Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pet Peeves

I don't have a pet named Peeves--although, that would be a really good name for a dog now that I think about it. Keep in mind, this is from a man who named his little terrier-poodle mix "Armageddon". (He was so little, he needed a big name)

I do, however, have things that bother me, though I can't always explain why. In my years of management experience, I've always tried to teach the principle of "you can't always choose how you will emotionally react to something, but you can choose how you will act on those emotions."

I did some research and found some common pet peeves. From those, I noted some that I share with other people.

These include:

People who don't use their turn signal.
Let me be upfront about this: I don't trust turn signals. Just because someone has their turn signal on, doesn't mean they will actually be turning. However, when I'm at a stop light in one of those lanes that can turn or go straight, and the person doesn't turn their signal on until after the light turns green, it bothers me.

Being asked my telephone number/account number after I already entered in using the keypad on my phone.
This annoys me almost as much as listening to about every automated message start with "Please listen carefully because our menu options have changed."

Hand in hand with this one is the automated messages that "act" like you are talking to a real person. For example when they say, "Please wait a moment while I look up your information" and then you hear the recording of someone typing on a keyboard.

The plastic packaging that requires a degree in engineering to open.

I can't count how many times I've cut my fingers on these types of packages.

Finding the end of a program hasn't recorded because its starting time was pushed back due to sports coverage running long.

This has gotten better over the years with DVR technology, but dang, for a while there, I would always allow extra time when recording things Saturday or Sunday evenings.

When someone leaves a voice message and they speak their phone number so fast there is no way you can get it from one listen.

Maybe it's just the dyslexic person in me, but I really struggle with this one.

Texting while driving

For heaven's sake! You are in control of a large moving object. Why not just put a blindfold over your eyes while you're driving. It's almost as safe.

People who blog about Pet Peeves

Oh, wait. . .

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book review of The Hidden Sun by Author Elizabeth Mueller

I'm very pleased to have the talented Author Elizabeth Mueller review The Hidden Sun. Not only does she have a book coming out on Oct 31 of this year called Darkspell, she did all the illustrations herself. (I would have tried something like that, but I doubt my stick figures would enhance my book.) For more on Elizabeth Mueller, you can check out her webpage here.
Here is what she had to say about The Hidden Sun:  

Whoa, this book knocked all 5 socks off of my feet!

I would leave it at that because that's how I felt after the experience of reading this wonderful novel.

Deception. Intrigue. Love.

A lovely princess dares defy the laws of the kingdom by a single act. From there, it's a wild roller coaster ride. No, it's not a pretty princess book. By far, but there is a true love story hidden within these pages.

I literally gripped the book and chewed my nails and held my breath as I read.

I groaned, angry with the author regarding the huge tangled mess he weaves in the tale, because I am so in love with his characters.

It was the hope of justice that drove me.

I wish I could let slip more detail, but the story must be tasted with your own eyes.

For more on her blog, click here.

Thank you again to Elizabeth Mueller for taking time to read and review the book!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review of The Hidden Sun by Mandi Slack

Author Mandi Slack (who wrote The Alias) reviewed The Hidden Sun and posted on her webpage.

Here are some of the things she had to say:

"The Hidden Sun by J. Lloyd Morgan is definitely a book about good vs. evil. Set in the kingdom of Bariwon, Rinan is doing his best to be a loyal guardian and prove his skills with a sword. After winning a weekly sparring contest, Rinan is, however, stunned when he realizes that he is to become the princess's royal guardian. This is not a job he cares to take on, but as time passes his feelings toward the princess Eliana begin to change. They fall in love against their better judgment and soon they are forced to make a decision that will effect their lives and those they love forever.

I thought J. Lloyd Morgan's novel was a great read and a must for those who love fantasy, a little romance, a lot of action, and a bit of suspense. I enjoyed Morgan's writing style and I found his insight into human nature refreshing. His characters were well-developed and the plot moved along at a great pace. I would recommend The Hidden Sun to anyone. It was a clean, wholesome book with a beautiful cover. I give The Hidden Sun 4.5 out of 5 stars."

