Tag Archives: blogging

5 Reasons I Don’t Read (Christian) Chick Books

Data on this blog reports that married men, ages 25-35, with children are the biggest frequenters of this blog. I’m really flattered.

It’s a throwback to being picked by the neighbor boys to be quarterback for both teams during the zenith of my football prowess, ages 9-11. I guess they just trusted my skills. (Or, maybe I was bad at tackling.)

It seems I don’t write like a chick. A Lady. Or what have you.

BUT! I KNOW I don’t seem to read like one.

Case in Point:

I’d love to be involved with the women’s book club at my church. I love books and the discussions that ensue. I put one together for Blue Like Jazz. 3 people came, including me. One of them was a friend I drove to it, because I begged her to come at the last minute. She hadn’t even read the book.

The truth is, in general, I like the richness of mixed gender book clubs, and I like to hear various perspectives (unless it devolves into gender battles and insults, like Sunday School this past week. ACK! The men were PENT UP. Arrows were flying!) Plus, I think, this gender war stuff gets old, fast. Hello, John and Stasi Eldridge, can you hear me? Um. You’re causing infighting. It’s the truth.)

But for the exception of the wonderful Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God, that came up at book club, it’s been just a slew of girly books. I just cannot stop my gag reflex long enough to muddle through something Pioneer or Amish related. I can’t stomach “historical fiction/dreamy (and yet Christian-safe–in-all-the-right-spots) romance–with–a–God-twist”. This dominates our book club. Completely.

Thanks to a reader’s helpful link, you’ll find a really fascinating rendering of this issue here (Newsweek article).

(Bear in mind that my area can’t support a Walden’s Book store in the mall (which shut down a number of years ago) let alone something mainstream like a Boarders. Something like that is 31 miles away. And a cozy and bookish sole proprietorship? HAA! NEVER. So, it could be the situation that I’m just a fish out of water around here.)

So, in a measure of self-soothing, I’ve come up with a quick list-

5 Reasons I Don’t Read (Christian) Chick Books

1. I don’t care about reading gooey, implausible stories about the Amish. I live near the Amish. You know what? They aren’t that interesting.(Basically, they just dress weirdly, frequent “dent and scratch” bargain grocery stores, and have gaggles of children.)

2. I like history, and I like (good) fiction. But, it always seems like the category so-called “Women’s Christian Historical Fiction” is just a mash up that’s two levels closer to crap than anything else.

I feel insulted by everything from the predictable plot-lines, to the saccharine Christian-evangelism tactics that snake through like, well, “like a string of pearls snaking between ample bosoms”.

3. Since I’m not a big fan of the macho man/Christian book market, I can’t start getting aligned to closely with mushy, girly books. It’ll trash my street cred. (Guilt by association, obviously.)

4. If it makes a guy wince to see a chick book, it makes me wince. I just don’t like feeling I should defend my gender for enjoying overly sentimental tripe, that often sacrifices intellectual integrity for dramatic episodes that involve a high- stakes rescue, or a whore-come-home riff. Call me silly.

5. These books all seem to severely lack in the sense of humor department. This. is. not. okay. This is perhaps the biggest reason I just can’t do it. I need more. I want to be challenged. I want to laugh and cry, but not because “his heart has been too scarred to let her love in, despite their undeniable attraction…but he unknowingly gave himself a milk mustache on his curvaceous and stubbly upper lip, and her heart skipped a beat.” (You get the idea.)

If you are a fan of these books (or a writer of them, or an agent of them (like Chip MacGregor, my agent)), I apologize for being so brash. I’m not trying to be a guy about it.


It’s just my opinion that these books are for women what the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show holiday tv special is for men. They offer something superficial, that aims to scratch an itch, but ends up inflaming the whole thing. Less, not more, is the remedy, but no one wants to give it up.

victoria's secret fashion show 2010

Image by cattias.photos via Flickr

I realize writing this will mean I’ll never get a Christmas card from:

For a long list of these books, click here. If you start to feel ill, even at the sheer multitude, I wanna hear from you.

Here’s the surprise ending:
If any of these authors will have me over for dinner, and try to change my mind, I will indulge that. (In stereotypical male form, you may get to me through my stomach. And that’s a chance I’m willing to take, especially if there is PA German Apple crumb pie involved.)

What do you think about this genre?
Are you a woman who gets embarrassed by what’s available in the “Women’s genre”?


Ladies, if you like these books, have your say.


And guys, what’s your take on any of this? (If you were given $20, would you read a “bonnet ripper” and contribute at a book discussion? Or would you just break out in hives?)

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7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog

I’ve known Jon Acuff for few years now. We have the same agent. And he’s even given me an invitation to write on his blog. (Here’s the post). I was a fan of Stuff Christians Like long before Jon wrote his first book, called, well, surprisingly Stuff Christian Like. And even long before he was selling ads to….what?! NBC… (what the heck? wow. whoa. Jon Jon, way to go.) Oh! and even way back (sort of ) when he was using his spy name “Jon Christopher”… seemingly to throw weaker fans off his scent.

