Saturday, April 28, 2012

Evolution of "The Waxing Moon"

Here it is.

The cover to my novel The Waxing Moon.

I’ve discovered something about myself when it comes to my books: I’m protective. It’s often said that books are like an author’s child. I understand why. Aside from the time and effort it takes to write a book, it’s a part of you. Or perhaps to say it another way, the book is in many ways an extension of you as a person.

To that end, when it comes to editing the book, it can be hard to step back and listen to what your editor says. Around 6,500 words were cut from The Waxing Moon. It wasn’t whole sections. It was extra details that bogged down the book.

I didn’t have that issue with my first book, The Hidden Sun, and I couldn’t help but wonder what changed this time.

I came to a conclusion. Whereas The Hidden Sun was nearly 100,000 words, when working on The Waxing Moon, I realized I didn’t have enough story to make it similar in length. Somewhere in my mind, I must have thought, I really need this to be longer—let me add more details. Even with the extra fluff, I ended at 60,000 words.

What to do, what to do …

So, I wrote an addition several chapters and tacked it on the end.

However, the preview, or “beta” readers picked up on that. It was like two different books. And then, inspiration struck. During this time, I was getting feedback from readers about The Hidden Sun. As it turns out, one of the popular characters was a villain. I had no intention of continuing his story, but I thought, why not?

I ended up cutting the extra chapters (some of which will be rewritten and included in The Zealous Star) writing a parallel story to the main one and had them intertwine. In the end, it works really well.

Lessons learned? Be protective of your vision for your book. At the same time, be willing to realize that outside perspectives can make it better and will help you realize things you may not see because you are too close to the book.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Subliminal Messages

In an episode of The Simpsons, a recruiter for the Navy says they are using a three-pronged attack to get people to join. The three ways are: Subliminal, Liminal and Super-Liminal. Obviously this is just the writers being silly.

However, I came across a YouTube video that claimed there were all sorts of subliminal messages in modern media, including Disney movies. I won’t link the video, because frankly, the guy was bonkers. Granted, I’m sure some of his claims held merit, but he went so far the other way, he was seeing things that were more than just a stretch.

If you aren’t familiar with subliminal messages, let me explain. They are words, images, or sounds that are hidden that supposedly your mind can process on some level without you realizing it--but it can influence you. I’m not going to debate the validity of the claim. However, my goal is to add another aspect to the discussion.

One of the most common examples of subliminal messages in a Disney movie comes from The Lion King. See if you can spot it:

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that this was intentional. My question would be “why?” Was it just a disgruntled artist trying to pull a fast one on the Disney company? Was it some sort of evil master plan by Disney? Or was it just a coincidence?

If it was intentional, what was to be gained from it? Sex isn’t inherently evil. (Spoiler alert! It’s how babies are made.) Even if this message planted the seed of everyone who saw it to have sex, what would either the artist or the Disney company gain from it?

To show an example of how extreme people can get when it comes to looking for subliminal messages, here’s another example:


But, it doesn’t end there. This example is truly unbelievable:

Need more proof that you can find anything if you look hard enough? How about this:

Yeah, the number “666” is all evil and that. I better double check my signature for subliminal words like, “Spam is tasty” or “Call your mother”.

I’ll finish with two examples.

People will buy things without the prompting of hidden messages. The sun won’t explode. It follows, free will lets you make good choices. You can see better without critically looking.

Here is the cover of my book, The Hidden Sun. See if you can find the subliminal message:

So what is the second example? I already wrote it. Didn’t see it? Look at every third word in this paragraph.

People will buy things without the prompting of hidden messages. The sun won’t explode. It follows, free will lets you make good choices. You can see better without critically looking.

Now if sales of The Hidden Sun triple after this post, maybe there is something to this whole subliminal notion.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Howler King

Like many authors, my mind is full of different story ideas. From those, I have to choose which ones I’ll focus on.

I wrote a short story some time ago called The Howler King. It certainly has enough going for it to be made into a full novel, but I have several other books that are lined up first.

I’m in the lull right now before the full blown final stages of The Waxing Moon begin, so I decided to revisit The Howler King.

