John Hemingway once said, “there is no friend as loyal as a book.” I am a firm advocate of reading books. I believe, as both an avid reader and writer, that knowledge is power and that there is always something to learn which will in some way make you a better person or perhaps a better writer. Books can be motivational and inspiring or draw us into a magical world that takes us far from our often hectic and lackluster world. Many of us have certain books that are like an old friend we can always rely on for encouragement or allow our minds to become creative.
Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury’s favorite books that most influenced his career were those in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s “John Carter: Warlord of Mars series“. “They entered my life when I was 10 and caused me to go out on the lawns of summer, put up my hands, and ask for Mars to take me home,” Bradbury said. “Within a short time, I began to write and have continued that process ever since, all because of Mr. Burroughs.”
It’s interesting that Bradbury would be a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, since the same author is the one that started it all for me with the book “A Princess of Mars.” I have a very old hard cover of it sitting in my office in a glass enclosed case, in addition to a large number of his earliest paperback books that are prized possessions.
My favorite character from his books that I’ve read would have to be John Carter from the Barsoom novels. He was the most singularly minded person I’ve ever encountered. He was always in control, never faltered, was open and honest and refused to give up no matter how hopeless the situation seemed. He openly loved the heroine of the story and was willing to move heaven and earth to be with her. He inspired me as a child and the books inspired me to become an author. How much more could anyone ask out of a series of science fiction books? Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to be more like him, but I cannot in good conscience say that I find myself in that person’s character. It’s just someone that I desired to emulate. He didn’t remind me of anyone in particular. A character of his caliber was larger than life, and inadvertently caused me to raise the bar of expectation to an unhealthy degree, at least so I’m told.
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
Grab a book and Keep Reading!
Happiness – the often elusive thing that nearly everyone is searching for. We all have different ideas, preferences, and desires for our lives. But after years of scientific research, it has been suggested that certain things make the good majority of us happy. To be more specific, happiness does not result from reaching “bigger and better” signs of success, but rather from looking for contentment from new and fresh experiences in our quest for a life that is considered well lived. So, what kinds of experiences provide the best happiness benefits? Well, scientific study has discovered that these 10 ways will increase your everyday overall happiness:
- Make little changes in your daily routine, such as getting more sleep, exercising, getting out into nature, and meditating.
- Read more books. Read books to learn—research suggests that lifelong learners remain healthy and engaged, and live long lives. Read books as an escape from your everyday life, Read books—it will make you happy. (One of my personal favorites. I have always loved to read, and write as well. Check out my books at www.solitaireparke.com)
- Find your right fit or match, both personally and professionally. If you love what you do and who you are with, you’ll position yourself for personal happiness and professional success.
- Be grateful. Two specific activities help foster a greater sense of gratitude. First, keep a daily gratitude journal. Second, pay a “gratitude visit” to someone from your past that has had a significant impact on your life, and let them know how you feel.
- Smile more—even if you don’t feel like it. Research shows that the simple act of smiling can trick your brain into a happier state.
- Take pleasure in simple, everyday moments. Appreciating life’s small moments, such as a beautiful sunny day, plants sprouting from the ground, and skipping rocks at the beach, teaches you to be more grateful for what you have, especially during moments of stress and anxiety.
- Perform random acts of kindness. Do good deeds. Volunteer. Be charitable. Shop for someone else! Studies have shown that you can help yourself by doing good things for others.
- Spend money on experiences versus things. Studies have shown that buying an object—a car, handbag, or kitchen gadget—can quickly lead to buyer’s remorse. On the other hand, investing in experiences—a concert, a camping trip, music lessons—leads to greater happiness. Experiences create “happiness residue,” and our perceptions of them often get better over time.
- Avoid comparisons. Whatever you may think of someone else’s life, particularly as viewed through the phony, filtered lens of social media, it’s almost certainly messier than you imagine. It’s easier to embrace and learn to love your own imperfections, if you don’t conjure up myths about how perfect everyone else’s lives seem.
- Build and maintain close relationships. Having a small number of tight, meaningful relationships is one of the highest predictors of happiness. (Pets are wonderful companions too!)
We all lose sight of some of the happiness priorities, so don’t feel bad if you do. In this world we battle on a daily basis the relentless marketing and expectations of society that attempt to lead us down paths to happiness that lie somewhere else. We don’t need to over-complicate things. It’s the simple things in life that matter most. Live each moment with purpose and intent – live each moment as if it were your last and enjoy the people around you. You have one life – so live each minute to the fullest!
“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”
The primary location of my book, “The Emerald Dragon”, is in the deserts of the Southwestern United States. So the following is a short description of those deserts for anyone that might find it interesting. My lead character, Tanis, finds it to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The Sonoran Desert covers large parts of the Southwestern United States in Arizona and California, and of Northwestern Mexico in Sonora, Baja California and Baja California Sur. It is the hottest desert in North America, with an area of 280,000 square kilometers (110,000 sq mi). The western portion of the United States–Mexico border passes through the Sonoran Desert. It is home to the cultures of over seventeen contemporary Native American tribes, with settlements at American Indian reservations in California and Arizona, as well as populations in Mexico.
The desert includes 60 mammal species, 350 bird species, 20 amphibian species, over 100 reptile species, 30 native fish species, over 1000 native bee species, and more than 2,000 native plant species. The area southwest of Tucson and near the Mexican border is a vital habitat for the only population of Jaguars living within the United States.
The Sonoran is the only place in the world where the famous saguaro cactus grows in the wild. Cholla , beavertail, hedgehog, fishhook, prickly pear, nightblooming cereus, and organ pipe are other types of cacti found here. Shrubs include the creosote bush, bur sage, indigo bush, and Mormon tea. It also has wildflowers such as desert sunflowers, sand verbena, and evening primroses. There are also desert willows, palo verde trees, ocotillo, and desert ironwood.
The Mojave Desert includes both the infamous Death Valley and slightly less infamous Las Vegas Valley. An existence in the Mojave means coping with a range of extreme conditions. It is considered a hot-cold desert, meaning it’s hot in the summer — but also extremely cold in the winter, dipping below freezing at night. These extremes have led to plant and animal species that are uniquely adapted to the Mojave. The desert averages about five inches of precipitation a year. Death Valley, which is about 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, and is in the Mojave Desert. It is also the hottest and the driest point in North America. In fact, it is the second hottest place on the Earth; 134 degrees Fahrenheit is the highest temperature ever recorded here. This region also consists of several high-rising mountain peaks, like the Telescopic peak, which is about 11,000 feet high.
The desert is home to numerous unique and interesting plant and animal species that have adapted to this arid landscape. Although the Mojave isn’t home to a large amount of plant life, it is home to numerous unique and interesting plant and animal species that have adapted to this arid landscape. It is home to mistletoe, a well-known Christmas decoration, and also to the slow-growing Joshua trees, which are actually not trees, but water-storing succulents. These plants grow to between 20 and 70 feet in height and live around 150 years.
The Mojave is home to the camel spider, the short-horned lizard, rattlesnakes, king snakes, a wide variety of lizards and the desert tortoise. Small desert mammals include the antelope squirrel, the kangaroo rat, jack rabbit, desert cottontail, the coyote, kit fox, and the bobcat. Large herbivores include big horn sheep, mule deer and wild burros. Predatory birds include the red-tailed hawk, barn owl, golden eagle and roadrunner. Scavengers include vultures and ravens. Herbivores include Gambel’s quail and the mourning dove.
You’ll discover a whole new world in the desert at Mt. Drago, the home of Tanis, and his dragon, Demios, in Book One of the Dragomeir Series, “The Emerald Dragon.”
Book Two, “Flight of the Aguiva” will be out very soon! The adventure continues . . .