This is all to say that this post isn’t to actually rival Jon’s awesomeness, or his blog. (Jon gets more views in two minutes than I get all week.)

In fact, I’ll tell you outright that Jon’s new book called Gazelles, Baby Steps, and 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt promises to be awesome. And Jon delivers in a way that could compete with Octomom. Delivers.

Is this a “coattails post”… like something written to ride on another writer’s popularity and winsome humor to get more readers? Of course. [And frankly, I’d be surprised if you’d need me to ask such an obvious rhetorical question. Will I always ask rhetorical questions?]

Anyway: I highly recommend you order Jon’s book for a loved one for the holidays. It makes a great gift. A limited time special here will give it to you for only $10. Laugh, Learn about Money, and Linger on the comedic stylings of Jon Acuff.

If you’re a Jon Acuff fan, you already know all these things, and I hope you’ve stayed with me. We all must be on the same page. You know this. I know this. Jon knows this. We’re a fan club, er…  family, er…community…team. So we have to move like one. As. one.

7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog

Jon Acuff: Funny man. Serious man. Modern Legend.

 

 

1. Unlike Jon, I only rarely talk about orphans. Right now, I’m tearing up just thinking about a person (Jon) writing about orphans. So this has to be true. You need more proof, then click here. Orphans break out the water works like nothing else can. The only thing worse for your tissue stock pile is an orphan with cancer. That cute bald head. The sweet bloated belly. Horrible stuff. I’m changing the subject. ugh.

2. Jon can make plenty of us cry, just by being a tad more serious, on Serious Wednesdays. That’s skill folks. I’ll never do that to you. It just not in me. (I mean I don’t haz the skillz) For future notice, I happen to be sillier on Wednesday than Jon is, thereby making my ability to incite tears pale by comparison.

3. Jon writes touching things about his kids, that are profound and can make your eyes as moist and irritated as rubbing a hot chili pepper on your iris. Go ahead get a chili pepper and see for yourself.

4. Jon raises money for orphans. Frickin’ orphans, dude. If that’s not so sweet to be tear jerking, than you must be the Tin Man–pre-Emerald City–my friend.

5. When Jon cries, we cry. More proof here. Don’t miss the comments section. About 400 people admit to crying. Unbelievable. I never cried in an airport except when I’ve been with a TSA.

6. Jon loves his wife, and it shows. Witness this. Honestly, where the heck are my tissues? (I don’t know if people even know if I’m married-which I am. There I said it.)

7. Jon is generous. He’s always helping out struggling writers, ahem, and plenty of other people. Plenty. It’s almost too good to be true. (I have NEVER given iPads, or shuffles, or really any Apple products at all. I’m so lame, but unfortunately not lame enough to stir your tears of pity.)

Have I made my case?

(If you enjoyed this post, please come back soon, or click the “update button” for … you guessed it–post updates. Thanks.) 🙂

P.S.
If you are a blogger that offers fewer crying opportunities than Jon does, tell us your blog, and we’ll stop by.

Open Letter to Online Swipers

Swiping?

To Whom it May Concern (Which is probably most of you),

So, maybe you’ve wondered about using those easy to cut-and-paste photos you’ve seen online–EVERYWHERE. Is it “common law” to take what you find? Finders-Keepers, Losers-Weepers?

Well, copyright law, and creative/intellectual property law is a subject of widespread ignorance. I’ve checked with some people “in the know” to make us aware of the basics.

Simply put: Any content you happen to find online is not, by default, yours to use. It’s. Not. Yours.

By what if I’m not making money from what I swipe, er…um… borrow, like with my blog, for instance; what then, huh?

When in doubt, ask yourself this simple question: “Is it really mine?”

Did you make it? If not, it’s not yours.

If you know the person who made it? Still. not. yours.

That sounds so cut and dry. Perhaps even harsh. It hurts me to have to tell you.

What if I got the content idea somewhere, but change a few words so I can be the author?

Then, ask yourself this question: “Is it really an original twist, created by me, with my unique flavor, not just a bit rehashed?”

A parody is fine, but when your idea is not a true takeoff from the original–Buzzz. Infringement.

What about “fair use”? If something is out there for the taking, why can’t I use it?

Here’s the deal with that:

Creative Common (CC) status is one for fair use, but if an image or video is not explicitly cited this way (“CC”), for instance, one can find these types of images on Flikr), it remains “all rights reserved”. Just because swiping is commonand easy (what some mistakenly may call “common law”) does not mean it is ethical or legal to use it. And try to always cite the source of the piece, no matter what.

