Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Easter Gift

by Bert Carson

Just after I posted the blog, We Have A Pope, my friend, Steve Lucanic, sent this email.

Based on your below blog, I have sent you a dvd which should continue to keep you inspired.  It is one of my favorite movies because of the message it sends.  Watch for it from Amazon! 
My best, Steve

A few days later, I received a copy of The Shoes of the Fisherman.  I decided to hold it for a time that Christina and I could watch it straight through - it's 162 minutes, so that required some planning.  As it worked out, that time was this evening.  

I've already sent two "thank you" emails to Steve, and now I'm recommending his gift to you.  Follow the link, and gift yourself with a copy, or, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can stream it at no charge.

No matter how you obtain it, don't miss it, and be prepared for goose bumps at the way the forty plus-year-old movie depicts the events of today.  But, most of all, as my friend Steve pointed out, you will be inspired - that's something that is never out of style.

Here's the original preview - enjoy:

The Promise

by Bert Carson

Friday I posted a blog that I titled A Time To Remember.  In the very first line of that post I said, "I had not considered writing an Easter post..." and I hadn't, but I did.

In the same vein, I didn't get up this morning thinking, I should write an Easter post.

Then I went outside to fill the bird feeders, took a minute to watch and listen to the birds and squirrels celebrating the day, and thought, I'll bet I can write a blog this last Sunday in March and not mention religion, or Christianity, or Easter.

Spring is the unfolding of a promise that we've held in our hearts through long bleak days that were cold like a heavy blanket that would not move and accented with bone freezing blasts of wind.

In moments when spring seemed to be receding and winter establishing a permanent, icy fortress around us, we continued to hold, in the back corner of our minds, the idea of warm days, lit by sunlight filtering through new leafs.  Through dark nights, when the old nightmare that this is the winter that will not end, shocked us from a fitful sleep, we still held to the eternal promise that spring would come, though we had no proof, only an ancient promise.

Today, that promise, the one we held in our hearts, against the odds, has manifest - just as it has every spring since the beginning of time on earth.

May you know the joy and promise of this day, and every day that follows it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Time To Remember

by Bert Carson

For a number of reasons, I had not considered writing an Easter post, and I probably wouldn't have if I hadn't read Stephen Woodfin's blog, Conversations With A Lead Sky, a few minutes ago.

Here's Stephen's first line:

"He had come as far as he thought he could, but still faced the hardest part of the journey."

The main reason I wasn't going to write an Easter blog is, I'm not a Christian.  That's doesn't mean I don't accept the teachings of Jesus the Christ.  I do.  I'm just not a Christian.  Organized religion, in all it's forms, stopped serving me a long, long time ago.  So I stopped looking for Christ in religion, and then I found Christ in my heart.

Understand, Christ is not, and never has been a man.  Christ is a term that signifies the highest state of human consciousness.  Christ was also the state of consciousness of the person the Christian world celebrates this weekend.  The one we know as Jesus.  

What Jesus did was so beyond the grasp of people who lived two thousand years ago, today, and every year in between, that humanity has given him an unattainable position, when, in fact, he dedicated his life to teaching that he was a man - a human man. 

This weekend, like last weekend, and next weekend, I'll contemplate his words, as recorded by his friend John -

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than I have been doing...”

That statement is the greatest promise ever made by one human being to another human being.  It is the promise made by Jesus the Christ, whose state of mind was so aptly captured by Stephen Woodfin in the line, “He had come as far as he thought he could, but still faced the hardest part of the journey.”

Let’s celebrate the fact that he finished his journey, understanding as we celebrate that he did not have to finish, or even begin.

Happy Easter.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Writing Like Hemingway

by Bert Carson

I suspect the majority of people on the planet only come close to death once, and that is the end.

Coming close to death was a constant theme in Ernest Hemingway's life.  It wasn't that he was jinxed, or cursed; it's just that he chose to put himself in harm's way, and then wrote a book or a few stories based on the experience. 

First, fresh out of high school, he volunteered to drive an ambulance in Italy during WWI.  A few months into his tour, he was severely wounded and evacuated to the states.

He reported on the Spanish Civil War, from Spain, and during WWII he reported on the Normandy Invasion from the beach at Normandy, and the Invasion of Paris, from Paris.  Some years later, he participated in two plane crashes while in Africa, suffering serious injuries in both events.

