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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      A-ZE is for Evil Parents and Rotten KidsI present you Jimmy Kimmel's annual "I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy" video montage. It's an artful mixture of cruelty, humor, and ghastly awe. My favorite is Drawer Boy. Now there's an ax murderer in the making.Which is your favorite?
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      Once again, we want to welcome our readers to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft. We've got some real page turners for you this week. Our hope is that these books will make you stop and think.But before we announce our winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to:Vicki Buchhold who offered her Speculative Fiction  Wake the Dead. Beth Wiseman who […]
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    • 2014 Laurel Award Feature
      On October 22, 2014, A Miracle of Hope won Clash of the Titles' Laurel Award. During a six-week period, the novel's first 3,500 words were read and judged by avid readers of Christian fiction who determined it to be the worthiest to receive the 2014 Laurel Award.Clash of the Titles extends a heartfelt congratulations to author Ruth Reid for her com […]
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      As I stated last week, November is NANOWRIMO. I'm working on the next Stones Creek novel. It's the story of Chloe, Noah Preston's sister. She comes to Stones Creek with her two children. If you would like to read her pre-story simply subscribe to Sophie's Special Emails. No more than twice a month will you receive an email with special co […]
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    • Book Ideas
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      Ally Cervantes’ life is in the toilet. Her husband has bailed on their marriage partially due to the fact that he can’t handle being dad to an autistic son and partly because the passion has died. Ally has to sell her home in California at a loss and simultaneously loses her job as an editor for a book publisher. Not sure how else to make it, she takes her A […]
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      32 stories people have shared about ways they have seen a divine hand in their hardships, struggles, moments of danger and more.This book will put any struggles you face or have faced in perspective and are a testament to the human spirit and faith in God.  I give this 4 out of 5 stars.Here's the amazon linkMiracles: 32 True Stories
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    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 ‘Reflections in Hindsight’

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 »

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 »

End of the Line

Posted by Ben Erlichman on March 1, 2012

As I sit here in the hallway just outside my condo (I locked myself out—my house and car keys are inside so I’m stranded), I can’t help but reflect on how far I’ve come since I first started blogging for Reflections in Hindsight. I began awhile ago upon seeing an admonition from our very own Lisa Lickel via the ACFW Midwest loop for anyone interested in contributing to this blog. I answered her call and offered to contribute, and soon I was posting once every other week.

Not long after that, I began posting every week when the gentleman I was co-posting with had to step back from the blog, so Thursdays became “my day” at Reflections. It worked well for a long time. I could probably go back and tell you exactly how long it’s been, but I haven’t any desire to try to figure out how to do that on my iPad via the WordPress App and risk losing an entire post (it’s happened before) in the process.

I’ve shared on a great many subjects during my time here, some of which still attract readers even though the posts have been live for months. Some of my top posts include my thoughts on witchcraft in YA books (above and beyond the level of Harry Potter, which I think is mostly harmless), a fun post entitled “WWJBD? What Would James Bond Do?“, and my personal favorite, An Obituary for Harold, a squirrel to whom I paid tribute a few days after I ran him over with my car.

All in all, it’s been a great run, but as I said in a previous post about how much I hate blogging, I just don’t have the time, energy, or the drive to continue to write anymore. Part of it stems from the fact that I don’t enjoy reading blogs very much, and I hate the idea that I have to blog in order to be a “successful” author as far as my books go. If I hate blogging, why am I doing it?

I apologize for my negative outlook on this subject. As this is my last post at Reflections, I want to leave on a positive note, something I have done for basically everything I’ve posted. I’m that type of person: the optimist who sees the glass as half full—usually.

So here’s my positive spin on all of this: in not blogging at Reflections, I will have more time to write books, work on Splickety Magazine (which you can buy here), and be a good father to my son (or possibly daughter), who we’re expecting to be born within the next few weeks. Posting at Reflections has been an obligation that I worried about fulfilling every week, and now I won’t have to worry anymore.

Thank you all for reading my posts throughout the last year or so. You’ve walked along with me on this journey, through the good times and the bad, through the well-planned posts and the not so well-planned posts. I am forever indebted to you for your support.

As I sign off for the last time as a regular contributor (that’s right, you may see me again at some point, it’s just that I won’t be the one driving the carriage) I have to make three final requests of you.

