Are you ready for a little revolution?

It’s only a matter of days before the novel The Imaginary Revolution will be published. I have prepared a sampling of chapters from the novel to whet your appetite for the real thing.

The story of how Sirius 4 threw off its shackles will be available for public consumption starting Dec. 15, 2012 – Bill of Rights Day – in both ebook form and a handsome, hardcover print edition. This is your opportunity to get a taste of it so you can decide whether to put it on your Christmas list.

The link below (click on the colorful green button with the blue whale) will lead you to a place where you can download a .zip file containing the Imaginary Revolution sampler in .pdf, .epub and .mobi forms. Enjoy! And consider coming back on Dec. 15.

Click here to download your free sampler of chapters from the novel The Imaginary Revolution, scheduled for release on Dec. 15, 2012.

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Give up the zombie lifestyle

Are you tired of shuffling around, shambling through life not especially aware of where you are and where you’re going, except that you have a gnawing desire to eat brains?

You’re not alone – well, maybe except for the brain-eating part – and you may find a way toward a more focused life by reading my little book A Scream of Consciousness.

Have you ever stopped what you’re doing with a sudden sense of awareness and frustration and said, “There’s more to life than this!”?

That’s a scream of consciousness.

Have you ever opened your eyes and realized with a peace beyond understanding that the world around you is overflowing with beauty and possibilities?

That’s a scream of consciousness.

Have you ever felt a surge of energy when you realized exactly where you needed to be and what you needed to be doing to have the life you were born to have?

That’s a scream of consciousness.

Now, how do you maintain that sense of joy and purpose moment by moment, every hour of every day?

That’s the purpose of my little book A Scream of Consciousness.

It’s a quick read; you should be able to zip through it in an hour or so, and then come back for a reminder of how to Be Here Now and stay aware of the moment.

If you’re not convinced this is a book you need to read, my friend Wally Conger and I spent some time talking about the concepts in the book – and overcoming the zombie lifestyle – in this podcast interview. Give it a listen and then come back here to buy the book.

And if that doesn’t do the trick, here are three sample chapters.

A Scream of Consciousness: Wake Up and Embrace the Present Moment is designed to help you experience life in its fullest, every moment. Thanks for reading this far, and if you’d like more, you know what to do.

A place for books

Call me a Luddite.

The news story I posted from 2001 the other day was actually my second choice for a post. What I really wanted to do was reprint the column I wrote not long after, expanding on the thoughts expressed by the man who tried to circulate a petition supporting something called the Constitutional Rights Clarification Amendment.

The problem was, I couldn’t find that old column. It may be on the hard drive of the home computer I was using in 2001, which is in a storage container. But it’s apparently not anywhere on the Internet anymore, because the Great and Powerful Google couldn’t deliver it to me. No doubt it’s preserved on paper somewhere, although I can’t find a printout – but there are collections of the defunct Green Bay News-Chronicle here and there that must have the original column.

A lot of stuff stored on computers 10-20-25 years ago is pretty tough to retrieve. It’s not common to find a device anymore than will read a 5 1/4″ floppy disk of data generated on a Commodore 128. If you didn’t make a hard copy, it may be as good as lost forever.

This compatibility issue is at the root of why I’m reluctant to give up paper and books – you know, those information storage devices made out of dead trees. I don’t need a certain software or hardware or any electronic device to read things I wrote in 1972 – I just need to find those notebooks and use my eyes. The pen or pencil or typing on paper still works just as well as it did then.

Last week I attempted to take Seth Godin up on his offer of a new, free book: The Flinch by Julien Smith. The catch: The book is only available via Kindle.

I don’t have a Kindle, nor do I currently have the money to buy a Kindle. No problem – there are free programs that allow you to read Kindle ebooks on your computer. Except that Kindle for Mac only works on computers equipped with a later Mac OS system than mine, and I don’t currently have the money to upgrade. My only options to obtain this “free” ebook, it seems, involves spending money I don’t have.

I would be more than willing to spend $5-$10 for a book that can be read 200 years from now, but I’m less inclined to spend $80-$100 to buy software or hardware that will obsolete in less than 10, so that I can have the same book for free. The first thing I usually do when I download an ebook is to print out a hard copy so that I know I will always have it.

We’re talking about the storage of ideas and information. One technology (print) has proved to be fairly reliable for centuries. The other (digital) is constantly evolving, and ideas and information published with earlier versions are constantly becoming harder to access. As a result I believe hard copies will be important for a long time to come.

