The Prodigal Band Trilogy: The Why (Originally Posted on Blog in 2018 in Five Parts)

For the original blog posts, they are here at the Blog.

Since Lulu.com is now in production mode of my “three-e-books-in-one” The Prodigal Band Trilogy, now is a good time to rehash “the why” I created these books beginning years ago.

Part One

As I have said in previous posts, I began my journey as a writer of fiction around the age of 8 or 9. I was returning home, on Long Island, New York, with my parents and older brother in a car from a visit to my grandparents (mother’s side) who lived in Mount Dora, Florida (about 20 miles from what was then Orlando). It was the summer of 1962; thus, I was 9 at the time. And I just happened to bring some non-lined notebook-sized paper and pencil with me. The paper was folded in half, width-wise, and looked like a “paperback book.”

Glad I brought the paper and pencil, because I was bored. I do not remember what my brother, in the back seat with me, was doing–he was 14 and likely listening to transistor radio up to near his ears (and folks, before the Beatles came along, pop music was very very boring, cutesy-wootsey “love songs” and other meaningless tripe about teenagers falling in love. From the time of the plane crash of Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly in 1958 until the Beatles in 1964, “rock” music, if you could call it that, was IMHO, tripe. Dion and the Belmonts and Del Shannon and perhaps the Four Seasons were about as good as it got, and who the heck was Elvis? But anyway…) I had no idea what my parents were doing other than driving.

This was my first journey into the “deep south.” And the only thing I knew about the “deep south” related to the Civil War and the abominable institution known as slavery back then. There were times along Route 301 or even what was then I-95 when I would see what were called “negro shacks” along the way, plus we all visited some Civil War Confederacy monument somewhere, can’t remember. Now I was a “buff” so to speak of Civil War history. So I decided I was going to make up some story about this kid in the South during the Civil War who, along with his friend, a black kid who had been freed from slavery somehow and lived with the kid and his family, hated the south and slavery! So what he and his friend did was help the Union Army blow up a Confederate “ammunition dump.” And they did. I did not mention the state the kid lived in, or even the kid’s family name, but I called him “Johnny Reb” and the black kid was named Sammy. So, I named a kid who would blow up a Confederate ammo dump Johnny Reb? When my dad actually read the “book” (named “Johnny Reb” and was about 20 pages long in pencil) he brought up this irony! After all, weren’t the Confederates called “Rebels”?

Around that time I also had a diary–didn’t all young girls have diaries then? So, there I was in late 1963 just starting to have any interest in the watered-down “rock and roll” back then. When it rained outside, and in the Northeast US, home of “Nor’easters,” it almost always rained some in the fall and early winter, the public elementary school kept all the students in the gym after lunch, too wet to play outside. I was in sixth grade at the time and, not being popular so-to-speak, no boy wanted to dance with me. So all I did then was listen to whatever 45 RPM record discs were put onto the record player. Not being a ‘A-list’ or even ‘B-list’ (more like ‘D-list!’) that’s all I could do as most of my friends were dancing on the gym floor with boys whom had asked them to dance. Well, I had to try to ‘fit-in’ somehow so, even though I thought the music was boring tripe, I pretended to like it anyway. Thus, in my diary I would make up stuff about myself–in terms of a fiction character I can’t even remember the name–being popular and folks like Chubby Checker or Frankie Valli (spelling?) wanting to ‘dance’ with me (not knowing the actual hidden meaning of ‘dance’ at the time…’dance’ was code for a certain ‘f’ word if you know what I mean!) And of course I made up the boy characters as well. And named them the same names I have used for the original rock band characters in my books! (Note: the band concept came about in the latter 70s, and then I added two more band members, then deleted one of the originals in the 80s only to put him back in during the 90s). The reader is going to have to wait to find out the names of the characters for a bit.

Part Two

Continuing from Part 1, no boy would dance with me in the public school gym on rainy days, so I pretended they would using a fictional diary character, a “new persona” so to speak, just to make myself feel like I was okay and not the ‘D-lister’ I imagined everyone else thought I was. I didn’t even think my neighborhood friends thought I was up to snuff (and I don’t mean “snuff film snuff” either! If this happened to day I’d have been called a “geek” or “emo”). Four of the fictional diary boys later became four of my Prodigal Band fictional characters.

But in late December, 1963, before school was let out for Christmas vacation, I noticed a magazine picture on a shelf along the blackboard wall headed out the door. On the picture were four young men dressed in dark-colored suits and long-ish hair…back in those days boys or men generally had either crew cuts or short hair not below the neck line. These four men had much longer hair than I was used to seeing! The name or title above the men was written as “The Beatles.” Well, that was it, no other mention by any other student that I’d heard. And I had no idea who put this picture on the shelf, or why. The teacher was in her 50s–certainly she wouldn’t have put it there!

