Friday, January 31, 2014

Be True to Yourself Or Suffer The Consequences

My eternally beloved has a habit of gathering quotes from the books she reads and writing them down. This week she finished typing them into the computer and sent me the file. This is one that really resonated with me - it took me many, many years to make the right choice.

My advice: If nothing seems to fit and nothing seems right, then perhaps you're just an artist and must be yourself - no matter what anyone else says. As usual you are free to share and use as you like.

by www.joabcohenauthor.com



About the author
Joab Cohen is the author of the psychological thriller The Jewminator and
the vegan action hero novel Captain Tofu and the Green Team (coming soon!)

Follow me on:
Google+
Pinterest
Goodreads

Monday, January 27, 2014

Are You Suffering From Author-Related Data Overload? Here's How To Start An Information Diet

How information overload actually looks like

Are you exhausted? Do you feel dazed and dizzy and overwhelmed and just want it to stop? I'm talking about information about writing. Personally, I've had enough, and in this post I am going to describe how I got to this point and what I intend to do about it. I'll also share with you the principles and details of my new information diet, so that you'll be able to design your own one too.

How it began: About two months ago I came out of the writing closet and embarked upon a mission to make a living as a writer. Since then I have attempted to learn as much as I can about the business of writing. I began with Joe Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, and eventually subscribed to another 16 blog feeds, including the Creative Penn where I downloaded a free copy of Author 2.0,  described as "Your blueprint for writing, publishing, and marketing your book". This document spurred me to begin creating my online platform, and since then I've been busy with creating this blog and trying out various social media avenues, including Google+. I really like Google+, as I've already documented, but it has been my information downfall.  I'm following several writing communities and over a hundred authors, publishers, and book marketers, all of whom generously share their knowledge and experience with their peers. The result has been an avalanche of information, and a few weeks ago a voice in my head uncharacteristically complained: "not another article". It was then that I realized that something must change, that I must bring some kind of order into this chaos that has suddenly taken over my entire life, online and off. So I've decided to go on an information diet, meaning that until further notice, I will read only what I absolutely need to read.

The information you actually need

The first step in an information diet is deciding what you need to know. In fact, this is a principle applied by every intelligence unit (the specific term is a "Request for Information"). Resources are limited, even for large countries, and therefore must be concentrated on the most important objectives. So what are my objectives? As stated above I want to make a living from writing, and therefore I require information in these areas:

1 - The craft of writing
2 - Publishing
3 - Marketing


These can and should be broken down further in order to narrow down the range of desired information.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Should You Adhere to Faith or Reason? Why not Both?

Still reading The History of Christianity and it appears that I'll be a quote machine until I finish it - there are so many great ones in this book.
This one is from the French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal.
The background to this quote is the settling of the religious wars triggered by the Reformation and the rise of a new ideology that used reason to support religious belief, instead of theology and coercion.
Pascal, like many others, saw an inherent conflict between reason and faith. Personally, I think it's best when we realize the limitations of both and apply each at the appropriate time and place. What do you think?
As usual, feel free to share and use the image, which was created this time with PicMonkey.


Related links:
The Search For Truth - A Beautiful Quote
Do You Love the Truth? At What Price?
Cursing in the Renaissance: Martin Luther Shows the Way


About the author
Joab Cohen is the author of the psychological thriller The Jewminator and
the vegan action hero novel Captain Tofu and the Green Team (coming soon!)

Follow me on:
Google+
Pinterest
Goodreads

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Search For Truth - A Beautiful Quote

quote from  English philosopher John locke about the search for truth

I blogged about this yesterday in the post titled Do You Love the Truth? At What Price? but later I thought that this quote is so good it needed something extra. This was also an opportunity to try out the Recitethis site, where you can plug a quote into a template. This is the result, after I added some effects with paint.net. Feel free to share and use as you wish.


About the author
Joab Cohen is the author of the psychological thriller The Jewminator and
the vegan action hero novel Captain Tofu and the Green Team (coming soon!)

Follow me on:
Google+
Pinterest
Goodreads

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Do You Love the Truth? At What Price?

The truth shall set you free

The truth is always a subject of interest for me, since I have been pursuing it for a significant portion of my life, so this quote from the English philosopher John Locke (1632 – 1704) made my heart skip a beat. You can probably divide all of humanity into people who strive for the truth and those who are satisfied with whatever life and society offers them. Where do you stand?

