Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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    • Cinema Saturday-- The 41 Most Unexpected Cat Jumps of All Time
      Why do jumping cats freak us out so much? And why do we laugh so hard at people who are freaking out?I'm one of those awkward laughers--someone who laughs at inappropriate times, such as when my husband does the splits on an icy sidewalk or when my child runs smack-dab into a doorpost. Unfortunately, compassion is not my go-to emotion. I do eventually f […]
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    • Facing Justice by Diane and David Munson
      Back CoverExFeds, former Federal prosecutor Diane Munson and former undercover Federal Special Agent David Munson draw on their true-life experiences in this debut suspense novel about Special Agent Eva Montanna, whose twin sister died at the Pentagon on 9/11. Eva dedi cates her career to avenge her death while investi gating Emile Jubayl, a member of Eva’s […]
    • Congratulations to This Week's Winners
      Once again, we offer you a warm welcome to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft.Before we announce our three winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to:Sarah Sundin who offered her Historical Romance  In Perfect Time.Carrie Stuart Parks who offered her Thriller  A Cry From The Dust. And Chawna Schroederwho  offered her High School Curriculum  Bearing […]
    • Michigan Author Gail Gaymer Martin
      Hello Gail! Is there a story behind your book Treasures of Her Heart?Treasures of Her Heart  is a long awaited dream, written a number of years ago but not fitting  my publishers needs to length and category romance style, it was never published. But the story was never forgotten. Recently I re-read the novel, loved it, updated it to my present writing skill […]
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    • July New Releases Clash
      Here at Clash of the Titles, the end of another month calls for the beginning of another Clash.We present to you five brand new novels for your perusing pleasure. Which would you pick up first? Let us know by casting your vote below! Check back here on Thursday, September 4th for the contest results.Big secrets never stay hidden, and it’s the darkest ones th […]
    • O'Barr's Latest: Tender Shadows
      Author Ann Gaylia O'Barr visits today!She brings with her, in the form of her latest novel, all her experience as a Foreign Service officer in the turbulent Middle East. Tender Shadows is one of seven such novels and will appeal to lovers of foreign lands, culture, adventure, and romance.PURCHASEAmazonAbout Tender Shadows:When Beth Wilhite’s U.S. State […]
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      Today's featured novel,A PLACE IN HIS HEART is a historical romance authored by Rebecca DeMarino. It's her debut novel and book one of The Southold Chronicles."I hope my readers find pure entertainment! I hope they enjoy the love story, with all of the ups and downs of Mary and Barnabas. I hope they get lost in a time period that was so far di […]
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    • Taking A Break
      If you are a regular reader you'll know I didn't post last week. We had just gotten home from vacation. Yellowstone National Park is fantastic. You know how things go when you get back. Well, that was the way it was for me. Add in an unplanned dental event and an 8 hour round trip to Chicago for a TV interview about Seeing The Life and you can prob […]
    • Sin Still Makes You Stupid and Your Stupidity  Ripples, Floods, or Tsunamis  
      A couple of years ago I wrote posts entitled Sin Makes You Stupid and The Ripple Effect. It's one of those truths that seem to be forgotten or glossed over. It's a truth we should be aware of and watch for within ourselves and others. The stupidity of sinning overflows into the lives of others. The consequences to ourselves is often increased expon […]
    • What's Next?
      Seeing The Life is off to a great start. It is garnering 5 star reviews and good publicity. Rhubarb Fest this year was good, even though I don't eat rhubarb. I left at noon on Saturday when the radar showed rain coming. I didn't want the books I had to get wet.So, what's next? I keep getting asked that question. When's your next book comi […]
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    • Susan Rush's Just Over the Horizon - great story!
      Just Over the HorizonSusan Rush c. July, 2014 Astrea PressInspirational fiction e-book, 250 pp $3.99 Buy on Amazonalso on Kobo From the Publisher: While grieving the death of her eccentric nana, Sarah discovers an unexpected gift. She soon grows dependent on the heirloom, a little box, for comfort and guidance. Feeling restless and needing a change, Sarah ac […]
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      My friend Pearl Nsiah-Kumi, who is a multi-published Christian Author, has put together an inspiring book for us, Get On Board and Stay On Board. It is a collection of poems, short articles and short Bible studies based on scripture, to encourage non-Christians to place their faith in Jesus, and also to support Christians to have a closer relationship with G […]
    • Christian Writers Conference
      Country  Memories Farm Christian Writing ConferenceAugust 8-9 in Manitowoc, WisconsinWe have wonderful speakers again this year: Becky Melby Ben Wolf  Kathryn SpringerFriday evening critiques by Susan Baganz  On-the-farm networking social "getting writers together" Please check us out at www.countrymemoriesfarm.com.Joy,http://LisaLickel.com […]
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    • BOOK REVIEW: FLABBERGASTED BY RAY BLACKSTON
      From the moment I started this book by Ray Blackston I couldn’t put it down. I can’t attribute it to one particular thing but to a gift of combined talents that hooked me. These include his superb writing, keen observations, ability for humor, and a unique story telling style, all from a single man’s perspective.The main character, Jay, an investment broker […]
    • Book Review: Healing Grace by Lisa Lickel
      When Grace Runyan experiences the loss of her husband, she moves to escape her pain and her past. She rents a home in a small Michigan town next door to a seriously  ill man with a young son. Grace’s personal tragedy and hurts run deep. The  more we get to know her, the more secrets we learn about her. As she begins to care for the little boy, and finds hers […]
    • Book Giveaway: Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship
      Here's your chance to win a print or electronic copy of my book, Mothers and Daughters: Mending a Strained RelationshipHere's a bit more about the book.Mothers and daughters. In perhaps no other relationship are our hopes so high, and the dysfunction so disappointing. You feel locked into a hurtful relationship that you must deal with, and it' […]
  • BLOG NEWS

