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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    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 ‘OtherSheep’

Why the Label?

Posted by Luther D. Powell on May 17, 2012

So I was brainstorming in my chamber of deep thought earlier this afternoon (the shower), and today’s bloppick came to mind. Why do we label Christian fiction? Not, what separates Christian fiction from everything else, but literally, why do we need the label?

I’m not hugely bothered by the label. I understand that plenty of Christian readers want to know they’re reading books that agree with their beliefs. They like to know that what they’re reading is safe for their hearts. I personally enjoy being able to enter a bookstore and head straight to the ‘inspirational’ section to browse shelves filled with some of my favorite authors. It’s like a family reunion!

Seriously though, why use the term ‘inspirational’ strictly for Christian/religious/spiritual fiction? Are no other books meant to inspire? I find that a little odd.

Anyway, my issue with labeling Christian fiction as such is that I have a lot of non-Christian friends (and a few Christian friends who don’t read much) who don’t even realize there is such a thing. Honestly, I rarely see a section in bookstores for Christian fiction; rather, I see sections marked off as ‘Christian,’ or ‘religious’ or ‘inspirational,’ period. That said, what non-Christian is going to read This Present Darkness if it’s sold on the same shelf as I Kissed Dating Goodbye? Nothing against the latter, you know what I mean. I understand the shelving logic: these books are belief-friendly, mix them together. But fiction and nonfiction have very different purposes, and I feel like those differences should be recognized.

I need a haircut.

Again, I do see the logic behind the Christian fiction label. It’s all about the marketing process, and the folks behind Christian fiction marketing are probably Christians who want other Christians to read the Christian books they Christian publish. Christian. However, I’ve read plenty of books on the…other market…which had messages of hope and spiritual growth in the plots, but simply because they were published by a different company, they didn’t get to sit at the table of Christian-labeldom. Dean Koontz, for example, is an author with a pretty hefty word count who definitely doesn’t ignore the spiritual realm in his writings. His books make me think on deep, important stuff just as much as Ted Dekker’s books do, but you’ll find no Dean Koontz on a Bible shelf.

Another thing, if Christian fiction gets its own corner in the bookstore, then why do I never see any Atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, New Age, et cetera, fiction? Sure there are nonfiction books that are by this religious group for this religious group, Richard Dawkins’s, The God Delusion comes to mind, but fiction? I haven’t seen it, and now that I think about it, wouldn’t it seem kind of weird to walk into a bookstore and see signs all over the place separating Christian fiction from Muslim fiction and so on and so forth? Right now, there seems to be Christian fiction and…everything else. Not all ‘secular fiction’ authors are unbelievers, so a Christian fiction label might even be a little off-putting to everyone else in the spectrum.

The way I see it, Christian stories are meant to aid in spiritual growth and plant seeds, so to speak. When the first thing people will see is “Hey! A Christian wrote this so you might consider accepting Jesus,” what firmly-rooted non-Christian will keep reading? Some will. Some get curious, but I can tell you from personal experience that most will glance at the bookshelf and keep walking. It’s not the label that bothers me, it’s how people react to it.

I can’t say I have an immediate solution to this. Maybe I’m the only one who sees a problem with it, but if what is currently considered Christian fiction were to simply be called ‘fiction,’ would we Christian authors not get more readers? How many more seeds could we plant if people didn’t have the obvious label to walk away from? It’s not denying our faith if we take the label away; denying our faith would be to rewrite everything without a message. What I think matters most is that we as Christians know Who and what we’re writing about, and that readers are encouraged to think on the world beyond themselves after reading what we write. They don’t need to know what we know as soon as they see the shelf the books are on, you know? :)

Obviously, a lot would have to be done in order for this change to be made. I’m not saying, “Let’s start a revolution with secretly-Christian-fiction,” per se, but I’d like to know if I’m not the only person who feels this way.

In closing, here’s a doodle I drew shortly after getting my first two short stories published by Splickety and OtherSheep magazines. Thanks for reading, cheers, God bless!

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Author Marketing, Publishing, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Introducing the new guy on the blog

Posted by Lisa Lickel on March 8, 2012

From Lisa: Our great thanks to Ben Erlichman who provided intriguing commentary for the past couple of years. Ben’s stepping back, as he said last week, to welcome new challenges and direction in his life and career. Ben asked Luther to walk with us and share his perspectives on his life journey. Luther has a fresh take and will spark many a thoughtful commentary.

Greetings! This is my first post at Reflections in Hindsight, hopefully first of many, so let me summarize what I’m about.

Grew up in a conservative Christian household with both parents and two older sisters. Went to a small, public school located amongst the cornfields of Marion County, Ohio. Been writing and drawing since toddlerhood. Attended an Alliance church nearly every Sunday. Never felt pushed or pulled in any direction; went to church because church was where people went on Sundays. And Dad was the choir director.

A buddy led me to Christ in a Meijer shopping cart at age four. I accepted Him again in sixth grade, when I began to desire a more faith-driven life. I was taught all about this loving Jesus who took the punishment for my sins, and wanted to know Him more. I was picked on, dished up regular helpings of verbal and occasionally, physical abuse until my last years of high school, and I didn’t want to be like those mean kids. I wanted to be like the Christ. They called me a weirdo and maybe I was, but so was He.