Here's the quote, from the History of Christianity, which I'm still reading and enjoying immensely:

He that would set upon the search for truth ought, in the first place, to prepare his mind with a love for it. For he that loves it not, will not take much pains to get it; nor be much concerned when he misses it. There is nobody in the commonwealth of learning who does not profess himself a lover of truth; and there is not a rational creature that would not take it amiss to be thought otherwise of. And yet, for all this, one may truly say there are few lovers of truth for truth's sake, even among those who persuade themselves that they are so. How a man may know whether he be so in earnest is worth inquiry: and I think there is one unerring mark of it, viz, the not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant. Whoever goes beyond this measure of assent it is plain, receives not truth in the love of it; loves not truth for truth's sake, but for some other by-end.

This is from a treatise by Locke called Essay Concerning Human Understanding, and it is quoted by the author, Paul Johnson, in the context of the end of the religious wars of the Reformation. Now, for a short time, men of reason, moderation, and faith prevailed. They rejected Christian theology, which had caused so much trouble, in favor of what to them was the essence of Christianity: faith and truth, which went hand in hand. For a while, science was aligned with the truth, and all of the new discoveries about nature were considered proof of God's existence, divine omnipotence, and ultimate concern for his creation. To suggest otherwise at the time would have been plain silly. Isaac Newton was the prime example of this marriage between reason, faith and truth, but things went pretty much downhill since then; these days even suggesting that there exists such a thing as the truth can get you kicked out of class in many universities...So do you love the truth and "take pains to get it"?

See also: Cursing in the Renaissance: Martin Luther Shows the Way and The Inquisition is a Laughing Matter, Today.


About the author
Joab Cohen is the author of the psychological thriller The Jewminator and
the vegan action hero novel Captain Tofu and the Green Team (coming soon!)

Follow me on:
Google+
Pinterest
Goodreads

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cursing in the Renaissance: Martin Luther Shows the Way

Martin Luther: master of Cursing in the Renaissance

When I think about the Renaissance, I think of beautiful art, the Age of Discovery, of Leonardo da Vinci and the Sistine Chapel. I did not know that it was a great era for swearing. Actually, I still don't know that for sure, but I do know that at least some people could curse up a storm, including the great reformer, Martin Luther. I know this because I'm still reading The History of Christianity by Paul Johnson. This is another post about the book, in what looks to be a series of them, because it is completely fascinating.

Anyway, Johnson is describing the period just before the Reformation, when scholars were still arguing about what should be reformed and how, and it turns out that they had some pretty nasty things to say to each other, which are also, in my mind, pretty funny. Thus, when Erasmus was attacked by the (later) Archbishop of York, Edward Lee, this was his supporters' rebuttal:
"You filth, if you do not beg forgiveness of Erasmus, I shall throw your name, like a piece of shit, across the frontiers of posterity, that people may remember your stench forever".

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Inquisition is a Laughing Matter, Today

History of Christianity: the Inquisition

As part of my never ending quest to understand Western civilization, I'm currently reading The History of Christianity by Paul Johnson. Here he is describing the establishment of the Inquisition, its purpose and techniques. When I read this I was immediately reminded of the famous Monty Python skit The Witch, from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I remember watching it as a teenager and I was literally rolling on the floor with laughter. Anyway, here is the quote from the book and a video of the witch trial, and here's to hoping that our civilization isn't retreating to those dark times, even though it feels like it sometimes...

In the 1180s the Church began to panic at the spread of heresy and thereafter it took the lead from the state…the codification of legislation against heresy took place over half a century, roughly 1180-1230, when it culminated in the creation of a permanent tribunal staffed by Dominican friars…it had a certain vicious logic…convictions of thought crimes being difficult to secure, the Inquisition used procedures banned in other courts…the names of hostile witnesses were withheld, anonymous informers were used, the accusations of personal enemies were allowed, the accused were denied a right to defense or of defending counsel and there was no appeal. The object, quite simply, was to produce convictions at any cost; only thus, it was thought, could heresy be quenched.
The total Christan society of the Middle Ages was based on an intense belief in the supernatural. It tended to live on its nerves. Lacking any kind of system for determining the truth scientifically and objectively, society was often bewildered.