    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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Posts Tagged ‘April W Gardner’

AutoCrit Editing Wizard, a useful tool for writers

Posted by April W Gardner on November 14, 2012

Last month, someone on the John 3:16 Marketing Network recommended the website AutoCrit.com. Today, I looked into it, and so far, it has all the appearance of being useful tool for writers.

In the company’s own words, “The AutoCrit Editing Wizard is an instant book editor. With the click of a button it shows you the problems in your manuscript.”

Copy, paste, click “analyze.” That simple.

The free version analyzes 1,500 words each day. It will check for overused words, sentence length variation, and clichés and redundancies.

The paid version increases word count to 3,000 per day and adds on repeated words and phrases, phrases summary, pacing, dialog tags, initial pronouns, readability, and homonyms. The repeated words and phrases alone is worth the $47/year!

I put the first scene of my latest novel through the wizard. Mind you, it had already undergone four critiques, but I was still shocked at what the wizard caught. It’s mostly nit-picky stuff, but since I’m a nit-picky author, AutoCrit has potential to become by bestest buddy.

With a 30-day money back guarantee, it was a no-brainer to fork over $47, but I plan to test-drive it hard over the next month!

Swing by there now and pop 500 of your latest words into the wizard. Just for fun. Then come back and let me know what you think!

April W Gardner is an award-winning author and the founder of Clash of the Titles.

Posted in Authors, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hobby or Business—How Do You View What You Do?

Posted by April W Gardner on September 26, 2012

(This post is a carryover from my “Do You Need a Business License?” post from two weeks ago.)

When I discovered I needed one to be legal, applying for and obtaining a license for my fledgling home business did something for me I never expected.

I’m an author and, more recently, an editor with Astraea Press. True to their claim, authors don’t make much money. Pennies really. I got my first royalty check nearly three years ago and, for whatever reason, have struggled to go anywhere much with sales. Paying taxes hasn’t even been necessary.

But to be perfectly honest, I viewed writing more like a hobby than a business. Don’t get me wrong,

Me. Working from patio furniture purchased with my hard earned dollars.

I didn’t want it to be a hobby. I WANTED to earn money, but a person’s mindset has everything to do with whether or not that will happen. If a girl doesn’t take her work seriously, if she doesn’t appropriately value her skills and time, no one else will either.

Late last year, I came to a critical juncture in my career. Frustrated and weary, I decided I’d either swim or sink, but I was going to do it on my own. One of my 2012 New Year’s resolutions (the only one I’ve ever stuck with) was to have my writing support itself 100%—no more begging money off my very sweet and willing husband. I’d pay for business cards, fliers, or that $1,000 conference, or I wouldn’t have them.

It seemed an outrageous notion. I honestly didn’t think I could do it and actually get anywhere, but for half the year, I did OK.