Then Christmas came and wouldn’t you know it but my older brother got two Beatles albums as a gift! (Did he put the picture there? Likely not, he was already in High School. But clearly he’d heard of the Beatles or else why would he request Beatles albums, LPs back then, for Christmas?) So he let me listen to both; one was Introducing the Beatles featuring ‘And I Love Her’ and several others I can’t remember, and the other was Meet the Beatles featuring ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ and “She Loves You.’  Well, that Meet the Beatles LP just blew me away, especially ‘She Love You’ (Yeh, yeh, yeh…) Now THAT was rock and roll! So, I became an instant Beatles fan, and nearly went crazy when I watched them on the Ed Sullivan Show in February, 1964. And then went even more nearly crazy when I saw the movie, A Hard Day’s Night, that summer in a nearby movie theater.

But it wasn’t just the Beatles. By summer, 1964, the so-called ‘British Invasion’ was in full swing and pretty much took over the airwaves from American acts by then. After the Beatles came, in spring, the Dave Clark Five (who I actually got to see live in early 1965), and other Liverpool groups like the Searchers and Gerry and the Pacemakers; then in summer, the Rolling Stones and the Animals; then in fall, Herman’s Hermits and the Kinks. Then in 1965, the Hollies and the Yardbirds (both of which would lead to even greater things with Crosby, Stills and Nash and Cream and Led Zeppelin).

Note about the Animals: ‘House of the Rising Sun’ originally by Bob Dylan was one of my fave songs back then, and, when I saw them on the Ed Sullivan show, he interviewed them after they performed and what got me was that while I could understand what the Beatles were saying (they of course are from Liverpool and speak ‘Scouse’), I could barely understand what any of the Animals were saying! They were from Newcastle-upon-Tyne and had a very strange accent! And, in a later post, I will explain how I became fascinated with this strange accent, called ‘Geordie’.

But as for my fictional diary characters, since I didn’t know squat about how rock and roll bands did things and couldn’t play guitar then anyway, I didn’t yet have them form some fictional band–they became a gang. American, of course. Didn’t know squat about England–yet.

Part Three

Continued from Part 2, I said my ‘boy diary’ characters became a gang, but not a drug gang or a violent gang. Just a close knit group of boys, and all these teen boys had girlfriends. Remember, this was fantasy stuff in my fake persona diary that I kept, basically, because I loved writing and writing about a persona that was very popular among boys literally kept me sane (even if it seems as though making up fantasy personas seems insane! I will say this: I am sure any friends I had did think I was a bit on the weird side because I was such a non-conformist. And love of rock music was almost the only way I knew I could fit in with ‘the crowd’).

But, as rock music went psychedelic beginning with the 1967 ‘summer of love’ in San Fran’s Haight-Ashbury district, hippie central, and the release of the landmark Beatles’ album, Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band—you know, the one with Aleister Crowley on the cover—I suddenly found myself absorbed in this music and decided I wanted to learn guitar. For Christmas in 1967 I got an acoustic guitar and a chord chart and a lesson book. Then in 1968 I got lessons from a teen around my age (16) who had his band, a neighbor. It turned out I could play an electric guitar much better than an acoustic one—the frets were narrower and the strings were closer together, a benefit to one with shorter fingers and a wee bit spastic in the ring finger who had trouble with chords that required outstretched fingers such as B, B flat, A flat, etc. So that I got good enough to play in this band as well as sing. Well, this got my ‘boy diary’ characters out of ‘just a gang mode’ and into ‘gang and rock musician mode.’ While the band I played with some broke up shortly, at least I got a taste of what being in a rock band was all about. By 1969, I had my fantasy boy rock band made up, and I wrote ‘stories’ about how they made records and toured and stuff.

And then came 1970 when a boy—he was pimply as all get up and curly blond hair and not exactly ‘A-list’ either—asked me out on dates, and even the senior prom. I turned down the prom offer, but at least I got to ‘make out’ so-to-speak. By then, I was ‘B-list,’ and working at an afternoon job at a local supermarket. Near graduation time from high school my best friend showed me an ad in the New York Times about a ‘university lecture program’ for students interested in European affairs from a British point of view at Sussex University near Brighton, which is on the English Channel and a seaside resort of sorts, with the added bonus of ‘living’ with a local family, as part of what was called ‘Inter-Teach.’ My folks knew I was somewhat an ‘Anglophile’ (thanks to Brit rock bands mostly along with a fascination for British accents…heck even American accents are fascinating to a degree), so they decided to put up the money for me to partake in this program as a graduation gift.