J. Paul Getty is credited with giving the advice, “Watch what the herd does … and do the opposite.” My observation is that the herd is abandoning paper and rushing from electronic toy to electronic toy. That’s why I’m more convinced than ever that books are a better long-term investment.

Unplugged and loving it

[Found in notebook, written April 20, 2011]

In his influential book Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money (I describe it as influential because it has influenced me so deeply), Rabbi Daniel Lapin encourages his readers to make goals and delve into their life’s purposes but not before spending two or three days avoiding all electronic screens. Those brightly colored images have a mesmerizing effect, much like a deer confronted by headlights, Lapin said. Better to clear the mind before focusing on weighty matters.

As I pen these words (literally, pen to paper), I am one-third of my way through my first day of avoiding screens. The impact is uncanny. The urge to flip on the computer or the television is occasionally overwhelming, like the urge to take a drink must be to an alcoholic.

But the difference in productivity is astonishing. Without the ability to switch gears and multitask, I’ve filled six pages of a composition book in little more than an hour, preserving in a flurry thoughts that had been bouncing around unfinished in my mind for days.

As I’ve been writing, no email popping into my mailbox has diverted my attention. The urge to Google the information I need to insert into my essays has gone unfulfilled and, with it, the impulse to wander to other familiar Internet haunts to see if anything has changed since my last visit.

Lapin is an orthodox Jew who takes the Sabbath seriously and literally. His family abstains from work from sunset Friday through Saturday for a time of worship and introspection.

In this plugged-in and hectic era, a regular sabbatical makes a great deal of sense. Even a few hours into this unplugged exercise, I find myself tapping into reservoirs that have been neglected – not just stopping to smell the roses (difficult anyway after a spring snowstorm) but assessing where I am, what I’m doing and why. Too often the quotidian (i.e., the everyday routine) drags us along and we hardly have time to think – and making an appointment with ourselves to take the time to think is essential, lest we collide with life the way a deer collides with an oncoming car.

And so I put pen to paper, I play with the dog, I prepare a meal, I read books, I perform chores that have been neglected – in short, I do everything except fire up the computer or television. I will cheat for a time tonight when Red and I meet our weekly appointment with American Idol. That will be a setback of sorts, but the achievement of spending an unplugged day or two has already begun to bear fruit.

What will I learn from this exercise? We shall see.

But it has given me time to contemplate questions that deserve answers. What will you do with the time that’s left? Why are you here? What is the best use of your gifts? How can you make the world a better place? How can you make your life a better life? What makes you happy? What makes you free? What gives you life?

The power of short books

Books are getting shorter. The Domino Project launched by Seth Godin and friends has been publishing a series of manifestos, as they call them, all fewer than 100 pages and 5.25″ by 7.5″ – and all of them pack quite a punch. They took it to an extreme Wednesday with the release of what they’re calling a “one-page book,” a poster detailing the federal budget.

My own A Scream of Consciousness and Refuse to be Afraid run about 90 pages, in part because, well, I said all I needed to say in that space.

In his introduction to his translation of Abandonment to Divine Providence, a k a The Sacrament of the Present Moment, John Beevers writes:

Short books often have great power. A few that come to mind are Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, the Communist Manifesto, Paine’s The Rights of Man, Rousseau’s Social Contract, St. Thérèse’s The Story of a Soul and, of course, the Gospels. There is a very human reason for this. Most people have neither the time nor the inclination to plough through a five-volume treatise. They want the message, whatever it is, given to them in as few pages as possible. This is no new phenomenon. Pamphlets may not give as much enjoyment as a many-volumed book, but it is arguable that they have had vastly more influence.

And it is not only the reader who is affected by a short book. Its writer is. The effort, whether conscious or not, to concentrate his thought into a hundred or so pages instead of a thousand, gives this thought a sharpness and urgency which would inevitably be diffused over many volumes.

I would heartily recommend the Domino Project books – Godin’s We Are All Weird or Poke the Box, Read This Before Our Next Meeting by Al Pittampalli, Anything You Want by Derek Sivers, or Do the Work by Steven Pressfield, for example – or of course my own humble efforts (see the right sidebar for previews).

I’m not going to suggest that these are as good as those books Beevers rattled off, but they do pack a punch, if I say so myself.

The Sacrament of the Present Moment, of course, plays an integral role in the ideas in A Scream of Consciousness. From the pages in the Amazon preview I think Beevers’ translation might be a little more accessible than the one I read by Kitty Muggeridge, but it’s the ideas of Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade that resonate in any case.

Happy reading!