1. Please continue to read Reflections authors’ posts. As you well know, I’m not the only one here at this site. Never was. Please continue to support this site, and tell your friends about it. I owe so much to Lisa and the other contributors for what they’ve taught me, so please check them out often, if not every day.

2. Keep reading on Thursdays. My replacement is the very able, intelligent, creative Luther D. Powell, a young man with a bright future ahead of him. You can check him out on our author page soon. He will continue to bring the heat through his posts, a heat that has cooled in my recent posts. Give him more than a fair shot—I think you’ll be impressed.

3. Finally, keep your eyes open. I’ll be around. I’m at conferences, I’m not leaving Splickety Magazine any time soon (just started it—duh), and I’ll eventually have a book or 19 published that you all can and should read, and then buy more copies for your friends and family. When that day comes, I’ll appear on Reflections again, probably for an interview. Until then, support Splickety, and if you see me wandering the halls at some conference you happen to be attending, come up and say hello. I’m okay with faces but horrible with names, so please pardon me if you have to remind me who you are.

With that, thank-you again, and God bless you all.

-Ben

This is me preparing for my undoubtedly bright future.

Posted in Anxiety, Author Marketing, Author Spotlight, Authors, Encouragment, Friendship, Happiness, Heart and Home, Homemaking, Hospitality, Inspiration, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Music, Parenting, Publishing, Till death do we part, Uncategorized, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 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 »

1000 Pounds

Posted by Ben Erlichman on February 23, 2012

Last week Thursday, I accomplished something amazing. Check out this video: 1000 Pounds

If for some reason you can’t open it up, it’s a video of yours truly and my friend Steve Carter leg pressing 1,000 pounds multiple times. Perhaps this doesn’t sound so amazing to you weight-lifting blog-reading types, but I’m six feet tall, 185lbs, and can’t even bench press my own weight, so this is actually pretty darn incredible.

1000 Pounds

I previously accomplished the feat of leg pressing 900 pounds, which spurred a fun response from some of my writer friends. One in particular has asked me to create a blog post featuring things that weigh 1,000 pounds, or the equivalent of what I can leg press ten times. Here is that list.

  • In the American measuring system, 1,000 pounds is a half-ton.
  • The internet says that if you were to cut a killer whale into three equal-sized parts, each would be about 1,000 pounds.
  • The median weight of a male polar bear is about 1,000 pounds. (Yes, I could probably leg press a polar bear if he cooperated. Maybe if I gave him a Coca-Cola.)
  • Speaking of Coca-Cola (or Pepsi, which I prefer), that would equate to about 1,334 standard 12-ounce cans, or a little more than 111 12-packs of cans.
  • I mentioned that I weigh 185 pounds. While I can’t even bench press my own weight, I leg pressed more than five times my own weight (5.4 times, actually).
  • 1,000 pounds equals $1571.80 in US Dollars, but those are British pounds (their currency) and so it doesn’t really apply to this list.
  • Someone in Pennsylvania made a butter sculpture that weighed 1,000 pounds.
  • Adult male sea lions in California can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.
  • An eight-month-old baby elephant in the Oregon zoo weighed about 1,000 pounds at the date of the article connected to the link I posted.
  • Certain types of horses can weigh around 1,000 pounds.
  • 120 gallons of water weighs about 1,000 pounds (actually a little less).
  • According to this site, a blue whale’s heart weighs about 1,000 pounds.
  • 50 reams of 500 8 1/2 by 11″ sheets of paper weigh 1,000 pounds. That’s 25,000 sheets of paper.
  • Or, if you want to take the environmental approach, 1,000 pounds of paper is about 12 trees.
  • Cows can weigh 1,000 pounds. I suddenly want steak…
  • So do some moose, oxen, and bison.
  • In smaller terms, we would need between 571 and 1,000 gray squirrels to equal 1,000 pounds, depending on their weight (16-28 ounces).
  • This ice cube maker is 1,000 pounds.
  • Snowmobiles can weigh 1,000 pounds.
  • This guy was executed via a machine described as a “shooting gallery of steel” in Nevada in 1913.
  • Someone actually took the time to figure out how much a million dollars weighs. If a million dollars in $1.00 bills weighs 1.1 tons, that means that a half a ton (1,000 pounds) would equal about$445,000 in $1.00 bills. (If my math is wrong, oh well. It’s a LOT of money either way.)
  • Apparently Christina Aguilera, 5’2″, weighed 100 pounds in March of last year (or so she claims). That means that I leg pressed ten Christina Aguileras.
  • A barrel of honey weighs 100 pounds, so I leg pressed ten of those too.
  • Since mama grizzly bear weighs 400-500 pounds and papa grizzly bear weighs 500-600 pounds, it’s conceivable that I could leg press them both at the same time. (Baby grizzly bear can watch. Maybe I’ll give him a Coca-Cola too.)
  • Really, really big cougars can reach 200 pounds. I could leg press five of them as long as I wasn’t distracted by them trying to eat me. (***NOTE: these are the large cat-type, not the older-woman-going-after-younger-men type. I won’t venture estimates for how many of those kinds of cougars I could leg press.)
  • Two bales of cotton weigh about 1,000 pounds.
  • As an author, I deal with books a lot. A hardcover book weighs about a pound or two, so that means I could leg press between 500 and 1,000 of them. Paperbacks weigh less, so I could get more literature on the press. Ah, but here’s the kicker: if I used my wife’s Kindle 3 (8.5 ounces), I could leg press about 2125 of them. Given that each Kindle 3 can hold 3,500 books, I could leg press 7,437,500 e-books, or a little more than a fifth of the entire Library of Congress’s collection of books (if they were in e-form).
  • Your standard North American beaver weighs about 99 pounds, so I could leg press about ten of them, each with a stick in its mouth.
  • And finally, speaking of beavers, we end our list with a bit more pop culture: according to the internet, Justin Bieber is fabled to weigh between 120 and 130 pounds. I could leg press between 7.7 and 8.3 Justin Biebers.