This summer was turning point. It happened the day I decided to get a business license.

It took me some weeks to get around to making it official, and if you want to read step-by-step how I went about doing that, you can visit my last Reflections post.

Come to find out, investing (yes, investing!) in a business license was exactly what my floundering career needed. The moment I held that license, I felt like a business woman. Stupid, I know, but it’s true. I view my job in a whole different light now. Notice my use of the word “job”? Yep, writing and editing isn’t a hobby anymore.

It’s what I DO. And I treat it with all the value and respect of a business. I have a budget and daily, weekly, and yearly goals. My time is blocked for certain activities, putting the most time toward my DPAs (dollar producing activities).

I require others to value and respect my work and time, too. No middle of the day chats with friends. I love you all dearly, truly, I do. But if you call me while I’m working, I’ll let the phone go to voicemail and get back with you at my next scheduled break.

At the risk of sounding New Age, let me point out that the mind and one’s attitude are a powerful things. Do not underestimate them.

God called me to this job. He believes in me. I should believe in me too! After which, I’ll give Him all the glory for the skill, energy, and encouragement He provides along the way.

I’m not a name-it-and-claim it kinda Christian, and I’m not rolling in the dough (far from it!!), but I’m got business cards, fliers, and went to that $1,000 conference. No thanks to my sweet, willing husband’s wallet. :-)

In addition to that, at the suggestion of a my very business savvy sister, I set a goal to reward myself for my hard work. She told me to think of something–a luxury–I’ve wanted but couldn’t afford. Something I’d never spend the money on because there’s always something else more important that needs to come first.

So I did.

Somehow, that goal in mind made me work harder, and to my utter astonishment, I not only  reached my goal, I surpassed it. Now, I work from my patio on my lovely new furniture. (Pix above)

And you guessed it, I have set another reward-goal for myself.

My business has supported itself probably 95% this year. 2013 will be even better. Actually, in 2013 I plan to make a PROFIT. There have been times since January I’ve had to say “no” to whatever marketing venture I wanted to explore, but for the most part, God has provided.

What was the big change? It’s as simple as this–I’m viewing what I do as a business, and THAT makes all the difference.

How do you view what you do? Is it an accurate perception? What are your time and skills worth? Put a monetary value on them, then shoot for it!

–April W Gardner is an award-winning author, an editor,

and the founder of the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles

Posted in Authors, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Do You Need a Business License?

Posted by April W Gardner on September 12, 2012

The short answer to that question is—I have no idea. Every city, county, and state has different laws, but it’s your responsibility to know what those laws are. A quick call to your town’s city hall should answer the question for you.

My particular Georgia city requires me—author and editor—to have one. This is a recent discovery for me, but one I didn’t mind making. Obtaining one actually moved my career forward in a way I never would have expected. Next time I’m at Reflections in Hindsight, I’ll explain exactly what I mean by that.

Today, let’s talk nuts and bolts.

Before getting into how to get a license, let’s discuss what they ARE.

WiseGeek.com defines a business license this way: A business license is a type of legal authorization to operate a business in a city, county, or state. Typically issued in document form, a business license gives a business owner the right to conduct entrepreneurial activities as set forth in the license application. In most cases, there is a fee charged to obtain a business license.

Requirements for a business license vary by state and municipality. Some locations require anyone conducting a business to obtain a business license. On the other hand, some areas allow smaller home businesses to operate without the need for a business license. Such small businesses could include consulting, web design, or typing services.

When I set out to get a license, I had no idea what the process involved. You might be in the same boat, so let me share with you how MY town does it.

After making a call to my local city hall and discovering I did indeed need a license, I made my merry way there to collect the necessary paperwork. On the same visit, my name was put on the books for my license to be discussed at the next town council meeting.

I had a week to fill out the paperwork, which consisted of some basic, personal information and a section requiring me to describe what I do. The part I did NOT expect was having to visit seven of my immediate neighbors asking them permission to conduct my business in my home. The conversation went something like this…

“Hi, I’m here asking if you wouldn’t mind signing this form giving consent for me to sit at my desk and type on my computer.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

To the last one, they laughed, shook their heads in wonder, and happily signed. Of course, if I was a machine repairman who wanted to fix washers and fridges in my garage, they might be thanking the city for making people get their neighbor’s permission…

Forms complete, I turned them in and waited for the city to deliver my lawn decor. Yep, lawn décor. The city placed a “public hearing notice” in my yard that had to remain in place for three weeks—until the actual hearing. This was to inform the rest of the neighborhood that they were welcome to come to the town council meeting and protest, if they so desired.

