Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book Review: 'Following My Thumb' by Gabriel Morris

Life is serendipity. I donated a sum to Gabriel Morris in exchange for his seven books in PDF format. Whenever possible, I prefer to deal directly with the writers/authors so that they can earn more from their hard work. I did not expect to read his books so soon. I was just grateful that a YouTube video of his had inspired me to write that December 2015 blog which was an update for my own book 'The Dance of the Chi.' Please see: 'Feedback Loops.' 

Then a 30-ish female friend shared her wish to travel and explore on her own. I already know the dangers of traveling and the disadvantages of doing anything alone from years of communicating with budget travelers who crossed my path in Penang. Hundreds of them. Since I couldn’t talk said friend out of this wish to travel alone, I decided I would read Gabriel’s travel books and highlight with notes the passages I think my friend should read to be better informed of the journey she is bent on making.

Gabriel had said that he wouldn't mind my sharing the PDFs with family and friends so I was motivated to read Gabriel's books immediately (rather than years later) so that I could help my friend out since English is her third language after our native Chinese and our national language, Bahasa Malaysia.

Reading the first book 'Following My Thumb,' I get the impression these “daredevil” travelers put themselves in harm's way in order to feel alive. They seem to need to live “on the edge,” to challenge the limits of their awareness and survival capacity. Every decision, every day, leads them to joyful or painful experiences. To these travelers, life is an adventure or nothing. Some of them have died on these adventures; others have "found" themselves.

By contrast, I see that most people on the planet are already forced to be in this "survival mode." Most people are already challenged every day of their lives to make correct decisions for their joy and happiness factor. Most people can and do "find themselves" in the throes of everyday living and dying. Most people do not have to purposefully "create" dangerous situations to test their survival skills. Simply living life, playing well the cards that were dealt them by the forces beyond human control is enough.

Did I like the book? I found the reading easy and entertaining. I finished it in two days, cover to cover. Not easy for me considering I read on my laptop. I spend so much time on the laptop that when I am not working, I prefer to be away from my computer.

I have chatted with many budget travelers in my life but reading this book was a different experience. I appreciated the writer’s way with words (I mean, he had a word for everything!) and his insights were worthy of my time. It’s not lost on me that according to my horoscope transits, 2016 is the year I venture on some travel. I couldn’t imagine how I would manage this as I have commitments and responsibilities that don’t allow me to leave home much. So I now understand that the timing of acquiring Gabriel’s books is such that I will be traveling vicariously through his sharing. His stories and story-telling together with my imagination make me feel I am taking the journeys myself. I feel like I have indeed traveled. Minus all the fuss, stress and dangers.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Writer or Author?

I’ve been spending lots of time on Facebook Writers’ Groups and taking in the various posts. The impression I get is that Amazon is not for me at the moment so I’m happy to continue doing what I’m doing which is offering my books on my own website menakoo.com for sale. Working on my next two books to complete my bucket list is a lot more challenging than writing the first two. I find the technical and business end of publishing books very distracting. 

So far, there was only one negative feedback and it was a customer who was not comfortable reading e-books on any device other than a Kindle. As well, many e-books are pirated so my e-books are encrypted with a password and watermark, which I’m told disallow features like highlighting and making notes. We are working on allowing readers to highlight and write notes. 

The world of self-publishing is so competitive but I’m in a very small niche so I don’t have to deal with hundreds to thousands of competing books, all fighting for attention. That said, my books are not exactly popular reading material. I can’t reverse engineer this process by figuring out first what genres sell and then write for those markets. I write what I have lived. I write what I know. It is what it is.

Writing Different Realities is not as exciting when compared to writing Changing Orbits and The Dance of the Chi. Writing my memoir and the “chi” book was a process of tapping into my inner self and also the collective. I had to be in a “writing zone” 24/7. It was like living in a cave. Different Realities is moreorless about sharing other people’s stories and research. It’s a more academic exercise although I am both author and writer in this one. What’s the difference between an author and a writer? Please see this article:  http://www.differencebetween.net/business/difference-between-author-and-writer/.