YA Week Spotlight: Author Chayil Champion

Happy Tuesday, readers!

Today I’m spotlighting a fellow author: Chayil Champion. Check out his bio and books below, and be sure to take advantage of the great prices/specials on his books! 🙂

ChayilChayil Champion, a Chicago native, is the author of several fiction and nonfiction books. He is also a graduate of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, where he competed in both football and track while double-majoring in English and Communications. During that time, Champion developed a strong passion for writing.

His most notable works are “Affiliated,” “Going Pro,” and “But He Said He Was A Christian.” Look for more works from Champion, including his upcoming superhero novels series titled, “Majesties of Canaan” coming Memorial Day weekend in 2016. When he’s not writing he can be found in a 24 Hour Fitness gym somewhere in Southern California where he now resides. To learn more about Chayil, visit his website at www.chayilchampion.com.

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Affiliated (Book 1 of The Lost Souls Series) – FREE

(click on the above link for the blurb and purchasing info)

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Going Pro (Book 2 of The Lost Souls Series) – $0.99

(click on the above link for the blurb and purchasing info)

More books and author spotlights coming tomorrow, so stay tuned! Lots going on for Young Adult week and I’m loving it. Be sure to get something good for your Kindle before the weekend. 🙂

 

 

Rediscover Reading: A 2015 Reading Initiative

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If you’re reading this blog post, you’re doing better than the average American. And, hey…I’m not writing Latin here; this post is probably 4th grade reading material, in regards to comprehension. Are you surprised?

According to DoSomething.org, 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read. And, according to some of the latest stats from the Literacy Project Foundation, 50% of adults in America cannot read a book at an 8th grade level. (Don’t even get me started on how we rank in the subjects of Science and Mathematics.)

It’s obvious we have a serious problem. To have knowledge means to have power, to be better informed. Without furthering our knowledge, which is often done via reading, we risk becoming ignorant, less apt to have an open mind, and foolishly happy to remain complacent with the status quo.

Again from the Literacy Project Foundation, here’s the impact that illiteracy has on our society:

  • 3 out of 5 people in American prisons can’t read

  • To determine how many prison beds will be needed in future years, some states actually base part of their projection on how well current elementary students are performing on reading tests

  • 85% of juvenile offenders have problems reading

  • Approximately 50% of Americans read so poorly that they are unable to perform simple tasks such as reading prescription drug labels

Sobering, isn’t it? Though it’s hard to pinpoint any one cause of the illiteracy epidemic in America, I think it’s safe to say that with the rise of “microwave technology,” where many things are simply done for us without us having to think, efficiency is having a negative impact on the simple pleasures (and necessity) of reading. I am actually in the age bracket of the MTV generation, and remember how technological entertainment steadily took over the minds of the generations after mine.

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I’m not saying that TV or movies or smartphones are bad, but I am saying that many of us have allowed ourselves to send our brains on a sluggish vacation every night to watch hours of TV while playing Words With Friends on our iPhones. There’s an enticing, addictive factor about just shutting down the human computer and booting up the mechanical one. Americans have not really been the best at striking a balance in life, and I know this from personal experience and observation gained while traveling to other countries and studying what makes them different from us.

I’ll admit that I’ve had periods in my life where I didn’t read for pleasure because I was so consumed by work or school. In fact, even though I was writing fiction while earning my undergraduate degree, I wasn’t actively reading (say what?!) until a year after I graduated! I was so burned out from textbooks that my mind needed a long break. However, I’ve always been a reader, and I owe it to my parents who modeled a love of books. Were it not for them, I don’t know what would have eventually gotten me into books. Therefore, I am so grateful to them for instilling such a love for literature, encouraging me to better my intellect while escaping to another world. (Also, I’ve just finished reading book #115 of 2015! N.B.D.)

So, my point is this: a love for reading starts with us. A solution to the problem of illiteracy in America begins with us. We are the role models and need to take our roles very seriously. We need to rediscover reading for ourselves—if we are not already active readers—and help others rediscover or simply discover reading for themselves.

I’m proud to be a part of Cosby Media Productions’ 2015 “Rediscover Reading” initiative. As a media company that runs a publishing branch, a love for reading is of the utmost importance to us—but we also are passionate about playing a part in solving the problem of illiteracy.

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I’m asking you to join our initiative by becoming an active reader, and then finding just one person with whom to share your love of reading. Just one. Why? Because change starts with us, and if we can get one other person hooked on reading, and they do the same for another…you do the math. From just one person’s change, a whole nation, theoretically, could be changed for the better. Will you join me and Rediscover Reading for yourself? Help someone else Rediscover Reading? 

If you want to show your enthusiasm in a BIG WAY, then take it to social media. All year long, we’ll be using #RediscoverReading to show that we’re participating in the initiative, hoping that others will catch on and join the fun. You can also check out the fairly new Facebook page we’ve started for the Rediscover Reading campaign by clicking HERE and adding to the conversation. And, if you’re reading a really great book and want to share, you can tweet it, Instagram it, pin it on Pinterest…the possibilities are endless. Just be sure to use #RediscoverReading when posting.

