Monday, June 28, 2010

W.B. presents: The Poison Belt

There is a message for us in the creative life of Arthur Conan Doyle, who tried to kill off his most immortal creation.

Doyle got tired of writing the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and wrote a stirring final episode in which the famed detective dies. The public outcry was such that he had to bring Sherlock back.

As an alternative to Holmes' death, Doyle instead breathed life into new characters, notably the bombastic but brilliant Professor George E. Challenger and the three friends with whom he discovers The Lost World. Instead of destruction (killing Holmes), Doyle chose the creative act of assembling an entirely different iconic character.

While the world largely knows Challenger through The Lost World, there are four other tales, three of which are collected in The Poison Belt, my latest little product under the Richardson Press emblem. In the title novella, the four adventurers reunite to face a graver threat than dinosaurs: a section of outer space the Earth is passing through that may result in the death of the human race itself. In "The Disintegration Machine," Challenger investigates an inventor who claims to have created a device that can scramble a person's atoms and then bring him back — sort of an early version of Star Trek's transporter. And "When The World Screamed," the professor theorizes that Earth is one giant living being, and he proposes to get that being's attention. Still to come to complete my little Challenger trilogy: The Land of Mist, a novel steeped in the spiritualism that marked Doyle's later years.

The lesson from Doyle's work: Don't dismiss the good you've done before. Do keep finding new ways to exercise your creative chops.

Challenger is not as immortal as Holmes — but The Lost World and its sequels are still something special nearly 100 years later.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

W.B.'s Book Report: Thou Shall Prosper

Rabbi Daniel Lapin's book is one of those eye-opening, game-changing books. He purports to explain what money is and how money works.

The laws of the marketplace don't change — you can try changing the rules as governments often do, but it won't work. Lapin explains the rules as clearly as I've ever seen, drawing on the ancient teachings of the Torah itself.

Business and money itself, Lapin says, are products of humanity's spiritual nature. As such they only work well when values like trust and integrity are at play. Again, some folks find temporary success with business and money without trust or integrity — but the emphasis there is on temporary.

This is one of those rare books that needs to be read more than once — studied and absorbed. I would be doing a disservice by trying to relate its concepts based on my still-growing understanding.

This much I can and will say: The attitude of our nation's leaders and most entertainment venues toward business and business people is based on falsehoods and a complete misunderstanding of the free market. I knew that much instinctively before I picked up this book, and Lapin does a nice job of explaining why it's true.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

W.B. presents: A Little Volume of Secrets

In the past year I've encountered three remarkable little books that have changed the way I think and approach this interesting experience called life. As A Man Thinketh, Acres of Diamonds and The Science of Getting Rich are all in the public domain and readily available online and in ebooks. In fact, I've downloaded them all and printed them out so that I can read them either on screen or in the old-fashioned way.

But I kept thinking it would be nice to have in one place, in traditional book form. In this marvelous print-on-demand era, that's entirely possible. And in this wonderful print-on-demand world, I don't have to keep this convenient little product to myself.

So here is A Little Volume of Secrets, which compiles these gems by James Allen, Russell Conwell and Wallace Wattles between two covers with a brief introduction by a lesser talent named Bluhm. The title I chose is a not-too-subtle allusion to a more recent book that purports to have uncovered something new about human nature and the universe. As you'll find in these pages, the principles have been there for at least a century and indeed much longer — as ancient as the saying, "As a man thinketh, so is he."

A taste:

Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.
— James Allen, “As A Man Thinketh”

Let every man or woman here, if you never hear me again, remember this, that if you wish to be great at all, you must begin where you are and what you are ...
— Russell H. Conwell, “Acres of Diamonds”

You are to become a creator, not a competitor; you are going to get what you want, but in such a way that when you get it every other man will have more than he has now.
— Wallace D. Wattles, “The Science of Getting Rich”

Warning! Don't expose yourself to these guys if you are perfectly content to live your life the way you've been living it. They definitely will turn your perceptions in interesting ways.

Click here to get a look at A Little Volume of Secrets.