The program began in mid-July, 1970 and my friend (who had just turned 16 and I was nearly 18) and I and three college students and one HS freshman (we almost never saw…he was there solely for the education) lived in houses of program patrons in a Brighton suburb and attended daily lectures at the university given by three professors, one of whom was Welsh. In addition to  lectures we all did the following: saw a Shakespeare play in his home-town of Stratford-on-Avon, got coffee at Oxford University, saw several museums in London including one honoring one of my fave authors, Charles Dickens, some folk music festival near Guilford in Surrey, and various trips to pubs (without the freshman…while my friend and I weren’t quite 18 yet and thus weren’t old enough to consume alcohol, no one noticed that and for the first time in my life I drank warm beer. My friend and I also made a special trip to the northern London Hackney district so she could see her aunt, her mother’s sister, and her cousin for the first time (they lived in a tower block…at the time, Hackney seemed okay; now, it is supposedly an ‘Asian’ (read Muslim) district and there were riots there several years ago!). And various car trips with the family I stayed with.

We were supposed to leave England around the 25th of August, but my friend and I and two college students stayed an extra week or so. To attend the second Isle of Wight Rock Festival, Britain’s Woodstock (the other two on this trip returned without us) we learned about when we met some young men at some youth hostel or something. And no way was I going to miss a chance to see the Who, Pink Floyd, Traffic, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and many others. (Note: the final day, Sunday, featured Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, but we had to leave during that day, or else we never would have been able to return to the States in time—it took days for everyone to leave Woodstock in August, 1969, and this was on an island!)

The festival was wonderful and interesting, but that really wasn’t the best part of this extra-week stay. The best part was a trip by van (driven by a male college student who quickly learned how to drive on the left side of the road in the right side of a vehicle!) into and around Wales, including the Cambrian Mountain area (spending a night at a bed and breakfast in said mountain area), then onto Bristol and Bath—named for ancient Roman hot baths—then onto Stonehenge, then onto South Hampton (or was it Portsmouth?) for the night to take the ferry to the Isle of Wight the following morning. So we spent the night ‘camping’ by the van, but before I went to sleep in the front seat of the van I had a very interesting conversation with three men in their twenties that spoke with that very strange accent I mentioned in my last post.

Part Four

The four of us—my friend and I and two college students—parked the van we rented in the overnight parking lot next to the ferry dock for the Isle of Wight to head for the Isle of Wight Rock Festival the following morning. Next to our van was another van, and next to us in front of that van were three men likely in their twenties that really only I spoke with, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Of the three, I could only really understand one of them; the other two had much thicker Geordie accents. No matter, the accent was fascinating (and, in fact, most English accents are somewhat fascinating). According to this Northeast England website,   this accent/dialect is derived from the Angles (not the Saxons) and is related to Celtic tribes that border Scotland. (In fact, all northern England accents/dialects derive from the Angles instead of the Saxons). Nor was this dialect affected by the Viking invasions and subsequent Danelaw kingdoms that were later conquered by the Normans. In fact, from the time of Robert the Bruce’s successful take-back of most of Northumria (above the Tyne, at the site of Hadrian’s Wall above the city of Wallsend) until England took it back in the 1740s, that area was part of Scotland. If you hear the Geordie accent, it almost sounds Scottish.

A couple of things to note this accent/dialect: one, instead of “ow” or “ou,” they say “oo,” and instead of the long A sound, it sounds like the long E sound, a sharper long I sound and long O sound, the short “a” sounds like “aaa” or “ah,” and the short u sounds (as with other northern accents) like a cross between “u” and “oo” (for instance, take the “u” in “push”, but not quite the “oop” for “up.” And other different sounds. And more, such as the expression “to hell with it,” they’d say “to hell wi’t.”

And that, folks, is why my band fictional characters are from this area. The accent.

And the history as well. I mentioned Hadrian’s Wall before. Then, in the latter 700s (as seen on the History Channel TV series “Vikings”) Norsemen raiders from mainly Norway sailed, among other places, up the Tyne River and nearly took over the Kingdom of Northumbria. Later the area was Christianized and today there is a famous monastery in the city of Jarrow, also made famous by the “Jarrow March” of striking coal miners and ship-yard workers in 1926. Across from Newcastle is the city of Gateshead that features an angelic-like or winged-bird-like statue, near the entrance point to the world’s first suspension bridge. The point about the ‘angelic statue’ plays a role in my novels. One has likely heard the term “coals to Newcastle,” and of course this river is a major shipping artery for more than just coal. In fact, and I didn’t even know this until after my first novel was published, there is a direct shipping lane from the city of Stavanger, Norway, to Newcastle. This also plays a role in my novels.

