Saturday, August 15, 2015

Publication: "The Book of Man"

I have decided to self-publish another story, "The Book of Man." It's dark fantasy with biblical themes. It's an old story that I unfortunately haven't been able to publish through magazines, which has given me the time to rewrite the story and put it out there on my own. I hope you like it. You can purchase a digital copy at Amazon, Smashwords, or Barnes & Noble.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Finding Time to Read

Finding the time to read while holding a job and having a girlfriend and being a writer can be difficult - I know. I've had to be creative with this. And, so, I have several methods I use to maximize the time I have to read.

Reading while walking. This is my most notable hack to find more time to read. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone since it is a bit distracting - and potentially dangerous. It takes practice. In fact, I have my own method for doing so. What I do is I set the book right in front of me, at about eye level, and walk slowly, occasionally looking ahead and using my peripheral vision when reading. The reason this works - well enough, anyway - is that since the book is directly in front of me at eye level, I can readily see if anyone or anything is approaching. It will be picked up by my peripheral vision first. Now, it might take a bit longer to read this way since there's shaking while walking and distractions and looking ahead occasionally. But since you're adding extra time to your reading, it's worth it - at least for me. Another thing to think about is that you want to walk on a level, predictable surface, such as a concrete sidewalk or path. Walking on grass or sand, especially if there are pits, fallen branches, rocks, or holes, will be very inconvenient because you will, very likely, not see them coming and possibly trip. Also make sure to have a good view of the ground, too. Watch out for dog poop, for instance, which is a bit difficult to spot sometimes. That's why your book, or e-reader, should be about arm's length away, so you can see part of the ground as well as in front of you. Easier done when there aren't many people around. But recommended if you really need some extra reading time in your day and/or have pretty good peripheral vision. (Another point: done much more easily with audible books!)

Reading on the bus/train. This piece of advice is nothing new. But there is a certain way to do it. I've learned that having the book/e-reader easily accessible works well to battle against any thoughts you might have that might keep you from taking it out, such as it being too crowded to move much or just being tired and/or mentally exhausted and maybe not in the reading mood. When it is easily accessible, you're more likely to read. So keep your book/e-reader in a pocket or in one of the outer pockets of your book bag or purse. Cargo pants are a good option during the summer since the pockets are bigger than most pants pockets. When it comes to the act of reading itself, I'd just remember that you will be distracted. People may need to get through, if you're standing, so remember to take your book bag off and pay attention. You may miss your stop, too. I usually look up from my book/e-reader after every stop.

Reading while at work. Many of us have jobs that provide us with some downtime. Instead of letting it go to waste, let's get more reading done! These times may be infrequent and inconsistent in length. So I just immediately start reading when given downtime. Also, depending on the job, you don't want to appear unprofessional. Luckily, I work in an academic setting, so that is not really a problem. But if that is a potential problem for you, maybe wait until your break. Or do so clandestinely, if you're up for it. Hide the book in your bag. Or just make sure no one is looking!

Reading while eating. I've thought of this before but never really considered it much until I read about Junot Diaz doing it. I'm just such a fanboy of his that it was kind of inspiring. He was doing it while eating oatmeal, which brings me to one of my pointers: this is better done with simpler meals - that is, meals you don't have to look at much or isn't difficult to eat. So things such as: cereal, oatmeal, soup, rice, and so on. Also, it's easier to do this with an e-reader (or a tablet) because you don't have to turn physical pages; instead, you just tap the screen. It is tempting to instead watch YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu. But if you make a habit of reading while eating every time, most of the time, or regularly (such as once per day), the temptation lessens. Further, audible books allow you also to pay more attention to your food, so that is certainly a plus.

Reading with any down time. Doing laundry? Cooking? Using the bathroom? We have downtime all the time - that's why we have a word for it! Two minutes, for example, may not seem like a lot of time to read - and really it isn't - but if you add up all the two minutes you have in a day of downtime, it will probably add up pretty well. The trick is to have a book/e-reader ready and immediately start reading and don't stop until your downtime is over. Using a timer helps if you're cooking, for instance, so you don't burn anything.

Reading while waiting for sleep. Also easier done with an e-reader that has some light source. (Though people often say that the light, being stimulation, will keep you up, I often find that reading in bed, especially when I find it difficult to sleep, which is a problem I've always had, gets me sleepy quite quickly. And if I don't sleep, hey, that's more reading done - win-win!) I wouldn't recommend an audible book for this because you might fall asleep listening and then lose your place, unless you're rather diligent!

So, off the top of my head, these are the things I do to find more time to read. You know, there are so many good books out there. And, honestly, it makes me a bit depressed to think that I won't be able to read them all. Life is simply too short. I agree with James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce, who said, "Life is too short for reading inferior books." It's also too short for great books - all of them, that is.