Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The new math

There is that old joke that Algebra could one day save your life. With my imagination, as a student I'd daydream of a situation where a bomb was going to blow up unless I solved this complex equation using all sorts of letters and symbols. How that would keep a bomb from blowing up, I'm not sure. The honest fact is that unless you use something on a regular basis, you tend to forget it. Some may say this is a perfect argument for not getting an education--that most things you learn, you won't use. I'll say that is somewhat of a valid point, with one major exception: 

Learning helps you learn to learn.

Granted, that may seem like the most obvious statement in the world. But stuff is changing around us so much, we are constantly having to learn new things.

At BYU, I learned how to direct TV programs. At the time, we used the latest technology. We had this big video switcher that looked like the control board on the Death Star.
It had lots of buttons and levers and dials and such. Over time, technology change--things became more computer based. This last summer, we went back to Utah for a visit. One place we stopped by was BYU. We found the old studio where I spent so many hours. It was stripped bare. I have no doubt that all that equipment was replaced by the newest technology somewhere else on campus.

So, what was the point of me learning something that would change? Well, for starters, the concepts behind directing haven't really changed. The correct video still needs to be played at the right moment. The anchors need to know which camera to look at and when. The director needs the ability to multitask while several people are talking to him or her at the same time. In other words, the human elements haven't changed.

But in addition, learning how all that equipment worked helped me develop the strategies and habits to be able to become proficient at something new. When the technology changed, I'd have to learn how to use it, but, I had already developed the skills on how to learn.

To me, that is the single biggest thing someone can learn from getting an education--on any level.
Right now, I'm learning how to be a better writer. It's not all about spelling, (though in my third book I used the word 'alter' instead of 'altar' to describe an item in a church--thank goodness it is still in the editing stages!) but it is also about pacing, character development, setting, point of view, and the list goes on and on. It may sound strange, but a lot of the skills I learned in becoming a TV director, I'm using now as I learn to become a better writer.

Back to the whole point of learning math that may save your life one day. My oldest daughter (who is freakin' awesome by-the-way) is a Freshman in High School this year. She brought home her first math homework a few days ago. There was one question that they hadn't gone over in class, and she wasn't sure how to do it. She asked for my help. The question was this: 7 people meet and shake hands, how many handshakes occur? Also, what is the formula for number of handshakes if the number of people is "n"?

I was stupefied. I seriously sat there for an hour trying to figure it out. No luck. I finally posted the question on Facebook. The answer? nCr = n! / (r! * (n - r)!) Where "n" is the number of people, "r" is the number of people required to do a handshake (in this case "2") and the big letter "C" there means constant or something else that makes it really confusing.

What the heck is "n!"? I must have learned that at some point in time, but heck if I remember--because I don't use it. I told my daughter to see what answer the teacher wanted once they went over the assignment. The answer? "Oh! I didn't expect any of you to get the answer because I haven't taught you how to do it yet."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Author update

August has been an interesting month, to say the least. Much has happened. I thought it was time for another update on the author part of my life.

First and foremost, The Hidden Sun, published by Walnut Springs Press, is now available for purchase! As of this moment in time, there are three places it can be bought:

1. Autographed copies can only be purchased from Handcarts in the Valley bookstore. You can either order them online or visit them in Heber, Utah.

2. Want a place a little closer to the east coast? All Booked Up in Apex, North Carolina (my home town) is selling it as well.

3. It's also available on

It will be available on other websites in the near future--I'll keep you updated.

As for other news: I'll be featured in a couple of the local papers in the Apex and Holly Springs area next week. I'll post more information when I get it.

A blog tour for The Hidden Sun is in the works. As of this moment, it's planned to run from the end of September through October. I'll post the dates and websites as soon as they are finalized.

In other news, I've updated The Waxing Moon so it matches the second edition of The Hidden Sun. I spent most of this last week re-reading this sequel, and I'm darn excited for people to read it. There is a nice preview of The Waxing Moon found at the end of the latest edition of The Hidden Sun. No date is set yet for when it will see the light of day--most likely sometime in 2012.

My third book, The Mirror of the Soul, (based on the works of Chris de Burgh) has completed the beta stage--meaning I had several people read the first draft and give me suggestions. It's now in the next editing stages where I'll add here, take away there, and get it ready to present to Chris de Burgh for his approval.  Chris had read the 3 page outline for the book and given his support before I started writing the full blown book. My goal is to present it to him, his management and his publisher for approval by Oct 1st.

So once October rolls around, I plan on working on the third book in the Bariwon series. I already have some of it written, but it was placed on hold once the opportunity to write The Mirror of the Soul became available.

Last, but not least, my webpage will be getting a facelift soon as it will transition away from being a "book" site and more of an "author" site.

Thank you all for your support!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


