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 ‘Splickety’

The Creative Process

Posted by Luther D. Powell on September 27, 2012

The past few weeks for me have been spent drawing. Drawing, and thinking of what to draw next. Oh, and getting paid to draw. And doing sketches for future drawings. And finding reference photos for –OKAY, so yeah, it should have been obvious what I could blog about for today, but it wasn’t until my Splickety-writer-buddy Avily Jerome suggested the topic that I decided to blog about this. (Thanks bunches, Avily!)

So, how do I come up with stuff to draw, and what’s the creative process behind everything? I’ll explain how I go about it step by step!

Step 1: Inspiration. I get inspired by lots of things. Sometimes, this step is cancelled out by the motive behind the drawing. If it’s for class, I may or may not have limitations on what I’m doing. If it’s a commission piece, there will definitely be limitations, thus less ‘real’ inspiration. For commissions, I’m often asked to draw very specific things. Other than that, I have to say, “From whence was my urge to draw such things?” and go from there. Life experiences? Bible stories? Pop culture (books, movies, etc.)? Inspiration branches into a number of other sub-steps of making artwork; deciding on the intended audience/viewers, message behind the image, tone of the image, all that good stuff, but I don’t need to delve too much into those details. General idea, once I’m inspired by something, then I can figure out where to get my references.

Step 2: References. Oddly enough, finding references for my art has recently become one of the most difficult steps in my creative process (and not just because I’ve been drawing a lotta werewolves lately, ‘cause Lord knows those aren’t easy to come by). Just like citing sources when writing an essay, picking out the right reference material for drawings is obnoxious. For me, finding references varies from asking friends to pose and let me take photos of them to look at, to Googling a mess of stuff, to straight-up conjuring images out of nothing. The more fun variation is taking pictures of friends. It’s an odd sort of bonding experience when I’m attempting to make small talk with someone and telling him/her to “move your arm a little more this way, yeah, that works, keep it like that.” Once photos are taken, I’ll sometimes edit them to heighten contrast, make them black and white, basically do things that will make it easier for me to draw them as I see the piece in my head.

Step 3: Sketches and composition. This step is sort of two steps in one, because I’ll usually do sketches of individual figures, then put them together in a composition with slightly more detail. The sketches vary widely  in detail, starting with simple geometric shapes then fleshing out the human form (or whatever it is I’m drawing) little by little, layer by layer. Sometimes I come up with 1-3 sketches and I know just what I want, sometimes it takes up to 10 or more sketches. After I’ve decided on my composition, where everything’s going on the paper, then I begin the final step.

Step 4: DRAW. This part is pretty self-explanatory. I start by mapping out where my figures and objects in the background and foreground will be, again, with simple shapes. The first lines are very, very light, because I always erase the most during the first layer of the drawing. Lay the first lines in too dark, and you either gotta work with what’s there or start over on another sheet of paper. Layer by layer, I add details, and most of the time, I’m a huge detail-nut. I don’t strive to make my pieces photo-realistic necessarily, but realistic enough that one can see the image come to life. In some cases, I let the ‘artist’s hand’ show through along the edges of paper. That means, sometimes you can see my pencil-marks on the paper directly, but most of the time, I blend everything together enough to give the image a more natural appearance. A lot of illustrators enjoy seeing the line work throughout a drawing, and I understand why. It’s a matter of aesthetics, and not everybody feels the same way about seeing the artist’s hand in his/her work. From simple shapes, to a contour form, to minimal shading to super-high-contrast-dark-shading, a drawing can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months for me to complete depending on size and detail.

That’s my creative process. Now, take all you just read and try to imagine God’s creative process. What were His references? According to Genesis 1:26, HIMSELF. At least when creating mankind. Aside from that, God literally made everything out of nothing. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Clearly God must have put inconceivable amounts of thought into the creation of all things, but all The Bible tells us is that He said, “I’m gonna make this,” and then it was. It’s a humbling consideration that I try to dwell on whenever I’m drawing something new. I must remember, “I couldn’t make this if God hadn’t made me first,” and because of that, I strive to make what I make for Him, not just for me. God is the ultimate writer and artist.

Here’s an example of a drawing I made using these steps pretty thoroughly. I’ll let you guess who the guy’s supposed to be.

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Inspiration, Life Experiences, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 »

ACFW Recap and Splickety Magazine

Posted by Ben Erlichman on September 29, 2011

I have returned from the 2011 ACFW Conference a new man.

You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. In a previous post I mentioned three goals that I was hoping to accomplish at this year’s conference:

Goal #1: With three novels written and one in-process, I want to convince a particular publisher (I’ll tell you who in a later post) to take the next step(s) in publishing me, thus making my path to publication a question of” when,” not “if.”

Goal #2: I want to network heavily with other authors to obtain submissions for the short fiction magazine I’m editing (previously described here) for Written World Communications. I’ll give an update on that in two weeks.

Goal #3: I want to soak in as much marketing strategy information as possible as it pertains to my writing so I can better promote and plan for my future success as an author.

The results of those goals are as follows:

Goal #1: Success. My 1st choice publisher has decided to take my first novel, The Dreamer, down the traditional publishing path to see if she can convince her team to take it on as a new project. We also have a fallback plan if that fails.

Goal #2: Success. I networked my bum off. Of the 500 cards I brought with me tot he conference, I’m pretty sure I passed out over 200 cards, perhaps even 250. I’ve also revamped the guidelines for the magazine and its name, both of which I will touch on later in this post.

Goal #3: Success–mostly. While I could have been more diligent about attending some of the sessions I’d signed up for, I have to say that the time I spent talking with my (hopefully) soon-to-be publisher about some marketing ideas and the time I spent talking with Jim Rubart about charting out my career path during our mentoring appointment really helped me ascertain how I want to start out my publishing career, which is by publishing The Dreamer first. We also discussed branding, and he said that my “new look” was much improved from last year’s.

For example, last year:

ACFW 2010

As opposed to this year:

ACFW 2011

Yes, that’s me in costume for the awards banquet. It was sort of a tribute to Rambo, the Terminator, Mad Max, and a combination of other miscellaneous action icons. Oh, and I’m standing next to former ACFW President Cynthia Ruchti, who graciously agreed not only to have her pic taken with me but also to hold my outlandish gun.

Granted, I didn’t dress like that the whole conference, but you get the idea. As an action/adventure author, I necessarily had to present myself in a way that reflected that. Overall, the conference was a success. :)

Anyway, I had mentioned that I was going to post a bit about my new project, Splickety Magazine. Instead of doing that, I’m posting a link to my personal blog where you can access submission guidelines and read about the actual magazine and what it will contain.

You can find it here.

Since ACFW the submissions have been trickling in, but I feel the waters straining against the floodgates with more submissions on their way. It’s not too late for you, though. You can still submit, and I will need submissions for all of my subsequent issues as well. The magazine will launch on November 1st (or possibly Oct. 31st) and will come out every 3 months (February, May, August, November, repeat). Keep sending me stuff, just follow the guidelines.

Thanks for reading.

-Ben

P.S. Our very own April Gardener wins the free ebook from Lynn Rush since she was the only commenter aside from Lynn herself. Yay April! I hope you enjoy it.

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Friendship, Happiness, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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