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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    • Bricks of Savannah
      B is for Bricks of SavannahSavannah is a short 2.5-hour drive from home, but it took us five years to make it there. Five years! Unthinkable. The bricks.Savannah has been around since 1773, making it the oldest city in Georgia. History oozes from its varied buildings and twenty-four squares--most of them constructed with bricks and dusted with centuries of s […]
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      Welcome to the Book Loft, David! Is there a story behind your book, A Ghost’s Story?After a brief illness, my mother died at age 47, before she really got to know her daughter-in-law or take joy in her grandchildren.  I wanted so desperately to believe in eternal life, to be reassured that someday we would all be together again. A short time later I discover […]
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      While out for a run one morning, Jake Weller suffers a critical heart attack triggering a trip to the morgue and what seems to be a near-death experience. But he’s actually dead. The problem is he doesn’t feel dead. He can still experience the world as before only he can’t be seen or heard. Coming to terms with this new reality, he meets an enigmatic—and cha […]
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      Back Cover BlurbAfter the death of her mother, Princess Ikia of Ha-or rebels against her adoptive father, King Emet. Her crusade against him starts simply but quickly grows dangerous when she agrees to betray him to the Emperor of the neighboring kingdom.Book Excerpt:Prologue: The King-   Hundreds of people – all who had left their shoes at the door, for She […]
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    • Announcing the 2014 Laurel Award Winner!
      2014 LAUREL AWARD WINNERAuthor Ruth Reid's novel A MIRACLE OF HOPEis the winner of Clash of the Titles's fourth annual Laurel Award.CONGRATULATIONS, RUTH!Ruth will receive the following: a beautiful banner to display on her website; a year-long page on COTT dedicated to the winning book, A Miracle of Hope; a "Heart of the Matter" radio in […]
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      The entries have been read and the scores have been tallied. Our unique panel of judges, comprised strictly of readers, has determined our three finalists. And they are…Ruth Reid's A Miracle of HopeJune Foster's Deliver UsCarole Brown's The Redemption of Caralynne HaymanCongratulations to all three!!(Of special note, this is Ruth's second […]
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      I’m pretty addicted to computer games. There have been a number, over the years, I have enjoyed. Right now I’m playing Zynga’s Castleville Legends. I’m in an alliance of ladies who play and help each other. It’s a generous,  supporting group with a fair number of believers. We encourage each other and have a lot of fun. The ladies are from all over the US, p […]
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      I am a slave of Yaweh. We shy away from the concept, and understandably so, given the history of slavery here is the US.  I am one, however, and proud to declare it. As a believer in Christ, I have been paid for by Yeshua through his death and resurrection.  Thus, he owns me and I am his slave. Paul, Timothy and James, the brother of Christ, all claimed it. […]
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    • Debut author Keely Brooke Keith and The Land Uncharted
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      Equanimity: The Spirit Within by Samuel D. BartoliMemoir, Self-helpHalo Publishing International  January 2014 Buy on Amazonand Barnes & Noble.About the Book:Equanimity: The Spirit Within is a story about a man’s search for meaning as he comes to terms with losing everything that he knew and valued. After winning the 1992 Southern California Middleweight […]
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    • BOOK REVIEW: THE BECKONING BY MICHAEL MINOT
      Michael Minot, a lawyer, is a former atheist who now follows Christ. The Beckoning is not only his story regarding how his beliefs changed but an orderly and methodical account of how the methods he applied to find authentication and proof of God’s validity as he conducted research of the scriptures.While still single, Minot was challenged by a Christian fri […]
    • BOOK REVIEW: POST MARKED EVER AFTER BY MARY BALL
      I’ve reviewed a lot of books, especially romances, so original plots such as this one are rare.When Serena Gray’s husband died she learned in a letter of a secret he kept. It divulged he had a child years earlier from a fling during his youth.  When Serena meets up with handsome Adam, a widower, she soon realizes that Adam’s daughter, Niki is her husband’s c […]
  • 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 ‘writing’

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 »

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 »

The Making of a Writer, part 1

Posted by Lisa Lickel on August 13, 2012

The Making of a Writer – Part I

Tom Blubaugh

Lisa’s note: We welcome veteran author Tom Blubaugh to our Reflections team. May you learn and grow and be blessed by his wisdom.