So I kept all this in mind when I seriously started writing the Prodigal Band Trilogy.

Part Five

Now is Part 5, discussing the various changes I made over the next twenty or so years from 1970 until the final version of the first novel in the series, Battle of the Band, was published, that set the stage for the next two books, including the FREE PDF of The Prodigal Band.

In the early 1970s I had planned to write the story of a 60s band, but that made no sense since no prime plot was set, and why write a story about a 60s band when the 60s were over with and in the mid-70s the music genre was changing? And, oh yeah, the mainline pop music at the time was a genre I hated—Disco! And then in 1975 another rocker I had no regard for, Peter Frampton—remember him?—was suddenly foisted on us rock fans at the same time the early 70s wunderkind, Led Zeppelin, was stagnating? Just as with today and my feeling that rock is dying or died with Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell resting in peace, I felt that by the latter 70s rock was dying as well. What was around was milquetoast at best (with a few exceptions like the Eagles and one or two others). Thank God for punk—the Ramones, the Cars, the Police and others. As I said, a 60s or a 70s band made no sense to me, and again, what was the over-riding plot?

And, oh yeah, I was in my mid-20s and had to support myself and figure out my life, right? That meant working full time, and then later, attending college, which I thought would help me figure out just what I was going to do with my life. So, from 1972 or so until about 1981 I stopped writing (except for college term and research papers).

In 1981, I graduated from a state university in New York. I had been accepted for a master’s degree/PhD at the New School for Social Research in the midst of New York City, a very expensive college, with the goal of getting a PhD in Psychology. Well, President Reagan screwed that one up by signing into law a provision whereby graduate students could no longer apply for Pell Grants or other grants, which was how I was planning to pay for college (and then there was the issue of getting room and board in New York City besides). I was NOT going to force my parents to pay for all this; they had just retired and moved to snowbird central, the Tampa-St. Pete area of Florida (where my mother’s folks lived). So, thanks to Mr. President, I had to put off my college plans, so I moved in with my parents in a nice retirement HOA home in a very nice subdivision with swimming pool, golf course, etc. But in 1982 I was hoping to head back to New School after having worked at several jobs. In the meantime, I began working on the band story again for a month or two. Then, in early fall, an event happened that would put the story off for years—I met my future husband, who lived in far west Texas, a beekeeper and lifeguard near the Oasis of far west Texas, mostly mountain and desert country. We married in a small Catholic church in a town of 600 people, then a couple of years later bought property in a local POA, then built a house there. In the meantime, I returned to college, Sul Ross State U, and got a teaching certificate in secondary math and English, then taught math in local high schools. In 1993 after having two kids, I got a Master’s Degree in Counseling, but never got a counseling job—my Spanish wasn’t good enough! (Note: I lived within a hundred miles of Mexico…).

So there I was…being a wife and mother and beginning to home school my kids and such in the middle of nowhere in the mountains in the early 90s and was no longer teaching (getting the Counseling degree in the meantime, then teaching a year in El Paso since we badly needed the income for various reasons I’m not going to get into here…but might be explained later in a non-fiction book I plan to write about an event that really happened in my neck of the woods in the mid-90s). One night in the early 90s—I can’t remember the year, but it was in the middle of autumn—I prayed and prayed for Divine intervention because I was feeling as if I must get these characters out of my head if I was to be a proper mother/teacher/wife, as if these characters haunted me. And that is why over the next couple of years the stories I had in my head became my first book, written on someone else’s Mac computer and then finalized on my own Mac computer in early 1996. Because of praying for Divine intervention, this book morphed into the spiritual genre.

Of course, that was the plan all along.

Happy Resurrection Day…or Easter, Whichever You Prefer

Or, if you are Jewish, Happy Passover.

And, speaking of Passover, there are some believers in Christ who actually do Passover. After all, Christ is our “Passover Lamb” so to speak.

And while most believers on Christ call it Easter, I prefer Resurrection Day since it is the day Christ was resurrected, that is, came back to life as seen by Apostles, Disciples and others.  Easter or Resurrection Day follows Good Friday, where Christ died in the crucifixion (as would the Passover Lamb die as the sacrifice for sin), and then Holy Saturday, where Christ “descends into Hell” as the Apostles Creed states in order to liberate good souls who did not have the opportunity to claim Christ as Savior but did God’s will anyway (such as the prophets, John the Baptist, and others). But instead of a Passover sacrifice which would have to be replicated year after year, this Sacrifice was for all sin, for all sinners, for all time. If you are not a believer on Christ, please consider that act as an option for you.

