Sons of Earth on Kindle Select

sons of earth final ebookHi Friends,

If you are a Kindle Select subscriber, Sons of Earth can be read for free!

Also, if you’ve yet to pick up We are the Living, it is 1.99 on Amazon Kindle for a few more days.

It’s a freak snowstorm day here in Manitoba–a good day to curl up with a book. I’m going to get in a few chapters of Harry Potter yet. ūüôā

Have a great day,

Geralyn

I Guess I’m Too Old For Harry Potter

I was as thrilled as a little schoolgirl this morning when I stumbled across the box set of Harry Potter novels¬†posted on Varage Sale. In an instant, I’d answered a cool ‘interested’ in the comments section while inside I was screaming “Meeeeeee! I’ll take them! Give them to me!”

Thus and thus, I became proud owner of the Harry Potter books at age 24.¬†IMG_0889When I was a youngster, growing up in a conservative Christian home, all things Harry Potter were forbidden on account of the magic. I agree that magic is a biblically grey area, and if I should have children, I’d probably at least want to read the books with them so we could talk about those things. So, unlike my peers who grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione, I waited to meet them until last autumn.

I committed to the movies first, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Never mind that they were ‘kids movies’. Little Harry and his friends were so darn cute, and I especially loved know-it-all Hermione. I’d be the one going ‘Don’t you read?’ too. Later on, as the stakes get higher and the movies become darker in tone, the relationship between Harry and his friends grows even stronger in contrast the evil they face. Yeah, there’s a little bit of harmless romance in the story, but the platonic, brotherly love is what shines in these stories. Love, sacrifice, friendship and loyalty are praised almost above all else.

I’ve been reading a lot of ‘kids books’ lately. I’m plugging away at a seven-in-one volume of the Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia is my lunchtime escape from the perils of work. The imagination is so much fresher than in ‘adult’ books. The good is so much ‘gooder’ and the bad is so much more cut and dry. I guess I’m surrounded by cynicism all day, so reading a kids book is refreshing to the mind.

So I’ve finally got my hands on the Harry Potter series. I’ll be the lone adult on the plane or in the waiting room, reading Harry Potter.¬†So what if I’m too old? ūüôā

My Best Books of 2014

Which books changed my life in 2014?

I read thirty-six books this year, as of today. I hope to make it 37 before midnight tomorrow, if I can pound out the last of Plato’s¬†Republic. Many of these volumes were forgotten the instant I put it back on the bookshelf, or shut off my Kindle.

Others changed me. I quoted new phrases. I modified my philosophy. I gained courage. I ate differently. Which were my most memorable books of 2014?

The Life-Changer: Trim Healthy Mama

TrimHealthyMamaThis book, by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett, set the tone for the entire year.  It was a year filled with fitness victories, as I lost nearly forty pounds, and gained a passion for running.

I have already written extensively on the diet and lifestyle espoused in the book Trim Healthy Mama.  You can read a summary of what it is and why I chose it here, some of my favourite benefits here, and more about my weight-loss and food addiction journey here.

Most-Quoted: Slaughterhouse 5

Though it wasn’t quite the page-turner that Divergent, the Maze Runner, and other popular novels I read this year, Slaughterhouse 5 lingers much longer.

After watching the Crash Course with John Green¬†video discussing Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, I was intrigued by the Tralfamadorian aliens, Billy Pilgrim’s complete unhinging from reality (and time and space), the fire-bombing of Dresden, and the ideas of time and free will. ¬†It is also a strangely comedic book, considering the traumatic subject matter.

There was a lot of death this year, as there always is in this evil world. My method of dealing with this involved denial, impotent rage, helpless tears, prayer, and bouts of jaded weariness. ¬†In those times, it was tempting to say ‘so it goes’ every time I’d heard someone died. I also gave thought to what time actually is, and how free we are to choose our destiny. I tend to oppose the Tralfamadorian idea of complete fatalism.

It is also no accident that the ‘Society of Immortals’ in the series I am writing makes their headquarters in Dresden.

Best Business Book: Rise of the Machines

rise of the machinesHow do you make yourself stand out in social media? How do you make your blog a success? Frankly, I was lost.

Rise of the Machines, by Kristen Lamb brought me from the dark ages of promo-tweeting, into the adventure of making friends through Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. I’m no social media wiz, but at least I have some idea of how to make the most of these resources and not bore everyone to death in the process. Particularly helpful was her blogging advice, which promotes a highly relatable style based on¬†your personal interests, stories and experiences and not on your actual profession (because apparently only writers want to hear writers rant about writing).

The One That Haunts Me: Thank You for Your Service

I stumbled across Thank You for Your Service, by David Finkel in McLeans magazine while I was revising We are the Living for publication. It’s the story of several American soldiers and their families, who live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries, or physical injuries. It was probably intended as an expose of the inadequate care these men and women receive, but for me it was about seeing life through their eyes.

I was in the midst of writing Liam, the male lead of We are the Living, who has battled through the compound effects of a brain injury and PTSD and cannot quite break free of their stigma. This book sharpened my image of Liam, but it also showed my what a no-win situation his might be. ¬†This, combined with some events in my family, shaped the conclusion of the story. I realized that a straight-up happy ending wasn’t in the cards for him, just like their was no quick fix for the families in Thank You for Your Service.¬†But there was great opportunity for love, courage and redemption.