I cleaned it up, added a few things, and hired the talented Kelley Morgan to design the cover. To help it stand out, I dropped “the” from the title. I put it on as an ebook.

I clocks in just shy of 5,000 words. I’ve tried to make it clear as much as I can that it’s a short story.

Like everything I write, I doubt that it will be what people expect—but in a good way.

You can get your copy by clicking here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Debating rebating

It was time. I had had my phone for two years and I was eligible for an upgrade. With the advances in technology, my current phone was woefully out of date and I was looking forward to getting something new.

After reviewing the options, I picked the phone I wanted. The store had all sorts of specials and such at the time. With my loyalty discount, their in-store promotions and a manufacture rebate, I would be getting the phone for free—along with a free protective case. Granted, all the cases they had in stock were pink . . . (I was able to trade the pink one for a black one later.)

But then there was the matter of the rebate. As with most rebates, the process is fairly involved and if you don’t do it right, you’re out of luck. To make matters more complicated, there was a twist to the process.

In order to get the rebate, not only did I have to fill out a lengthy form, but I had to include the customer agreement, a copy of the receipt AND the barcodes off the side of the box the phone came in. For the barcodes, I had to physically cut the box and remove the side where the barcodes were located—this was made quite clear in the rebate instructions.

(Actor portrayal of me removing the barcodes from the box)

However, when I started to perform surgery on the box, I noticed that if I had to return the phone within the allotted time, I had to do so in an undamaged box or there would be a restocking fee. So, I was stuck. If I didn’t send in the barcodes (copies wouldn’t work—they were clear on that), I would have to damage the box. But if the phone stopped working within a small time frame, I could return it, but only in a complete box. The company’s solution was to give me six weeks to submit the rebate—longer that the time I had available to return the phone to the store in the perfect box.

But this causes yet another issue. Life is busy. There are always thing demanding your time and attention. For me, if I don’t take care of something right away, chances are it may be forgotten.

And that brings out the cynic in me. I have no doubt that companies offer rebates and make them fairly complicated to make it difficult for people to follow through. It’s all well and good to say, “The phone is FREE . . . after the rebate.” But I’m sure they have their research that shows what percentage of people actually follow through on the rebate, and they adjust accordingly.

For example: if only 40% of the people actually follow through with the rebate, than the company can keep the other 60%. If they use that to their advantage, they could offer higher rebates to entice people to buy, knowing full well they won’t have to pay out all the rebate money. Taking our example one step further, let’s say the company could afford to do a $25.00 rebate, but instead, they offer a $50.00 rebate. Using the 40% / 60% assumption above, the company would be paying out less than half the claims, therefore paying less than the $25.00 they could afford. Yet, the sales would be higher because $50.00 is a higher draw.

Again, I know it is cynical to think this way—but working in and with big corporations has given me plenty of reasons to be that way.

Here’s a wild concept: stop with the games and actually charge a fair price without all the gimmicks to make it look like a better deal than it is.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book review of “Defenders of the Covenant” by Angie Lofthouse

Know your audience.

That was the phrase that kept popping into my head as I read Defenders of the Covenant by Angie Lofthouse. Why? Because early on, it became quite clear this was an LDS Sci-Fi book, in contrast to a Sci-Fi book written by an LDS author.

Lofthouse has unapologetically ingrained into the book cultural references, practices and traits of the LDS religion. In my opinion, the elements of faith, prayer and forgiveness are as important to the story as the Sci-Fi elements.

I state this because I can see other reviewers writing, “This Sci-Fi book is filled with Mormon propaganda!” To those that say that, I respond, “You’ve missed the point.”

As with most Sci-Fi books, the setup, or premises of the book, is a vital component. Defenders of the Covenant takes place in an undefined time in the future. Earth has been conquered by “The Great Ones” that have enslaved humanity. However, there are pockets of refugees hiding here and there in the world.

The book centers around four young adults—refugees, though there are also other prominent characters. The characters are faced with their own challenges and each plays a major part of the fight to free Earth.

Defenders of the Covenant clocks in around 360 pages—but it zips along at a good clip. The story is epic in nature, juggling several storylines that converge at the end.