He wrote 7 novels and 4 short story collections, changing the style of literature with his economical, understated style.  In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

I titled this post, Writing Like Hemingway.  I'm not suggesting that you spend your life challenging fate with your willingness to experience life threatening situations in order to write about them.  And, I'm not suggesting that you try to copy Hemingway's style and understatement.  I am saying that it would behoove all of us who write to do so with the dedication and commitment of Ernest Hemingway. 


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Absolute of Writing

The Storyteller 

by Bert Carson

Almost fifteen years ago, I decided to get serious about writing, something I had played at since the sixth grade when I wrote my first short story.  I went down the submission, rejection, agent, road for a while and then discovered and self-publishing.  

A lot of what I've learned about writing is seasonal.  By that, I mean, it changes as time passes.  However, there is an absolute for writers that must be understood and mastered if one is to succeed.  The unchangeable eternal rule is, you must entertain your readers.   

Today a woman told me she had just finished my most recent book, Maddog and Miss Kitty.  I asked, "What did you think of it?"  I figured she would say the usual: "It was good," or "It was great," or "I loved it." 

However, she didn't say any of those things.  She looked in my eyes and gushed, "I didn't want to put it down, and when I had to put it down to do other things, I couldn't stop thinking about it."

After telling me that, she recapped the story, and she didn't miss a single point that I set out to make when I wrote it. 

It doesn't matter how well you know and practice the mechanics of writing.  If you don't entertain, you won't be read.  If you do entertain, you will be read.  That's the absolute of writing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Writing - Credentials

Long ago and far away, I took a Psychology course at St. Johns River Junior College.  All I remember about it was taking a standard IQ test sometime during the final week.  The day after the test, the instructor told me I should join Mensa.  I didn't know what Mensa was and wasn't inclined to find out.

Many years later, I discovered Isaac Asimov. It was love at first read.  After blowing through two or three of his books I did some research and discovered that he was a mover and shaker in Mensa.  I recalled the suggestion that I join Mensa and I decided to do it.

I quickly discovered that you don't just join Mensa.  You pay ten dollars, take a test, and if you are at or above the 98th percentile then you can join.  I took the test.  Qualified. Paid my dues and joined up.  A couple of weeks later, I received a letter from The International Society for Philosophical Enquiry informing me that I qualified for admission to their organization, whose admission standards are higher than Mensa's.  So I joined up with them.

I attended one Mensa meeting and let my membership expire.  I remained active in ISPE for a number of years, ran out of discretionary time, and let that membership expire also.  Carrying those two membership cards didn't keep me from doing fewer dumb things, nor did it make me more aware.  No one asked for my autograph because I was a member of Mensa.  I considered listing the two organizations on my CV, and then I thought about making an announcement on my business cards.  Something simple, like:

Bert Carson, Genius

But, I didn't do that because I realized at an early age, credentials are nothing.  What one does is all that matters, or, to be accurate, how one does what they do is everything.  

Are you a writer?  Letting the world know that you are a "best selling author," or a "PhD," or a "MSU," doesn't change a word, paragraph, or chapter of your writing.

You don't need credentials to write - you do need heart, commitment, passion, intensity, humor, understanding, and willingness to work impossibly long hours, most of which occur long after everyone else has gone to bed - and you had better have been called to the task by something higher than the desire to make a lot of money.   Neither a high IQ or fifteen degrees or a multitude of awards will make you an author. 

I have a sticker affixed to the cover of my old pilot log book.  I put it there to remind me of a truth that applies equally to everything I choose to do.  It says:

"Don't get hypnotized by your own propeller."

You might want to write it on the cover of your log book. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Writing - The Lombardi Method

by Bert Carson

I have spent quite a few of my 70 years watching professional football.  I was raised in the South, and except for a stint in Vietnam, and a year in San Antonio, I've always lived there.  In the days before cable and satellite, there were only two professional football teams that I could get on my tiny TV, the Washington Redskins and whoever they were playing. 

In spite of that, the Green Bay Packers were my favorite team.   Their quarterback, Bart Star played at the University of Alabama, and I studied the team to the point where I felt I knew all the players.  But, the real draw for me was their coach.  I loved, and still love, Vince Lombardi.  He was the Green Bay head coach from 1959 - 1967.  In 1969, "looking for a new challenge," he became the head coach of the Washington Redskins.

