Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Get Your Copy of "I'm Trying Here," Now in Print

After two months of writing, another couple months of editing, an additional month of formatting, a few weeks of procrastination I released the e-book version of my book "I'm Trying Here" almost 5 months ago. The writing itself seemed to be easier than the subsequent marketing and shameless self-promotion that would follow. It has been my goal since day one to get my book printed, but I soon realized without any connections in the literary world, without a literary agent, or any previously released titles I was a bit rudderless. After dozens of submissions to publishing companies, I learned a few things. The first is that most major publishing companies do not actually accept unsolicited manuscripts from unknown authors. The other discovery was that many "vanity presses" exist. These are publishing houses that will print your book for you if you just give them a pretty little check with some commas in it. After reading blog post after blog post, and various e-books on getting published, I decided to self-publish. Amazon facilitated my dream, and the talent and support of many others allowed me to finally create a print version of my book; a book you can hold in your hands, something tactile, something you can smell and write in.

Now, a little news on how to get it. People enjoy their literature in different forms, so the e-book will remain available ($2.99) as well as the new paperback option ($8.99). The e-book is available immediately on Amazon, and can be found simply by searching "I'm Trying Here" by Taylor Church. The hard copy will be available on Amazon in a little under a week, in the meantime it is available on Amazon's sister company CreateSpace. To find it there, click here

For those of you who are not fans of Amazon, and hate whipping out your credit card and deciding on regular or expedited shipping I will have a consistent stock of 10-20 books at all times, as soon as October 6. So, books can be bought directly from me. You are welcome to send me an e-mail or personal message on Facebook if that is the route you wish to take.

As always what makes the book succeed is word of mouth and positive feedback. A review on Amazon or Goodreads is almost more valuable than the four dollars I receive per purchase. And telling a friend can get the stone rolling down the mountain. So if you read the book, and enjoyed it, please tell your friends that are familiar with the concept of reading, and take the two minutes to leave a review online, even if it simply says, "A good read," or "I liked it."

In the coming months I have scheduled various book signings and other events, along with a new website to promote the book and other upcoming projects. So stay tuned. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Waxing Religious: What I Want vs. What I REALLY Want

I try not to get too religious with my musings and narcissistic rantings, but when I philosophize on things I find to be important, my beliefs have no successful way of hiding. You can’t effectively drown a rubber ducky, it will eventually float back up. I likewise cannot seem to submerge my religiosity without it returning to the surface at some point. But as is always the case with such texts, you can choose to stop reading the second a word makes you uncomfortable, or you can try to glean from the material something of value and interest for yourself. Just because the writer believes something, does not mean that the reader must be coaxed into a similar belief system. Literature is meant to open the mind, erase worries, and elicit never before-had thoughts.  With that under our cognitive belts, let’s get to the crux of the matter.

There are two things in this world that I want, and that I constantly want, and only recently have I been able to categorize them into two very basic groups: The things I want, and the things I REALLY want. Mind you, I am not prone to using all caps, so this was a big revelation for me. I’ve found that in almost all of my day to day decision making, in the things I desire, there are but these two degrees of want. But what is the difference? The word really, even with its brazen uniform of all caps is not that descriptive of a word. All really really implies is an entrance into reality or actuality. So when I say “I want to take out Susan this weekend” versus “I really want to take out Susan this weekend,” the only noticeable difference is that one seems more real, more genuine, more important

Here’s where I wax religious. To me, the difference in these two types of wants lies in the eternal perspective. I believe my choices will have eternal consequences, and what I REALLY want is usually indicative of an eternal desire, something I know will last and not just satisfy immediate urges.

Let’s kick a scenario. Let’s say there is someone I am courting, and I want to be intimate with them. But I also want to remain chaste, as my religious conviction reminds me. What do I do? I want to be intimate with this girl, but I want to maintain a modicum of chastity as well. So, I ask myself the simplest of questions. Which do I really want? Which choice will elevate me in the grand scheme of things? It seems like such a silly and almost ridiculous thing to have to stop and ask yourself. But I have found it helpful when contemplating what I really want. For me it is not so much a question that I ask myself before I do anything, but rather a question that remains in my head in moments of reflection and introspection. Is this something I want to keep doing, or something I REALLY want to keep doing? It’s similar to the Good/Better/Best question. Just because something isn’t abhorrent or stupid it doesn’t make that thing the best possible option. And so it is with the “What I want vs. What I REALLY want” question.

We have a tendency to think that the majority of our decisions are trivial and inconsequential in the eternal realm of things, but I think paying closer attention to the little choices, the smaller hinges that turn the wheels of our lives will prove to be greatly beneficial.  Whether you believe in an afterlife, or not, a supreme being or not, or if you just believe in the power of yourself, it isn’t a bad idea to reflect on what’s REALLY important, and if what you so often claim to want is what you REALLY want.

Thomas Wolfe, a modern writer believed deeply in the principle of small acts, the reality of all we do having a relative consequence to the future. His prose sung true in 1929 as he said,

 “Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas.”

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Walking Through Auschwitz

It has been far too long since I have posted. In this inexcusable time of absence I traveled to Europe, gallivanted in California and enjoyed some other wanderings here and there. My first book I’m Trying Here has been out almost three months and is having moderate success on the e-book circuit. But now it is time to move forward. I have been working on several projects and have simply been waiting for one to take some form of momentum.

