The Netflix Problem

As of 2013 there were more than 100,000 hours of streaming content on Netflix. Assuming you went overboard and spent an average of 5 hours a day watching Netflix, it would take you 54 years to watch everything. Who would have thought the day would come when, for ten bucks a month, we could have access to more screen content than we could consume on a screen in a lifetime? And that’s to say nothing of the almighty DVR, constantly recording between three and seven things I really must watch.

When I was growing up I worked for a week around the house to raise the money for a movie, and then got on my bike and rode five miles to the mall in order to see it. I waited very impatiently for Tuesday night’s episodes of Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. If I could have watched five seasons of Fantasy Island in a handful of marathon sessions, I would have done it. Twice. And like any enjoyable habit, I would have repeated this entertaining process with more and more content.

Is it just me or have shows have gotten better at drawing us in, paying off cliff hangers faster, making us gasp, making us want to come back, pointing us to the next thing we’re going to love? It’s hard to quit a show once you get sucked in, and the habit of always having a show waiting for us at the end of the day is a real thing for most kids and teens and adults.

The only way this habit shifts to a book is if I have the willpower to choose a different path and stick to it over the long haul. It’s easier and more natural turning to my phone or my iPad for a show or a movie, and it’s all basically free and at my fingertips. Reading for an hour every day is way tougher than watching one episode of Breaking Bad.

So far in 2014 my habit has been to crawl into bed after two episodes of Dracula and crack open a book for the first time as my head hits the pillow. I fall asleep approximately 7 minutes later.

If reading is a priority in my life, a moral imperative, then I can’t get into a habit of making it the last thing I do at the end of an exhausting day.

I think I’ll make my 2014 resolution now: don’t watch a TV show or a movie until I’ve read for an hour every day.


School Library Journal TREMOR review

We like – thanks SLJ!

The second book in this engrossing and suspense-filled dystopian trilogy picks up where the first title left off. Faith, still angry and looking to avenge the death of her best friend, is learning to use her supernatural abilities for the upcoming battle with villain Andre; his brutal wife, Gretchen; and their evil twin offspring Wade and Clara. In her corner, the teen has the calming influence of Dylan, her boyfriend and fellow second pulse (a person with a superpower that renders them nearly indestructible), and her nerdy, faithful pal Hawk. A scouting report reveals that the nefarious family is holed up in a maximum-security prison in Colorado. In a reverse tip of the Luke Skywalker hat, Dylan enters the compound to tell Andre that he is his biological father. Although the evildoer is noticeably softened, he cannot allow his son to dissuade him from his mysterious criminal plan. The conflict between the desolated Eastern states and the strictly government controlled Western states takes a backseat in this volume. Instead, the focus is on the main characters, along with their allies, as they attempt to save the world while dealing with secrets, lies, and their own personal limitations and weaknesses. The conclusion sets up an exciting, climactic confrontation in the final volume, for which fans will be eagerly awaiting.–Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT

A bunch of questions I answered

I answered these questions for an event in Texas and they seemed worthy of a post here. Enjoy!

 What is your favorite hobby ?

I usually answer fly fishing, because I’ve been doing that for like 25 years. I sometimes fish with David Shannon and Jon Scieszka, two writing buddies of mine, and I always catch more fish. Always. My new hobby is golf, because it’s very difficult and I like a good challenge. I stink at golf. My new-new hobby is Pickleball. Pickleball is something between ping pong and tennis and you play it with a wiffle ball and a wooden paddle. Pickleball is more fun than candy.

Do you have a special talent as a jump roper, hula hooper, skateboarder, etc.)?

I juggle. This is so wrong, but I once juggled three neighborhood kittens. They were fine, but I shouldn’t have done that. All three survived, but the one I dropped didn’t like being picked up for about three days after that. This is a true story.

What is your favorite snack ?

Ice cream. Obviously! So many flavors, so little time.

Are you a Dr. Pepper, Starbucks, etc. addict?

I do like a cup of coffee every morning. And a pop tart if I can find one.

What was your 1st paying job?

Mowing lawns and picking up Christmas trees after they were done serving their purpose. Lawns in my neighborhood paid about five bucks. Taking a tree away was about the same.

Did you ever fail any classes in school? If so, which ones?

I went to a Catholic school. To my knowledge no one ever failed a class at that school. The guilt would have been too overwhelming. It was the kind of guilt that could knock you off your feet so you’d lie there for about a month and just die of guilt and starvation. No one wanted to go there. It was scary.

How many rejection letters did your first book receive?

Enough that I stopped counting. Like 30 or so.

What was your favorite book and movie as a teenager?

Favorite book was Frankenstein or The Once and Future King or The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh. Favorite movie was Sixteen Candles and for sentimental reasons The Warriors, the first R rated movie I snuck into. It was in theaters in 1979, so I would have been 13. Oh, and my brother and I tricked my mom into taking us to the drive in for Saturday Night Fever when my dad was out of town. 1977, so I was 11. There were quite a few f bombs and sex scenes in that movie so my mom was like…I thought this was about dancing? But she stayed, so that was weird.

What is the scariest book you’ve ever read?

It’s a tie between Salem’s Lot and Ghost Story.

Who was the 1st person you called when you realized your 1st book was going to be published?

My beautiful, brilliant, amazing wife – her name is Karen. She’s my best friend.

What is on your bedside table, or what do you see when you look out the window of your favorite room in your home?

On my bedside table: a half eaten Ricola throat lozenge is stuck next to the lamp, but later on tonight if I wake up and my throat is dry, I will pry it free and put it in my mouth. I will not remember this event in the morning. There’s also a stack of books that includes The Art of Pickleball and The Interestings. The Wednesday New York Times crossword is sitting on top of the books, approximately 20% finished (I feel confident 20% of that 20% is wrong). A pencil. A glass of water. And now that I look more carefully, there are two half eaten throat lozenges. Wait, hang on – now there’s one. Yum.

What was your 1st car?

Chevy Monza with a stick shift! Also the doors would only close if you really worked at it, so I almost never opened them. I entered through the window Batman style.

What are the top three songs played on your I-pod/mp3 player?

Feelin’ Alright – Joe Cocker

Awake My Soul – Mumford and Sons

Fare Thee Well – Oscar Isaac

Complete this sentence:

I knew I loved/hated high school when….

I knew I hated high school when I realized dancing was harder than it looked, especially when the play list ran heavy towards songs like Back in Black and I Can’t Drive 55. Note: our school dance DJ’s were, generally speaking, total nimrods.

TREMOR Available now

Tremor, the second book in the Pulse trilogy, is out! In the year 2051, some people have a second pulse. Like all who have “the pulse,” Faith Daniels and Dylan Gilmore have telekinetic powers—they can move objects with their minds. But there are five second pulses in the world who have an even greater power: They are virtually indestructible. Both Faith and Dylan have the second pulse. As Dylan executes a plan to infiltrate enemy grounds, he’ll have to face his only weakness—and a family secret that will threaten his very existence.

Watch the trailer here:

Order wherever books are sold.



New Comments

  • Mason brock
    Just finished Tremor. Please tell me the next book will be out soon! #Dylan+Faith ...

  • Daniel
    U were at my school!!! ...

  • marquisha
    I have read your books an I think that they are cool an they keep me thinking an up to date on things. ...