Two weeks before the 1969 season started, I was attending a four week corporate training session in Atlanta when I came into possession of a ticket to the Washington Redskin-Atlanta Falcon exhibition game.  I went to the game alone, found my seat near the top of the stadium, but with less than half the seats occupied, I immediately began working my way down toward the field, ending up on the fifty yard line fifty feet behind the Washington bench.  From my vantage point, I immediately noticed the Redskins were clearly having some trouble adjusting to the Lombardi Method.  

Sonny Jurgensen, their quarterback, ten years into a sixteen year career, seemed to be having the most difficulty.  Sonny, a free spirit, was struggling in the face of Vince’s intensity.  Though the Hall of Fame bound quarterback had a splendid day, my memory of the game was watching Coach Lombardi moving up and down the sideline every time Washington had the ball.  On every play, he was shouting at Jurgensen, something the legendary quarterback wasn't used to - things like, "Sonny, you can't play with that beer gut; move it, move it, move it."  I had never seen Sonny play better than he did that day.  In fact, the '69 season was his best in years. 

Vince Lombardi died at 57 just before the 1970 season started.   On several occasions following the '69 season, Sonny said that of all the coaches he played for, Vince was his favorite.  Once, I heard him say wistfully, "Sometimes I wonder what my career would have been like had I played every year for Coach Lombardi."

As far as I know, everyone who ever played for Lombardi, loved him, yet they all had stories about his intensity and drive toward the mastery of the basics of the game.  I didn't intend to include any stories beyond the one I just told, but another one just came to mind that illustrates the point I'm about to make regarding the Lombardi Method.  With a playoff game scheduled for the weekend, the coach of the team that was going to play Green Bay conducted a number of press conferences, taking every opportunity to blast Lombardi.  During the last one, he got caught up in the sound of his on voice and went overboard, announcing that his team would win if Lombardi didn't use some of his famous trick plays. 

That was more than Vince, who had been unavailable for interviews, could stand.  Three days before the game, he held a press conference and announced that Green Bay would only use four different offensive plays during the game.  As he talked, he diagrammed each play on the white board at the front of the room.  They were each unique, and one could not be confused for another.   When he finished, he turned to the reporters and said, "I've sent a copy of each of these plays to their coach.  We will not run any play I haven't shown you and him."

On Sunday afternoon, Green Bay scored on each of their first five possessions, and their opponent scored only once, and that came late in the fourth quarter.  After the final horn sounded, Vince never mentioned the game again.  There was nothing left to say.

Vince Lombardi had a work ethic that was unmatched in football and in business.  He believed in practicing the basics until they could be executed with perfection over and over again.  And, though he said many things that could be applied to authors, one thing that he said that has served me well in many situations when I doubted I could move forward another step was, "The only way I can reconcile a loss is if I know that if we had stayed on the field long enough, we would have won."

I’ve done many in my life, and without reservation or thought I can say that writing is the most difficult job I’ve taken on.  When the going is the toughest, when I wonder if I'm wasting my time, when thoughts of quitting approach on the western horizon, and there is no light in the east, I close my eyes and hear Coach Lombardi shouting at me from the sidelines, urging me on.  When I glance over, there he is motioning toward the distant goal line, and shouting, "Carson, get your ass in gear.  You can do this.  I know you can."

Then through the sweat and grime of effort, with his words echoing through my wasted brain, I suck it up one more time, and move out, heading for my goal.                   


Writing - Old vs New

On the left is the Dairy Queen of small household appliances.  There was a time, not too many years ago, when the percolator was standard equipment in every household that had a coffee drinker.  Like Dairy Queen once owned the fast food franchise business, percolators owned the home coffee making business.

In the early 70's, the first drip coffee makers were introduced.  Because they were faster to set up and easier to clean, drip coffee makers quickly captured the market.  No one, including me, seemed to notice that the coffee they produced didn't taste as good, they all but eliminated the incredible aroma of brewing coffee, and they totally eliminated the perking sound that set the rhythm for a new day.

I might have never remembered what I'd given up when I changed from a percolator to a drip coffee maker if our drip machine had not passed away a few weeks ago.  I searched Amazon for a replacement and couldn't find one that met my requirements.  Out of frustration, I decided to check out percolators.  The percolator in the picture is the manifestation of that search.  Are we satisfied with our trip back into time?  You better believe it. 