Well, that’s my list. If you have things to add to it, please post your findings in the comments section. Tune in next week when I introduce my replacement, Benjamin Lucas Powell, a good friend and a great writer, who will be taking my place here at Reflections in Hindsight.

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Friendship, Happiness, Inspiration, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Publishing, Uncategorized, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Observations on the Aftermath of Whitney Houston’s Death

Posted by Ben Erlichman on February 16, 2012

Whenever a celebrity dies, especially one of the caliber of Whitney Houston, or Michael Jackson, or Larry King–wait…he’s not dead yet? Oh, he just kind of looks like he’s dead. My bad.

Whitney Houston

Anyway, there’s a predictable pattern of reaction from the media, from social networks, and from other celebrities. It’s horrible, but true, and most of it infuriates me. Here are two of my observations regarding Whitney Houston’s recent passing:

1. The media was well-prepared–too well-prepared. I think we all know by now that major media outlets have obituary files and footage already picked out for most of the world’s major celebrities, so all they have to do is pull out that file, mash together that footage and have the anchors/reporters practice going through some of said celeb’s lifetime highlights, low periods, and everything in-between before going on live and presenting the obituary.

That means that these news outlets not only have those files and footage, but that they update them regularly, and they also probably prioritize them based on who they think is going to croak first. In a way, this is a totally heartless and cold approach to the death of an important person, but if you stop and consider it, isn’t that kind of news exactly what everyone is supposed to get? Even-tempered, unbiased reporting of the facts?

I still don’t think I like it, though.

2. Idiots used Whitney’s death as a chance to advance their own agendas. This is the reason why I felt I should write on this topic today. I’m flummoxed at some peoples’ stupid behavior in response to Whitney’s death. If you thought the media outlets were bad for being well-prepared for Whitney’s death, you’ll be disgusted at some of the things coming out of celebrities’ mouths and from social networking sites like Facebook.

Two examples in particular really made me fume. Tony Bennett, who, for our younger readers, is a very famous singer/performer from yesteryear, made one of the dumbest comments I’ve ever heard after a celebrity’s death: he said, “I’d like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get our government to legalize drugs. So they have to get it through a doctor, not just some gangsters that sell it under the table.”

Tony Bennett

Look, I’m not going to comment on the validity of his argument. Maybe he’s right, maybe not. But that’s not the point. The point is that he stood up in public and used Whitney Houston’s death to advance his own agenda. Wow…what a way to pay tribute to a friend–use their death to tell the government that drugs should be legalized. How do you think the population would have responded if reputable pastor like Rick Warren (not that he would) came out in public and said that everyone should accept Jesus and live fulfilled lives so they don’t end up like Whitney Houston? The universe, including a lot of Christians, would throw a conniption fit. To sum up, Tony’s comment was poorly-timed, and inappropriate.