I have been writing for nearly as long as I can remember. In fact, I remember trying to learn penmanship, which is what we called writing back in the 1950s. We used fountain pens. I remember blobs of ink, ink stains on shirt pockets and inkbottles. Those items I used back then are collectibles now. I wondered if I would ever get the hang of penmanship.

My first real experience with writing came when I was fourteen. I was bashful, so if I wanted to tell a girl I cared about her, I would write a poem. I don’t remember what I wrote, but it did impress these young women.

I remember a day in 1956—I was sitting in homeroom with an Elvis Presley magazine tucked inside my geography book. Rock and roll and basketball magazines plus comic books were the only reading I did back in those days. I do not recall being encouraged to read except by my English teachers. When I had to write a book report, I read just enough to skate by. Today parents are encouraged to read to their children and support their children in developing reading habits. It was not so in my childhood or at least not in my home.

Every time I read a comic book, I would find an ad in the back enticing me to turn my poetry into lyrics for songs. Oh, how I wanted to send my love poems to those companies, but they wanted money. The only money I had was two cents for every discarded pop bottle I found as I walked home from school.

I don’t remember having a vision to be a writer. It just seemed to be something inside me that I did. In high school, I ran into a major roadblock. Without going into detail—well, let’s just say I was on the wild side. English teachers and I did not see eye to eye on grammar and punctuation. I was rebellious toward authority and I wanted to know whom these people were that wrote all the rules and what gave them the right. I before e except after c. What was that about anyway? I don’t know how I passed their classes. I think they passed me to get me out of their classes. They wouldn’t do that—would they?

After four years in the navy, I began taking college classes at night. I took courses as I needed them to advance in my career of business management. About 1966 I took a course in creative writing. The professor was a new graduate from Kansas University. He made a statement one evening that changed my life. He said, “If you have to say, I ain’t never had any bananas and I ain’t gonna have none never ever to get your meaning across, this is communicating.” I thought where have you been all my life. I knew I could not use that language in a business letter, but it somehow opened my mind to creative writing.

Over the next few years, I wrote some articles for a denominational magazine and later for some business publications. In 1973, I wrote a book about my ministry of helping churches organize bus ministries to bring children to church when their parents didn’t attend. In reality, it was a combining of two term papers. This was pre computers and backup was what you did with a car in reverse. I had a friend that worked for the same denominational magazine that published my writing. I took a bus to Nashville and hand delivered the manuscript to him and asked him to publish it. After a few months of not hearing from him, I found out he had misplaced it and he did not find it for a year. It showed up in the mail with a note that said not interested or similar wording. I self-published Behind the Scenes on the Bus Ministry in 1974.

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Writing | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Where were you ten years ago?

Posted by Luther D. Powell on July 19, 2012

My birthday is in a few days, and I’m going to reflect a little on my life ten years ago. People always ask, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” and you always want to hope and have ambitions for yourself. For once, I can look way back when and think, Wow, God has taken me pretty far.

Ten years ago, I only had two classes during the school day. My class would switch between two teaches; one who taught English and ‘Social Studies’ (which I don’t remember being all that social), the other who taught Math and Science. MAN I miss the simplicity of those subjects. No Biology, no Chemistry, just SCIENCE. No Trigonometry, no Algebra, no Geometry, just MATH.

Ten years ago, nobody gave a rip about whether or not I had a job. I might have been babysitting by then, but I think I started babysitting in Junior High. Either way, I sure wasn’t trying to save money for anything!

Ten years ago, I got in the habit of drawing pictures, just to draw pictures. Up until then, I would literally draw out entire stories, picture by picture, using an entire sheet to draw a single frame of a plot. My first three drawings that had nothing to do with stories: a dragon, a werewolf, and a family of Tyrannosauruses.

Ten years ago, I decided I wanted to start writing stories instead of drawing them. The first full-length story I attempted to write was heavily-inspired by the Lord of the Rings, which was newly adapted to film. I shelved that story in high school after discovering how much I loved horror.

