How to Get Back to Enjoying Reading Again
by Tracy Cooper-Posay
Has it been a while since you were really bitten, hog-tied and spell-bound by a book? Do most books seem okay, but not super-duper fantastic the way they used to be even five years ago?
What if I said I could help you get back that charmed feeling books used to hold for you?
I moved from Australia to Canada in 1996 and in the sixteen years I’ve been living in North America, I have never ceased to be amazed at how much work the average person squeezes into their week.
Australians really like their downtime. They guard it zealously. Shops and malls close at noon on Saturdays and don’t open until Monday morning. Weekends are spent playing sports and kicking back and relaxing. The Easter long weekend is a mandated four-day break that sees Australia’s cities almost completely empty out as everyone heads out into the bush for camping and barbecues, because nearly every shop, office and business is shut for the entire four days. Everything comes to a halt and Australians relax.
So Canada was a huge culture shock for me, and my visits to the United States have shown me that the States is just the same, only more so. People here are easily the hardest working people I’ve ever met. Shops are open all weekend, so there is no universal down-time. Easter is just another long-weekend, and the shops are all open anyway (that one really hurt). If you have a nine-to-five job, it’s not really a nine-to-five job. Not the way I was raised to understand them. You work your 9-5, yes, but then you work through lunch, too. And stay after five to catch up. And you have a business cellphone, so you monitor calls after hours and deal with crises. Plus, you only get two weeks’ vacation when you first start and if you’re in a job that increases that time, you might eventually build up to the federally mandated four weeks that everyone gets in Australia.
I worked at Starbucks as a barista for nearly eighteen months. I don’t think I had a two-day weekend that fell on a Saturday and Sunday the entire time I was there. I rarely had a consecutive two-day break even in the middle of the week. Christmastime, I got Christmas day off. That was it.
The reason I mention all this hard work? Today, in 1933, the five-day work week was officially sanctioned by the American Federation of Labor. Before 1933 the standard work week was five-and-a-half, or six, roping in half your Saturday, or all of it.
But it seems to me that sanctioned or not, the five day work week is just the base upon which we pile more and more work. Women in particular have all the additional responsibilities of running a house and child-rearing that seem to fall into their laps, including all the taxi-service duties.
There are thousands of people who work second jobs just to pay the bills, too.
Then there are the undisclosed millions of us who aspire to greater things, and are moonlighting or working away at potential or developing alternative careers outside of our five day work weeks, while still trying to maintain some semblance of a life.
Are you reading this blog at work? On your cellphone while you wait for something else to happen? Are you squeezing in your reading between laundry loads, and are the kids yelling in the next room – or next to you?
In 1933 it was perceived that a five day work week was sufficient to support a family and back then, only one bread-winner per family was needed. If a wife worked, the man was considered weak for failing to provide for his family properly.
Now, we work our asses off and crowd instant entertainment into the cracks and margins of what is left of our lives once the work is done. I finished reading a fiction book this week – it’s the first book I’ve finished in nearly a year. It took me three weeks to read it, reading a screen’s worth at a time on my cellphone whenever thirty spare seconds showed up. I used to read two or three books a week.
We all know life has got faster and busier. I’m not making a new point here.
But you can slow it down.
I won’t dazzle you with lots of science (I’m a geek. You’re going to have to live with that one.) But I will mention Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which demonstrated conclusively that our perception of time is subjective.
Here’s a demonstration. If you’re already feeling a little impatient because this blog starting off in the strangest place, has been meandering on for too long and you want to get to the good stuff, already, like the free book, and how to enter the contest and when is she going to shut up, anyway … Feel that tension in your gut?
Just below the sternum. There. You can even press your fingertips into your abdomen and feel how tight you’re clenched.
Now, while your fingers are still touching your belly, draw in a deep, deep breath, so that your fingers are pushed outwards. Really get the air right down to the bottom of your lungs. Hold it there for a few seconds, then exhale slowly.
Repeat that slow inhale and exhale and really bottom-out your breath, four or five times. Do it properly. Don’t skip, don’t fudge.
All the tension in your gut should be gone.
And the relationship that tension has to time?
From start to finish, you’ve been reading this blog at the same highly efficient speed as you’ve always read. Reading is so ingrained in the adult reader that if I were to ask you to tell me what the colour of this font was: Purple, your first instinct would be to say “purple”, not red, because you read the word before you processed the colour.
But while you were reading the first part of the post, you were tense, worrying about everything else you had to do, and trying to skim through it fast so you could get the gist of it and move on.
With the deep breathing exercise, I just helped you remove the tension. And with the promise of a demonstration, I hopefully snagged your attention fully and completely. You’re now concentrating fully on my words, and processing them completely, rather than skimming or skipping.
The fact is, you’re not reading any slower than you were when you first started reading the post. If anything, your reading speed may have picked up just a bit, because you’re reading more efficiently. Why? Because you’re not trying to do anything else. You’re not multi-tasking. You’re only reading this post, so all your attention is on processing these words.
You’re probably enjoying the reading process, now you’re nice and relaxed, too.