That is, if you are Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or atheist or whatever,have a good day anyway but please consider the “accept Christ as Savior” option. If you need a little nudge in that direction, maybe downloading the FREE PDF e-book The Prodigal Band. If a sinful rock band can do it…

Feel Censored? Use Fiction to Tell the Truth. Plus: More Spring Sales

First, about the spring sales…out in my neck of the woods in this mountain rural community we have (sponsored by our Community Church primarily to help our volunteer Fire Department with donations)…last year I “broke even” financially with sales of my two printed novels Battle of the Band and The Prophesied Band at this event. I have sold some more at the “second annual” spring event and handed out “business cards” with the URL for downloading the FREE PDF e-book FREE PDF e-book The Prodigal Band.

Before I go on to the main topic regarding present-day censorship especially with narratives, political and otherwise, I must say that I have a problem with Christians, including authors, that get on my case because my characters cuss or play rock music. Sorry, folks, but if you really think no Christian ever cusses (and I don’t know a Christian who doesn’t cuss every now and then!) or if you think rock musicians are all “devil worshipers” then you haven’t done your homework or you have bought into nonsense. Plus you have Christians who think all “Christian rockers” are really devil worshipers! Stryper then, Hillsong now, right? Did Stryper sing and play about Christ? Yes. Does Hillsong today sing and play about Christ? Yes, despite the appearance of Justin Bieber (I’m being facetious, okay?), and despite some “symbology” issues some have with Hillsong. Now, why would a non-Christian sing and play about Christ? A joke, right? Harking back to the late 60s and Norman Greenbaum’s hit song, “Spirit in the Sky” about Christ–and assuming Greenbaum is Jewish–why would he do a song about Christ? A reminder–the late 60s saw a surge in a movement called “Jews for Jesus.” Maybe Greenbaum was part of that.

There are people who are Christian authors who believe all “Christian authors” should write a certain way and not have cussing characters or characters who sin before they accept Christ as Savior. All “Christian author” novels should be squeaky clean. Sorry, but I can’t write that way when, first of all, I accepted Christ as Savior after repenting of the following behaviors: dabbling in the occult (as one of my band characters does); having pre-marital sex (as several of my characters did); being rebellious against some authority; cussing (I have dropped the “f” word but occasionally use the “s” word–and it was hard for me to type that “f” word into my novels, but my characters are my characters!); and questioning what has been certain interpretations of the Bible, among other sins. Because of this, my novels are not “Christian adult fiction” but “adult fiction.” My novels are meant to try to get non-believers to consider believing on Christ. Isn’t that what Christ said? “Make disciples of all nations”? I’ll let others “preach to the choir.”

Now, the main point: my novels also include a certain amount of satire and parody of how the music industry works, and it’s not just the “sell your soul for fame and fortune.” It is actually more sinister, what with signing recording contracts whereby the label virtually owns you unless they dump you, and both the label and the distribution outfit (the corporation that owns the label) take well over half of the take on sales (today it is supposedly most of the take) and where the recording artist must pay for recording studio and production and album cover art and even tours, assuming the recording label pays out some “advance” which also must be paid back. (And I thought authors had it bad!). But the really big time acts (as chosen by the moguls, that is) do get more leeway and more of the take–for a price, which is not a “sold soul to the devil” price literally, but agenda-wise. Once you are made huge, you are forced to stick to an agenda that you might eventually discover is laden with evil. And then the crash begins…And, if you start to oppose the agenda…watch out!

But why do a non-fiction book about some band that underwent this agenda years ago that I would have to interview for the truth when the possibility exists that one or more of these band members “suicided” or whatever when I can state what I know to be true by writing a fiction novel?