My moment of clarity has arrived, and I am 11 pages into my second novel. It will be a cross-breeding of genres type of book. It will be a true account of my experience visiting Auschwitz in Poland. Part of it will be historical context, the other part will be motivational/philosophical i.e. what can we learn from studying or experiencing tragedy? What benefit can come from learning about evil and hatred? These are questions that have hibernated in my mind for years, and now I wish to better articulate my inquires, and posit them for all who wish to read.  I don’t want to give away too much yet in terms of motifs and plot structure, but like I said, above all it will be about the Holocaust, and my personal dealings with history. Below I will mention a few salient experiences from my trip to Auschwitz.

I have read dozens of books on the Holocaust, and about concentration camps. There are few things I don’t know about the general history of the Nazi regime and their accompanying plans of horror and destruction. Alas, there is no way to prepare for entering these camps. There is no way to understand the gravity of the events taken place without walking in the paths of history, and experiencing it with your senses. Listening to things about life and the world is important, reading about these things is imperative, but being there, experiencing them is an unparalleled sensation. A man can learn a lot by listening to a suave Casanova ramble on about dating, maybe even more so by reading a book on the subject. But you will learn exponentially more by asking girls out yourself, or by going on a double date with this putative master of dating. This principle holds true for almost any area of learning. Experience, and presence trumps all else.

At Auschwitz, where literally millions of innocent people died decades ago, I myself paid money to enter the horrid gates. At the entrance, engraved atop in iron with ironic morbidity are the words Arbeit Macht Frei (Work sets you free. Our tour took many hours, and yet I was rather upset that it ended so quickly. The camps are vast and overwhelming. I was maniacally taking pictures and trying to take in the moments, all the while trying to imagine the impossible hardships of those who walked those barracks, gas chambers and fields some seventy years ago.

Certain things touched me in a way that will resonate with me forever, in a way no book could ever provide. The exhibits that displayed the things that the Nazis seized from the Jews and other prisoners upon arrival were absolutely harrowing. I knew they would take all of their personal items, their shoes, their glasses, their prosthetics, and even their hair, but seeing it up close, behind glass was something that left my stomach unsettled and my eyes full of water. Specifically the hair; the hair that was violently shaved or cut off by Hitler’s henchman was hard to look at. You could see tiny ponytails and little piles of hair that were clearly that of children. It made my heart churn and weep.

I could go on for pages, but I will save my narcissistic mutterings for my book. All I know is that visiting those haunted grounds changed me in a beautiful and existential way. And though you may not ever have the opportunity yourself, I hope you can have similar experiences that change your view of the world, and inspire you to do good, to do better. 

I am working hard on this book and hope to have it finished within the next few months. Thanks for the support, and let me know if you have any questions. As the book progresses I will post periodical excerpts like I did with my first work. Cheers & adieu.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why Are We So Unsatisfied With Life? How to Rid Ourselves of Insecurities

The last few years of my life, for whatever reason, I have become more keenly aware of a flawed human tendency. It seems that everyone struggles in some capacity with insecurities. This is normal, right? Of course it is, but I would posit that we can eliminate the majority of our insecurities by doing one thing.

Pastor Steven Furtick said it best, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Now it is human nature to compare ourselves with other people. People are annoyingly ubiquitous and there is no getting around it. In our quest to become better individuals and progress in society we look at what we are accomplishing or doing, and juxtapose it to those around us. But as Furtick opined, perhaps this is a perilous practice if we are not careful. Don’t get me wrong, it can be a very positive thing to compare ourselves to others with the goal of self-improvement. Oh the wondrous things we can glean from the amazing souls around us. Wherein lays this insidious problem then? The problem is we rarely see the struggles people go through. We do not know who is furtively depressed. We do not know who feels utterly pummeled by the cosmos. This is of course mostly because people do not usually broadcast there woes. And if they do, we usually find these proclamations as pathetic and a little woe-is-me in nature.

Generally people post about the great things in life through social media. Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram we see vacations, great food, and timeless friendships. We see love and magnificent activities. But do vacations and fancy eats equate to felicity? What about the other side: What about the hard times we all go through? People do not usually advertise their broken hearts, their weary minds and their cracking moods. We don’t see everyone’s lonely nights. We don’t see everyone’s indecision and muddled thoughts. We see the glory, and the good. But do hard times equate to a poor quality of life? Do difficult moments make our life inferior to another’s?

Truth is, we all go through things. We all have dark alcoves that we don’t like visiting. We all experience hurtful things we don’t want publicized. But it is so easy to look with envy at those luxuriating around us, those seemingly bereft of stress or any notion of sadness. Again, this is a flawed practice. We are being slightly ridiculous if we think people are not out there struggling like we are. The problem is we don’t know fully any one person’s struggle, yet we know all too well the intricacies and gray corners of our own trials.
In an attempt to rid ourselves of at least a modicum of our own insecurities, let’s remember the following: It is a sign of great maturity and a progressive mind to be unsatisfied with the status quo, to be uncomfortable with conforming and disdainful of mediocrity, but sometimes we take that desire too far.
One more time for repetition…

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”