Weirdly loving. Oddly perfect. Wonderfully unique in His methods. That’s what I wanted to be.

I mean, somewhere in Kindergarten I wanted to be a cop, but that’s different.

In high school, I experienced more vividly the wonders of His Holy Spirit, the details of such experiences I’ll write about eventually. Graduated and enrolled at Bowling Green State University, majoring in Fine Arts. Every other family member had attended Taccoa Falls in Georgia, a Christian college, but I felt called to go somewhere that required Christ’s work more directly, somewhere with less believers.

Could have majored in writing, but I knew that majoring in art would give me the freedom to create pieces expressing His message however I wanted to. First year at BGSU went poorly due to a number of unpleasantries which intensified the depression I had fought since middle school. Luckily I made a handful of great friends through hardships, a select few of whom I call my brothers now.  My second year went much better, and I’m currently on my third.

I was introduced to Ben Erlichman last summer through a group page on Facebook called The Ragged Edge, created by Ted Dekker. Ben E. posted about submissions for his upcoming fiction magazine, and I was all over it. Since then, I’ve had a short published in Splickety magazine, another in OtherSheep magazine, and Ben asked me to fill in for him here at Reflections in Hindsight. That’s the extent of my writing career thus far, and I can’t thank Ben E. and Lisa Lickel enough for helping me spread my name around. Been writing a series of horror novels for literally half my life now, so I’m excited to make connections and go somewhere with those stories.

Why horror? In short, creepy stuff is what I’m best at, and straight-up Christian Horror is a genre not thoroughly covered quite yet. My works are about finding hopeful meaning behind the shadows most people fear and avoid. God is everywhere, in darkness and in light.

I’m also a freelance portrait artist. My commission work varies quite a bit, from portraits to pets to tattoo designs. I’m not here to sell my art, but I’ll definitely post something more about it sometime.

I think that sums me up pretty well. I look forward to posting weekly and getting to know more readers and writers through this blog. Thanks for reading and God bless!

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Encouragment, Friendship, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Plunging into the World of Weird and Wacky

Posted by Lisa Lickel on November 2, 2011

or How I Ended Up as editor of OtherSheep magazine

This whole thing started, really, when I wrote my second novel. Ever. Little did I know I was writing spec fiction when I dreamed up this story about a woman from a very special community that practiced the spiritual gifts in modern times. Grace had the gift of healing. Only it didn’t always work the way she thought it should The spec side of my book hit home when Jeff Gerke was the only acquisitions editor interested, and he couldn’t convince his then-employers to consider it. I thought everybody believed in miracles. I learned we do—just in unique ways. And it’s okay.

A few years later I joined a group at Goodreads.com and traded book reviews with a very friendly, perky author. Little did I know I would enter the world of Christian vampires. I may not be the most conservative of Christians, but I always considered Bram Stoker on the other side. There are witches in the Bible, sure, even space travel and time travel and one could argue steam punk and monsters, but only the oddest of oddballs hint at human bloodsuckers. But there they were in this crazy novel, bigger than life and sentimental and…saved. Very cool. Thus began a friendship with Ellen C. Maze, whose story you’ll read in the January 2012 edition of OtherSheep.

As an editor I’m sitting on the other side of the rejection table. It’s totally no fun. I was forced to start learning how unfun it is when I joined a contest site, Clash of the Titles, as a host and had to pick contestants (from anonymous entries), telling some yes and others no. Talk about stressful. I also edit a literary magazine for the Wisconsin Writers Association. I seldom tell the members who submit an outright no, though it happens upon occasion. Mostly I can tell the authors about another market, or to fix something in the story and try again. Creative Wisconsin is a membership magazine, dedicated to showcasing membership work. It’s a joy to work with these people, many of whom are hobbyists and simply delighted to see their work in print. There’s no contracts, no money, no hard sales. I get to use my skills as a desktop publisher and I’m happy. I even get a little salary.

Written World intrigued me from the start up. I’d been invited to submit short stories to Harpstring which was fun for me during a downtime in my schedule (AKA in between novels). When I learned that OtherSheep was looking for a lead editor strictly for the magazine, I applied. And here I am. While Creative Wisconsin is more of a service, OtherSheep is a business. This leads me to ponder my role as an editor. Am I strictly in acquisitions mode? Right now OtherSheep is so new that I’ve had to go out and seek submissions, listening to pitches, and figuring out where the audience is and how to reach it. After some conversation during a company publisher panel, I feel good about deciding how I want to work with authors. Some of the unsolicited submissions are simply not spec fiction with faith elements. Those are easy to decline because I have a concrete reason. After teaching seminars on how to submit work to publishers and seeing this side, I truly understand the frustrations of authors simply not caring to check first to see if the publisher is a good fit for their work. Some of the submission are truly rough, but sparkle – those diamonds just waiting to be cut. And there I see it. If an author is willing to learn, to work with me, I am willing to mentor. I may not always have this time to show the author what I need, what they need to do, but right now I’m in a good place, sifting for diamonds and sparkling with the joy of finding those rare teachable authors.

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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