Friday, April 26, 2013

How to get a free copy of The Hidden Sun

 Do you like free stuff? Do you like to read? Well, you are reading a free blog, so I think you already qualify! From April 26th until April 30th, 2013, The Hidden Sun (the first book in the Bariwon Chronicles) is free to download to Kindles and Kindle applications.

Wait! You don’t have a kindle? Well, if you have a smartphone, you can download the Kindle App for free! No foolin’! Wait! You don’t have a smartphone? Well, you have a computer or you wouldn’t be reading this. Did you know you can download the Kindle program for FREE on your computer? True story! You can do it by clicking on this link.

I’m offering The Hidden Sun for free as part of a totally awesome promotion hosted by Andrea Pearson. Full details about the other books that are free or discounted can be found here.

Why am I offering The Hidden Sun for free? For a couple of reasons. If you like it and enjoy it, you’ll certainly love the 2nd and 3rd books in the series. The second edition of The Waxing Moon was just released!

In addition, the 3rd book, The Zealous Star, just came out. Seriously! So, the complete trilogy has been released. If you like to read a series back-to-back-to-back, this would be a great time to start.

Lastly, if you like the books, mine or other people’s, do them a little favor in return and post a nice review on Amazon and Goodreads. It doesn’t take much time, but it makes a world of difference for an author.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25th is Spam Day

Before I got married, I hung out with some great guys. We had lots of fun crashing dances, playing racquetball until we were so tired we couldn’t move, and being overall silly. We found lots of things funny—one of them was Spam. I’m not talking about unwanted emails. This was way before those were even invented.

No, I’m talking about the mystery meat found in a blue can with gold letters (which happened to be my high school’s colors now that I think about it—coincidence?)

While going to college, I was invited to a picnic with a bunch of other people my age. It was one of those where we would bring something to share, and provide our own meat that would then be barbequed at the picnic site. Lots of the manly men brought big T-bone steaks and the like. I brought a can of spam. And it was the hit of the party.

Later, when I started dating my then yet-to-be wife, I declared one day there were three things she must do in this lifetime:

1. Date me.
2. Watch “Star Wars” (She’d never seen it.)
3. Eat Spam.

So, on April 25, 1991, I cooked her up some Spam. She was too polite to say what she really thought of it. However, it must not have been too bad, because every April 25th, we eat Spam.

In fact, as I write this, I can smell it cooking in the other room…

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Change my name?

There’s a commercial playing on the radio right now where a woman’s voice says, (and I’m paraphrasing so I don’t get sued), “I just got engaged! I’m so happy! I wonder if I should change my name?”

I’m sure if I did massive amounts of research, I could list the social reasons some women in some cultures change their last names to match their husband’s, but that wouldn’t be my point of this blog.

I, personally, am a huge fan of marriage. I’ve known people who have had marriages end in less than pleasant experiences. It breaks my heart. After all, when you get married to someone, there is a huge amount of trust required. If a marriage ends, for any number of reasons, I’m sure there is a pretty powerful feeling of betrayal.

It may be oversimplifying things when I state that in order for a marriage to work, both people involved have to be 100% committed. That means a lot of compromise. Sometimes people see some of the compromises as surrendering their freedom, or giving up things they don’t want to part with. I get that. But I also think that what is gained from a successful marriage significantly outweighs any perceived losses.

As I stated before, it takes two people to make it work. I’ve seen friends that try and try and try to keep a marriage alive, but the other person, by either action or inaction, make that impossible.

When I worked in banking, I often helped couples who had just gotten married with their accounts. On many occasions, the couple stated they wanted three checking accounts: a joint one, and personal ones for their use only—you know, to keep the money they earned away from their new spouse. I would have to bite my tongue because I didn’t (and don’t) agree with that thinking.

Sometimes marriage is called “becoming one” or you’ll hear a person refer to their spouse as “their better half.” That’s important. Successful marriages are when two people work hard toward a common goal. I’m not suggesting that they have to agree on everything, or even like every little thing the other person does.

I’m sure there are those that will disagree with me, but I think a woman should change her last name when she gets married. Sharing the same last name is a symbolic gesture—that the couple is in this together. It helps with the mindset of “Okay, I’m willing to give up part of me to be committed to the marriage.”