So. It feels like you’re taking your time, slowing down and enjoying reading this post. Yet you’re reading as fast, if not faster, and absorbing more.
Time is very elastic, isn’t it?
Next time you pick up a book to read, try this. Deep breathe, relax and tell yourself you’re going to slow down and enjoy the story. See what happens.
By the way, this works for almost everything. You can slow down time by relaxing and concentrating, whenever you need to. It just takes practice.
PS: Now you get to find out about how to win the free book. 😉 Enjoy.
Tracy Cooper-Posey is an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author. She writes erotic vampire romances, hot romantic suspense, paranormal and urban fantasy romances. She has published over 40 novels since 1999, been nominated for 5 CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award.
She turned to indie publishing in 2011. Her indie titles have been nominated three times for Book Of The Year. She has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at Grant MacEwan University.
She is addicted to Irish Breakfast tea and chocolate, sometimes taken together. In her spare time she enjoys sewing, history, Sherlock Holmes, science fiction and ignoring her treadmill. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line.
Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com
Nial orders Calum Garrett to get close to Hollywood producer Kate Lindenstream. Garrett reluctantly complies for he has held himself apart from humans for centuries. Kate doesn’t fall into Garrett’s arms, either. She already has someone for that. Roman Xerus — whom Kate knows as Adrian — and Garrett go way back to the sixteenth century Scottish highlands, but they parted bitterly two hundred years ago.
With Roman’s support, Kate battles Garrett in wills and business as he methodically forces himself into her life. However, on the closed-in movie set in the Californian desert, Garrett’s calm, orderly world crumbles for Garrett is drawn to Kate. He has begins to experience real, human feelings.
Kate doesn’t cooperate in the chess game Nial orchestrates, despite being unaware of the strategies swirling around her film set. Demanding and expecting only the best for her movie, Kate’s agenda forces Roman and Garrett to work together to protect her and keep the humans around her ignorant of the Pro Libertatus, the anonymous and all-powerful vampire group who nearly killed Nial, Sebastian and Winter, and shield Kate from the excesses of the League for Humanity. But could Roman really be with the Pro Libertatus?
There’s hidden intentions everywhere, and centuries of repressed feelings, along with at least two different groups that mean them harm. Then there’s the rumours that Kate has found the mythical Blood Stone, the key to unlocking vampire history and lifting their curse. Who is Kate, really? Because once Garrett begins to notice, things about Kate don’t quite add up, either…
WARNING: This book contains two hot, sexy alpha heroes, frequent, explicit and frank sex scenes and sexual language.
It includes heart-stopping sexual scenes between the aforementioned sexy heroes, menage scenes, anal sex and the use of sex toys. Don’t proceed beyond this point if hot love scenes offend you.
No vampires were harmed in the making of this novel.
Blood Stone is the second book in my best selling vampire romance series, released September 14, 2012.
The good news? The first book in the series, Blood Knot, is my personal best seller, and also an Amazon #1 Best Seller (Fantasy Romance). If you’re curious about Blood Knot, you can read more here and find the book on Amazon here.
An Excerpt From: BLOOD STONE
Copyright © TRACY COOPER-POSEY, 2012
All Rights Reserved.
Gaining entry to the roof of The Standard wasn’t that difficult, despite the security they had in place. Garrett stripped off his jacket and loosened his tie while he searched out the coolest and shadiest corner, and settled in to wait.
He dug out the sunglasses everyone had warned him to bring to L.A., glad now he’d taken the effort. The sun truly was a killer, here. He hadn’t for a moment thought he’d spend much time outside in L.A., because he’d had wall-to-wall meetings booked.
He didn’t have to wait long. Barely ten minutes after he’d hunkered down in the shade cast by the water tower of an air conditioner, the roof access door creaked open, then thumped almost closed, up against the length of two-by-four he’d used to prop it open.
“Over here,” Garrett called.
“I can smell you,” Roman agreed. He rounded the tower, his leather jacket held over his back with one crooked finger, the wrap-around sunglasses nicely anonymous, like the endless limousines here. He stood over Garrett. “Jesus, Calum,” he swore and shoved his hand into his pocket. It made his biceps ripple, and his shoulder with the tattoos flex. Just the sight of the tattoos on his shoulders, so familiar to him, bought an odd ache to Garrett’s chest.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?” Roman demanded.
Garrett got to his feet. “And it’s nice to see you, too, Roman. What are you passing as at the moment, anyway?”
Roman dropped his coat and tore his glasses off, but the effect was lost when, despite the shade, he had to wince and wait for his eyes to adjust. He glared at Garrett, his hand clenched around the glasses. “What the fuck do you care?” he said, his voice low. “And besides, doctrine says if you haven’t been introduced to me by humans, I don’t get to tell you. Find out the hard way. I’m not a fucking famous financial jerk this century.”
Garrett took off his own glasses and everything righted itself. Colours and vision properly enhanced. He hated sunglasses, but sometimes they were a necessary evil. He pulled his tie off. Outside, without air-conditioning, it was an unnecessary layer, even though neither of them was particularly bothered by the heat.
