Thursday, May 31, 2012

Glowing review of "The Hidden Sun" by renowned book critic Betty Pearson

I was delighted to receive this review of The Hidden Sun by renowned critic Betty Pearson:

"At first I wasn't certain I would be interested in reading this book. From reading the description on the back of the book, I thought I could figure out the book's ending before I even started it. Yeah, like predictable. NOT!!! It had turns and twists, intrigue, and yes, captured my attention and kept it to the end. Great character development! The characters in the book were believable "real" people to me. And, I remember thinking while reading it at that certain spot, "Hey! Wait! This isn't supposed to happen!" You'll have to read it to figure out what I meant by that comment. :-) If you are looking for something good to read, this is it. More info on Amazon: There is a Kindle edition, too."

As a friendly reminder, the sequel to The Hidden Sun, called The Waxing Moon, was just released.

It can be purchased on Amazon as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You can’t (can you?)

This morning I received wonderful news. Really, it’s a dream come true. But first, a little backstory. (That’s what’s called a tease.) I’ve been a fan of musician Chris de Burgh since I first saw the video for “Don’t Pay The Ferryman” on MTV in the early 80’s. He continued to put out more LPs with other hits like “High On Emotion”, “Missing You” and probably his most known song, “The Lady In Red”. America’s taste in music changed over time, and while Chris de Burgh was still very popular in Europe and Canada, his popularity waned in America.
Chris de Burgh has continued to put out LPs and has done very well around the world. He’s sold over 40 million albums. As a fan, I’d buy each of his new works as they were released, even if I had to get them imported. In 2006, he released “The Storyman.” Included on this LPs was a song called “The Mirror of the Soul.” It’s epic. It’s beautiful. It’s powerful. And, it tells an amazing story.

During this time in my life, I was writing “The Hidden Sun” as well as “The Waxing Moon.” And then I thought to myself, “The Mirror of the Soul” would make an excellent book.

But how does a person born in Wyoming and raised in Utah go about getting permission with one of his favorite artists, let alone ask him and his management for permission to write a book?

Just as with many parts of my life, I heard people’s voices telling me, “That’s not practical. What makes you think you could even do it? What makes you think they’ll even respond?” But … what would it hurt to try?

So, I went on a quest to find a way to contact Chris de Burgh’s management. After several tries, I was able to make contact. To my surprise, and delight, they responded. They requested an outline of the book. I realized that I would have a challenge writing a full length book based on one song. So, I decided to incorporate many of Chris de Burgh’s songs that interwove throughout the main story. I finished my three page outline and submitted it. Within a fairly short period of time, I got a response—including notes from Chris de Burgh himself! They gave me permission to write it, with the stipulation that they would need to review the final draft before I got the final permission.

Over the course of a year, I wrote, revised and had the book edited. I submitted it to Chris de Burgh’s management … and heard nothing. I knew Chris was in the middle of touring and releasing his latest LP, so I gave it time while I worked on other projects. I would send more emails time and again, and still, no response. I was starting to get worried. Did they hate the book? Are they being nice by just not replying? They had been so quick to respond before.

Finally, I loaded Skype on my computer and called England. I spoke to a wonderful lady there who told me they had a change in personnel, as well as a change in email addresses. It turns out, they hadn’t received my updates! I resent them the manuscript and as of this morning, I got the green light from them! Whoo hoo!

To make this more exciting, I had submitted the manuscript to my publisher and they had told me they were interested. And so, the stars are aligning. And all because I didn’t listen to the people who told me “you can’t” and instead listened to the voice inside me that said, “you can!”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Acceptable graffiti

Mountain View High School in Orem, Utah was built while I was growing up. Rumor has it that it was built backwards—meaning the north part of the building ended up on the south side and vice-versa. Whether this is true or not, it still makes for a good story. One possible reason people think this rumor is true is because the gym, a huge, white cubed structure, was built next to one of the busiest streets in Orem.

I remember thinking, “Wow. That’s not very smart. It’s just begging to have graffiti sprayed on the side of it.” Sure enough, not long afterwards, it happened. Several times, in fact. Eventually someone planted trees or tall shrubs around the base of the building to prevent it. I don’t recall what was written on the side of the gym. It was probably “MV sucks!” or “Mountain Pew!” or something equally as lame.

I went to the other high school at the time. It was cleverly named “Orem High.” One morning when arriving at school, we discovered someone had written on the side of one of our buildings in spray-paint, “To smart to live. To scared to die.” Of course, the school paper took a picture of it with the caption “Too dumb to spell.”

I’ve never understood the whole graffiti thing. Well, maybe I do--a little. After all, I write books and stories to leave my mark on the world. I just don’t do it on someone else’s property.