Now, the name change may seem sexist, but I think a husband should actually give up at least as much as their wife, and probably more. He needs to be open with his feelings. He needs to let her have complete access to all the finances—made by both people. He needs to be willing to give up a chance to watch a ballgame to instead spend time with his wife. He needs to find out what is important to her and do all he can to make sure she’s happy—just as she does all she can to make him happy. To be clear, these sacrifices and compromises are only of value when they help the couple grow together.

I read a book where a husband and wife got married. She didn’t change her last name. They had triplets. They gave two of their kids his last name, and one of the triplets her last name. He agreed to do this to “make her happy.” But, in my opinion, it’s only going to cause a division—not only that, but a lot of confusion for the children later on in their lives. So, was that a compromise truly meant to bring the family closer together?

Why should you listen to anything I’ve written here? Well, I’ve had some experience in this field. I’ve been married for over 21 years. It’s not always been easy, and there were certainly growing pains, but it’s been worth it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Big Announcement!

I am delighted to announce that the final book of the Bariwon Chronicles has been released! It’s titled The Zealous Star.

But wait, there’s more!

In conjunction with the release of the 3rd book in the series, new editions of The Hidden Sun and The Waxing Moon are being released as well! The books will be available right away from in both Kindle and print versions.

The newest editions of The Hidden Sun and The Waxing Moon include extras like insights into many of the various secrets hidden within their pages, as well as a side by side comparison of the final draft compared to one of the first drafts of the book.

The print version of The Zealous Star has these same features including some deleted scenes.

For all the information, including how to order, click on this link.

Here are the new covers!

A faraway kingdom.
A beautiful princess.
A courageous hero.
A ruthless villain.
An impossible choice.

The kingdom of Bariwon is at a crossroads. A new leader threatens to take control of the throne which could throw the land into chaos. The Hidden Sun is an epic tale of courage, heartbreak, battles and redemption.

A faraway kingdom.
A brave warrior.
An unexpected danger.
An ancient secret.
A desperate plan.

Fear is running rampant in Bariwon. The people of a small village near the northern mountains have vanished. Newly commissioned royal guardian Snapdragon is sent with a scouting party to investigate. His responsibility is to protect the non-soldiers, including Seraphina, a stunning young nursemaid. When the party arrives, they make a shocking discovery. During the chaos that follows, Snapdragon discovers his feelings toward Seraphina are more than protective. Soon, he is forced to make difficult choices that will impact the future of everyone in Bariwon.

A faraway kingdom.
A beautiful warrior.
A relentless enemy.
A deadly threat.
An epic conclusion.

The kingdom of Bariwon is under attack. It is the greatest threat to the kingdom in a dozen generations. The best warrior in Bariwon isn’t allowed to defend her kingdom—because she’s a woman. When she decides to take matters in her own hands, her actions could either save the kingdom she loves … or destroy it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

When core beliefs conflict mandates

I believe everyone has a core belief system—inner rules they follow that guide their actions. This core belief system can be formed on personal experiences, ideas and philosophies taught to us by others, and even what I believe is basic human nature. While people can point out exceptions, I dare say most people feel it is wrong to walk up to a complete stranger and kill them for no reason aside that they could.

I’ll admit that many of my core beliefs come from my religious affiliation. One that I feel most strongly about is that everyone has a right to choose their actions, but they are also ultimately responsible for these same actions.

It’s taken time and distance to realize something I really struggled with while working in banking. One of the companies I worked for micromanaged its employees to death. Examples? As managers and supervisors, we would do observations on our tellers to make sure they did everything they were supposed to do including using the customer’s name at least three times, greeting them with a warm smile (not a fake one—who determines that?), making sure that none of the tellers were sitting while a customer was being helped, even if they weren’t the one helping the customer (there was even talk of removing all the chairs), making sure every customer was offered a financial review or a new product, and ensuring the hoop earrings worn by females were no more than 1” in diameter—I even had a regional manager who carried a ruler with her to measure when she did surprise inspections. All of this is true.

And then came the other side. The company would set “goals” for us each month—which of course was a wrong use of the word. It wasn’t a goal as much as an expectation. These goals consisted of number of checking accounts opened, loan amounts, and even customer satisfaction reports. Where did these “goals” come from? From suits in a boardroom who based it on the previous year’s performance, plus a certain percentage increase.