I really enjoyed Lofthouse’s writing style. It flowed very well and I found myself reading dozens of pages at a time without looking head for the chapter ending where I could find a good place to stop. The four main characters are well defined. Even though the book jumps from storyline to storyline, not once was I confused about picking up where we left off.

Lofthouse’s love for Sci-Fi is evident in her writing. Yet, she balances it with the emotional and spiritual nature of humans. The result is a thrilling story with a strong human element—something that many Sci-Fi books lack (from my experience).

Who would like this book? It’s a safe, clean read for teens and up. It’s clearly marketed for an LDS audience, however those who enjoy an engaging adventure who have an open mind will also enjoy it.

In the end, I think Lofthouse stayed true to her target audience—something with which many authors struggle. While it could limit the appeal of Defenders of the Covenant, I, for one, think she needs to be congratulated for sticking to her (laser) guns.

For more on Angie Lofthouse, click here.

To purchase her book, click here.

**Disclaimer: While I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes, it in no way influenced my opinion of the book.**

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Review of "The Hidden Sun" from

I’m pleased to share the following review of The Hidden Sun that was recently posted on

Sometimes it’s good to try different things. That totally sounds like something my mom would say to me. But it really applies here. I am not a big fan of medieval historical fiction. It isn’t the type of genre that I actively search out. When I started reading The Hidden Sun, I didn’t initially think I could get into it. However, once I started, I was hooked. Although this is a 300+ page book, I finished this book in a day. I wanted to know what was going to happen. Mr. Morgan throws in unexpected twists that made me more excited with each page. The author is a strong writer that doesn’t waste the reader’s time with unnecessary descriptions or events. Everything serves a purpose. I can honestly say this is one of the few books that I didn’t think, “this line could have been omitted,” or “why was this important?” Perhaps it is because Mr. Morgan has an English degree and he truly understands the power of words, or maybe he has an excellent editor (its probably a combination of the two).

This was a fascinating read. I am looking forward to the sequel this May. If you are someone who doesn’t have a thing for historical fiction, give this one a shot. Chances are this might change your perspective. And, if you are already a historical fiction junkie, this will be like manna from Heaven.

Bookrated’s take:

Steam factor: Think a satisfying lemonade. No innuendo or descriptive play-by-play.

Language: Mama would be proud. Leave the soap box alone cause this is a vulgarity free zone.

Suggestive material: None. I would love to say something witty here, but unless you are planning on overthrowing a kingdom, there isn’t much.

Overall: Solidly written and entertaining. This book could be read, and enjoyed, by young adults as well as grandmas. It is detailed and well thought out.

The publisher’s (Walnut Springs Press) take:

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?

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Most Important Catch

I'm honored to be part of the blog tour for The Most Important Catch

Here is the official release information:

Today is the official launch of Jaclyn Hawkes' latest release

The Most Important Catch

An LDS fiction romance

Buy it and support a great cause!

Jaclyn will be launching The Most Important Catch on April 3rd. Both she and her publisher are going to donate 50% of the proceeds of all sales of this book from for that day—both e-books and paperbacks, to an account for Porter Hancock, her neighbor who was paralyzed from the neck down last October in a high school football game. You can read more about Porter at or on Jacyln's blog at

Please help spread the word by posting about this on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking sites.

And join us during the month of May for the book tour which will include several chances to win the book! (Click here for more details about the tour.)

About the Book

Run or die!

She knew too much, and she’d seen too much!

And the police refused to help.

Knowing that she was to be the next scheduled death, Kelly Campbell hid under head to toe black leather and a tinted motorcycle helmet and ran for her life.

When the weather turned cold, she turned south.

She ended up in North Carolina, home to one of the most famed and eligible NFL football stars in the whole league; only she didn’t know that. She thought he was a businessman.

Not being a huge fan, all she knew was that he was incredibly attractive, kind, generous, and that she was safe with him.

Or was she?

His brand of fame proved to be all but deadly, but his fame wasn’t nearly as lethal as his attraction. He kept her safe and protected. Except for her heart.

To purchase the paper version of the book, click here.
For the e-book version, click here.

Here is the book trailer: