Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why The Lorax Scares Me!

Credit: Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment

From the time I was a child, my favorite Dr. Seuss book was The Lorax. There are plenty of reasons why that was and is still the case.


First, the story is fantastic. It hits the point home that being focused on our greed can have an ill effect on ourselves, our family, our friends, and our environment. While the message may not have been so clear to me as a child, when I read the book now, I'm impressed with the moral issues it addresses without being preachy about them.


Another great thing about the book is the characters. The Lorax himself, with his iconic "old-man" mustache, speaks for the trees and loves the place where he lives. As I read the tale as a child and now as an adult, I can always hear the deep, rough voice of The Lorax. I don't know who designated him the spokesman for the trees, but try as he might, the Once-ler, whose face we never see, ignores all the Lorax's gripes. To the Once-ler, the havoc wreaked on the Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee Swans, Humming Fish, and Truffula Trees, is just a result of growing a business.


Finally, the version of the book I have owned since I was a child, and pictured below, was large and colorful. Today, it's falling apart, but I still can read it to my children. And gladly, I get to read it to my son's entire second grade class this Friday!




[caption id="attachment_2352" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="An oldie but a goodie."][/caption]

So what scares me about The Lorax?


Nothing in the book, that's for sure. Rather, the movie trailer has me worried that everything I love about the book will be lost in the movie.


The first time I heard The Lorax speak, I immediately worried that I would no longer remember the old, rough voice I imagined in my head. I thought, "Will Danny DeVito forever be etched in my mind when I read this book to myself or my children?" Don't get me wrong, I like Danny DeVito, but I just don't think his higher pitched, young sounding voice works. (But I do give bonus points to how similar Danny DeVito looks to The Lorax, except the mustache part, of course.)


I read online that the movie will also show the face of the Once-ler. And the trailer confirms it as it shows the Once-ler before he was cooped up and hidden in his tall tower of a home. What? Noooo!!! The Once-ler depicted the greedy man who learned too late the error of his ways. The Once-ler could be any one of us in any given situation, and that's what made the character so great. Slap a face on him, and the impact will be lost.


Then the Brown Barb-a-loots began to talk. And of course, along with other dialogue in the trailer, everything had a comedic tone, directly opposite of the sullen, melancholy tone of the book. Sure, there are moments of bright cheeriness in the book, before the Once-ler ruined it all, but overall the previews I've seen seem to cater to a mainstream audience that wants to walk away with a smile rather than hear a moral lesson.


But you know what they got right, at least as far as I can tell right now? The Truffula Trees. Oh, I've never seen trees such as these. And to see them sway with their great big tufts, makes me all warm and cozy ... yeah, I think I'll like this stuff.


The animation captures the "Dr. Seuss" feel perfectly. It literally looks like the book has come to life! I give huge props to the animation team for the movie. In this regard, the movie looks to do the book justice.


For what it's worth, I plan on seeing The Lorax. I hope my fears of the movie forever changing the way I view the book are just my thoughts getting the best of me. In the end, I hope The Lorax hoists himself into the sky by the seat of his pants, leaving behind the word "UNLESS". And finally, I hope that Once-ler, even if he shows his face, redeems his greedy quality by tossing the last Truffula Tree seed to a little boy who has the potential to bring back all the Truffula Trees and with them, the Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee Swans, Humming Fish, and maybe, just maybe, The Lorax.


---------------------------------------------



B.C. Young is the author of many science fiction eBooks available on the Amazon Kindle, Nook, and other eReader devices. He also writes under the pen name Desmond Shepherd. He enjoys spending time with his family, reading,  and watching movies.


He hopes The Lorax movie will be just as good as the book. Although, he knows it is impossible for the movie to be better.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Miscorrection: Dimensions

The Karhath Empire assassinated President Daniel and took control of the six-planet system 200 years ago. Their rise to power marked the end of peace and prosperity.


A secret rebellion called the Diamonds has found a way to travel to alternate realities. They are in search of a reality where the Karhath never gained power, hoping to discover a way to end their regime.

For Jago, a Diamonds' agent, the task is more important than anything because the Karhath cruelly murdered his parents. But when Jago disagrees with the Diamonds' decision to end the Karhath Empire, he must choose to follow them or take his own path.  

Available at the following locations:

Click To Buy  Click To Buy           

Print edition available at Amazon and CreateSpace.



 Miscorrection: Dimensions (Excerpt)

Copyright © 2012 B.C. Young

Chapter 1

The building had a familiar look to it, but at the same time, it was different. A yellow light cast a dull hue along the walls, illuminating the white exterior. There were at least 20 windows on the two-story building that Jago faced, more than The Home ever had. But some things were still the same. In the center of the building, the front protruded with its roof forming a triangle supported by four two-story tall pillars. Just like The Home.


On top of the building, a flagpole stood tall with a blue and red flag waving in the wind. Even in the night, Jago could distinguish the flag’s shape and color.


Jago stood far from the entrance to the building. A black metal fence with poles about 15 centimeters apart stopped him from walking onto the well-manicured lawn toward the fountain that shot water up into the air. The fountain must have been a good 10 to 12 meters from the large white mansion.


From everything Jago could see, the security was either lax or well hidden. He scanned the area; the sidewalk surrounding the home was empty. It was late, 2 a.m. Where were the security cameras? He wore all black knowing that it would make him harder to see if a problem arose. He should be fine though. The area seemed like it lived 500 years in the past. He had better technology on him than the people in that place could ever imagine.


A car passed him, its lights shining on Jago for only a couple seconds before it continued on its way. It still had tires. Jago was right, if the vehicles relied on that, any trouble he found himself in should be easy to escape.


He reached into his jacket and pulled out his verstometer. The silver circular device looked like a smooth oval piece of metal. Jago knew differently. On these missions, the verstometer, or VM, was crucial to success. Its uses were many. Sometimes Jago wondered if he knew them all.


He pinched the corners of the device with each hand, and it opened outward. A screen displayed. He tapped it, going to the surveillance section. Sometimes he could use it to do the watching, other times he used it to see if he was being watched. On this occasion, he had to confirm the latter.


He lifted the device into the air, waved it high, low, left, and right. No signals. No alert that cameras watched his every move. No sign of guards armed with weapons ready to shoot.


Perfect, he thought. He closed the device and put it in his pocket.


He knew a direct approach might be a problem. But with Storen off doing his thing, Jago figured the best way to find the information he needed was to go directly to the source. Besides, he had little time to search out history books that could be altered by the Karhath as much or more than they are at home. The house did look like The Home. The resemblance was uncanny, although it had subtle differences. Little things like the windows, the flag, and only four pillars.


Still, it had to be the home of the president, or some high-ranking official. If Jago could get in there, talk to him, find out if he was Karhath or if the assassination attempt over 200 years ago had failed, that’s all he needed. He would have the place that might tell him how to correct the past.


He glanced to his left and right finding an empty sidewalk. No one approached. He would do it quick. Hop over the fence, run over the lawn, past the water fountain, and to the door. It would take him all of a minute, maybe less. Getting inside could be tricky. He would need to hide behind the bushes, assess the situation, and figure out a way inside.


He grabbed the top of the fence, being careful. The thing could be electrified. He lifted his feet, planting them on the metal bars and scaled to the top. He hopped over without incident and considered if things went too smoothly. Why would they make the building stand out, fence it in, and not have better security? Maybe this wasn’t what he thought. Maybe it was just another person’s home in this place, and not the residence of the one in power. Who cares? He had to find out.


He ran toward the water fountain. His feet hit into the soft grass and his body was a black mist moving across the lawn. From the street, he would be invisible. To those watching, unless they had night-vision goggles or infrared sensors, he would be nothing more than part of the scenery.


It proceeded too easy. Something must be wrong.


A bright spotlight lit up the entire lawn. Jago froze, looking for protection. Some place to conceal his body. All he had was the water fountain and that would be useless.


“Stop!” A loud voice said from an unknown location. It filled the air and Jago had a hard time discerning the direction it came from. “Do not move. You are under arrest.”


No. This was impossible. Jago regretted his decision. How could he be so naive? Of course, they would have security. They would be ready for any kind of attack. If they captured him, making the correction would be impossible.


Jago tapped his earpiece and said, “Storen, I’ve been made. Meet me at the rendezvous.”


He turned around, running back for the fence. A siren began to blare. As Jago reached the fence, a crowd of men ran toward him. He had to ignore them. Focus on the rendezvous. More men approached from his left and right as he climbed over the fence and landed on the sidewalk.


“Stop!” a guard shouted from his left. He too wore black and a light curled cord traveled up from his collar and into his ear. He brought his gun up and aimed it at Jago. “All units to the north side fence.”


Jago stopped as instructed. Armed men slowly approached on both sides.


“Get down. On the ground. Arms behind your back!” the guard yelled.


Jago bent down to follow the orders. As he did, a large truck carrying an 18-meter trailer approached around the bend from his left. Behind it, the flashing red and blue lights of police cars lit up the trees along the street. He had to run. With the gun pointed at him, any motion to leave could mean death. But this was his moment.


He darted out in front of the approaching truck. Screeching tires overpowered the siren in the air as the truck’s horn blared in the still night. It just missed Jago, and he reached the other side of it. The guard never shot him. Maybe he couldn’t because he would put the truck driver in danger. Maybe he failed to find a clean shot. Whatever the case, Jago was concealed behind the truck but not for long.


He had seconds to react. The truck jack-knifed, and Jago took the opportunity to hide. He ran to his right and hid behind a tree. The trailer of the truck tipped over pulling the cab with it. Yellow sparks flew in the air as the metal scraped across the tarmac before it slowly came to a stop.


Police continued to arrive on the scene. Jago had a problem; he had to go the opposite direction to reach the rendezvous point. Before him, a wall of security guards, police officers, and police cars kept him from getting there. What would he do? Could he blend in? They would naturally think he continued running north. If he went east a few blocks, he could then head in the direction he wanted to go. But he had to act quickly. If the man who lived in that house was the president, they could use all the resources at their disposal to close off a one or two mile radius to find him.


He ran toward a more crowded group of trees before moving east. The commotion of the truck crashing was finished and security was on the prowl. He moved quickly from one tree to the next, surveying the area before moving forward.


Now it got tricky. He reached a street marked Madison Pl NW. The protection of the trees was gone. He had to move along the sidewalk.


Police cars continued to file into the street, crowding it like a busy hover station. So far, Jago’s plan worked. The police and security focused their attention north of where the truck crashed. They moved into that central point, oblivious to the fact that the person they chased was only meters away. Jago crossed the street moving east as the vehicles and men on foot went west.


Seven trees lined the street at that point and were his only protection. He stepped behind one and waited, made sure it was safe, and ran to the next tree. He made it to the last one. The police lights flashed behind him now, continuing to increase in number with each approaching vehicle. With their concern on the opposite direction of Jago, he ran across the street to more tree cover.


Time was running out. More would be coming, and he had to get out of there. He approached the sidewalk, reached 15th St. NW, and ran south. There was no looking back. He had one and a half kilometers to the rendezvous and slowing down meant being caught. What would it be like to be trapped there? So far from home with no hope of going back. Jago shuddered at the thought.


“Storen, come in!” Jago yelled, but received no response from Storen. Where is he? “I said I’ve been made. We need to go back now!”


His feet hit the concrete like he glided on ice. Being trapped in a place he didn’t know or understand was scarier than death. He had to keep moving. His muscles began to ache as he reached Constitution Ave. NW. Save for the one or two cars in the distance; it was empty like the rest. Even though the night helped conceal him, he thought daylight and heavy foot and vehicle traffic would be better. He was a lone tree in a dark desert, hard to see but easy to pick out in the moonlight.


While the sirens had faded as he ran, a new one began to blare. From a block to Jago’s left, a police car swung around the corner at full speed. Without hesitation, he pushed himself harder, making his legs pump faster as he crossed the street.


Not much further. Just focus. The rendezvous is just ahead. Where is Storen?


The police car followed Jago, riding over the sidewalk and onto the large field of grass that gracefully cushioned Jago’s feet, slowing him down. The car approached, its lights illuminating the entire field in flashes of blue and red and its siren blaring like a hovertrain warning of its arrival.


Jago wouldn’t give up. He pulled his VM out as he ran. As much as he hated to do it, he would use it on the vehicle—send an EM pulse to disable it. It might buy him a few extra seconds before the police officer got out of his vehicle and pursued him. He pinched open the device, tapped a few buttons while running, and aimed it behind him at the vehicle that was a few meters away.


The flashing lights and annoying siren immediately stopped. The vehicle began to slow even as Jago continued running toward the rendezvous point. It came to a complete stop and resembled a children’s toy that lost battery power. But the sound of sirens came back. It was a symphony of noise announcing the end of Jago’s escape. They must have gotten word as to his location.


The door of the dead police car opened, but Jago cared less about who came after him. He had to escape. Worrying about Storen was useless. Maybe they caught him, and he was already trapped. They can come back for him.


“What did you do that for?” Storen’s voice yelled.


Jago stopped when he heard Storen. He had a sense of relief wash over him like the warm sun on a cool day. His breaths rapidly escaped his body as quickly as he inhaled more air.


“Why didn’t you respond? I kept calling you. I’ve been made.”


Storen approached Jago. He was dressed in the same manner. Dark clothes to keep concealed in the night. The mission called for it. The less chance of detection the better. A lot of good that did. Despite the darkness, Jago knew Storen maintained a serious look; straight lips and sad brown eyes no doubt complimented his slumped posture.


“My earpiece malfunctioned. I heard you, but you didn’t hear me,” Storen said in frustration. “What happened? You were supposed to stay put.”


The sirens grew louder and flashing red and blue lights shone on the buildings, traveling quickly in their direction.


“I’ll have to explain later,” Jago said. “They’re almost here. Let’s go.”


They ran the last few hundred meters to the rendezvous. It was at an obelisk that protruded into the sky at least 150 meters before its top came to a point, resembling a pyramid. A bright light illuminated the gray color of the stone. It was an easy point to see from many directions and maybe too obvious for their pursuers.


They reached the obelisk as a dozen police cars arrived from all directions of the large field. It reminded Jago of a Hover Derby he watched once, cars entering a ring from all sides and crashing into each other. This time they didn’t crash though. They surrounded the obelisk. Their lights flashed up into a dark night.


“Stop!” a voice said through a speaker. “You are under arrest.”


Jago’s hands shook, causing the VM to wiggle unsteadily.


“Don’t worry,” Storen said as he rested his hand on Jago’s shoulder. “We got this.”


“Right,” Jago said.


A police officer exited his vehicle, standing behind the open door. He pointed a gun right at Jago. Others followed suit, targeting Storen.


“We have you surrounded. Get down now!”


“Hurry,” Storen said. He had his VM ready.


Jago tried to drown out the flashing lights, sirens in the distance, and the voice telling him to get down. He had to concentrate. He tapped in a few codes on his VM.


“Ready?” Storen asked.


“Ready,” Jago replied.


“On my mark. 1 … 2 … 3!” Storen yelled.


They each pushed a button on their screen. With both of them together and the signal sent, it took a second for it all to happen. The signal reached out through known space, traveling through dimensional frequencies, searching upon layers of different worlds. It was fine-tuned to their world’s frequency. It reached its destination, alerting those on the other side that the portal needed to open. The other side opened the portal at the location specified in the signal and a hole ripped in the air behind Jago and Storen.


Looking through the hole, the obelisk was not there. Instead, a room full of electronic equipment and computers was in full view. Behind a glass window, several men and women sat in chairs tapping on computer screens, working out calculations that Jago wished he completely understood. No police officers, no police cars, sirens, and flashing lights. Safety. That’s what it was. Safety.


The police officers stood still, mesmerized by the hole that opened in the air.


“You go first,” Jago said.


“You sure?”


“Yeah.”


Storen walked through the hole slowly and was on the other side. He ducked off to the left and out of view.


“Stop!” a voice said again through a loud speaker. The officers stepped from behind their car doors and approached Jago with their guns drawn.


“I can’t,” Jago said. “My whole life is about finding the detour.” He smiled, waved in an overconfident manner, and turned toward the hole.


One police officer fired his gun. With his back to the officer, Jago ducked and angled his body to the right. The bullet zipped past his left ear, through the portal, hit a far wall on the other side, and created a round hole about a centimeter wide in it.


Jago quickened his pace, realizing he shouldn’t have taunted the officers, and walked through the portal as they moved in on him. Another gun fired, this one missing to the left of the portal and bouncing off the monument behind it, breaking tiny fragments of the stone into dust. More shots fired as Jago reached the other side and the portal closed. A spray of bullets from all directions hit the monument, painting it with holes like a human paper target.


Read the rest of Miscorrection: Dimensions now! Available at the following locations:


Click To Buy  Click To Buy           

Print edition available at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Creating the Correct Cover for Miscorrection: Dimensions

The time is fast approaching for Miscorrection: Dimensions to release for the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other eReader devices. While the story is the most important aspect of the book, it's important that I make a good cover, too. Without a good cover, it could prevent people from taking a peek inside.


A couple of months ago, before the release of Fram Gage and The Infinite Ability, I wrote a post under my Desmond Shepherd pen name where I outlined four steps to creating an eBook cover. Following those guidelines, I created the Miscorrection: Dimensions cover. Although I needed to keep some things in mind since this is a series.


For one, it's a series. That makes it important that I make the cover unique yet similar to the previous cover. So that was my starting point:



As you can see, the title, byline, and the orange bars are the template. The image in the center is tied to the book. For Dimensions I needed to change this. First, I used Dreamstime.com to find an image that I felt would fit the book well. I came across an awesome graphic by Liudmila Gridina.




[caption id="attachment_2310" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="© Liudmila Gridina"][/caption]

While I love the image, the red in it is a little harsh for what I want from the cover. So I changed the color to match not only what I had in my mind, but what I also felt matched up well with the story. I then took the adjusted image and placed it into my template.



I'm sure you see the glaring problem with this cover. Those orange bars stick out like a sore thumb. Naturally, I don't like sore thumbs and neither do I care to look at them. So I took a sample of the color in the adjusted image and used it for the bars.



Now I'm getting somewhere. But as I look at the picture and then at the blue bars, I can't help feeling like something doesn't work. It's like the blue bars are a separate entity from the picture. They definitely do not complement each other. What can I do? My instinct was to again adjust the image, toning down the neon blue look for something more natural. I accomplished this by adding a very subtle black vignette.



Oh yeah. That's the stuff. At this point, I was pretty much happy with the cover. I showed it to my wife and a few other people, and they said it was good. But nagging in the back of my mind was that hard-line in the center where the mirrored images meet. It was too glaring for my taste, so I decided to blend it together, adding a black gradient in the center that lightened outward.



And there it is. The final cover design for Miscorrection: Dimensions. I think it definitely has that "sci-fi" feel, and the cover fits the story perfectly.


So what do you think? Do you like the cover? Do you see room for improvement? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Progress of Miscorrection 2

[caption id="attachment_2303" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption=" Photo © David Ashe"][/caption]

My posts recently have been somewhat eclectic, straying from the usual focus of my current writing project and the progress I'm making.

So here's a boring post about that.

Near the end of November, just after I finished and published Fram Gage and The Infinite Ability under the pen name Desmond Shepherd, I began writing the next book in the Miscorrection series. As mentioned in a previous post, I decided against writing smaller stories as I did with Preludes, instead opting to write the next book as a novel.

My plan had been to finished the first draft by January 31, 2012. I missed that mark, but did finish it the next day, February 1, 2012. So things are on schedule.

The book will clock in somewhere around 73,000 words. Did I plan this? No. While I focus on word count for my daily goals to finish a project, I don't have an intended word count for the story. If I did, it could cause me to artificially shorten or lengthen my story, which I don't want to have happen. That's one of the perks of self-publishing. The writer can write the story as intended, which leads to the intended length.

Right now, I'm in the proofing and editing stages of the book. In my first read through, I'm finding that I am surprised by what I wrote. My process for writing involved writing the entire story before going back and reading any part of it. So it's interesting when I read something I forgot I put in there, and at the same time satisfying because I like it. In some ways, it's like reading something written by another person, giving me a good perspective on whether or not something works in the story.

Currently, I expect the next Miscorrection story to release some time in early March. But it won't be called Miscorrection 2.  What will the title be? With the recent rebranding of the series, I entitled the first book Miscorrection: Preludes. In line with that way of titling the book, the next one will be called Miscorrection: Dimensions.

In the next couple weeks, I will have another post revealing the cover for the book. Since this is a series, it will fit the template of the current book.

And one last thing to note, Miscorrection: Dimensions will not be enrolled in the KDP Select program. I put Fram Gage in there as an experiment, and have to say I'm not happy with the results. So you can look forward to Miscorrection: Dimensions being available for your Kindle, Nook, iPad, or other eReading device at release.

Oh, and Fram Gage and The Infinite Ability will also be available for all devices beginning March 8, 2012.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 2012 eBook Sales Numbers

Another month has passed by and now it's time for me to reveal my sales numbers for January 2012.

I should note that my reporting of these numbers is changing with the new year. Without going into details, not all numbers are received from all sources on the first of the month. In the past, once I received them, I lumped them into the current month's report. I'm changing this procedure now, instead reporting the numbers exactly as they fall in each month.

This means, when I post my report on the first of each month, the numbers will be low. But, as I receive numbers, I will update the post to reflect the new sales total for the month. I will also update the Sales Numbers page which reflects my total sales since I began selling books. I ended up doing this with December 2011, so those numbers have all been updated to reflect my sales up to December 31, 2011.

Also, because numbers are fun, I plan to post my total earnings from my sales, too. Although this will only be on the monthly numbers, not on the total numbers.

Now on to the numbers! Am I disappointed? Yes. Definitely. Given the high sales from December, I expected January to be a lot higher. Am I going to let this get me down, preventing me from releasing Miscorrection 2 (which I'm about to finish and release in early March)? No way. I'll just keep writing and putting out stories.

January 2012 Paid Sales

Total Paid Sales: 11

Total Earnings: $15.44