The evening of the council meeting came, and I made my obligatory appearance. Just like they do at such meetings on TV, I was asked to come to the podium and speak into a microphone. Way cool. The chairman asked me to state my name, address, and give a brief description of what I do. After that, he asked if anyone wanted to object to the town allowing me to conduct “said business” on “said property.”

No one did. Shocker.

I was allowed to leave the meeting and advised to pick up my license in two days. I did. But not before forking over the pro-rated fee of $64.00. Come January, along with the rest of the business owners in town, I’ll renew my license. It should be around $120/year.

It feels like a lot for someone who earns as little as I do, but when I swiped my little business debit card, I did so on the faith that, soon, $120 wouldn’t be a suffocating, drain-your-account kinda number.

In two weeks, I’ll tell how that little step of faith is doing just that.

In the meantime, give your city hall a buzz and ask what your local laws are. What did you learn? I’d love to know!

–April W Gardner is an award-winning author, an editor,

and the founder of the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles

Posted in Authors, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

My God, the Artist

Posted by April W Gardner on August 29, 2012

*Guest post by Michelle Massaro

ImageI’m sitting drinking my pumpkin spice in the quiet of the morning and watching my guppies dart about in their tank. There appears to be some brand new additions– welcome to the world! I wonder what they’ll look like when they get their color? Right now I have several yellow snake-skin guppies, an ‘albino’ female, and a flaming orange/black male. So bright, so colorful, so artistic! The Lord must have so much fun. He must so delight in His handiwork. Could you imagine the drab world we’d live in if every fish looked the same; every human bore the same fingerprints, skin, or eye color; if the leaves didn’t change color, or the stars didn’t shine in patterns? If Mars wasn’t red or the rocks never held a streak of gold? Creativity overflows from the heart of God!

Don’t ever feel that your expression of creativity- gardening, painting, decorating, or yes- writing, is a poor use of your time. It is not the lesser way to spend your energy. Look how much energy God spends on his creations. He does not deem it wasteful; He called it very good- and thenImage sent His son to redeem that creation when it became stained with sin.

So the next time someone, in some subtle way, makes you feel frivolous about wasting time on creative pursuits when there are souls to be saved… look around you! Then use your gifts for His glory and take joy in the pastime of creativity that you share with your Maker…

Image–Michelle is married to her high school sweetie, Mike, and they have four amazing children. They attend Living Truth Christian Fellowship in Corona, CA where they have taught Jr High studies and where Michelle is involved in the worship ministry. Michelle is also a homeschooling parent and an aspiring author of contemporary Christian fiction. She hosts weekly Story Improvs on her blog, where readers are encouraged to jump in and add to the plot. Above all, she is a follower of Christ Jesus, unashamed to stand upon the Word of God from beginning to end.

Michelle’s Blog  Find Michelle on Facebook.

Posted in Encouragment, Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Let’s Chat

Posted by April W Gardner on August 8, 2012

Take a moment to stop and think of someone in your life that is truly a delight to talk with. Mind you, I didn’t say “listen to” or “talk to”, I said “talk with.” This someone might not necessarily be your spouse or even your best friend. He or she might be a person at church, or work that you look forward to. Coming up with someone is easy, but have you thought about how pleasant or unpleasant it might be to talk to you?

Proverbs 16:23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

There are a lot of things about a person that makes us want to be around them or avoid them, but one of the main ones is how they talk and what they talk about. How well can you answer these questions?