Here is an excellent example of the comic possibilities in such a society (as long as you do not actually live in it):



About the author
Joab Cohen is the author of the psychological thriller The Jewminator and
the vegan action hero novel Captain Tofu and the Green Team (coming soon!)

Follow me on:
Google+
Pinterest
Goodreads
Facebook


Monday, January 6, 2014

Insomnia: 7 Effective, Natural Methods of Coping without Sleeping Pills

insomnia scary

Our household has been "celebrating" Insomnia Week: I finished reading a book about sleep, claiming that a quarter of Americans suffer from insomnia; I happened to come across a 6-minute video detailing an overly complicated meditation technique to help people fall asleep;  I woke up (again) in the middle of the night after dreaming a complete short story and lay awake wondering if I should get up and write it up right then and there, or go back to sleep; and finally, my ever-loving wife is so busy on a rush project that I'm beginning to wonder if I accidentally married a vampire...so this seemed to be the right time to blog about insomnia. In this post I'll offer my own simple, natural solutions to insomnia, and along the way I'll share some current data I gathered concerning insomnia and sleeping drugs.

Prevalence of insomnia: In a brief paper from 2007 titled Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences , Dr. Thomas Roth writes that :
Estimates of the prevalence of insomnia depend on the criteria used to define insomnia and more importantly the population studied. A general consensus has developed from population-based studies that approximately 30% of a variety of adult samples drawn from different countries report one or more of the symptoms of insomnia: difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, waking up too early, and in some cases, nonrestorative or poor quality of sleep.
I am actually surprised that the number of suffering people is so low, since I can't recall the last time I met someone who can claim to be sleeping so well that he or she doesn't need a cup of coffee to get going in the morning. Unfortunately for writers, the news gets worse. According to The Great British Bedtime Report from the UK's Sleep Council,
Those who work within arts and culture are the most likely to be kept awake at night through worry and stress, and are also the most likely to go to bed after midnight.
This may be related to the fact that in the same study, lower income was clearly linked to more sleep problems, so not only do the rich get richer, they also get more sleep!

Clearly, then, this is a problem affecting many people, including myself.  I primarily experience trouble falling asleep either at bedtime, or if I wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes I also do not sleep well. After studying these phenomena on myself, I have come to the following conclusions and solutions. I have no idea if they are applicable to other people and their circumstances, and the rest of this post actually rests on the (somewhat shaky) assumption that I am as human as everyone else.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Neat Book Review #9: All Things Possible by Kurt Warner



Kurt Warner: Faith, Family, Football

Plot summary
This book tells the remarkable story of Kurt Warner, who somehow managed to become a wildly successful NFL quarterback (from 1998 to 2010) despite being undrafted and overlooked at every stage of his career, beginning from high school till the NFL itself, and despite many other hardships and obstacles he endured in his private life. The book plays on three separate themes: Kurt's faith, his relationship with Brenda (his outspoken and brash wife), and his football career. The three themes are intertwined, because as Kurt understands his life, he would not have succeeded without his faith, and he would not have acquired such a strong faith without the help of his girlfriend and later wife, Brenda. The book is laid out in chronological manner, describing Kurt's life from his childhood and up to winning the Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in 1999, with a significant section in the middle devoted to his relationship with Brenda, her family, and her children during the tough period when he had no job, no money, and no realistic hope of  realizing his dream of making the NFL.

My opinion
I will begin by admitting that I really like Kurt Warner. I had seen him on TV as a quarterback and he always struck me as a very nice, humble guy who came across as extremely authentic, a value I cherish, perhaps above all others. When I learned about his background, I knew that I had to read this book and I was not disappointed.  This is a very inspirational story, a true "rags to riches" tale: Warner grew up in a divorced family, with barely enough money to buy clothes and eat food, and his path to success in the NFL was extremely tortuous. Kurt is also very outspoken about his faith and his relationship with Jesus. Personally, this does not bother me. I am a believer myself, and I completely understand the role of faith in overcoming the suffering and hardships that life throws at us. About a quarter of the book describes his first year as a starter with the St. Louis Rams and this part will probably be interesting only to football fans – there is some amount of football jargon and explanation of routes and schemes that only knowledgeable fans will understand and enjoy. Of course, I loved it.