The Book from Left-field: The Way of the Fight

the way of the fightI found this autobiography of UFC champion Georges St. Pierre crammed into the teetering ‘Religion’ shelf of a an overcrowded used bookstore. I pulled it out and hee-hawed with my friends. They didn’t know who St. Pierre was, but were amused/embarrassed at the cover, which featured the fighter bare-chested and geared for the fight. I’d developed an interest in St. Pierre and the UFC after watching some pre-fight coverage on a TV at the local McDonalds. I was puzzled by what would motivate a man to make a career of beating people up on national television. ¬†Here was my chance to find out. ¬†It turned out, MMA fighting is much more complicated than that.

It’s less of a life-story and more an explanation of his ideology. St. Pierre comes across as a philosopher, a learner, and a man dedicated to a craft.¬†In fact, much of what he said on conquering fear, managing risk,¬†submitting to mentorship, and constant learning could be applied directly to writing. ¬†I was in the thick of publishing We are the Living at the time, and choking on the fear of exposing my novel (and thus the inner workings of my mind) to an audience.¬†The Way of the Fight¬†turned out to be the medicine I needed.

The One I Wrote: We are the Living

How do you find peace and hope when you have no control over your life?

Kayla‚Äôs plans are as finely tuned as her cello, so when Liam joins her friends on their tour of Europe, she resents him. ¬†The ex-soldier with a fragile psyche seems like a liability. ¬†But when political turmoil in France explodes into a zombie apocalypse, their lives may depend on this warrior’s skills.

Their flight takes them to a tiny Italian community where a mysterious priest is curing zombies. There, Kayla and Liam’s shared horror draws them together. ¬†But they aren’t the only ones who want the cure.

As the threat of the living eclipses the danger of the undead, they must decide whether to run, or to fight for those they love.

living_front“Zombies Geralyn?” a friend said to me. “It’s not a zombie novel,” I always said, “It’s a love story that has zombies in it.” I relished writing¬†scenes of gritty hand-to-hand combat between undead, the living and rebel/terrorist fighters. Snappy dialogue and off-beat humour was my joy. But it’s the relationship that develops between Liam and Kayla that I’m most proud of. You can pick it up here.

Other excellent books I read included: The Forgotten Trinity (White), Wheat Belly (Davis), The Amazing Connection Between Food and Love (Smalley), A Whole New Mind (Pink), The Lord of the Rings (my third read-through of the giant classic), Divergent (Roth), The Republic (Plato), and City of Bones (Clare).

What Did You Read?

I’m curious. What were the best books you read this year? I’m always searching for a great new read. Right now I’m in the market for a great novel. Was there a book that changed you this year?

Running and Reading, The Keys to Success?

Will Smith gives his two keys to success in life, and they’re gooders. ¬†It’s a short video. Make sure to watch it.

 

Of course I love this video because I both run and read, and Will Smith just validated a good percentage of my existence. ¬†But still…

Running

Even as an entry level runner, I’ve learned that running is as much a mental game (more?) as a physical one. First you overcome the voice that says “Its hot. It’s raining. My knees hurt. I want to sleep” and you lace up. Then as your legs grow rubbery and your lungs burn up in your chest, you shut up the ‘make the pain stop’ voice by saying, ‘I’ll run to the next corner,’ and then, ‘to the next corner’ until you’re home. When you finish a run, you build confidence and credibility with yourself. You did what you said you would. You conquered yourself. That compounds on itself. The negative voice becomes weaker as you continually shut it up.¬†Conversely, it becomes louder as you let it win.

And you can do this all while wearing very tight pants.

Reading

Smith’s second key to success is reading. I doubt he means novels, though a solid novel can teach many lessons. You can learn almost anything by reading. I have a natural advantage here–reading comes easy. If you say ‘I can’t read,’ consider this.¬†Tim Marks is a two-time best selling author, business leader and multimillionaire. He has dyslexia. He says, “When I read to myself, I would read it, and a moment later, I couldn’t remember what I had read. I couldn’t understand why the words looked as if they moved around on the page. I would struggle with the same word over and over.” As he entered the business world, his mentor, Orrin Woodward, told him he would have to begin reading or he would never make it.

So Tim began to read. He would read the book out loud to himself, and then summarize what he read, until he made it through the whole book. Eventually it became easier, still he says, “Three decades later, when I preach or speak at a leadership conference, I have to read from notes, and I still need to practice several times in advance to make sure that I understand the words so that they don’t jump around on the page. My reading still isn’t where it should be, but it’s a heck of a lot better than it was!”

Reading is a learned skill. As a bookworm, I had to train myself toward heavier reading.  But reading from a wide range of books stores up a bank of knowledge: financial wisdom, people skills, technical knowledge and inspiration can all be found on the page.

So you can absorb the wisdom of Dale Carnegie or Plato while sitting on the toilet. Been there, done that.

Do you agree with Will? Would you add any other keys?