And then you have politics and the powers-that-be. Take George Orwell, who was somewhat of a socialist but understood the dangers of socialism-communism-fascism. Now, he could have written some non-fiction trope about life in the 1940s Soviet Union or 1930s Nazi Germany, but instead he wrote “1984” and “Animal Farm.” Truth, disguised as fiction. What would occur when censorship reigned. Since I am not political and do not trust any political side, I have no intention of writing fiction about politics. Spiritual is what I do. And take Aldous Huxley, from a very prominent political-socialistic-Fabian Society family and a member of the Fabians as well who knew backwards and forwards what the elites he hung out with planned to do. Most everyone has heard of his dystopian magnum opus “Brave New World” (and some scientists seem to be carrying out the gene-editing designer-babies scenario these days), but where he really tells what he knows is the fiction novel set in 1920s London, “Point Counterpoint,” about various elitists in the scientific, political, social, educational, and religious/atheist circles and their plans to rule the world to their specifications, what with a rebel or two trying to put a stop to these plans (the rebels, of course, are socialists and some working-class patsies.) Since it would have been heresy of sorts for a member of the elites to state the truth in non-fiction, he did it with fiction. Then you have Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451″…Prescient, or what?

If anyone needs a reason to write fiction these days, I’d say telling the truth about something you need to tell the truth about is as good a way as any!

Revised “The Prodigal Band FREE PDF” Now Uploaded and Available (Updated)

So as to be assured no snowflake celebrity who might get “offended” if they think I “insulted” them by saying my book character singer is better than they are, or if I implied some celebrity is a satanist or, even worse, a Christian…I removed ALL living celebrity names from this revised version. I can deal with snowflakes! What I can’t deal with are financial liabilities with those who are already filthy rich but just for the sake of vengeance they’ll try to “sue me for libel” anyway.

Here is the link: The Prodigal Band FREE PDF

Further, all existing media companies and brands were also removed. These companies did not exist when I wrote my two printed books, but now? There are thousands of media outfits, record labels, etc. So I had to change these brands as well. I also removed car and jet brands, store brands, and other famous brands–none of which I “denigrated” in any way, shape or form, but again, many of these companies are run by those who would love to take everything I own.

I did keep several names of dead famous or historic people (Laurence Olivier, Shakespeare, William the Conqueror and a few others). I also referred to parts of several well-known literary cliche’s, without the reference, since well-known literary works from the past have been copyright-renewed.

Some may think I “caved” to political correctness. Folks, I don’t “cave” to political correctness or to bogus “you hurt my feelings” crapola. But why should I give anyone any excuse to sue me for libel, especially when parts of this book are satirical? Fiction is fictional. Except of the fiction is based on a true story, there is no reason to use the names of famous people when it is obvious anyway that certain famous individuals are referred to, just not be name. As for brand names, the reader can use his or her imagination. for instance, I use the fictitious media brand name “BritishTV.” I am sure everyone is thinking “BBC” when I mention that fictitious media name, right? I did this for one reason and one reason only–so I won’t get sued for libel! I don’t have millions of dollars to settle such a suit! I should I set up some “GoFundMe” site?

BTW, ALL smart fiction writers do this same thing! I am an obscure writer now, but who knows what could happen in the future? Only God knows. So I have to be smart.

What replaced brands were generic names: car instead of car brand, guitar instead of guitar brand, etc. I also replaced some real names with similar names spelled differently, or name initials. Fortunately, some brand or place names do not exist so I could keep those names. All large city names were kept, and a few smaller city names as well. But some place names were changed so as not to “insult” the residents.

And residents or affictionados could feel insulted! Because this free pdf e-book is riddled with satire!

Folks, I strongly believe evil has overtaken this world, which is why I must do whatever I have to do to try to get folks to want to change this evil into good. If I have to remove names and things or even places, so be it. But the main focus on GOOD vs. EVIL and the Forces of Good vs. the forces of evil will never be removed!

Shine over evil!

PS: The original The Prodigal Band Trilogy FREE PDF is no longer available. Further, the updated revised version will be submitted to the Library of Congress very shortly.

Update: It has been registered with Library of Congress copyright.

Memo to Fiction Authors–Make Sure It’s Fiction!

Boy did I learn a thing or two after submitting my complete “three-books-in-one” e-book, The Prodigal Band Trilogy, to Lulu.com for publication and distribution! NEVER, and I mean, NEVER, indicate in any way shape or form that anything in your fiction is “based on actual events” or “based on true events”…or, perhaps, “based on a true story.”

Why? Because if you say anything on any copyright page or whatever that anything in the book/novel is based on any actual event, that (unlike the old days when one could write a novel “based on a true story” and call it “fiction”) apparently that is no longer the case.

In these days when it is so easy to “offend” someone–and I’m not just talking so-called “SJWs” here…does no one have the capacity to develop thick skin anymore? Is it against the “law” to develop thick skin these days? In these days when “getting offended” is the prevailing narrative, can a fiction novelist such as myself get into trouble for putting actual “brands” into my novels?

Here are some of the “brands” I have used in my three published books and copyrighted with the Library of Congress:

Musical instrument companies Fender and Gibson–Gibson guitar and Fender bass.