Here’s another dumb thing I saw, this one on Facebook:

Yes, I know this is Steve Jobs and not Whitney.

I used Steve because I saw this meme used after his death first–and also because the one I found with Whitney had a picture of her with her chest halfway hanging out. You get the idea, though, right? Millions “cry” when a celebrity dies, but no one cries for the millions dying from AIDS in Africa, or from ethnic cleansing/genocide, or from hunger.

::Sigh::

I won’t argue with the premise. Yes, the world is a place of a profound injustice, and this does a good job of showing that discrepancy. That said, this is just as opportunistic and inappropriate as Tony’s comment above for exactly the same reason: the author is using a tragedy to advance their own agenda at the expense of the departed person immortalized in their meme, as if subtly implying that somehow, it’s partly Whitney’s or Steve’s fault that millions are dying. Or, at the very least, such memes are made to make us feel guilty about how we react to celeb deaths.

I’m probably not the best example of how to react to a celebrity’s death because I generally don’t spend much time following their lives in the first place. That said, you’re getting my opinion anyway.

When Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson died, and even more so when Steve Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter) was skewered by a stingray a few years back and died, I felt very sad. I didn’t go out and place flowers or notes or teddy bears on their graves (or in front of their chain of Apple stores like folks did with Steve Jobs), but their deaths impacted me (less with Steve Jobs, as I’m only a recent convert to the cult of Apple).

The meme above makes the assumption that we stupid, spoiled Americans care more about a person (who has actually affected our lives in some way) than we do about those suffering and dying around the world. Honestly, I’m sure that is the case with a lot of people, but to use a celeb death as an opportunity to guilt-trip the rest of us, including people close to Whitney or Steve or Steve or Michael, is wrong.

Sorry, but you’re just being a jerk. You haven’t considered how many people those celebs actually did touch in a profound way, who are already hurting at the loss of a friend, family member, or loved one (celebrity), upon seeing your meme, feel guilty and used as a part of a scheme to raise awareness for an issue that most people would already agree with anyway. In other words, your timing sucks because you don’t have the balls to try to promote your ideas in a time of normalcy and instead do it at the expense of someone’s death and others’ grief.

Alright. I’m done ranting. I’d love to get your thoughts on this. Next week, stay tuned for a much anticipated post, probably the second-to-last one you’ll get out of me here at Reflections: Things that Weigh a Thousand Pounds (aka things that I can leg press).

-Ben

Posted in Anxiety, Authors, Encouragment, Friendship, Happiness, Hospitality, Inspiration, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Music, Publishing, Uncategorized, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Blogging is the Devil

Posted by Ben Erlichman on February 9, 2012

Why do people blog? What makes them think that anyone else  in the world wants to know about the new recipe for mongoose flambe they just created? Who actually reads blogs?

I’ve been pushing myself for the last year or so to blog once a week here at Reflections (occasionally I’ve missed a few weeks, but hey, one of them was on Thanksgiving, so there). In that time I’ve learned that, for me, blogging is the devil.

See? I told you it was.

What I mean is that like the devil, blogging distracts me from what I should be doing. Also, I hate the devil. likewise, I’ve grown to hate blogging. I have never enjoyed reading blogs, and I’ve always felt like I was supposed to blog as a part of my life as a writer because that’s what I’ve been told I’m supposed to do.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m attempting to write four novels this year. Correction: four GOOD novels this year, not just some garbage books that I don’t care about. In my mind, each word that I write on a Thursday morning (or before if I’m really prepared) is another word that won’t get written in one of my books because I’ve written it here. I’m not okay with that.

Perhaps this springs from my lack of interest in blogging as a medium of communication. The only time I read blogs is when a friend asks me to, or when I see something on Facebook that’s of interest to me and it happens to link to a blog post. I don’t go out trolling the internet for blogs. That’s not my idea of entertainment. I don’t enjoy that. The closest I come to that is Cracked.com, a site that I visit regularly because it’s funny and informational (but not always appropriate–you’ve been warned). That’s not really a blog sight, though.

