reading

Read Across America appearance at Chesapeake High

Yesterday I had the great good fun of appearing at Chesapeake High School in Pasadena, MD to give a talk with Bill on co-authoring to make a difference, where we read from our work, talked about our process and why we write, and answered questions from the students.

It was so lovely to meet creative, interesting, book-loving students and to share the fun (and, you know, the crippling insecurities and all) of writing. Thanks to Ms. Cvetic and the Book Club for all the time, energy, and heart you put into this event.

ph-ac-chesapeake-reading3

Advertisements

Just how much “relaxing” do I really need?

I’ve been thinking about rest lately. Having a fitful 4-month-old will do that.

Strangely, what got me thinking wasn’t the many sleepless nights. It was when we collectively conked out one Saturday and did pretty much nothing but family movies, Wii games, convenience foods, and (finally!) solid naps for everyone, including the grown-ups.

And it was good to veg out and all, but really it wasn’t that good. By the end I felt more sluggish than energized, even though it was all the “relaxation” I could cram into one day. Instead it brought into focus a question that has been bugging me for a while now: Just how much “relaxing” do I really need?

Put differently, when do I expect that I’m going to put down my phone and actually do all the life-giving but effort-requiring things I’m remembering I love but rarely do these days? Will I ever touch Latin again? Write good theology? Read actual books like a gentleman?

There’s some part of me that assumes that once I rest up and feel a little less zombie-ish I’ll start digging in on those things. And that’s probably kind of true, at least for the ones I already do sometimes, but really what’s going to make the difference is better free time routines. I want to stop being someone who defaults to smartphone-poking-while-“watching”-Netflix in my free moments.

A few early discoveries on this path:

  • Most of the entertainment I consume doesn’t particularly rejuvenate me. Books are probably the exception, for whatever reason.
  • Constant stimulation isn’t necessary. It’s rare for me to be without a book or a show or a background podcast these days, and I’m finding just sitting quietly is actually quite nice. Boredom isn’t as scary as I thought.
  • Walks are brilliant. This one I’ve known all along. It’s fresh air and low-key exercise and, if you’re with someone, good company and a chance to talk. I’m trying to take a walk or two a day, and it’s lovely. Sitting on the porch reading a book for 20 minutes is also remarkably refreshing.
  • Walks and quiet time also help me figure out what I actually want to do (and when and how). Figuring this out is (unsurprisingly, in retrospect) a key step in the transition from vague aspirations to real life changes.
  • Finishing looming background tasks is more restful than avoiding them, even if they’re scary and ambiguous. We faced a couple big complicated tasks head-on (after weeks to months avoiding) and, while they made for a tricky weekend each, we feel so much relief and freedom now that in my book it’s totally worth it.

One way I’m applying that last one, incidentally, is to shorten my books-in-progress list. I’m generally in the middle of, say, eight books at a time (which is probably not industry best practice anyway). Instead of a page of this and a page of that, I’ve started plowing through one book at a time (or one fiction and one non-fiction) until it’s done, and I’m now down to maybe four books in progress instead of eight or ten. It’s been surprisingly freeing. I hadn’t realized how much brainspace books-in-progress take.

What about you? What have you found truly restful and life-giving?

Cheers!

–Ben

 

Friday Fiction Freebies!

The weekend is almost here! Time to grab a good book and a cup of tea (or coffee, or, as the case may be, whiskey) and settle in. To assist, here are some free books I want to share with you.

Cheers!

—Ben

The Dream World Collective

The Dream World Collective

Five friends quit their jobs to change the world. Sort of like Friends, but with more art, geekery, and tea.

Chapters 1-8: PDF | Kindle (Mobi) | ePub

Chapters 9-14: PDF | Kindle (Mobi) | ePub

Chapters 15-18: PDF | Kindle (Mobi) | ePub

More FREE episodes posted regularly at: http://bit.ly/latestdwc


argentstar1_2cover

The Argent Star

What if your decisions affected an entire universe?

FREE on Amazon today and tomorrow!