One co-worker of mine got transferred to a branch that had been short staffed for a long time and had terrible numbers. He got it running and blew his goals out of the water—compared to percentage increase over the goal. The problem? When you have a goal of 2, and you get 6, that’s a huge percentage increase. For my branch, if I had a goal of 100, and I got 110, or 4 more than my friend, my percentage increase was much smaller—and therefore he became a superstar, for a little while.

Because he’d done so well, they gave him a bigger, more prestigious branch. After his first full month there, he didn’t make his goals. The result? He was put on warning.

Anyone that works for big business can share similar stories, much to my dismay. But how does this relate to core beliefs? Consider this: if you believe that you have a right to choose, and are responsible for the things you can control, yet you work in an environment where you are not allowed to choose because of the level of micromanaging, and often you are responsible for things completely out of your control, something’s got to give.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review of "The Mirror of the Soul"

This review was posted by author Tamara Ward recently:

"J. Lloyd Morgan writes a story that transcends the written page. In Mirror of the Soul, expect to find a great story, wonderfully complex characters, heart-palpitating conflict with twists in the plot that will completely shock you, and a spine-tingling ending that also will make you pause and consider how the message of the book relates to your own life. And speaking about that, the book’s message, sometimes you read a book with a message and it comes off as clunky or preachy – staged. Not so with Mirror of the Soul. Morgan is an expert storyteller and the message of his story never gets in the way of the story.

Beautiful. Masterful."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Meat Pie

I just completed a “Seminar in Fiction” class for my Master’s degree. During the class, we were assigned to write several very short stories based on our choice of prompts. At one point during the class, my professor noted how my stories were “sweet” and “feel good” and wanted me to write something out of my comfort zone. This short story, “Meat Pie,” was my response.

Meat pie

“What’s the difference between a butcher and a doctor?” my boss asked me for the hundredth time.

Fighting off a sigh, I responded, “I don’t know, what?”

“A butcher can grind up his mistakes!”

I gave an obligated chuckle and went back to my work. It was my turn to grind the hamburger. My boss brought over another bin full of steaks that had been on display too long and were turning brown. I pushed the meat into the grinder’s hole. Using something that looked like a small baseball bat, I shoved the various pieces into the corkscrew innards of the machine. What came out the other end was hamburger.

Dad cranked the handle on the small meat grinder, driving more of the meat inside to be forced through little holes. He was making something he called “meat pie” which I thought was weird. Pies usually had fruit filling.

“Ah, son,” he said when he noticed me, “you don’t want to watch this. Go upstairs and play.”

I hadn’t thought of that moment in years. Why had I remembered it now? Probably just a random connection my mind made because of the similar events. Before getting the job in the meat department, my only experience with grinding was when my dad ground up meat at home. At the butcher shop, we used meat from cows, not pigs, which made me wonder why it wasn’t called beefburger instead.

The meat pie was served like a normal pie. It was a triangle shaped piece cut from the round baked pie. Instead of whipped cream, my dad covered it with brown gravy. I was hesitant to try it—he’d often made meals from his latest kills. I liked venison, but didn’t care for pheasant. The taste of the pie was different than what I expected, but it wasn’t bad.

My boss swore.

I looked up from the grinder. He was standing at one of the tables we used to hand cut steaks. “What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I just ruined this filet. Slip of the hand.”

He was getting older. His arms, especially his forearms, were thick. But his hands had a slight tremble to them. I’d noticed over the last couple of months he made more and more mistakes when cutting.

Swearing again, he brought the ruined cut of meat over to me and tossed it into the grinder. “Shame,” he said, “that was a beautiful piece.”

My responsibility before going to bed was to make sure all the doors were locked, the thermostat was turned down and there was food in the dog’s bowl. I went through the routine, but stopped when I went to fill Lucky’s bowl. It was still full.

“Lucky!” I called out. There was no response. Usually he came running when I called him. Come to think of it, I’d not seen him all day. I checked the backyard, but he wasn’t there. I called out his name again, but instead of Lucky answering, my dad did. He told me to come downstairs.

“Yes, Dad?” I asked.

My father was sitting in his den, a room filled with pictures of him hunting. On one of the walls was the head of a deer he’d killed and had mounted. He was sharpening one of his skinning knives.

“Son,” he said without looking up, “I made a mistake when I backed up my truck today.”