Two Tear-Jerker Commercials

In honour of Labour Day weekend, here are two awesome videos that made my eyes well up.  Never mind that one is a commercial for scotch and the other for life insurance.  These two commercials got it right.  Watch and enjoy.

Geralyn

Unsung Hero

A young man’s kindness may not bring him fame, but it will make a difference. ¬†Wow, this one nails it!

I Read Your Book

An elderly man learns to read for a special purpose.  Oh this one made me choke up!

 

3 Ways to Read More

The typical American reads five books a year, according to the Pew Research Center. ¬†I suspect Canadians are not much different. When I discuss books with friends, I almost universally hear: “I should really read more.”

Reading, as important as it is to our personal growth, doesn’t feel urgent. ¬†In the press of our insane schedules, it seems impossible to squeeze in. ¬†I get that. ¬†I work full time, and am self-employed as a writer. ¬†Still, I love to read and I manage to read three to four books a month. ¬†Here are three ways I’ve learned to get my pages in.

1. Learn to Read in Short Snatches

The reading throne.
The reading throne.

Many of the people who say “I should read more” also say they have to sit down and read for half an hour in order to make it worthwhile. ¬†If you can get in half an hour of reading two or three days a week, more power to you. ¬†But I get most of my reading done in five and ten minute increments. ¬†When at work, one of my breaks is dedicated to reading. ¬†I pick up a book at breakfast, or just before bed. ¬†I read for the minute while I’m brushing my teeth. ¬†I even read on the toilet. ¬†Yup.

I find this gives me a ‘bite’ of information to digest at a time instead of a whole meal. ¬†It may, in fact, make reading less intimidating.

But to read in short bursts, you’ll need to…

2. Have 2 or 3 Books on the Go

Instead of focusing on one book, have two or more books on different subjects in progress.  This way, if you become bored of one, you can switch to the other.  You can have a heavy read and a light read, and alternate as you have mental energy.

I like to have three books going at one time–usually a novel, a book on personal development, and one on another subject. ¬†Right now I’m reading The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (Browne and King), Twitter for Writers (Hall) and And Justice for All (Woodward). ¬†That’s one novel, two books on my craft (writing), and one book on political theory. ¬†Of course, you should tailor your reading list to your own interests and profession.

3. Have Books Everywhere

The easiest way to get a chapter in here and there will be to have books available at all times.  I keep one in my locker at work and one in my bathroom, and there is often one either on my nightstand, or on the kitchen table.

Another trick: download the free Kindle app to your smartphone. ¬†E-books are cheap, and you probably carry your phone everywhere. I read a good chunk of Kurt Vonnegut’s¬†Slaughterhouse 5 in various checkout lines. No one need ever know you’re reading. ¬†They’ll think you’re on Facebook. ūüôā

By the way, if the book is boring, unrelatable, or just plain stupid, don’t finish it. ¬†Time is too short to waste on a bad book.

A word of caution.  Reading is brainwashing.

20140824-121142-43902833.jpgAs Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” ¬†Decide what kind of person you want to be, or what you want to be an expert in, and let books point you that way. ¬†I tailor my reading toward my writing career (novels are important, therefore), with a hefty dose of personal development because I’m not the person I want to be, or need to be in order to be successful. ¬†I¬†strongly¬†limit my exposure to romances, especially those with explicit sexual materials. ¬†I want to view people as brothers, sisters and friends, not sexual objects. Again, this is based on personal conviction and interest.

Read with an open mind. I’ve learned life lessons from the most unlikely books (such as lessons on fear that I learned from Georges St. Pierre’s book). ¬†I’m learning to read, not just see what the book is¬†about, but to find answers for questions I have. ¬†I mine many blog post ideas from books I read.

I hope these tips are helpful. I believe that reading is one of the most valuable tools we have to make changes in our lives, and the more we read, the faster we work on ourselves.

Happy page-turning!

 

 

Do Reading Habits Correlate to Income?

“The most successful CEOs are reported to read an average of 60 books and attend more than six conferences a year–whereas the average American worker reads an average of less than one book and makes 319 times less income.

Although the media often discusses the disparity between the rich and the poor, they frequently fail to cover the amount of time and energy the wealthy have commited to reading, studying and educating themselves…

The most successful people I know read everything they can get their hands on. ¬†They approach a $30 book as though it has the potential to make them a million dollars. ¬†They see every opportunity to train and educate themselves as the most solid and sure investment they can make”

–Grant Cardone, as quoted by Chris Brady in¬†Turn the Page: How to Read Like a Top Leader.

Agree or disagree?

My own opinion? ¬†I’m no CEO. ¬†I would fall into the average to poor income bracket. ¬†But I’m pretty young, and don’t expect my education to pay off for a while. ¬†I consider my hunger to read and learn my biggest advantage over my peers. ¬†The path I’ve chosen is unlikely to bring me a huge income or great power, but at least I’m accelerating toward my own definition of success–a journey which is fulfilling in itself. Reading has improved my relationships, my finances and my faith. ¬†Thus, I’m a huge proponent of reading. ¬†Which would be why I’m reading a book about reading… go figure, eh?