Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Free ebook: The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment by Thaddeus Golas still reads fresh and powerful more than 40 years later


Many years ago when the world was all green and I was in my 20s I came across a thin volume in a bookstore. It was The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment by THADDEUS GOLAS. Even though it was like, five bucks, but obviously only a couple hour’s read, I still plunked down an Abe and took it home.

This little volume really blew me away those many years ago. I thought it was an elegant piece of literature. It was written in a groovy 1960s style. The concepts presented were profound, but at the same time not lofty, preachy or pretentious. Or I should say, the ideas were lofty without seeming lofty. What Golas was saying was amazing – yet believable – and it made sense to me. It had the ring of truth.

Now, some 30 years later – much older, wiser, more skeptical and jaded – I continue to consider Thaddeus Golas’ book a small masterpiece. More than three decades on, it reads just as fresh. Better yet, the ideas presented here have an untarnished aura of legitimacy and authenticity.

Thaddeus Golas was a Polish-American born in New Jersey, and at first lived what could be called a normal life. His gift for writing was noticed early by his teachers, and as a young adult worked for a while as an editor and in the publishing industry. He served with competence in World War II in the 604th Engineer Camouflage Battalion. He was rejected for service at first because of bad eyesight, but managed to “trick” his way into the Army anyway.

After the war, Golas eventually became part of the counterculture – first a beatnik hanging around all the cool locations in New York, and consorting with other counterculture icons, such as Allen Ginsberg and the soon-to-be notorious Timothy Leary.

Golas’ beatnik days transitioned naturally into aging hippy status, and he moved west and hung out “on the scene,” dropping a lot of acid and scraping by like a classic dharma bum on little or no cash. He wrote this book while “sitting penniless in my San Francisco apartment” he mentions in ‘Lazy Man’s’.

Although he never came close to achieving the legendary counterculture status of a Ginsberg or a Leary, or even someone like Ram Dass, Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment became a major underground cult hit. It was said that Ginsberg and Leary were envious of Golas’ ability to sell books.

How would I describe what’s in the pages of this short book? It most closely resembles Zen philosophy, but mixed in with a smattering of modern physics, some LSD-induced visionary revelation – but mostly, this reads like something that is entirely unique and fresh, even if the most fundamental concepts can be found in other esoteric philosophies – especially the best Zen writings, such as that found in “Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind,” the marvelous book by Zen Master D.T. Suzuki.

The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment eventually went out of print, but it has been recently resurrected by SEED CENTER BOOKS, where you can purchase a paperback version. It’s also available as a Kindle selection – but if you want to, you can read it for free here: LAZY MAN'S GUIDE

Note that the free online version of Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment is not technically an ebook because it’s not formatted in any downloadable formats as far as I can see. You’ll have to read it on your computer screen. But it’s a short read, and even if you don’t like reading straight from the computer screen, it's easy to get through.

Do yourself a favor. Check out The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment. It’s truly a timeless classic. In fact, it gives the concept of “timeless” all new meaning – as you will discover for yourself.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Monday, June 18, 2012

First-time novelist Tarah L. Wolff breathes new life into fantasy fiction with the boundry-pushing "Embraced by Darkness: Sacrifices"


EMBRACED BY DARKNESS: SACRIFICES is a richly feminine, dangerously dark sword & sorcery fantasy epic that often transcends mere genre to become something more – literature -- perhaps even great literature.

Just about every page is redolent with a musky aura of earthy-animalistic yearning and sensual passion.

Also at the heart of this ambitious tale looms the ever-present shadow of the feminine archetype – exploring what it means to be a woman -- and the eternal central dilemma of the female sex. It’s the predicament of womankind since the beginning of time – dealing with the dangers of violent male predation and lust, while also aching for the pleasure and passion of an all-absorbing union with the male archetype.

A latent theme of rape or threat of rape never strays far from the narrative. At the same time, the female characters often willingly enter into intense sexual unions of mind-boggling, soul-shattering pleasure with men … and, yes, even man-like things!

Certainly, a Freudian psychologist would have a field day analyzing the sexual allegory suggested between that of women and horses in these pages. Yes, yes … I realize that a centaur is half-human, half-horse, but the women here seem equally enamored with regular horses and the feel of them “between their legs.” (I put that latter phrase in quotes because it appears more than once in connection with a woman riding a horse). (Also: Just how does a woman have sex with a centaur? Hmmm. Ponder that for a moment!)

But wait a minute – let me step away from pedantic nerd mode to tell the reader that I think anyone can enjoy this this novel on any level one wants to. If you’re looking for an entertaining, sweeping sword and sorcery epic filled with all the props of that genre, you’ll find it: Hunky sword wielding men, gorgeous gutsy women, elves, mythical creatures, dragons, demonic ghouls, a dark lord – it’s all here.

The central plot is strong enough, if somewhat derivative of the genre formula. The characters are sharp, vivid and real; they come alive on the page – even if you find them spiteful, obnoxious or too good to be true – you’ll still care about what happens to them. The background fantasy world is richly imagined. It does what a great fantasy novel needs to do – it takes you away, allows you to escape, to an magical universe that is alive with shimmering wonder.

The pacing is decent, although I’ll stop short of calling this a page turner; it’s actually something better. Some may be challenged by the 400+ page length, but I think most will be eager to keep reading.

Yes, good wins out over evil in the end. (I’m not giving anything away; all fantasy novels end that way). However, what’s terrific about this novel is that those who are “good” and those who are “evil” are not always sharply defined as so – so even in their victory, the reader may wonder if the heroes really deserved to triumph at all.

That’s especially true of Jezaline – one of three primary female characters who anchor the narrative. And the tough-as-nails tomboy Osondrous is an incredible, unstoppable ass-kicker of epic proportions. Oh my, what a woman! Only the saintly Karalay represents what we would recognize as the personification of a traditional heroine -- pretty as an angel, selfless, giving and pure of heart. (I should also give Constance and honorable mention, a kitten-sexy soft beauty who is a visionary with a poetic soul. I suspect Constance will play a large role in the sequel, due out later this year).

Finally, I must mention the writing itself. My friends, this young author, TARAH L. WOLFF, can flat out turn a phrase. She crafts and weaves sentences that are beautiful. The reader will be treated to graceful paragraphs that flow out and glide across the page. True – it’s not consistently thus throughout – but who cares! Often enough, the author seems to “go unconscious,” something “clicks in” and she spins out page after page of marvelous flare and elegance.

If you have a pulse, this writer’s prose will give you goose bumps.

The author’s tells us her goal in creating EMBRACED BY DARKNESS was to push the envelope of the fantasy genre further, taking it to greater heights and perhaps a deeper level significance. Mission accomplished.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pickle Bumps for Baby Dill by Bob Fulton is a delightful children's book with an important and timely message for today's adults and young people


Perhaps the image most people have of a college chemistry professor is that of a no-nonsense scientific-minded guy who demands exacting calculation and laboratory excellence from his students – but when I met Bob Fulton at a small-town arts fair recently, I encountered a warm, avuncular man who developed a happy twinkle in his eye when speaking of his cadre of chummy grandchildren.

BOB FULTON spent 39 years teaching chemistry at the university level, but in retirement, he’s the author of a charming children’s book, enchantingly illustrated by artist MELISSA MEYER. I had a chance to page through PICKLE BUMPS FOR BABY DILL and it’s a pure delight.

It’s the story of a dill pickle who was born slight different – without pickle bumps! (Gasp!) This situation affords an excellent opportunity for the author to address an issue which has been much in the media of late – bullying. So Pickle Bumps for Baby Dill is the story of a little pickle character who stands out because he’s not exactly like everyone else, yet he is embraced within an aura of acceptance by the pickle society he must grow up and make his way within.

