Thursday, May 30, 2013

I’ve Been Banned

People often mistake authors as those who sit all day in front of a computer and dream up wonderful worlds and characters. I hate to say it, but it’s not quite like that. Actually, it’s not even close to that. 

Most of the authors I know either A) write whenever they get a chance in between all of life’s demands or B) force themselves to write each day—even a little bit, sometimes having to postpone other activities to make sure the writing is done or C) spend time on social media sites stating they should be writing. 

What’s not included in this list is the networking authors do with other authors. This is in the form of writer’s guilds and critique groups and even just emailing that author friend with a request of “Hey, will you read my book and tell me what stinks?” 

But wait! There’s more! It’s called “promotion.” Seriously. Most authors don’t start writing a book with the thought of, “Oh! I can’t wait until my book is out so I can spend time and money trying to get people to buy it!” This is a sad truth: you may have written the best book ever, but if no one knows about it, they won’t buy it. 

What’s one of the best ways to get word out to the most amount of people as possible? As of this moment in time, it’s social media—or using the internet. 

For me, I have a blog (uh, you’re reading it right now) a website, a twitter account, and another big social networking site which I won’t mention by name. Why? Well, they sort of banned one of my books. And I’m not 100% sure why. The book in question is “The Night The Port-A-Potty Burned Down and Other Stories.” 

What was the reason it was banned? Well, the only thing I was told was that it was because of “bullying.” Yeah, really. “Bullying.” For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they would think that. Well, that’s not 100% true. I posted this following photo of me with the book. 




Maybe, just maybe, my T-Shirt was threatening enough to be considered bullying. Or perhaps, someone thought I was inciting violence with the title of the book. (The story that inspired the title actually condemns the person who burned down the poor, defenseless port-a-potty.) 

 Regardless, I’m now going to wear the badge of an author who has had his work banned. That’s almost as big of a bragging right as being an award-winning author. Hmm. Maybe I should put that on my bio: “J. Lloyd Morgan is an award-winning, banned author…”

Monday, May 27, 2013

Copy cat?

I was listening to Pandora internet radio the other day and a song started to play that I thought I recognized, but I wasn’t sure. The music was familiar, but different than I remembered. Once the song played a bit more, it was not the song I thought it had been, but I couldn’t recall what song it reminded me of.

For a couple of days this bounced around my head until I figured it out. I found both songs on YouTube and played them. Yup. I was right. They were similar.

That got me thinking of other songs I’ve heard or heard of that either copied another song (intentionally or not). Some of these songs were subjects of lawsuits, which I won’t get into.

However, check these out for yourself. I created these so the original song plays AFTER the one that was “inspired” by it.


I’ll start with the songs that got me thinking about this in the first place:

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Must See Movies--From A Certain Point Of View

I read a recent article on SyFy’s “Blastr” page (yes, the “e” is left out of the word on purpose) about 14 upcoming movies. The list said that 10 of them are a “must see” while 4 of them you should “avoid.”

SyFy is owned by NBCUniversal, who also owns Universal Pictures.

For giggles, I decided to see which pictures were recommended and what company produced them.

Here is the list:

(Avoid) After Earth  Sony Pictures / Columbia Pictures

(Must See) Man of Steel  Warner Brothers

(Avoid) World War Z  Paramount Pictures

(Avoid) The Lone Ranger  Walt Disney Pictures

(Must See)  Pacific Rim  Warner Brothers  

(Must See) The Wolverine  20th Century Fox

(Avoid) 300: Rise of an Empire  Warner Brothers 

(Must See) Elysium  Tri Star Pictures

(Must See) Kick A** 2  Universal Pictures 

(Must See) Riddick  Universal Pictures

(Must See) Ender’s Game  Lionsgate Films

(Must See) Thor: The Dark World  Walt Disney Pictures

(Must See) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire  Lionsgate Films 

(Must See) The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug  Warner Brothers 



I wish I could say that I was surprise that both of the pictures on the list from Universal Pictures were on the “Must See” list, but I’m not.

Man, I’m getting jaded in my old age.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I’m not stealing ideas, really!

As a novelist, I sometimes worry that I’m subconsciously “borrowing” characters, settings, and / or plotlines from other writers. After all, how many original ideas are there? I honestly try to create new things, but I’m sure if someone did a close analysis, they could point out how I’d been influenced by previous works. 

Then came the summer of 2013. 

I like to watch movies, so when it came time to pick out the movies I’d spend my time watching I smiled when I realized something: many of the big summer releases were based on books, plays, TV shows, toys or comics from years gone by. 

Here are some, starting from the most recent creations and going back in time: 


My Little Pony: Equestria Girls
Based off of toys first created in 1983 


The Wolverine 
Based off of the comic book character created in 1974 


Star Trek: Into Darkness 
Based off of the TV show created in 1966 


Iron Man 3 
Based off the comic book character created in 1963


The Smurfs 2 
Based off the characters created in 1958


Man of Steel 
Based off the comic book character Superman who first appears in comics in 1938 


Lone Ranger 
Based off of the radio program that first aired in 1933



The Great Gatsby 
Based on the book published in 1925 (5th time this book has been made into a movie!) 

Last but not least: 




Much Ado About Nothing 
Based on a play from 1623 


Well, if Hollywood can outright remake other people’s stories, I shouldn’t worry if some of my work is influenced in some way, shape or form things I’ve read or seen.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

People DO judge a book by its cover

One thing I heard time and again from people at a recent writer’s conference was how much they loved the covers of the new editions of my books. That was nice to hear, especially since I had more of a say than ever before with their design. I looked around for an illustrator and tried to find one whose style matched what I had in mind. 

I came across Roland Ali Pantin and noted that his previous work matched the look I wanted. I gave him some ideas and he came back with a few options. 

For the sake of curiosity, I decided to post some of the rough draft covers of The Waxing Moon and The Zealous Star. This was the first suggestion from Roland. 


It was a good try. Really. I didn’t like the blood on the sword, the plate helm, or the full moon in the sky—after all, the name of the book is The Waxing Moon. He gave it another try: 


This was better with the waxing moon in the corner, but the guy on the cover wasn’t how I pictured the main character. I send Ronald some picture ideas for how I imagined the lead character and we agreed on this one: 



Next, for The Zealous Star, the lead character, Diantha was to be the focus. Roland came up with this basic idea: 


I thought the woman looked a bit cartoonish, and nowhere in the book is there a wolf with red eyes. Still, it was a good first attempt. I wanted more of a red motif, and gave more detailed points about the redheaded Diantha. This was the second try: 



It was pretty darn close, but I asked him to lose the mask, change the moon in the sky to a starry field, because you know, the title is The Zealous Star, and wanted her shoulder covered up so it matched her outfit in the story better. This gave us the final cover: 


Lastly, on April Fool’s Day, I posted this fake cover and I fear that some people actually thought I was being serious.


Monday, May 13, 2013

What’s Your Priority (Boarding)?

It’s all about priorities, isn't it? There are so many things vying for our attention right now, we have to be choosy how we spend our time. 

Some things are a given: we need to eat and sleep. 

 Some things are more pressing that others: pick up the kids from school or take a nap. 

 And then there are priorities where we need to make a decision on which is more important: do we do the laundry or go buy groceries? 

I just returned from a writer’s conference which was so far away, I had to take an airplane to get there and back. I observed something rather interesting in the process: priority boarding

When I checked in for my flight, I was able to do so from my home computer. There was an option to upgrade my “flying experience.” I was curious, so I checked it out. For an extra 50 bucks, I could hang out in the Delta Sky Lounge (or something like that). That didn’t appeal to me at all, maybe because I’d never been in one so I wasn’t willing to spend $50 to find out what it was like. 

The second upgrade option? For an extra $10 I could bump up my priority boarding. I’ll admit: I don’t understand this at all. 