 
1. What is your favorite topic of conversation?
This is usually the area that needs to be tweaked the most, mainly because everyone’s favorite topic of conversation is himself. Our sin nature automatically makes every one of us self-absorbed. It rears its ugly head most often when we talk. We want to talk about what we do, think, how we feel.
Do the comments from the person you’re talking to simply remind you of something else you can say about what’s happening in your life? Do you impatiently wait for the other person to quit talking so you can steer the path back to yourself? Worse yet, do you interrupt? Proverbs 17:27-28 He that hath knowledge spareth his words; and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Want a challenge? The next time you’re at church or work, pick someone you don’t normally interact with and approach them with the intention of talking solely about them. Try your best not to refer to yourself in the conversation. I won’t lie. It’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding! Phillipians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

2. Do you actively listen?
Have you ever attentively listened to a woman talk for a few minutes, but when it’s time for you to add your two cents, suddenly she’s concerned with her kids or something else distracting? This is a woman that has not learned to be an active listener. Active listening involves being able to comment or ask questions about what the person has just said. It means looking at them while they talk, nodding, saying “I see,” “how interesting,” and anything else that shows you’re listening. If you’re not practicing this, it tells other people that only what you say is important enough to listen to.


3. Can you play tennis with your words?
A healthy conversation includes both/all parties equally. Usually when there’s a problem with the “game,” the tennis ball is hogged by someone monopolizing the conversation. It takes skill to listen and at the same time be thinking of a comment and question to maintain a healthy interchange. Just like typing, knitting, or golf, for most it takes lots of practice to become a selfless, fluid, and confident conversationalist.
A tip to keep the tennis match going is to end every comment with a specific question—one they can’t answer with a simple “yes” or “no”. Put the ball back in their court. Proverbs 20:15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies; but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
Think of how wonderful it feels to be asked, “Did you make it to that appointment on time?” or “You look a bit discouraged today. Is there something you’d like to talk about?”t
Asking questions shows that you care, that you’ve thought of them throughout the week, that you were listening the last time you talked.
Work on these three areas, and you’ll have improved your ability to carry a well-balanced conversation. Better yet, you’ll be more like Christ. Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

April W Gardner is a multi-published author

and the senior editor of the literary site, Clash of the Titles. 

*The Conversation by artist Arnold Lakhovsky –This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

*Tennis pix–Attribution: Vladsinger at en.wikipedia

Posted in Encouragment, Friendship | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

The Inside Scoop on Foreign Missions

Posted by April W Gardner on July 11, 2012

Ever wonder what a missionary wife goes through on a foreign field? What’s it like to haul your precious little ones into an unfamiliar and unpredictable environment? How do missionary wives cope?

Below, one such wife share a personal account of her first years on the foreign mission field. She wishes to remain anonymous, but God knows who she is. His eye is on her today as much as it was twenty-four years ago…

***

On September 28, 1988, my husband and I, along with our three children, arrived on our mission field. Before arriving, we were instructed to learn the culture and language. We were to be open and receptive to it. I had been taught that if mother adjusts on the field the whole family adjusts. My task was clearly laid before me.

Approximately one month later we had found an apartment on the ninth floor of an 11 story building. From the balcony, all the people below walking down the sidewalk and all the children playing looked so small, but they were our mission field. Those God had sent us to minister to.

We began language study as soon as possible, ourselves as well as our children. My husband and I had a language professor who came to our apartment twice a week for three hours at a time. There was a young American woman in the national church we attended who worked in the country teaching English to business people.  We asked her to give language lessons to our children.

After several weeks in our new apartment I began noticing differences in each of us. It seemed that our weak traits began to cause us more problems. My social, talkative husband become frustrated, angry, demanding, and not happy with anything. My oldest became more nervous and high strung. My second become more and more drawn into herself.  The youngest, 5 years old, no longer laughed. He just “existed”.  It seemed that the family was coming apart at the seams. Instead of coming together, each one dealt with the drastic change in a way that drove and severed him from the unit.

I suffered for each one. I had been taught that if mother adjusts on the field the whole family adjusts. So I felt a huge burden to be the anchor.

But how? I had no idea how to begin to be what was needed for my family! Here I was a wife and mother, more scared of her own shadow than anything else, in a foreign country that really was not inviting in the least. In this culture where revolting trash was thrown out apartment windows. A culture where the street language is two words normal, one profanity. Add to that the general rejection of anything foreign.

Our family was submerged in a turbulent ocean of foreign, unchristian, “savage” culture, each member drowning, and me, with absolutely no idea how to save them.

I turned to the only thing I knew. In utter desperation and panic of heart, I beseeched the Lord to teach me how to pray for my family in this time and place. All that came to my heart was to ask Him for someone to pray for us. I did not know why, but that is what was put on my heart. So I began begging God for someone to pray for us. Every night when I could not sleep due the heavy burden I would get up, read my Bible, spill my heart onto the written page and then get on my face before God begging him to have someone pray for us, because I was totally paralyzed spiritually to help them myself.