Car companies–Bentley, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, BWM, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini and others.

And other brands. But guess what? NONE of these brands appear in The Prodigal Band Trilogy. Why? Because I could be sued for LIBEL! Because someone at one of the instrument “brands” might get “offended” that I used a competitor’s brand in my book! After all, any use of any brand could be construed by someone as being “negative.”

Gee, will someone get offended because one of my band characters is bisexual? And, when he repents of being bisexual, will an actual bisexual be offended?

And then you have record labels and media outfits. Back in the late 90s before zillions of indy recording artist labels came about, I could take an actual record label that had been around since the 1960s and change the spelling of it a bit–no problem. For instance, I could take the actual Atlantic Records label (that Led Zeppelin among others used) and fictionalize it into “Atlantis” and no big deal. Well guess what? Atlantis is now a record label! Found that out on a site called “Discogs” which lists EVERY song by EVERY recording artist on EVERY label that has EVER existed (and even lists VINYL records for sale! Would you believe they still make VINYL records?). So then I had to change that label name to an actual FICTIONAL label name! It only took me two days to figure out what the fictional record label would be! I spent two days on this! Another record label I used had to have its spelling changed as well, because the actual label had a couple of “discogs” listed! I had never heard of this label, but never mind…

And two more days on changing the names of the media conglomerates I mentioned in my novels! Thank God I’m not a best selling author–I’d have been sued a zillion times by now!

Finally, EVERY real person known to be a real person had to be expunged from the e-book. AND I COULD NOT EVEN MENTION THE BEATLES, THE BAND MY FICTIONAL BAND IS FASHIONED AFTER! No Elton John, no Jimi Hendrix, no Jimmy Page, no Kurt Cobain, no actual rock band, no actual pop star (I even removed the late Michael Jackson! Just because…).

No actual business, government department or agency, non-profit org, no actual religious group except for the fact that major religions exist, no actual churches, no mention of actual books, records, movies, works of art, buildings. And no mention of actual presidents, prime ministers, royalty. Even historical figures are taboo..but I did mention William the Conqueror aka William of Normandy. Will that have to be expunged also?

And I am NOT BLAMING LULU.COM for this! I am not blaming Lulu.com for me having to take two weeks to revise my manuscript. Lulu is only doing what any wise online company would do in the day and age of zillions of “libel” suits for no reason. One of my fave news sites has been sued for using a photo without “attribution” to the photographer EVEN THOUGH THE PHOTO CAME FROM A COPYRIGHT-FREE AND ROYALTY-FREE WEBSITE! Because suddenly one day the photographer figured he or she would null the copyright and royalty free status of the photo…just because!

That is why my e-book cover art WILL use a photo that I took in 2009 of a July 4th fireworks show at an actual amusement park at night. Since I can no longer trust actual photographers anymore!

So, my advice is this: before sending any manuscript to Lulu or Kindle or whatever for print or e-book publication, use your fave search engine to see if the company you think does not exist actually does exist. I mean, there are only about a million media outfits these days! Need a record label? Make sure discogs.com doesn’t list it anywhere! If there are only one or two listings, DON’T USE IT! If you need to use an actual well-known person or celebrity, make sure that person is dead! Dead persons cannot sue for libel!

Finally, since you will likely use the name of an actual person who actually exists, make sure you indicate that “names of real people, real places, and real things are used only for fictional purposes.” Instead of using “brands,” use generalizations: car instead of car brand name, hotel instead of actual hotel name, guitar instead of Gibson guitar, etc.

The Prodigal Band Trilogy E-book to be Uploaded to Lulu.com Tomorrow or Monday

All I have to do now is the “Afterword” or something at the end of the book to explain how this book and the three trilogy original books came about. By Monday the latest, the e-book The Prodigal Band Trilogy–the three-books-in-one e-book that should be available on Amazon Kindle, Kobo (now including WalMart), Barnes and Noble Nook, Lulu and other platforms in a few months, after all the formatting by Lulu’s “team” and cover art is done, and I, the author, gives my okay.

When the e-book is being distributed on various platforms, I will likely reduce the price of both printed books, Battle of the Band and The Prophesied Band, but shipping, between four and five dollars, will remain the same.

The FREE PDF The Prodigal Band will remain available for download for Free here.

Above is another possible piece of cover art, based on a photo I took in 2009 at Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. As much as I like Pexels.com, someone I know is now sued by a photographer for “copyright infringement” for using a “free stock photo” from Pexels! Not blaming Pexels here, but apparently that photo he or she posted there was removed by the photographer later so the bogus “suit” could go through. So from here on in, if I need cover art, I’ll just do it myself. And Getty images charges too damned much for the rights to a license over a photo! If Lulu wants to change the cover art that’s up to them.