What has that got to do with writing?  A lot.  As a group, we writers have taken the drip coffee maker direction in our writing.  We've shifted our focus from stories and characters to impossible scenarios and unbelievable protagonists, all held together by cliff hangers. We’ve given up the heart and spirit of our stories for speed and ease, just as we switched from percolators to drip coffee makers. 
I believe that it’s time, and way past time, to take our writing back to another place – a place of beauty and love, heroes and heroines, and pride and passion.  Listen closely and you’ll hear that idea perking, and if you raise your head and take a deep breath you’ll smell the sweet scent of it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Writing - Find The Ones Who Will

by Bert Carson

This is the first of at least eight blog posts for writers - or anyone else who chooses to read them.  In fact, though I'm going to tell a story and make a point in each of the posts, the subject could just as easily apply to writers as non-writers.  Come along for the ride.  I promise you will find something entertaining, and maybe something that will generate a big aha.

After the Academy Award Presentations, the last I will ever spend an evening watching, as I suspect might also be true for Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis, I Goggled Philip Seymour Hoffman, because he was nominated for an Oscar, and I found a movie I'd forgotten, Flawless starring him and Robert De Niro. 

In the movie, Rusty, a drag queen, played by Hoffman, is giving singing lessons to Walt Koontz, played by De Niro.  Walt, a homophobic, has suffered a stroke and is taking singing lessons to regain his ability to speak.  In the most poignant scene in a movie, which is filled with them, Rusty asks Walt, "What is your biggest fear?"

Walt, in his stroke-impaired voice, haltingly says, "I'm afraid no one will sleep with me."

Rusty, places his hand over Walt's, looks in his eyes, and says, "Honey, some won't.  But, some will.  Your job is to find those who will."

It is estimated that there are 700,000 independent writers in the world.  Every one of us has the writer's version of Walt's fear - no one will read my books.  We have to remember that some won't and there's nothing we can do to change that.  We also have to remember that some will and our business, after writing and publishing our books, is to find those who will.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

We Have A Pope

In the past few days, I've written three, tongue-in-cheek posts about the Papal Elections.  In case you missed them, they are: If Elected I will Not Serve As Pope, For Pope - A New Choice, and Final Recommendations for Pope.

As I mentioned in the first post, I'm not Catholic, in fact, I'm not Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, or a member of any other ideology.  

What I didn't mention in any of the three posts was spirituality is the most important aspect of my life. 

If you are beginning to think this might not be another tongue-in-cheek post about the Papal Election, you are quite correct.  For the past three days while driving, I've been listening to the Catholic Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio.  I thought I was doing that in order to learn more about the election process, but as it turned out that wasn't why I was listening.

Yesterday, I left the house for a fifteen minute trip, turned on the radio, and heard, "We have a Pope..." The announcement was followed by this explanation:  the name of the new Pope hadn't been released, but if I kept listening, in a few minutes, I would not only learn the new Pope's name, I would hear his address to the crowd awaiting his appearance.

Moments later, I heard Pope Francis ask for prayers.  He was expected to bless those in the square, and he did, but first he asked for prayer.  Since then I've learned that he is a Jesuit, a simple man, a man of the people, a man who paid his hotel bill this morning before moving into his new residence, a man who declined riding in the Papal Limo after being introduced as the new Pope, choosing instead to take the bus along with the Cardinals who had elected him.  I've also heard the story of the toast he made to the Cardinals, saying "May God forgive you for what you have done."

I've quit kidding myself about listening to all of that as a learning exercise.  I listened because Pope Francis has roused a hope in me that has been dormant so long I had almost forgotten what it felt like, the hope that someone, somewhere, would appear on the earth and make such a difference that the course of life would shift.

Tonight, I join John the Baptist, who, upon hearing of Jesus of Nazareth, sent men to ask him, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?"  And as I think of how John must have felt as he waited for the answer, I think that I know how he felt. 

Lest you misunderstand what I'm saying, let me say this.  I don't think Pope Francis is Jesus the Christ, but I do believe that he has the potential to change the course of humanity.  Does that mean I will become a Catholic?  Nope, nor will I affiliate with any other religion.  But I will do what Pope Francis asked me to do.  I will pray for him and pray without ceasing. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Final Recommendations for Pope

Moments before they went into seclusion, I advised the 115 Cardinals who will be selecting the new Pope that the Dali Lama, in an email, said he was honored to have my support for Pope, but due to pressing commitments he must decline.  He suggested that I shift my support to Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Be advised, I passed the Dali Lama's suggestion to the Cardinals, with the suggestion that if they select Bishop Tutu, they never allow him and the Dali Lama to travel together - they have far too much fun for Spiritual Leaders.