One of the things I noticed when I moved to North Carolina from Connecticut was that there wasn’t graffiti on the stop signs in North Carolina. Someone said that gangs marked stop signs in Connecticut to show they “owned” that area.

I think most sensible people agree that graffiti is an eyesore—and it cheapens the look of anything it is on. Yet, as I drive around my nice little town in North Carolina, I see graffiti everywhere! People who live here may disagree until I point it out. It’s not on the stops signs. It’s not on the buildings. It’s not under the overpasses. Where is it then?

On the ground!

Heck, there is even some on my property.

Let me explain: Last year, we had grass put in after I unsuccessfully tried to reseed the lawn myself (that’s a story for another time). Before we could get our old lawn ripped out, some official person had to mark where the water, gas, electric and whatever else lines are under the ground. How did they do it? Spray paint! On my curb, there is still a blue line, a year later.

And that’s not all. Almost every street you drive down has these markers for some reason or another. I’m not arguing that they shouldn’t be marking these different utility lines so they don’t get dug up, but isn’t there a better way than using paint that lasts and lasts?

Monday, May 21, 2012

"The Most Important Catch" book review

The Most Important Catch by Jaclyn M. Hawkes is really a tale of two stories. The dominate, and most interesting, is the love story between NFL superstar Robby “Rocket” Robideaux and 23-year-old nurse Kelly Campbell.

Many parts of their developing relationship were very well written. It reminded me of when I fell in love with my wife. The interaction between Robby and Kelly is at times sweet, while at other times, is it downright hilarious. Hawkes has a real talent for dialogue and humor. I found myself smiling on several occasions.

The second element of the story is why Kelly is on the run. In an attempt to avoid spoiling any surprises, here is what is written on the back of 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. All except for her heart.

I think Hawkes came up with a good reason for Kelly to be on the run, but that plotline played a significantly smaller part to the story. In other words, if you are expecting a page turning thriller, this isn’t it.

What is it then? It’s a love story with all its ups and downs, hopes and doubts, joys and heartbreaks. If that’s your cup of tea, you’ll enjoy this book.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It was a clean read with no objectionable material.

I should note this book is geared for LDS, or “Mormon” audiences. It pulls no punches in talking about faith, God and various elements of the LDS faith. The downside? If you aren’t familiar with LDS practices and beliefs, chances are you’ll be confused by several things in the book.

There are a couple of things that would have made the book more enjoyable to me. First, there was a lot of internal dialogue with the main characters sorting out their feelings. Some of it was quite repetitive and I found myself skipping over those parts. Second, it’s a picky thing, but there were a number of technical issues with the typesetting and layout of the book that distracted me. Then again, as a published author myself, I’m probably more aware of those things than most.

If you are a fan of LDS fiction and romance books, you’ll certainly want to pick this book up! It can be purchased at this link.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"The Keeper’s Calling" by Kelly Nelson book review

I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive when I learned that The Keeper’s Calling dealt with time travel. That’s tricky. It reminds me of the question, “What would happen if I went back and shot my grandfather?”

However, I’d heard good things about the book, so I kept an open mind and dove in.

At its very heart, it’s the story of seventeen-year-old Chase Harper. Like many young men his age, Chase meets a pretty girl (Ellie) who is different from all the other ones he had met before. There’s only one slight problem. He’s from 2011. She is from 1863. I’ve heard of May-December romances before, but this is a bit extreme.

Since there is time travel involved, Ellie and Chase are about the same age when they meet. Factor in Chase already has a girlfriend, and things get a bit sticky. So, what is the rest of the story about? I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll share what’s on the back of the book:

“Chase Harper’s to-do list for senior year never included “fall in love” and “fight for your life,” but things rarely go as planned. Tarnished gold and resembling a pocket watch, the counter he finds in a cave during the summer of 2011 will forever change the course of his life, leading him to the beautiful Ellie Williams and unlocking a power beyond his wildest imagination.

In 1863, Ellie Williams completes school in Boston and returns to the Utah Territory only to discover that her grandfather and his counter, a treasured family heirloom, are missing. When Ellie is abducted and told she must produce the counter or die, an unexpected rescuer comes to her aid.”

There were many aspects of this book I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a character driven action / adventure / fantasy book. The action and adventure elements in the book play a supporting role to the characters. I actually cared when something happened to the characters.

I found the overall plot to be quite unique and unexpected. I kept wanting to categorize the book like, “Oh, it’s like such-and such” but I kept getting surprised.

Another thing I enjoyed was the insight on how a seventeen-year-old young man thinks. It brought back a lot of memories what I was that age … uh, a few years ago. Even more remarkable was that the book was written by a female, Kelly Nelson. I’m not saying that females can’t write good male characters, but I was impressed on how dead-on Nelson was.

Who would enjoy this? Who wouldn’t? It’s a clean read—but that doesn’t mean it’s boring.