“Why all the anger?” he asked softly. “I did what we agreed. I stayed away. You’re as big a surprise to me as I am to you, today.”
Roman’s eyes narrowed. Thoughtful, or suspicious. Garrett knew that look of old, and it gave him another strange little jerk, low down in his abdomen.
“I’m not here for you,” Garrett stressed.
Roman’s jaw rippled. “Then what the fuck are you doing with Kate? You’re jerking her around.”
Garrett sighed. “I can’t say.”
Roman half laughed, half snorted in disbelief. “Since when could you not tell me anything?
Garrett grimaced. “I can’t tell you this.”
The humour in Roman’s eyes faded. “What are you into?” he breathed.
Anger touched him. Garrett clenched his jaw. “You know, you can’t just rock back into town after a hundred and seventy-nine years and expect to pick up where you left off. Things change, Roman. Times change.”
“You haven’t,” Roman said flatly. “You might be wearing Armani, but you’re still fiery Calum Micheil Garrett of the mighty Bruce clan, and even now your hand is resting next to the hilt of your broadsword, because you’re on the defensive.”
Garrett dropped his right hand down so it was hanging fully extended, annoyed that Roman had noticed the old instinct. Of course Roman would. He’d lived through those times, too.
Roman gave a small, almost silent laugh in reaction.
“I don’t suppose ye’re about to tell me why you’re hanging about the lovely Ms. Lindenstream, then?” Garrett challenged Roman. He winced. His brogue had emerged thicker than he normally allowed. Roman was pushing his buttons, unravelling his discipline.
Roman’s eyes narrowed. “Hey, I didn’t just rock up here at all. I was already here. This is my town, Calum. You’re the invader.”
“I take that as a ‘no,’ then.”
“I’d do that,” Roman replied evenly. He put the heavy sunglasses back on and picked up his jacket. “You’re not going to back away from Kate, are you?” His tone made it not a question.
“I can’t,” Garrett replied truthfully.
“I can’t give you free rein. It wouldn’t look right, even if I wanted to.”
Garrett sighed, as potential meanings and implications occurred to him. “Is she…important to you, Roman?”
The protective sunglasses were hiding Roman’s eyes from Garrett, and his eyes were one way Garrett most often could spot the real truth behind Roman’s layers of protective shielding. So Garrett knew he was about to be handed either a flat-out lie or a prevarication.
Roman glanced away, toward the roof access door.
Escape, Garrett realized.
“I guess you’ll just have to figure that out along with my name for this century,” Roman said, hoisting the jacket over his forearm. He turned to go, his whole body tight with the need to move. Garrett could see the tension in the ripple of tendons and muscles in his arms, the tight turn of his hips.
“I’ll protect her,” Garrett said. “She won’t be harmed.”
Roman swivelled slowly back to face Garrett again. He took off the glasses once more. “Those sorts of games?” he asked quietly. He stepped closer. “Jesus Christ and all his saints preserve us, what have you embroiled her in, Mikey lad?”
It took Garrett a moment to understand Roman’s second question, because his voice had grown hoarse and guttural. Then Garrett realized: Roman had switched to Medieval Greek, the Greek of his childhood.
He’d let down his guard for one shocked moment.
“English, Roman,” Garrett murmured.
Roman drew in a sharp, surprised breath and pushed the sunglasses back on in a defensive, recovering gesture. He tilted his head in enquiry at Garrett.
“There are forces in play you don’t know about,” Garrett told him. “That’s as much as I can say.”
“Forces,” Roman said flatly. He considered Garrett a moment longer. Then he smiled. “Well, those forces haven’t met me, yet. And you just made sure I’m never leaving Kate’s side.”
“I said she would be safe. I meant it. Have I ever lied to you?”
“Before today?” Roman shot back.
Garrett bent to pick up his own jacket and tie, to hide the petty hurt he knew would show in his eyes.
“Besides,” Roman added. “There’s more to Kate than meets the eye. Don’t underestimate her.”
Garrett straightened up.
Roman had gone.
Garrett headed for the roof access door himself, not trying to catch up with Roman. The meeting was over and to be seen together in public would be dangerous. They had to return to their allotted roles now.
And Garrett had to report in to Nathanial. This was a turn of events that would create some ripples of concern.
As he walked down the echoing iron stairs, Garrett heard a whispering echo of his mother’s voice. It was a memory from when he was a child, and because it was a human memory, it was faded and fragmented. But he caught the sense-impression of a cottage, bright with summer light and the smell of bread baking. His mother stitching one of his shirts as he sat impatiently waiting for it so he could go out and play with friends who were outside, rolling in the grass. “Be slow choosing a friend, Calum Micheil,” she had intoned in her thick burr, “but slower in changing him.”
It had been nearly four hundred years since Roman had become a friend.
Was it time to rid himself of a bad habit once and for all?
– Ends Oct 8th –
Leave a comment answering the question: When was the last time you were really bitten, hog-tied and spell-bound by a book?