I do not know how long I prayed. All I can remember is that as time went on, the Lord brought to mind to look for open doors for activities for my children: craft classes, art classes, and horse riding lessons, taking family outings to see and get to know the country. Little by little things began to settle down and each one of us began to breathe easier.

I remember exactly the day, where we were, the sun that was shining, the sounds of the traffic as I was driving home with my 5 year old when he said to me, “This place doesn’t feel so different now.” Then I heard his big belly laugh for the first time in months. Such a beautiful sound.

It was beautiful hearing my children laughing again and speaking the language so fluently and with no accent. It was beautiful being able to share fellowship with the believers there. It was beautiful to see beyond the style of life of the culture and into their hearts and all the good qualities as well as the need for the eternal.

So our family adjusted, survived, and thrived. Two years later, the time for our first furlough came around. We arrived in the United States and relished American comforts like peanut butter and grape jelly. While shopping, I ran into a dear friend. They were missionaries in another country. In fact they had arrived in their country of service about a month before we arrived in ours. When she saw me, she grabbed me, gave me a huge hug and said, “Girl, what happened to you? About October I got such a burden for you all that I could not get you off my heart for months!” We had not been in contact for at least 3 years.

At that moment, I saw how God had honored my petition laid out to him in such pain and need. I saw how he honored my family and their decision to dedicate themselves to fulfill the last command of Christ.

More than 24 years have passed, and my husband and I are still on the field, in the same country God . Over the years, I have seen repeatedly how God honors prayer even though we do not see how He accomplishes it.  He is a God of detail, using what is unknown to us to meet our needs and the needs of those we love.


April W. Gardneris a multi-published, award-winning author. Her work includesthe historical romance series, Creek Country Saga.

Posted in Encouragment, Happiness, Heart and Home, Homemaking, Life Experiences, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Platform Get Noticed in a Noisy World

Posted by April W Gardner on June 27, 2012

Michael Hyatt, one of the top business bloggers in the world, provides down-to-earth guidance for building and expanding a powerful platform.

To be successful in the market today, you must possess two strategic assets: a compelling product and a meaningful platform. In this step-by-step guide, Michael Hyatt, former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, takes readers behind the scenes, into the new world of social media success. He shows you what best-selling authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and other creatives are doing differently to win customers in today’s crowded marketplace. Hyatt speaks from experience. He writes one of the top 800 blogs in the world and has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. His large and growing platform serves as the foundation for his successful writing, speaking, and consulting practice.

In Platform, Hyatt will teach readers not only how to extend their influence, but also how to monetize it and build a sustainable career. The key? By building a platform. It has never been easier, less expensive, or more possible than right now. . .  The book includes:

  • proven strategies
  • easy-to-replicate formulas
  • practical tips

Social media technologies have changed everything. Now, for the first time in history, non-celebrities can get noticed-and win big!-in an increasingly noisy world.

MY THOUGHTS

Michael Hyatt not only knows the ins and outs of building and maintaining a platform, he also knows how to write a book. The chapters are short, clear, and easy to digest. The bullet point system is right up my alley! He must have known I learn best when subject matter is broken down into bit-sized chunks. Thanks for that, Michael. You’re a pal.

As far as the subject matter itself…Well, let’s just say I’ve never dog-eared a book so much. The thing is practically barking at me. It’s saying “I’m wisdom itself! Use me, use me!”

Every dog-ear is a page that has content I plan to address. Here are just few examples of things I need to work on.

  • Get your plans out of your head and onto paper (pg 39)
  • Craft a good elevator pitch. (pg. 43) Yes, I’ve done these before, but he has a way of describing how to do it, that just makes so much sense to me that I want to re-write the ones I have.
  • Five basic personal branding tools you should take advantage of before you move on to more complex ones. (pgs 46-47) 1. e-mail address  2. email signature 3. business cards 4. Website 5. social medial profiles. I have all these too, but I’m not taking full advantage of any of them, and I plan to remedy that.
  • Get lots of endorsements. (pg 53) Already working on this one!
  • Get a great headshot (pg. 56) Got this one dog-eared because my headshot is old and not accurate. I’ve lost almost 20 pounds since the last shoot, and at my last signing actually had two random strangers at different times tell me I needed to update it. Yikes!
  • Fine tune your blog (pg 100). He lists blogging musts and blogging mistakes. Those chapters are too marked up and highlighted for me to mention here and still retain my dignity. You’d think that after seven years of blogging I would have figured some of this stuff out on my own. Nope. BUT I now feel like I understand why I’ve struggled so much to get off my feet.
  • Open pathways of communication with your “tribe” (aka fans) (pg. 129) You to tribe member. Tribe member to you. Tribe member to tribe member. Tribe member to outsiders.