Ten years ago, I liked a girl. Back then, I had no other idea how to talk to the opposite sex than to speak my mind, be honest, tell her how I felt. Didn’t go so well. I once saw a boy buy her a Fruit Roll Up snack during lunch, and she was so happy she broke it up and shared it with her friends. I, being Captain Studmuscles, decided to buy her a Fruit Roll Up also, on a different day. Leaving it wrapped up, she threw it at me from across the table while her friends were putting their trays away, the disgusted look in her eyes melting my little 5th grade heart. When the bell rang, holding back tears, I passed one of my friends and casually dropped the Fruit Roll Up onto his tray.

Ten years ago, Big Wolf on Campus was the greatest TV show of all time. Look it up.

Ten years ago, I couldn’t shoot a basket in gym class if my life depended on it. But man, could I play Dodgeball.

Ten years ago, a bully on the school bus tried to break my fingers, so I bit his arm open. He never bothered me again, and I was sent to the counselor, who gave me every reason to feel like a disgrace to humanity for not getting the bus driver’s attention instead.

Ten years ago, I began questioning why I went to church, why I sang songs to this guy Jesus, why I ate little wafers and drank the grape juice. It didn’t take ten years for God to answer those questions for me.

Ten years ago, Creed was the first rock band I listened to. Between then and now, I’ve gotten into heavier and heavier music. My CD collection went from Creed, Linkin Park and Evanescence, to Demon Hunter, Impending Doom and Mortification. Those last three are Christian bands, by the way…

Ten years ago, I started drumming.

Ten years ago, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to college. HA!

I have now sold seventeen + drawings. I’ve been in two rock bands, as well as a handful of church worship bands. I’ve had two short stories published. I’ve had a whole lotta cats, now down to one. I’ve had two girlfriends (not at the same time, obviously), both of whom are still on good terms with me. I’ve read a lot of good books, made a lot of awesome friends, got my drivers license on the first test attempt. Storms keep knocking down trees, but my house still stands. Coming up on my fourth year of college. Still have a job in food service. My bro Nick is still my bro (we met in Kindergarten, by the way).

So tell me, where has God brought you in ten years? Whether or not you believe it’s God who brought you there, you should pick out the good things, even the little good things. All those little things aided in making you who you are today, and there are more little good things yet, to make you who you’ll be in another ten years.

I had no idea how I was going to end this blog, so here’s a goofy picture of myself and my best friend. Cheers, happy summer, Batman, God bless!

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Encouragment, Friendship, Life Experiences, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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 »

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 »

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

Positivity and a New Year

Posted by Lisa Lickel on January 18, 2012

Truly Reflecting…won’t you join me?

Looking back…or Reflecting in Hindsight

 

I made New Year’s Resolutions twice in my life. I tried again this year, knowing it was doomed. Have you ever done that? Resolved to do something, knowing it was impossible?

This year, the seventh of my authorial career, I want to wrestle my time management into reasonable chunks. I have taken pride in the fact that I can manage so well because I am anally-retentive to the max on spreadsheets, although of course I fail once in a while just so I don’t get too cocky.

But I decided taking two years—well, two and a half—from real writing was enough, and this year I’d get back into production mode, the market-learning phase having gone so well, ya’know. The first step was to shackle my blogs into a schedule. Count: 17 blogs or social sites to which I contribute. I kid you not. I’m sure there are plenty of authors out there who do a lot more—those of you who can afford assistants, that is.

My second step: look at them all and decide which are vital to me personally and career-wise and ditch the rest. Unfortunately, only two were “ditchable”; and even then I had another gray hair of guilt episode. I may have said sorry to two or three, but I immediately signed on to two more, so…we’re crossing that effort off the list. It may not be done, but it’s well-cooked.