Randy Ingermanson has sent out a lot of good stuff in his Advanced Fiction newsletters since I’ve been a subscriber (and probably before that too). In his last one he suggested that an author should ascribe a value to every business-related thing he does, as follows: $1 work, $10 work, $100 work, $1,000 work. The dollar amounts represent how much money you make from the various tasks you perform.

For instance, I run Splickety Magazine, which takes up a lot of my time. At this point I’m not privy to how much I’ll make from that rag, but I’m imagining it will be in the high $10s or the low $100s. I anticipate it will go up over time as I’ll get better at producing it as time goes on, plus I’ll hopefully make some money by selling some advertising for it. Compare that with my novel-writing: that’s definitely $1,000 work. Sure, it hasn’t actually made me any money thus far, but once I do get published, then I’m confident I’ll be in the $1,000 range.

This formula pertains more to marketing in my case than anything else. The idea is to focus either on A) what I’m good at/enjoy or B) what makes me the most money. I’m good at writing books, I’m good at running Splickety, and I’m good at Facebooking, plus I usually enjoy those things most of the time. I’m kind of good at blogging–of the top five most-viewed posts here at Reflections, four are mine (not including the Author page or the site’s homepage)–but I don’t like it. As of right now, it hasn’t made me any money that I can see, so it falls into the $1 work category. I think you can see where this is going.

I’m going to stop blogging. Over the next few weeks you won’t see me around here much anymore, and then eventually I’ll be gone, with perhaps an occasional guest appearance here and there. I just can’t justify the time I spend blogging anymore. I’ve already spent too much time on this one as it is to make it a decent post.

As such, I need to find a replacement. If you or anyone else is interested, comment on this post and the rest of the Reflections staff/administration will consider contacting you about it. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve benefited from this experience in ways that aren’t as tangible or measurable as money. I’ve made new friends and connections, I’ve learned to be more concise in my thoughts when blogging, and I’ve grown as a writer and as a person, but it’s time for me to move on.

This isn’t my last post here, but it’ll be one of the last. I’ll see you around, okay?

-Ben

Posted in Anxiety, Author Marketing, Authors, Encouragment, Friendship, Happiness, Inspiration, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Music, Publishing, Uncategorized, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

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 »

Road Trip Fury

Posted by Ben Erlichman on January 26, 2012

I am not a fan of road trips. Sorry to start this post with such a negative statement, but I really just don’t enjoy them at all. Of course, I’ve taken more road trips in the last few months than I have in a couple of years before that, and I’m due to go on a few more in the next several months.

The problem with road trips, as I see it, is twofold: there is a significant physical distance between me and the destination of the road trip; and I have to be in a small space for a long period of time, which is uncomfortable.

I prefer flying. It takes less time, the quarters aren’t quite as cramped (though they’re close) and it’s usually reasonable in cost if you plan far enough in advance or find a good deal through one of the airlines. Sure, there are hassles like going through security and not being able to bring fireworks with you, but those are things I’m willing to go along with if it means a shorter trip.

“But flights don’t fly everywhere,” you say.

True. I concede that. In some situations, I just have to bite the bullet and deal with the road trip. For example: we just went down to Beloit, WI to visit a client for an inventory on Monday and Tuesday this week. You can’t fly the hour and a half distance (driving) from Milwaukee unless you have a helicopter and/or a chartered plane, both of which would be waaaay more expensive. So, I had to suck it up and endure the road trip.

“That’s not a road trip!” you yell with fury. “It’s too short.”

Not as far as I’m concerned. Anything longer than an hour is a road trip in my book. At least it wasn’t an overnight thing.

Well, as I said, I’ve got more road trips coming up (more details on what those are in future posts) that are either writing-related, business-related, or both. I’m planning on driving at least one of them (a 2-hour trip to Illinois), but I might fly to another location in Indiana if it ends up being too far south (both writing-related). I have multiple business trips coming up as well, all of which I will be driving (or riding along as a passenger). All in all, I’m going to have to deal with them.

What’s your take on road trips? Does the destination or the reason for the trip matter as far as your attitude toward the trip is concerned?

-Ben

Posted in Anxiety, Authors, Encouragment, Friendship, Happiness, Hospitality, Inspiration, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Music, Publishing, Uncategorized, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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