Learn more | Get it now at Amazon

Living on the last surviving island on Earth, Ren has put herself on the path to become an archaeologist. She’s defied her father’s wishes and gone out on her own, barely keeping in contact with him as he commands an army somewhere across the universe. And it was all going well until her brother Elian discovered a planet.

Lost for centuries, Novae was thought to be a legend. It vanished years ago and since being rediscovered the Monarchy has stepped in to take over. What Ren didn’t realize was that she and Elian and their father are the chosen leaders of Novae, thanks to a scorched piece of paper that claimed her ancestor named the star Novae orbits.

With suspicion and doubt, Ren is forced leave her life on Earth to go to Novae with her estranged father and rule over the planet she doesn’t think wants her there. Her suspicions are confirmed when she learns there are insurgents hiding in the darkened forests, and her father assigns her a guardian, Sheridan; a woman with a threatening gaze and silent steps.

Now Ren is just trying to stay alive long enough to figure out what the Monarchy is planning for the planet, because she doesn’t believe that they’re on Novae for the good of the people. But going against the Monarchy means going against a government that spans across galaxies, and Ren doesn’t know if she’ll be enough.

Novae is already at civil war that gets worse with each passing day. Ren doesn’t have long before the Monarchy decides to “neutralize” the threat. Will she be able to stop the hostile takeover? Or will her actions ignite a rebellion across the universe?

Learn more | Get it now at Amazon

Double-Digit Legit! First 10 Amazon Reviews

It’s official! The Stone and the Song has reviews in the double digits! Not only that, but my work has now been compared to Narnia and Patrick Rothfuss. That’s two separate chronicles! Heady stuff.The Stone and the Song, coming Feb 21, 2015 (!)

No, but seriously, thank you so much to everyone who has bought, shared, read, and/or reviewed the story. You guys are amazing and you thrill me.

In celebration, I present this lovely word cloud crafted from the reviews themselves. Let them be thus immortalized as visual ephemera, as art made out of words discussing different art made from different words.

Ok, I’ll stop. Sorry. It’s been a kind of long week. If you want to get in on the fun, you can get your copy now or sign up for my email list to get a note when the paperback and audiobook forms come out.

Cheers!

—Ben

Name a Book That Totally Immersed You

I remember one time, sometime during college, I was at the airport ready to fly from Turkey to Germany. I was an experienced traveler even then and I prided myself on it. I arrived at the gate well ahead of time, everything neatly packed in one small bag, boarding pass ready. I picked a seat, settled in, and started reading.

Some time later, I looked up to see everyone lining up to board, except they were one gate over, boarding a flight to Bahrain or somewhere. But all my people were gone. I went to the customer service desk and learned that my flight was gone, and in fact they’d called my name several times, all while I was sitting at the gate, immersed in my book.

The book was Harry Potter. Wish I could remember which one—maybe Goblet of Fire, but I’m not sure. What about you? When has a book totally immersed you? What was the book? What drew you in about it?

Should Self-Publishers Try to Hide It?

Still on vacation, so another quick one today.

I see a lot of tips for how to make your self-published book look more official/legitimate, things like having a complicated copyright page or getting an ISBN through your own “press,” not under your own name (or generically through CreateSpace or similar).

Beyond making sure your production quality is flawless, do you think a self-publisher should try to look like an “official” publishing house, or is it fine to openly acknowledge that you’re one person putting out your own books? Writers, what are your thoughts and experiences? Readers, do you get turned off from a high-quality book when you find out it’s self-published?

Top 10K in Amazon Paid!

Just a quick one today because I’m on vacation in Orlando and there’s family to be enjoyed. The Song and the Stone broke the top 10,000 in Amazon’s overall paid sales ranking!

Stone & Song Rank - 14 FT, 9405 Overall

May not sound like much, but that means fewer than 10,000 of all the books Amazon sells were beating Song & Stone. Many thanks to all of you wonderful people who have gotten in touch, pre-ordered, and are helping spread the word!

Pre-order your copy now if you haven’t – it’s only $0.99 if you get it before its 2/21/15 release, then it will go up to $2.99.

The Stone and the Song, coming Feb 21, 2015 (!)

The Stone and the Song, coming Feb 21, 2015 (!)