I’ll do my best to keep things updated here in regards to the latest news for #RediscoverReading. 🙂 Now, your assignment is to figure out what book to read this month, and then who you’ll share it with.

–>Read more stats about illiteracy at: DoSomething.org, Literacy Project Foundation, and StudentsFirst.org.


And…speaking of reading…

My second book, The Wrong Fairy Tale, comes out tomorrow! Woohoo! Shameless pitch: If you don’t know what to read this month, pick up an eBook copy of my book. 😉

You can pre-order The Wrong Fairy Tale on Amazon by clicking HERE. (Paperback available July 14th.) Do if for the kids, do it for yourself, do it for my retirement fund. This is my best work to date, and I am super excited to share it with readers!

Until next time, lovely readers…xx

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Are You Reading Enough?

“You should never read just for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books.’ Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of ‘literature’? That means fiction, too, stupid.” — John Waters

My handsome/amazing/intelligent nephew who, thank the Lord, LOVES to read. (Q, age 8)

 

Let’s Get Real

If you’re a writer, I have a question for you: are you reading enough?

 

Probably not.

 

Do you know that part of your JOB as a writer is to actually READ? There are so many writers, or maybe I should say “aspiring” writers, who would greatly benefit from reading more often. Reading across genres is educational and helps any writer gain more experience for her/his craft.

 

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” —Stephen King

Reading Makes You a Better Writer

I have read over 100 books…this year. Yep, THIS YEAR. I became really convicted last year about not reading enough. Sure, I read about 80-ish books, which was still pretty good, but I’ve noticed something as I’ve upped the ante in reading more this year:

It’s making me a WAY better writer. (Though, I will suggest that the material I write is largely interpreted as “good” or otherwise, depending on my readers.)

 

 

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
—Samuel Johnson

Seriously. It’s like…I don’t suffer from blocks like I used to. The words in my third and fourth books are flowing easily. I’m not making as many mistakes with syntax. And I know it’s all in thanks to not only becoming a consistent writer over the past five years, but it’s also because of all the reading I’ve been doing. Imagine that.

 

“It usually helps me write by reading—somehow the reading gear in your head turns the writing gear.” -Steven Wright

[Click HERE to read an article from Huffington Post Books about the importance of reading as it pertains to writing.]

 

Learning From What We Read

As I read, it doesn’t matter the genre (though I’ll admit I’m way too obsessed with romance books right now—don’t judge!); it matters that I’m soaking in the sentences that are artfully arranged to make me forget that I’m reading, instead transporting me to that world. It matters that I’m taking note of all the heinous grammar crimes and learning from crappy writers—A.K.A. what NOT to do. And, it matters that I’m discovering new writers who may not be as well known, but are geniuses in their own right. Because I want to emulate them while making my own mark as a writer.

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Just Read!

Being an avid reader doesn’t just extend to books, however. It also means reading articles, journals, magazines, blog posts, etc., in order to glean knowledge in general. You don’t have to read about writing, you know. You can read about natural health or how to fix a motorcycle. The thing is…your brain knows what to do as it absorbs new knowledge. But what really sets a writer apart from non-writers is that a writer can learn from anything s/he reads. A writer will take those words and transform them into something else—something useful to her/his goals. Read with a purpose.

 

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
—Ray Bradbury

[Click HERE to read an excellent post by writer Jeff Goins, who probably does a better job than I do of explaining why writers need to read extensively. ;)]

 

“If one reads enough books, one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” — Sherman Alexie

Final Thoughts

I hear this ALL the freaking time: But, Tamar! I don’t have time to read…at all/that much/that often. Look. I get it. I really do. But, as with anything else, you have to manage your time wisely. If you are serious about being even a good writer, you MUST READ OFTEN. We are all busy. Therefore, sacrifices need to be made in order to improve our craft. If an excellent student is one who studies often, then apply that same idea to a writer who reads often. The two go together.

So, what does this mean? Maybe it means cutting back on TV. Maybe it means not playing that extra hour of video games. Or, maybe it means less time goofing around on Tumblr/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest before you go to bed and reading for 30 minutes instead. The choice is yours. Remember that you are in control.

I hope you have in mind what you’re going to read this weekend. [Click HERE to read the list 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read.] I will probably be reading my 110th book. Reading over the weekend sounds like my kind of party. Sign me up!

 

–>By the way, in my next post, I’ll be talking about our 2015 reading initiative at Cosby Media Productions: #RediscoverReading. I’ll let you know how you can take part and join in on the fun. You definitely won’t want to miss out.

For your enjoyment, I’ve provided below some further quotes about reading/writing. After you read them, go and read something! 🙂

 

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” –P.J. O’Rourke

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.” –Author Unknown

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” –Joseph Brodsky

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” —Confucius

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”
—Larry L. King

PS: Want to be friends with me on Goodreads? Send me a friend request!

Note: This number does not include the 8+ books I've edited and therefore read this year.

Note: This number does not include the 8+ books I’ve edited and therefore read this year. I also decided to up my game and changed my goal to 200. Woot!