(How do you like my bullet points?)

This is just scratching the surface, and I left all the good stuff for you to discover on your own. If there’s any ONE marketing book you can afford this year, Platform by Michael Hyatt is the one it should be. I just found out that he’s going to be the keynote speaker at the ACFW Conference in September and I CANNOT wait to hear what other nuggets of wisdom I can glean from him!

So here I am doing exactly what he intended, and what he says a properly developed platform will do. He wrote what he’s passionate about, and gave me something I needed. Because his passion is contagious,and because I feel a need was met (and am therefore grateful), I’m now a tribe member who is so devoted, I’m advertising for him. And enjoying doing it! THAT’S the basic concept of the book.

It works for him! If it works for me, I’ll let you know. Or better yet, one of my devout tribe members will. ;-)

 –April W Gardner is a mutli-published, award-winning author

and the senior editor of the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles.

Posted in Author Marketing, Author Spotlight, Authors, Book Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Book Review, The Red Fury by Naomi Musch

Posted by April W Gardner on February 29, 2012

The Red Fury by Naomi Musch was even better than the first in the series, which is saying a lot since The Green Veil, made it to my Top Ten list of 2011.

About the book:

Lainey Kade has been spurned twice since the death of her true love in a logging accident. Now there’s been talk. “That Lainey, she’s a shrew all right. Not ever going to marry, likely.” Seeing herself as an unlovable vixen on whom God has turned His back, she hardens herself to the prospect of such a painful emotion again. Walking away from love’s possibilities and from trusting God, Lainey looks for solace instead in seeking adventure and breaking the rules.

Zane and Kelly Beaumont are drifters, brothers suffering their own disillusionment and bitter degrees of “soldier’s heart” since the Civil War. When their paths join Lainey’s, risky actions and emotions long thought buried set their course on edge. Then the Great Peshtigo Fire sweeps across the young Wisconsin wilderness, swallowing thousands of lives and 2,400 square miles in its wrath. And Lainey realizes that if she allows the spark of love inside her to flame again, it may tear them each apart.

FYI, The Red Fury is already on my Top Ten of 2012! It’s also the first and only book to make it to my personal “Wall of Fame.” I keep trying to find a book that equals it so it won’t be so lonely on my Wall, but so far I’ve been unsuccessful.

Naomi Musch is a master at planting nagging questions in the reader’s mind–questions that must be answered. Now.
Which brother will she end up with? The drifter/gambler or the tender protector? You won’t figure out the romance in the first chapter–or the 12th! The history of the great fires of the region (same fires that blazed through Chicago) was fascinating, captivating, and chilling.

The Red Fury is an absolute, must-read.

April W Gardner is the author of the Creek Country Saga and

the senior editor of the literary site, Clash of the Titles.

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Your Writing Career, A Pencil in God’s Hand, Part 2

Posted by April W Gardner on February 8, 2012

Last time I was here at Reflections in Hindsight, we basked in the wonder of how BIG our God is. (If you missed the post, you can catch it HERE.) He is so big that He sees all of time, at the same time—in one, all-encompassing glance.

I used a pencil as an example. Hold a pencil before you, imagine it’s the world’s timeline from Creation to destruction. Then imagine you’re God (good luck with that) seeing all of it–the beginning, the end, and everything in between. The timeline is already made, a solid line in your firm grasp, but the specs of germs (you and me) on the pencil can only see the portion they’re standing on.

Since God can see the end of your life, right now, He already knows every deed you’ll ever commit, every thought that will pass through your head, and every word you’ll write—whether they glorify Him or not. And yet, He still called you to write. Not only that but He crafted your abilities, your personality, your life—every detail of it—so that you could write.

That’s a mind-boggling thought. Make you feel rather small? It does me.