Since I have reservations about Bishop Tutu and the Dali Lama being together, I suggested an alternative for the Cardinal's consideration.

My thinking is, it's time to simplify things on the planet.  For that reason, my new number one choice for Pope is Mr. Miyagi, known universally for his role as the Venerable Sage, in the Karate Kid movies.  He already knows the role and will play it well if elected Pope.

Mr. Miyagi is the man who said, "Never trust a spiritual leader who cannot dance.  Mr. Miyagi knows how to dance.  Now, I ask you the question I put to the Cardinals, "What else does a Pope really need to know?"

Monday, March 11, 2013

For Pope - A New Choice

As many of you know, after a lot of meditation and serious soul searching, I've withdrawn from the race for Pope.  Now, as is the custom among those who withdraw from a campaign prior to the election, I've decided to give the Cardinals who had planned to vote for me as Pope another choice.

I've meditated and done a lot of soul searching, again, and chosen my successor for the office of Pope.  I won't keep you in suspense any longer.  I've asked all the members of the College of Cardinals who intended to cast their ballots for me, to vote instead for the Dali Lama.

I'm fully aware that the Dali Lama isn't Catholic, few Tibetan Buddhists are.  But face it, he had forgotten that he was the Dali Lama until he was reminded and then he picked it up and ran with it.   Learning Catholicism will be a piece of cake compared to what this man has already learned.

I've also considered all of the issues that the new Pope will have to deal with, and I'm totally convinced that a spiritual leader who overcame China can overcome a few irate Cardinals without breaking a sweat.

But the big reason I'm asking the College of Cardinals to support the Dali Lama is, he is the physical embodiment of everything that Catholics, Christians, Muslims, and Jews claim to be.

Come on, Guys, let's give the real deal a chance.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

If Elected, I Will Not Serve - as Pope

I have heard a reliable report from a source that I will not, for obvious reasons identify, that Tuesday afternoon, the College of Cardinals will nominate and unanimously elect me Pope.  I've spent a lot of time, at least twenty minutes, considering that possibility.   After the lengthy contemplation I've decided that if I am elected, I will not serve.

I know that the task before the Cardinals is overwhelming and shouldn't be taken lightly.  And I also know that the Pope's job is demanding.  Think about just this aspect of it:  He is responsible for praying for a billion souls every day.  I'm not sure, but I think a few key players have been left off his list, but still, a billion souls are a lot to be praying for.

Be that as it may, I'm not afraid of hard work.  I'm going to withdraw from the election for others reasons.  In no particular order, they are:

  • I am not Catholic.
  • In fact, I'm not Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, or member of any other ideology.
  •  At age 70, I'm too young for the job.
  • I do not speak Latin.  In fact, I only speak English, and there are many who question that statement.
  • I've discovered that neither John Deere or Caterpillar markets a line of Papal headgear.
  • I'm married.
  • I've never confessed anything, unless I was caught in the act of doing it.
I have a purpose in writing this post, besides letting my sense of humor out for a walk on a beautiful day.  Two unrelated thoughts clashed in head Friday, as I was meditating over a spinach burrito.  The first was the upcoming election of a Pope and the second was General William Sherman's statement, on learning that was being considered for the Republican nomination for President, "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected."

From that collision of thoughts, another idea was born, as is often the case in my mind, which operates like an atom smasher.  The new thought was, lets pass a requirement that every Senator, Congressman, and President, of the United States, takes this oath when they are sworn in:

Now that I've been elected by the people, I do solemnly vow to never serve them, answer to them, or do anything that might be construed as service in the public interest.  From this day forward, be advised, I only have two objectives: The first is to gather to myself as much personal power as possible, and the second, like unto it, gather to myself as much personal wealth as possible.

With one simple blog post I've saved the College of Cardinals a lot of time, and I've made it clear to the population of the United States that it is wasting its time looking to Washington for solutions to the problems, we as a nation have, that were created there.