And the best part? This is book one in a series. While it has a satisfying conclusion, it leaves the door wide open for all sorts of shenanigans to happen in the future … or past … or, well, you get my point.

You can buy the book by clicking on this link.

Winner of the LDS Author Blog Hop

I’m happy to announce the winner of the LDS Author Blog Hop for this blog is Dana Square!

Thanks to all of you who entered and left wonderful comments!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

LDS Authors Giveaway Hop

I’m excited to be part of the LDS Authors Giveaway Hop!

I’ll be giving away an autographed copy of my first book, The Hidden Sun.

Entering is easy. Simply leave a comment on this blog with your email address so I can contact you if you win.

While you are at it, go ahead and follow this blog. I post all sorts of goofy, interesting and thought provoking stuff.

I’m excited to announce that the sequel to The Hidden Sun is available now for pre-order on It’s called The Waxing Moon.

In addition, my short story Howler King is available on Kindle.

Visit these other amazing websites for more chances to win!

Review of "The Orphan Ship" by Sterling R. Walker

The Orphan Ship is Sterling R. Walker’s first sci-fi book. Spaceships? Check. Humans living on other planets? Check. Advanced technology? Check. In other words, it has all the elements you’d expect in a sci-fi book. However, it also has something that you may not expect: heart.

Walker introduces and develops many wonderful characters that bring this story alive. For example, Deane Shepherd, captain of the spaceship Ishmael, is complex. She struggles between being the rational, take charge captain while at the same time, dealing with a significant loss in her life. And she is only one of several compelling characters in the story.

What is the story about? The blurb on the back of the book does a better job than I ever could. It reads:

“Stranded 225 million kilometers from home on Mars Station, cousins Jake O'Brien and Lorina Murphy are drawn into a fledgling effort to help the hundreds of abandoned street children who call the station home. Jake becomes a medical apprentice in an outreach clinic, while Lorina volunteers at a juvenile shelter. They soon discover that their efforts may be in vain because something much more serious than poverty plaques Mars Station.

Also stranded on Mars Station, ship's captain Danae Shepherd faces the difficult task of hiring replacement crew after an alien virus claims the lives of four in her employ, including her husband. She stumbles upon the same problem that has Jake and Lorina stumped: why are the homeless children disappearing without a trace?”

The book can be enjoyed for the surface level story. There is plenty of action, intrigue, and humor for The Orphan Ship to be satisfying. However, it is the deeper look at poverty, greed and inhumane behaviors which give the book weight—especially when Walker skillfully portrays how children are impacted.

Did I enjoy the book? Yes. Very much so. It was engaging with enough sci-fi gadgets to bring out the inner tech geek in me. But it was the characters and the story than kept me coming back for more. It’s a clean read with no bad language or sex scenes. There is some violence, but it’s not graphic and it’s needed to fully give the impact this story requires.

While it can be read as a stand-alone book, it leave the door wide open for one, if not more, books—much to my delight.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Introverts unite!

I had the opportunity to attend the LDStorymakers conference last week. During the opening remarks, Sarah Eden, the MC of the event, made a cute remark about we should all watch out for “introverts”.

As a group, writers tend to be introverts—or prefer to be alone. Granted, that doesn’t include everyone. My good friend Randy McNeely, who was at the conference with me, would have no trouble standing up and singing in front of a large group.

For me, if I was given the choice between going to a party with a lot of people I knew or staying home by myself, 9,999 times out of 10,000, I’d stay home. It’s just what I’m more comfortable doing. At the same time, I really enjoy giving presentations to groups about writing. Heck, I don’t even mind giving talks in church.

It’s almost that you need to be part Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to be a writer. For a good part of the time, you are alone as you write and edit. However, successful authors also know how to promote. While this can be done on the computer from the safety of a quiet room, there is something about connecting with people at book signings, presentations and conferences.

For me, I feel more inclined to write when someone tells me how much they liked my book. I’m sure part of it is ego, but I believe it’s also a reaffirmation that what I’m writing is touching people’s lives.

To my fellow LDStorymakers, I applaud all of you who stepped out of your comfort zone to attend the conference. I met a ton of wonderful people, some of who I could tell were uncomfortable in a big public setting.

I personally left quite rejuvenated after the conference. Yes, most of the time, I’m alone when I write—as are most writers. But the conference helped me understand something. To borrow a quote of the musician Sting: “Seems I’m not alone in being alone.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I’m flattered to be featured on Author’s Boutique’s webpage.

The article is called “Shopping Around for the Right Publishing Fit”.

The blog describes my experience with getting my first book, The Hidden Sun, published.

I also share some insights for those looking to get their book published for the first time.

The article can be accessed by clicking on this link.

I want to thank the good folks at Author’s Boutique for the opportunity to share some of the things I’ve learned that will hopefully be of value to other authors.