Her full blog can be accessed here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Hidden Sun book review by Cindy M. Hogan

The next stop on the blog tour, or as they have also been called, "virtual book tour" is with author Cindy M. Hogan.

She is the author of Watched. For more information on her, you can visit her website here.

Here is what she had to say about The Hidden Sun:

A beautiful princess.

A courageous hero.

A ruthless villain.

An impossible choice.

When Eliana and Rinan find a way to be together under the law, it would seem all would be well. Unfortunately, bad luck strikes again and again and again, allowing Abrecan to rule the kingdom and bring it into a steep decline. Rinan has one chance to right the wrong.

This is a fun read with a very satisfying ending. The characters are rich and you will love the ones you are supposed to love and despise the ones you should despise. This book is full of great description and you feel like you are there, in the story. With all the twists and turns woven into The Hidden Sun, near the end, I simply couldn't put it down. I had to find out how the hero was going to triumph when all seemed lost.

Click here to be taken to her blog.

Thank you again Cindy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Hidden Sun book review by Dawn Vanniman

The first stop on the blog tour is a review by Dawn Vanniman from her blog Absolute Forest of Words.

She wrote:

"THE HIDDEN SUN is a wonderfully crafted fairytale. There's a Princess, forbidden love, an evil overlord and a happy ending. What more could you ask for?

The plot moves along quickly and has great twists and turns. I was a little worried that it would be high fantasy at first, but it wasn't at all. It was a lovely story and one that I could easily imagine the author telling his four daughters.

The characters were well-written with their own voices. A few of the names were groan-worthy, but cute, nonetheless. Ofcourse in most fairytales the names mean something and they help the story along, the same is true here.

The plot revolves around the Book of Law and how it is interpreted, which was definitely interesting. It makes you think of our Constitution and how different groups use it to prove what they want proved.

All in all, a great book and I highly recommend it!"

I got a kick out of the comment about some of the names being "groan-worthy". But heck, if there can be a Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride, then I think it's ok to have a character named Sunshine. *winks*

Thank you Dawn for your honest review!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Website and fun quotes about "The Hidden Sun"

I'm pleased to announce the launch of my updated webpage and blog. I think they look pretty darn spiffy if I do say so myself. I'm really jazzed about the website as it moves away from being a "book" site to more of an "author" site.
In addition to the updated internet sites, I've also started getting requests to be a visiting author at local schools. I've put together a presentation using a powerpoint (I had to have my daughters show me how to use the program) and I think it will be a lot of fun.

If you are in the North Carolina area and would like me to visit your class, either school or church (think here Young Men and / or Young Women activity), shoot me an email via my "contact" link on the webpage.  (It's free!)

Lastly, I'm about to embark on another blog tour; this one for the second edition of The Hidden Sun.

I did a blog tour for the first edition, which was worth its weight in gold. I got some amazing feedback. One thing was very clear: there were too many technical errors (spelling, grammar, point of view shifts) in the first edition. That was the major reason for getting a professional editor to clean it up. I've very pleased with the end result.

This blog tour will mainly be reviews. For fun, I thought I'd grab some quotes from previous reviews to show that you simply can't please everyone. These are all direct quotes. I've broken them down into different categories.

**On the unique names I used in The Hidden Sun:

"[One] thing that I found distracting was the use of strange names. Although very creative and sometimes beautiful, I found that trying to pronounce most of them drew me out of the story and was, at times, frustrating."

"Some of the names took some getting used to. I worked at different pronunciations until I felt comfortable with them."

"Though there are many uncommon names, a few which are hard to pronounce, I was able to stay on task with the storyline without missing a beat."

"I am a big fan of unique names, so seeing so many of them in this book excited me."

**On how long it took people to "get into" the book.

"It took getting through about the first 50 pages for me to be interested, a bit slow of an opening for my tastes."

"I have to admit, I was really worried while reading the first 100 pages of the book."

The very first thing I noticed while reading The Hidden Sun was that J. Lloyd Morgan knows how to draw in his readers. It didn't take long for me to become emotionally attached to the characters."

"I fell in love with Eliana and Rinan right away."

**On people's emotional responses to what happened in the book:

"I was angry at the author."

"I kept saying, 'No, how can he (The author) let this happen?'"

"I groaned, angry with the author regarding the huge tangled mess he weaves in the tale, because I am so in love with his characters."

"I enjoyed some of the characters so much that I got mad at what the author did to them."

"It created a great emotional response, which is what every author wants to do."

**On what people thought about the characters:

"I found myself frustrated with Governor Abrecan to the point of wanting to strangle him myself."

"I can honestly say that I grew to hate Governor Abrecan so much that I wanted bad things to happen to him. He was the perfect evil villain, the kind you love to hate."

"Not only were the names unique, however, but the characters themselves all had unique and well defined personalities."

"The characters were all really well done. I liked them and had an interest in what happened to them."

**On how people defined the book:

"The Hidden Sun is a delicately crafted fairy tale that both adults and young adults will find charming and intriguing."

"This novel's mix of fantasy and romance drew me in and kept me."

"It sounded kind of like a fantasy since it was set in a medieval-style kingdom, but when the book arrived in the mail I found out it wasn't. Even worse, as I started to read it, it began to look like a romance. Ugh."

"This might seem like a fantasy but it isn't, there isn't any magic nor even any fantastical creatures. It might seem like a romance, but it isn't that either, it really isn't too lovey-dovey despite relationships, marriage and family being the prime arena of conflict."

"This was a political intrigue book with interesting and enjoyable characters."

**On thoughts of my storytelling skills:

"It isn't one of those stories where you say, 'I knew how it was going to turn out from the beginning.'"

"I was impressed with the twists and turns in this book that could have been just another princess story."

"Overall, this book has action, romance, colorful characters and well written villains. The ending of the story was very fulfilling."

"The twists and turns woven within the story kept me wanting more, especially toward the end when I could NOT put the book down."

"J. Lloyd Morgan is a vivid storyteller who weaves unexpected surprises along the way."

"J. Lloyd Morgan is a remarkable storyteller."

**On people's final thoughts of the book:

"I can’t decide whether I liked the characters or the plot of The Hidden Sun the best."

"This is one adventure that is well worth the ride."

"I can't wait for the next book to come out."

"It’s a great read… and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blog tour announced!

If you're like me, they first time you heard the words "blog tour", you didn't have any idea what that was. Well, no fear! I'll explain.There are all sorts of wonderful people who love to read books and then share their thoughts about them on their blogs. And then there are those who love to read other people's blogs to get good ideas on what books to read. Make sense? At least sort of?
How a blog tour works is thus: established bloggers are contacted to see if they are interested in reading a book and then writing a review about it. If they agree, they are sent a book by the publisher or author for free. The blogger agrees to post the review on a certain day.

The author will then post on their blog all the reviews when they get posted, thereby cross promoting each other. The real winners are the people who follow the blogs because they are introduced to books they may not know about otherwise.

My book, The Hidden Sun, is going on a blog tour starting Sept 20th. Below, I've listed the names of the bloggers, the dates they are review the book and their blogger address.

Dawn Vanniman (Sept 20)

Cindy M. Hogan (Sept 21)

Rachel Hoyt (Oct 1)
Chioma Nwuzi (Oct 4)

Michael Araujo (Oct 7)
Katelyn Torrey  (Oct 7) 
Chloe Bray (Oct 10)

Valerie Ipson (Oct 13)

Maggie Osborn (Oct 14)

Aislynn Thompson (Oct 15)

Erika Stroup (Oct 18)

Kati Lear (Oct 21)

Robert and Paula Rabe (Oct 24)

Angie Lofthouse (Oct 27)


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book review of The Key of Kilenya

I'll admit this is a book I've been looking forward to read. I've gotten to know Andrea Pearson some over the last little while as she reviewed the first edition of The Hidden Sun and then later, she was at the August Authorama where I launched the second edition of my first novel. She's a very nice person who always seems to have a smile on her face.

The Key of Kilenya is a fantasy book that centers around 14 year-old Jacob Clark. The challenge in writing any fantasy book is setting up the rules for which the characters act. In other words, what can they or can't they do in the realm of the story. Often authors explain the differences through the eyes of someone we can related with, like with the Harry Potter books. As Harry discovers about magic, so do we as the readers. Now, I'm not saying that this book is a clone of Harry Potter--far from it. It is certainly has its own feel and distinct setting.

Because we are told the story through a 14 year-old boy's eyes, it may seem at first that he was accepting the changes around him a bit too easily. That was my first impression until I remembered what it was like to be that age. I wasn't as jaded or skeptical as I am now. Once I realized that, Jacob's reactions seemed much more rational.

So, what is this story about? Well, here is the blurb from the back of the book which sums it up quite nicely:

"When two vicious wolves chase fourteen-year-old Jacob Clark down a path from our world into another, his life is forever changed. He has no idea they have been sent by the Lorkon—evil, immortal beings who are jealous of powers he doesn’t know he possesses—powers they desire to control.

The inhabitants of the new world desperately need Jacob's help in recovering a magical key that was stolen by the Lorkon and is somehow linked to him. If he helps them, his life will be at risk. But if he chooses not to help them, both our world and theirs will be in danger. The Lorkon will stop at nothing to unleash the power of the key—and Jacob's special abilities."

The book borders on the edge of being a fun fantasy and being downright spooky. There are a lot of fun moments, especially with the Minyas. And then there are times when I found myself engrossed in the scarier scenes. Even then, it's not too graphic as to be inappropriate for teenagers.

I enjoyed the device of starting most chapters as entries from someone's journal. (I won't say who--I don't want to spoil things) It was like there were two parallel stories running that join up toward the end. There is a different tone between the two stories which showed me that Pearson's narrative of Jacob was designed and executed well.

I had a chat with her a little before I got the book and she kept gushing about the follow up to The Key of Kilenya. I'm most certainly happy there is one written. The book left me wanting more and though it didn't really end in a cliff hanger, it did leave several questions unanswered.

As for who would like this book? I'd say teenagers and up who enjoy fantasy books. There are some scary moments, but there isn't any swearing or adult situations.

Overall, I would most certainly say this book is worth a read, or two, or three. . .

You can visit her website here.

You can order the book here.

***Disclaimer***  While I did receive a free copy of this book to review, it in no way influenced my honest opinion of the book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Latter Rain book review

I would dare say that most people who read the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament are flabbergasted by all the symbolism and references to unfamiliar people, places and events. I'll admit, I'm one of them. So, when I got a request to review a book that analyzes Isaiah, I was a bit reluctant. But after giving it some thought, I came to the conclusion that it may actually help me understand one of the most quoted prophets in the scriptures.

The Latter Rain, by James M. Conis, is subtitled, "Using the Book of Isaiah as the key to unlock Bible prophecies that are relevant today." That's a pretty lofty goal--to not only understand Isaiah, but also to "unlock" other prophecies. From there, to relate them to things today? I became more curious how Conis was going to do this.

Off the top, the author discusses prophecy and revelation. He states that people can receive personal revelation if they honestly inquire of God to know the truth of things. He makes it clear there is a difference between personal revelation and revelation given to a prophet meant for a greater number of people. Example: Moses was called of God, so when he was given a revelation, it impacted a large number of people. However, Conis states that anyone, man or woman, can receive revelation that pertains to them--specifically, whether something is true or not.

With that as a springboard, Conis jumps headfirst into symbolism--it is here where the title of his book becomes evident.  He states that "rain" is symbolic of the word of God being given to the people through prophets. He cites how in the Bible there are references to the "Former Rain" and the "Latter Rain". And in-between? Drought, or lack of prophets.

From there the book breaks down all sorts of symbolism by quoting scriptures, cross referencing to other scriptures with Conis drawing parallels or conclusions. It's fascinating how the author follows this pattern to explore what Isaiah was saying.

The amount of time and thought that Conis put into this book is mind-blowing. He is to be applauded for his dedication to something as challenging as this subject. While the concepts can be rather deep at times, his writing makes his observations accessible. 