For this moment, as we’re each trying to wrap our minds around a God big enough to breathe stars into existence and envelope Time within Himself, as we’re focused on just exactly how tiny and insignificant yet fully loved we are, let’s allow that perspective to alter the way we view our own writing career. Don’t you think it should change how we view what we do? What we write? Our dealings with other writers? With readers?

We each have a lifetime pencil (a.k.a timeline), but inside of that, we each have a Writing Career Pencil. There was a day for each one of us that we chose to write that first word, then the second, and at some point, we surrendered to The Call. We knew we were supposed to be writing inspirational work, and we made steps toward achieving a writing goal. That was the tip of our pencils.

Each one of our pencils is a different length and only God determines how long it is. You might have a long pencil that includes several placements on the New York Times Best Seller list. You might have a golf pencil, which includes one devotional that touches one life. Regardless, it’s the exact length God meant it to be, and there is nothing you can do to change that.

Some might try to tell you that creating a vast social network, keeping up with popular blogs, and developing a massive platform, etc, etc, will mold your writing career into what it should be, but as Christians we know that those things are merely tools in God’s hand. Every tick along your writing career timeline is His doing. There is tremendous liberty and peace in that knowledge. It frees us to release the stress of having to do it all. It frees us from the urge to over-extend ourselves resulting in burn-out. It frees God to work and get all the glory for the results.

Because we know that the creator of Canis Majoris and the master overseer of time also called us to write and crafted our Writing Timelines, we can shed the nagging thought that we must do it all. We can hand our careers over to God. We can step back and watch him work.

Next time I’m at Reflections, we’ll explore another way this fresh perspective on God’s handiwork in our lives should change how we operate as Christian writers.

Until then, worship your Creator and the Master of Time the way He deserves—with bended knees, lifted hands, and a supple heart.

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Inspiration, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sunday Book Review: Warring Spirits by April Gardner

Posted by elainemcooper on December 4, 2011

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

The year is 1816 in the vast, unsettled, southern United States. Slavery is a way of life in the South and many of the Africans held in bondage on plantations have escaped below the border to a place called Negro Fort—their first taste of freedom from their masters. But the United States Army has been assigned to destroy the fort and recapture the slaves. It is here during this difficult military assignment that Major Phillip Bailey is forced to confront the painful memories of a previous war that have left him scarred both physically and emotionally. But his struggles extend to the war waging in his heart for love, as well as his growing conviction that slavery is an unjust web that entangles his military duty with his sense of morality.

This stirring sequel to Wounded Spirits leads the reader to the rugged landscape of 19th century Georgia, and follows again the lives and loves of Adela, Phillip, Totka and others as they struggle not just to survive, but find their place in a world of racial prejudice and alliances between nations that are as fragile and changing as the seasons. This gripping tale by April W. Gardner helps you fully understand the impact of that harsh time on the people in that era. Warring Spirits is an exciting and heart-wrenching story of hope, mercy, and love in a world of seeming despair. Wonderful historical fiction with an inspiring element of faith!

I give Warring Spirits: 5 Reflections out of 5

Summary of Warring Spirits:

In 1816 Georgia, escaped slaves control the land just beyond the American border in Las Floridas. Lost somewhere between white and black worlds, Milly follows hope to the only place that can offer her refuge—the place Georgians are calling Negro Fort. The first, sweet taste of freedom convinces Milly that surrender is not an option. Death would be more welcome.
Major Phillip Bailey has orders to subdue the uprising and return the runaways to their masters. Forced to fight alongside Creek warriors—the same who etched the scars into his mind and flesh—Phillip primes himself for battle. But inside, a war already rages—return for the woman he thought lost to him or concede her to the enemy she loves; follow orders or follow his heart.

Author Bio:

April W Gardner resides in Georgia with her USAF husband and two sweet kiddos. She is the author of the historical romance series, the Creek Country Saga (Warring Spirits, Wounded Spirits), as well as the children’s adventure series, the Channel Islands Resistance. She is the founder and senior editor of the fun literary website, Clash of the Titles (http://www.clashofthetitles.com). In her free time, April enjoys reading, organizing, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

Warring Spirits is currently available in paperback at Amazon

http://tinyurl.com/c5ebhlg

Wounded Spirits is currently available on Kindle for $1.99  http://tinyurl.com/3klg52c

Posted in Author Spotlight | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
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