E-Book Almost Complete. Now for the Hard Part–Cover Art

Having not posted since December and revising the parts of The Prodigal Band that will be included in my forthcoming e-book, the all-inclusive The Prodigal Band Trilogy, I have completed the proofread and edits using large PDF printing through Word’s export mechanism. One final read-through is on the way and I’ll be sending the completed manuscript to Lulu later this week.

Because I just completed the hardest part of the job–the cover art.

Now I used to be an artist of sorts: I’ve done paintings, silk-screens, airbrush including t-shirts, and drawings, and created the covers for Battle of the Band and The Prophesied Band print editions in 1996 and 1998.

The cover art for the FREE PDF e-book The Prodigal Band uses a free stock copyright-free and royalty-free photo from Pexels.com. But I have read about some bloggers and others getting sued for “copyright infringement” when using what they thought were copyright-free photos including a site that is advertising my books for free, and this site has provided hundreds if not thousands of free book downloads as well as book sales. Just knowing a site I trust is being harassed just because law firms love to make money off of phony “copyright infringement” suits brought to bare by shyster photographers and lawyers has turned me away from Pexels and other free-stock-photo sites–at some point, photographers just might want to remove their photos from these sites or the site might remove the photos at photographer request…and then the photographer can sue the user of the once-free stock photos! (In this case, the photographer would have to notify me so I could remove the photo from the e-book cover within a certain time frame.)

In a day and age when “it’s all about the money,” this is not a good time-frame to be using photos or artwork one did not create oneself.

So I went through my entire “pictures” folder of photos taken by me or a loved one on various vacations from cruises to boat rides to graduations to camping trips to whatever and I finally found a photo I took in summer of 2009 at San Antonio’s Sea World at night during a fireworks display. Since the ‘three-books-in-one’ book is about a rock and roll band’s journey to righteousness and victory over evil, I wanted my cover art to feature a bright and overwhelming light above the darkness, and what better image than a fireworks display? Plus there is a pond or water at the bottom of the photo, which represents the “sea” in the Book of Revelation which stands for “the nations.” So, I chose my photo.

Then the problem happened. The photo I chose had 180 dpi, or dots per inch. Lulu’s book packages, as well as self-publishing, requires 300 dpi or greater! Now I had two photos from Pexels (I think) on my computer with 300 dpi, and ALL of my self-produced or family-produced photos were or 180 dpi or less. Most were less than 100!

So, what was I supposed to do while NOT using a Pexel stock photo, or PAYING Getty Images over 100 dollars for ONE STINKIN’ PHOTO? (Because Getty Images requires one to get the usual “premium” pay-to-play account and pay them about 100 dollars when all I needed was one photo! Heck, I have already paid Lulu 800 dollars to assure my book would be distributed over several markets! Because I hate to say it, but if you want results more often than not you must “pay to play.” Because “pay to play” is becoming SOP on the internet!

But then I became the “me” I am and figured–why can’t I turn some photo I am editing in Microsoft Paint into a 300 dpi photo? Believe it or not, one can use Microsoft’s free Paint accessory program to turn any photo in your photo library into a 300 dpi cover art.

Here is how.

And here is what I did. First I recording the pixels for height and width for the photo I wanted to increase the dpi on. One can find this info out by right-clicking on the photo in question, left-click on “properties,” at the bottom of the menu, then left-clicking on details, which shows the pixels for height and width as well as dpi. Jot down the width and height pixel numbers, then open the photo you want to increase dpi for, in Paint, by clicking “Open with” and then choosing “Paint.” Make sure the photo is saved in JPEG or .jpg format! And, while that file is still open, do the same with any file you have in 300 dpi, any 300 dpi photo you have in your library (if you don’t have one, go to Pexels and download one!). Before the edit, though, make sure the 300 dpi photo you will edit has the SAME PIXELS, width and height, as the photo you will paste into it! If not, it won’t work! And what you are going to do is “edit” that 300 dpi photo by copying the photo you want to increase the dpi for and then pasting it in the 300 dpi photo file! Now your original less-than-300-dpi photo (with the same number of width and height pixels) is a 300 dpi photo! All you have to do after that is change the file name when saving it.

To make sure you did it correctly, go here and check their instructions.

And you don’t have to be a good photographer to create your cover art. I should know–I am not a good photographer!

Note that I should have everything for the e-book ready by the end of the week.