Now, with that out of the way, take some advise from my friend, Sam Charif, owner and director of Pink & Blue Daycare in Helena, Alabama - "Children, it is too pretty to be inside.  Let's go out and play."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

8 Sentence Sample

I just read F.C. Etier's blog post, Sex Scene in Seven Sentences, and the note that a writer could enter 8 sentences from a book on The Weekend Writing Warriors showcase contest.  Since I've just dropped out of the race for Pope, I decided to give it a shot, even though have less than two hours to to post the sentences and fill out the application.  
So here goes.
The set up:
The lines are from Lessons Learned, a work in progress.  The book is written in first person.  The speaker is Sam Jordan, a 52-year-old, Vietnam Vet, writer.  The eight sentences are from a conversation between Sam and Sheriff Dan Smith.

The Eight Lines
 Then he asked the first question every Vietnam Vet asks every Vietnam Vet he or she meets.
“When were you there?”
I told him that I’d pulled three consecutive tours, beginning in 1966, and added that I’d been with 182nd Assault Support Helicopter Company, better known as The Big Dogs, for all three of my tours. 

"The first ten months we were at Camp Bearcat about thirty-five miles from Saigon. We were assigned to the the 214th Combat Aviation Battalion, and then we were transferred north.”
He whistled low and said, “Were you with The Big Dogs on the DMZ?”
I hesitated and then said, “Yep, I was there. How so you know about that?”
He stared into my eyes for a moment and pointed to his chest saying in a low voice, ”Alpha Company, 1/13 Regiment, 5th Marines. You guys were flying support for us.”

Friday, March 8, 2013

Venture Galleries - The Wizards

Caleb Pirtle & Stephen Woodfin 
I spent a good portion of the past eighteen months deciding whether to blog from my blogger site (this one) or my WordPress site.

At this moment, I'm using blogger and will probably stick with it because I like it, it's old-guy friendly, and because I've been using blogger for nine years.

While I was agonizing over that momentous decision, my good friends, Caleb Pirtle and Stephen Woodfin decided to create a website that would become the home-away-from-home for writers and readers.  In a line, their objective was, and is, "Connecting Readers, Writers, and Books."

They called the site Venture Galleries, recorded their ideas on a magic sketch pad, and then carried it to a group of web wizards.  The wizards retired to their secret cave for about ten minutes while they hummed their little wizard songs, mumbled a few incantations that no could hear outside the main hall of the cavern, and waved their magic wands, then Venture Galleries was born and everyone lived happily ever after.

OK, if you don't believe all of my story, believe this.  Caleb Pirtle and Stephen Woodfin, two very talented writers, had a vision.  They tweaked it for months.  Then they made a commitment to it: a two part commitment that involved both time and money.  Then they selected their web design team, told them what they wanted, and spent hours, and hours, and hours, and more hours working with them, until the first version of VG went live.

More than one vision has made it that far and quietly passed away into the internet hereafter, but not the Venture Galleries vision.  Twenty-four hours ago, the two visionaries unveiled the latest version of the Venture Galleries vision and on their behalf, it's my pleasure to invite you take it for a spin.  I promise, you will not want to leave, which of course was part of their plan all along.

Sign up for everything.  Bookmark the site.  And, if you are a writer, advertise on the Venture Galleries - the boys from Texas have created a place that will draw the readers that are looking for you and your books.

Friday, March 1, 2013

What to Read?

This Norman Rockwell painting depicts a very lucky kid, at least from my skewed perspective.  He doesn't have to crawl under the cover to keep his reading light from showing under his bedroom door.  There were moment when, hiding under the cover, with a flashlight and a book, I would get so caught up in book I'd come close to suffocation.

Reading has always been one of my greatest joys, from the time before I figured out why a boy would want to be with a girl, and before I got a drivers license, and way before I laced on a pair of running shoes and went out the door to run just for the hell of it.

To put it another way, books were my first love, and they still are one of my greatest loves.  In the beginning, choosing a book to read was easy.  I read everything I could get my hands on.  Today, things aren't that easy.  I can read 24/7, and with a back-lit Kindle there is no problem with the light shining under the door and giving me away, however, how do you figure out what to read?

Four days ago, I posted a blog titled, What Are Your Reading?   In it I mentioned a couple of good sources for book recommendations and invited readers to indicate what books they were reading.  Now, I'm doing it again but with a twist.  I want to know what you are reading, and I'd like to know how you found it, and whether you'd recommend it to a friend, or a stranger, or to your Sunday School Teacher, or your neighborhood serial killer (just kidding).

Trustworthy book recommendations are not easy to find.   If you'd share your source(s) of book recommendations, you might save someone who is out there in the dark, at this very moment, searching for a good book to read.

Thanks for giving up a bit of your reading time to help fellow readers in need.