Third step: spend a couple of hours writing new material/editing my own stuff each day. It’s the second week of my attempt. Tuesday. Yesterday I spent the afternoon vacuuming and getting supper ready, an hour playing a couple of games of Freecell to get me in the mood to write and 45 minutes reading the last bit of manuscript I had been working on, semi-horrified to realize that truly the last time I’d spent on this book was November 2009. My goal: finish this first draft of the third installment of the mystery series  in Jan 2012. No excuses. I have only 20K or so left to go, but I have to reassociate myself with the characters and story. Never mind that I co-wrote and published/contributed to three other books in the meantime, signed two contracts and took on another magazine, editing jobs, and a mentoring position—This book series is still my baby and it really needs a diaper change. Really. Peee-yoo.

Where does this leave me?

Contributing to several blogs two times a month, so get organized. Writing – not every day on the ms in question, but frequently. It might work to go back to the chapter a day dealie in the morning, but I’m not to be a slave to it. Cut back on book reviews. Continue to be professional and serious about the obligations I have toward three different publishers and two book review sites, and the three blogs I administer.

Family is always first, so although I hope to not be a grandma too soon, it’s still in your time, Lord, and I will be available to my children and also my parents as they have need. Dad had a couple surgeries last year, and I am grateful I can be there. Husband had the worst year of our lives last year between work and family business which led to compromised health. I need to be ready to contribute as I must, even if it means giving up writing. I have had five years of freedom to make something of myself when I promised 18 months initially, and although my career has turned a corner, it’s not what I hoped when I first declared “I’m going to be a writer!” Although I trust in God above, I may have been listening with my other ear, so if I’m called to leave, I will listen.

This is who I am in 2012. Who are you?

Posted in Author Marketing, Authors, Encouragment, Heart and Home, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Three New Resolutions for Success in Writing

Posted by janeteckles on January 7, 2012

By Janet Perez Eckles

When a black curtain fell on my world, its physical darkness swallowed my dreams. A retinal disease robbed my sight and with it my motivation and sense of purpose.

But when I realized I couldn’t change the darkness of my physical surroundings… something else had to change—my heart.

Clichés always annoyed me. But this one nudged my soul: “Attitude determines your altitude.”

I looked up and Jesus smiled with hope and reassurance. His love changed my attitude and gave me eyes to see beyond my blindness. Holding onto the white cane of faith and determination I followed God’s whisper when He said His Word would be a lamp to my feet and a light unto my path.

With these powerful promises, I set off to fulfill my desire. Using a voice synthesizer to operate my computer, I entered the new world of technology. And learning the skill to operate it equaled the challenge to master the writing craft.

Equipped with my new vision, I struggled through the process. And overcoming moments of frustration, impatience and constant temptation to give up, I plunged forth.

Once I memorized the numerous key commands needed for each application, I began to describe each episode in my life: the devastating loss of my sight, the pain of infidelity and the anguish of losing my youngest son. At times, I’d pause to grab a tissue and wipe my teardrops from the keyboard.

But I pressed on—my readers need to see how God scooped me up as I lay crushed, shivering at the bottom of a cold and dark pit.

I sighed as I moved on. My fingers danced tapping on each key as my heart poured out each detail—the peace that fills my heart, the confidence that guides my steps and the joy that carries me through.

With each line and paragraph, I’m shouting from the mountaintops, “With Jesus, you can turn adversity to opportunities and disabilities to abilities”—the creativity to reach unlimited horizons.

The years swept by, the chapters fit together and the ending highlights details of triumph and victory for all to read.

I titled my first book, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life,” Xulon Press 2004. The recount of my story is blended with deep reflections for inspiration and insight.

After my stories found a place in more than 30 anthologies including 18 Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, then the next book leaped from my heart.

I titled it Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear At God’s Fiesta. Its pages filled with a bit of sass, passion, colorful stories and profound messages teach how to celebrate life when we seek God’s way to conquer fear.

In my own life, when fear was defeated, I learned three lessons to keep on going following the melody of God’s Lead:

  1. Each situation we see impossible is God’s way to show off His grace.
  2. Limitations are often the tools God has to sharpen our tenacity.
  3. When we look to God’s ways, success often exceeds our expectations.

My writing journey still dances to the beat of His lead and to the rhythm of His guidance as he opens doors that keep me moving to the salsa of gratitude.

Janet

 

Posted in Inspiration, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

 
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