In the jobs I've had over the recent years, I've found that I've needed to keep a file simply named, "CYA".
Now what does this mean? Well, one way you could phrase it is "Cover Your Assets". It's a file where I would put things to prove this or that in case it came back to bite me later.
Why do I even need such a file? Sadly, it seems more and more people are doing whatever they can to get ahead--and one really bad way they do it is by tearing other people down. On more than one occasion, I've had to defend myself against allegations that were nothing more than people trying to make me look bad so that they, themselves, look better.
Sadly, I've seen a trend where more and more people are being ranked against their peers--and it's all about being number 1. At one place I worked, a report was sent out daily. It was called "The Motivation Report". It tracked several different categories and then ranked you with an overall score. To make things even more "motivational", it would highlight the areas you were doing well in by coloring them green. And if you weren't doing well? It would be in red. And this report was sent to everyone.
There is a fundamental flaw in this process. There can only be one, well, "1". So really, how motivational is it to be shown everyday that you aren't number 1? Again, some people see the only way to get to the top isn't by excelling at their job, but rather, to tear others down, thereby lifting up their ranking.
I've personally seen people do unethical things to increase their ranking, because that is where the focus was. Oh, they may not out and out lie, but they withhold information, or perhaps promise the best case as the norm.
I believe this is more widespread than just the work place. I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person--the key word there being "fairly". I can generally sense when people are trying to pull a fast one on me.
An example? How about those misleading checks you get in the mail? At first glance, they look like a real check. They are written out to me for some usually high dollar amount. Then in small printing, it is written, "This is not an actual check. By signing and depositing this check, you agree to enroll in some program you really don't need that actually costs 4 times as much as this check every month. In addition this program is next to impossible to cancel. Go ahead and try to contact us. We're available from 3:00 am to 3:15 am Zimbabwe time."
If you are one of those people who feel you have to be number one, I give you this challenge. Go to a graveyard and find a tombstone that states the person was ranked number one in something they did at work.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book review of "All that was Promised" by Vickie Hall

Having been raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christof Latter-day Saints, I am very familiar with its history. Still, I enjoy reading stories about the early saints and the trials they had to endure. I've also been drawn to the UK as my father's family came from a small town outside of Bristol, England. So, when I got the chance to review a book that featured these two areas, I was excited to do so.

All that was promised takes place in Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales in 1847. Reverend Richard Kenyon is the leader of a Methodist church in the area. His brother, Rodger, continued with the family business, while Richard felt a higher calling. Early in the book, Richard meets Ben Lachlan, a missionary from America sent to Wales. Ben is there to teach the people of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Richard finds himself drawn to this missionary, and he converts, much to the chagrin of his wife and many others in the town. Over time, more people join, but just as there are forces of good at work here, there are those who would try to stop it. 

Enter in one John Morgan (which happens to be my father's name--and hopefully no relation to this character) who seeks out to destroy the church. What happens next is often heartbreaking, sometimes infuriating, but also, faith promoting. When you know something is right, it is amazing what you'll put up with. 

It seemed to me that Hall did her research on this project. Everything fit into the time frame perfectly and seemed very plausible. I like how she included words and various customs and foods from the time period. It's those little details that help give credibility to a book. 

Overall I enjoyed the book. As a fellow author, I know how hard it is to write a novel, so over all, I applaud Vickie Hall on her accomplishment. 

There were a few minor things I struggled with in the book. First, it seemed people tended to embrace or fight against the Mormon church fairly quickly. Now, as a member myself, I get that. Once you've received an answer to your prayers through the power of the Holy Ghost, it's something you can't deny. However, for those that haven't experienced that, I can see them doubting that some people were too quick to join. For that reason, I think current members of the LDS church will understand, but others may find it hard to believe. 

The second thing that tripped me up a bit was that the book was written in third person, but would often jump from person to person in the same scene. Example, at the start of a scene we may be in Richard's head, experiencing what he is experiencing. A few sentences later, we may be in Ben's head, seeing things from his point of view. Because we didn't stay with one character for any length of time, I didn't really feel like I got to know the characters like I wanted to. Again, to be fair, this was my opinion and no doubt based on my personal preferences. My wife read the book and had no issues with the point of view changes, so again, I think that is just a personal preference. 

Third, the brothers in the book are named Richard and Rodger. I sometimes got the two confused. My wife said she noted the same thing. Perhaps the names were too similar? 

As for who would enjoy this book? For certain, members of the LDS faith, I'd say 12 and older. There are some pretty dramatic scenes in this book which may be disturbing to younger readers. Even then, I'd say this would equate to a PG rating. 

Lastly, the book leaves the possibilities open to continue the story. I'm not sure if that was the intention or not. It doesn't really feel like it has a proper ending, though in general, it does end on a satisfying note. I'm curious what happens next, so I would be interested in reading a follow up to All that was Promised.

As a final test of how good this book is, my wife stayed up late (like reallllllllllly late) one night to finish it.

To find out more about Vickie Hall, click here.

To purchase this book, click here.

**Disclaimer: I received a promotional copy of this book for reviewing purposes. However, the opinions stated in this review are truly my honest feelings about the book.**

Monday, August 8, 2011

New cover for The Hidden Sun revealed!

The wonderful folks at Walnut Springs Press have presented me with the new cover of The Hidden Sun.


The first available time to buy this book will be at the event on Saturday, August 13th. All the info is posted in my previous blog.

Also, here is the what will be written on the back of the book:

A faraway kingdom.

A beautiful princess.

A courageous hero.

A ruthless villain.

An impossible choice.

Eliana and Rinan are in love. However, she is destined to become queen of Bariwon, obligated to marry the victor of a competition called the Shoginoc, while Rinan, her royal guardian, is forbidden to marry. Normally they could renounce their titles to be together, but these are not normal times. Abrecan, the malevolent governor of Erd, is determined to win the Shoginoc, thereby placing his easily manipulated son Daimh on Bariwon’s throne. Can Eliana and Rinan find a way to be together without jeopardizing the peace they are so desperately trying to protect?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Hidden Sun release announced

I've been a bit slow on updates, mainly because I've been working very hard to finish up The Hidden Sun so it is ready for print. This weekend I read through the "proof"--which is computer file of how the book will look in book form. It's coming along great! I'm very excited for people to read it, or re-read it as the case may be.

As noted before, the official launch will be on August 13th. The flyer below has all the information.