And here’s why: I’m taller than average at 6’3”. Even if I was of average size, I’m not convinced I’d find the seats on the plane more comfortable than the seats in the waiting area. Why would I want to pay extra to move from a fairly comfortable waiting area to a cramped airplane seat sooner than I have to? 

Now, I can understand there may be some exceptions. Some carriers don’t have assigned seats. I’ve never flown on one of those. Also, some people are very particular about where they store their carry-on luggage, so they want to get on first—but is where you store your carry-on so important that you are willing to sit on an airplane up to 30 minutes longer than you have to? 

For this last trip, I waited until the final boarding call before I got on. As I sat with my legs stretched out, I watched as people stood in line for up to 20 minutes, often jockeying for position so they could get on the plane just that much sooner. It baffled me. 

Maybe next time I go to the dentist to have work done, I’ll see if I can pay them extra to have them slow down—you know, really take their time as they drill into my teeth. Dentists should jump at the idea because heck, it’s working for the airlines.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Just Sing

Have you ever met someone that just knocks your socks off with their personality? That recently happened to me, and from someone I’d least expect. On a trip to Utah for a writer’s conference, I had a day open to spend with my mom. One thing we did was to visit my Great Aunt Mildred. She’s my dad’s mom’s brother’s wife. Yeah, it took me a moment to figure that out too. 

When my mom first told me it would be wonderful to visit her, I acquiesced, mostly because it seemed like something my mom really wanted to do. Please don’t think ill of me when I admit I didn’t think that visiting a fairly distant relative I’d never met before was the most entertaining of choices. 

Oh, and did I mention that she’s 95? 

We took the 30 minute drive to her house, and I quizzed my mom about how she got to know Great Aunt Mildred. The story goes that my dad introduced my mom when they first started dating, and they hit it off. 

Within a few minutes of talking to this wonderful lady, I understood why. I kid you not when I say I would have never guessed she was 95. She was as sharp as a tack and had a heck of a sense of humor. She had the cutest dog named Penny, and it was clear they kept each other company. 

Mostly I listened as my mom and my great aunt swapped stories. At one point in time, Mildred told us of how she had a friend who was younger than her and always complaining about getting old. Her friend was a spry 91. What she said next blew me away. 

“Do you know what I tell my friend to do each morning?” my Great Aunt Mildred asked. “I tell her to get up and sing. Just sing. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the words—make them up. It doesn’t matter if you think your voice is bad—just sing.” 

If that’s the key to living to be 95 and as amazing as my Great Aunt Mildred, you betcha I’m going to be singing every morning. And yes, I’m not afraid to make up my own lyrics.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Awareness

“Why would anyone give away something it took them years to create?” This question kept running through my head as I considered offering the kindle version of my first book The Hidden Sun for free for a short period of time. 

 Granted, that question doesn’t truly reflect the dilemma—after all, eBooks don’t require printing costs and Amazon handles the delivery, so it’s not like I’m giving away the only copy ever created. 

 There are three things that convinced me to offer the promotion: 

1. Even if you have created something people will enjoy, they can’t enjoy it if they don’t know about it. 

2. I’ve heard from other authors who have series the success stories they’ve had from offering the first book for free. 

3. Maybe, just maybe, people will like the first book enough to buy the next two in the series. 

 So, how did the promotion go? 

 Fantastic! 

Thousands of copies of The Hidden Sun were downloaded. 

Even during this short period of time, people read it and posted positive reviews like: 

 “I have been reading some new author books lately and this was the very best one yet! Just the right mixture of characters, plot and action. A must read!” 

 “Really enjoyed getting to know the characters and falling into the story. Loved the picture painted as the story unfolds.” 

 “Really great book! Has a little bit of everything and great characters to pull you through. I couldn't put this one down! Highly recommended this one!” 

And yes, I even sold a number of copies of my other books. 

Alas, The Hidden Sun is no longer free. That’s right. You’ll have to spend a whole 99 cents if you want to download the kindle version.