles*
Bryant nailed the two points of the book that I'm the least satisfied with. Number one, there are several extra or missing words, some misspellings and various other technical issues throughout the book. Even with several people going over it with a fine tooth comb (apparently there were some gaps in these combs, especially my comb *smiles*), things were missed. Secondly, I have received feedback that some of the names in the book are so odd as to be distracting. It isn't until I direct them to the pronunciation guide that the readers forgive me. I appreciate Bryant including the link to the guide in her blog. My next book will have the pronunciations in the book proper.
A quick funny point about this: as a first time author, I felt I had the ability to tell a good story, just not the developed skills to do so. When I would re-read the first few chapters, I noticed I had a knack for leaving out words. Why? I wish I knew! However, I took inspiration from this. One of the plot points of the book stems from a seemingly missing word in The Tome of Laws. So, I turned my own weakness into part of the book.
Overall, I'm glad that Bryant was able to look beyond the blemishes and enjoy the story. I'm most certainly an author in training, so I feel that if I can tell a good story that evokes emotion, then there is hope.
She also mentioned the other major criticism I've gotten from the book: things happen readers don't expect, and the readers aren't particularly happy when they occur. I even had one reader tell me she was so mad at me that she put the book down for a week and wouldn't touch it after a certain event. However, just like Bryant, she was brave enough to finish it until the end and then understood why.
Lastly, I would like to thank Bryant for the kind words at the end. When I wrote the final part of the epilogue, I, too, had tears come to my eyes. After all the "trouble" in the book, the ending just felt right.
I would encourage anyone that has completed The Hidden Sun to go to the "secrets" part of my website. There are quite the number of fun things you may have missed along the way.
Once again, thank you C. K. Bryant for your honesty and time in reviewing The Hidden Sun.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

All of the above

In my 8th grade gym class, we had learned the rules of basketball. We were expected to know these rules so well, we were even given a test. Now, you may ask, how do you take a written test in gym class. The answer? We would lay on our bellies with pencils provided by the teacher and use the floor as a desk top. I'm sure it looked odd to anyone passing by.
One of the questions was, "What are the two major defenses?" One of our less than bright (but large and strong) classmates answered, "Nuclear and Atomic." (You can't make this stuff up)
But to be fair, it was the early 80's and in the middle of the cold war, so the threat of nuclear war was on everyone's mind. However, it did introduce me to the concept of learning how to be a good test taker.
Often in college, I spent more time figuring out what the teacher wanted, and less time trying to understand the material. I could memorize facts and such, but applying that knowledge was a different matter.
One of my required classes for my Communications / Broadcasting Degree was learning about public relations. My teacher was a professional PR person and missed many of the classes she should have taught. In her place, she had her teaching assistant pinch hit. In preparing for our first test of the semester, the TA had an after class study session. I took advantage of it because I could really care less about PR--I was learning to become a TV director, so my heart wasn't in the subject matter.
The TA went over each question, and told us the things to study to answer the questions correctly. This was a level 400 class for seniors, so it was pretty intense. Before the test, I studied and reviewed, and studied and reviewed some more. I went into the test feeling pretty confident.
The next class, our main teacher stormed into the room and slammed her books on the table. Her opening line was, "Do you all think this class is a joke?"
With wide eyes, we all looked at each other, wondering what she was talking about. "You all failed the test! Didn't any of you take this seriously?" We couldn't help but notice our TA wasn't there that day.
One of my classmates spoke up, "I don't understand. How could we all fail it?" She huffed back, "Well, that is what we are going to find out."
She then proceeded to hand back our tests. My guess is that she must have worn out several red pens in grading them. As we started going over the test, the teacher would read the question, and then explain the answer. The odd thing was that the answer didn't resemble what the TA had taught us.
After half a dozen or so questions, with various people pointing out that isn't what the TA had taught us, she finally threw her hands up in the air and demanded, "Well, you are you going to believe? Me or the TA?"
It was my turn to speak up for the class. My response? "Honestly, I didn't think we had to choose--or was that part of the test?"