At the end of the book, he invites people to ask Heavenly Father for themselves to understand the truth and how to use it in their lives. I found this refreshing because after all he had written and discovered, Conis gives credit where credit is due. From what I gathered, he didn't write this book to show people how smart he was, or to convince people to see things his way. Instead, he has an honest love for this subject matter and wants to share that with people.

As for who would like this book? Anyone who enjoys studying the scriptures who isn't afraid to actually pray and study the subject. There is some pretty deep stuff here, so I'm not sure anyone under 18 or so would truly appreciate it.

I see myself using this book as a reference guide as I read the scriptures. It's not really the kind of book you read once and you're done with it. But, I guess the same thing could be said about the scriptures.

If you go to and purchase the book there, and put "Tour" in the coupon code, you'll get 20% off.

You can also buy the book here.

**Disclaimer** While I received a copy of this book for free for review purposes, this didn't influence my opinion of the book. This is an honest review of my impression of the book. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Not a typical Tuesday morning

Once a week I'd go into work early to spend time with my morning crew at the TV station. It was usually a Tuesday because they tended to be one of the less busier days. Before I left, I told my wife when I got home in the afternoon, we'd winterize our above ground pool. It was below a large tree and if we didn't cover it early in the autumn, we'd have a pool full of leaves.

The morning newscasts went well. One of my directors wanted to talk with me about some issue or another, so after the studio was cleaned up, he and I sat down. It wasn't long before we got a knock on the door. "We just heard from the newsroom that a small plane hit one of the twin towers. They want us back on the air."

While this was not a normal occurrence, it didn't seem like a major news event. We gathered the crew back to the studio and control room. One of the morning anchors sat down at the news desk and within moments we rolled the "breaking news" animation.

By this time, we had video feeds tuned in and were recording from several different sources. What we didn't have were details of what happened. "That's a lot of smoke from a little plane," someone said as we watched the playback of the video.

The producer was sitting behind the director while the anchor adlibbed about what we did know--which wasn't much. Information starting filtering from the newsroom upstairs which the producer passed along to the anchor. There was a growing feeling of uneasiness, yet, we were professionals and were staying on task. We were playing back some of the better video we had captured, and the anchor continued to comment on what we were seeing.

Then, one of the production crew who was watching one of the other feeds said, "Oh my! Another airplane just hit the other tower! And it was a BIG plane!"

To this day, I can still picture this event in my mind. For a moment, no one said anything. It was like everyone was taking in a collective breath.

And then. . .chaos.

People started screaming to find video of what just happened and cue it up to playback. The anchor stumbled over her words as the producer started yelling into her earpiece that another plane had crashed into the other tower. Over the intercom from the newsroom came several voices at once--each of them shouting and giving orders on what to do.

The director did her best to listen to all the commands thrown her way, several of them contradicting each other. Soon, we had the video cued up and we played in on the air. For the first time, we, as a collective group watched the second tower get struck. For me, it felt like someone had hit me hard in the stomach.

The next several hours were a blur. I recall one of my audio technicians sitting in a corner and crying. I remember one of my camera operators getting so mad at whoever did this, we needed him to take a walk to clear his head. Reports of other planes crashing came in. At the pentagon. In a field in Pennsylvania. We had no idea what would happen next. 

I tried to call home, but all the lines were busy. We stayed live on the air all day. As the Operations Manager, I made sure my people were fed and rotated through. We called the evening crew to come in early.

It seemed that every minute I was being pulled in four different directions. Sometimes as liaison between the newsroom and the production team, sometimes as decision maker, and over time, I became more and more of a comforter and supporter of my team as we all tried to make sense of what was happening before us.

In the late afternoon, we got in a story from one of our reporters. A man had walked onto one of the overpasses that spanned I-95. In his hands was an American flag. He was waving it back and forth. When the reporter asked the man why he was doing this, his answer was along the line of, "I had to do something. I just couldn't sit still. It may not seem like much, but I'm doing something."

Watching that story, I felt something I'd not felt since the events started that morning.