Bob Fulton
Fulton rather ingeniously creates a variety of characters – olives and pickles – who have names certain to elicit laughter from young children. There’s Gert and Martin Gherkin, Olive Pitt and Karl Kalamta. It’s funny and replete with tongue twisters to challenge the kids start their enjoyment of reading early – with a timely, positive message of acceptance of those who are different among us.

So Pickle Bumps for Baby Dill gets my best recommendation for those looking for entertaining yet instructive for children. It’s designed to be read out loud and encourages adult-children interaction.

Bob Fulton spent his working life teaching chemistry, and now he has found a way to create a loving chemistry between children and adults -- and also catalyst of acceptance between those who might stand out as “different” in our society.

Further information: PICKLE BUMPS FOR BABY DILL

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Friday, June 8, 2012

An expert author reveals insider secrets about the Amazon Kindle ebook publishing system that self publishers will find extremely valuable


Since I came up through the writing ranks slogging it out as a daily newspaper reporter, I'll apply one of the fundamental rules of basic journalism to this review right now. I won't "bury the lead." So my primary message is that I am recommending this book. It delivers what it advertises, and those who buy it, read it and apply it's ideas, will move their Kindle publishing careers forward.

So get the book. I bet you need it.

In a moment I will air a few qualified criticisms and some minor quibbles - but first a brief overview of what you will learn in this brief offering, AMAZON CATEGORIES CREATE BEST SELLERS, by much published author AGGIE VILLANUEVA

I've been in the kindle ebook publishing game for a number of years now, have learned a lot, but after reading this Kindle book, it made me realize there is still tons of stuff I don't know - and need to know. At least one revelation about a specific policy of Amazon was rather stunning to me. (That's right; I was floored!) It's something I didn't know, but now extremely glad I do.

I also already had a basic understanding about Amazon categories - but Villanueva has obviously been combing through Amazons methods and policies - analyzing everything in critical detail, and what she has discovered is significant and important. Those who want to sell more Kindle books, get more attention, get higher rankings - and get on best seller lists - must have the information offered here.

I'm also extremely thankful to the author for this: After learning how to check how my books were fairing in specific categories - I was delighted to discover that one of my own titles (SECRETS OF A GRANT WRITER) is a best seller in three categories! Woooo-hoooo! That's the kind of encouragement and motivation I needed just about now!

This is also valuable information I can use to leverage my marketing message to get more readers and more sales.

Now: I must say that there is a ton of self-promotion in this book - in my mind, a little more than is prudent. The real useful meat of the book doesn't really start until about 20% in. There are also links, links, links, and more links aplenty sending the reader to the author's other resource sites - these include tutorial videos and more in-depth information that expands on what is being discussed here.

There are two ways to look at this:

1. The cynical person may be turned off by what seems to be a heavy amount of self-promotion. After all, you paid for a book on this topic, right? Shouldn't all relevant information be packed into this document? Why pay an author for a bit of information and then scads of self-promotion designed to drive traffic to the author's other sites?

2. On the other hand: Most of the links are indeed useful to the reader and informative. Certainly, if one follows all the links, one will gain a rich treasury of valuable marketing information that will absolutely help you become a superior ebook marketer.

I'm in Camp 2. That's because I satisfied that the author has managed to create a win-win situation here - she is creating more traffic and interest in her own books and business - but doing it while providing an enormous service and aid to those of us who are eager to not only write ebooks - but get them into the hands of readers - and yes - make some cash.

Would I have included a little less self-promotion and author bio information? Yes, I would have. I have no doubt that some will be rubbed the wrong way by what at least appears to be a lot of self-serving links and promos. That's for all of you to decide.

For me, however, a driven writer and ebook publisher, this book is more than a short education on Amazon categories; it's packed with loads of additional resources that I am glad to have access to.

So I say, without reservation: Buy the book.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA, VOLUME 1