Take this example to heart: With FBI warnings we’ve all seen before the feature on our DVDs, it works the same way. Those materials are for private use. One is not allowed to copy, distribute, sell, or publicly use the material. There was an area school, in these parts, that was showing videos to students in the typical way. A School, mind you. A learning institution. A disgruntled student reported them, and FBI agents came and took all their things (videos taped from tv, DVDs that were not purely listed as for educational use, etc) and told them that even as a school, they could use show these things for educational purposes, but only temporarily-30 days. This school, like many people do, infringed on copyright laws. Notice: They weren’t making money doing it either. The same thing goes for music. If you make a DVD copy of songs for a friend, it’s stealing the songs, because they are not paid for. It’s called pirating, whether it’s for images, music, or movies. Do people do it all the time? Oh, yes. But they ought not to.

After 75 years, unless otherwise noted, the copyright goes in the public domain. Dover Publications specializes in items of this nature (art, books, crafts, etc.)

I mention all this, not because I expect people will do the right thing. I’m not the police, and I won’t be making my list, and turning you in. This letter serves as a warning that those who swipe are liable for theft. They could be sued for damages by the creator, production company, and corporation, etc. They could even fined by a governing authority. It’s something to remember if ones chooses to play fast and loose with copyright law.

It’s actually in our best interest as writers, creators, and even as regular citizens, to respect property rights and engage in the highest ethical practice in every case possible.

In a case like youtube, and other webscites like failblog, one uploads the video or photos for sharing and distribution. But if you’ve ever submitted to those websites, you will be asked to agree that you have the rights to upload it. The legal info is all there to read (usually in the terms and conditions section).

Ethics:
Why does it matter?

Especially is Everyone does it!

I don’t, and can’t agree with that sort of  premise for doing what we ought to do what we do (in this case: take or not take). The reasoning that swiping is okay because it does no harm is a purely pragmatic rationale. It is a consequence driven ethic. This is secular and baseless, and because of this, a rather inferior worldview and rationale for our actions. It is a flawed position because we never know the full repercussions of our consequence-based choices. (We cannot know the true consequences.) The ill-effects, or unethical fallout is not comprehensible; therefore, it, in itself, makes a poor foundation for our choices.

A Note to Ethical Folks, Christians (ethical or not), and Idealists:

Secular/Godless reasons for behavior are so mingled in our cultural fabric and common mentality, that we often don’t realize that pragmatics are an illegitimate reason for decision making. (I cover this more in a previous post called “How do we decide things”. To read it click here.) In case you are still confused, I should mention that I wrote it. It’s original writing, so that means I own the copyright and all rights are reserved (by me, the author), just *in case* you feel like doing a quick cut and paste for your purposes…even if you won’t be making $.  : )

Our standard for what we think, say, and do is founded on a perfect and holy God, whose nature and character is the basis for all goodness. We use a vantage point outside our weak, selfish, or flawed one, to order our world. Yes, it is the realm of Ideals that we must aim, though thorough perfection remains out of grasp.

Without this, all we our left with is fickle consensus, or individual and unanchored preference.

-yours truly,

Lisa

(comments? go for it!)

5 Things Readers Wish Bloggers Knew

wifi, coffee, donuts: A bloggers paradise

If you want to have a devoted readership, these 5 ideas will eliminate some common mistakes bloggers make. That means more readership, and more reader loyalty.

1. Be original. Even if you get sparked to write because of someone else, put your own creative twist on it.

2. Use good images. In a recent static that just came to me… more than 90% of regular internet users are visual people. The other 10% squint. A good image attracts attention, and makes your post more memorable. [Double points if it’s funny.]

NOTE: Be ethical. Always use your own photography, or ask permission and credit your photo sources. Link to the original image. Photos belong to the creator, not to you. Swiping them for your uses is what we called stealing.

3. Remember, you’re probably not that interesting. Rarely do people enjoy a personal journal type blog, unless you’re Lady Gaga, David Hasselhoff,Lance Armstrong, Snooki, or someone who is both famous and intriguing–No one cares that you made Mac and cheese, went shopping, took a nap, ate something, or some other stupid thing that chronicles your life. No. One. Cares.

(If that’s all you have to post about, read an interesting book, and blog about it, or skip the postings until you become infamous.)

4. Know when to post. Don’t write and post when you’re tired, quite ill, hungry, or up late because of insomnia. These posts you may live to regret. They won’t be your best work, and if you write during these circumstances often your posts will get very annoying.

5. Don’t linger. If possible keep your word count to 200-500 words. A reader should be able to get through your post in 3-7 minutes. Blogging is a different writing medium than books, or magazines. Don’t get confused and believe that even with good content you can get readers to stay for more than 3-7 minutes on one post. It just doesn’t work that way, my friend.

Sometimes I break this “rule,” but I know my blog suffers for it.

What things bug you about blogs?

Any questions?

UPDATE: In the comments, I post a reply to a reader who defends “swiping images”. Find out what is legal to take from the web, by clicking the Comments button. Thanks for reading and participating!

Visual Changes + Buzzzz 25K

Yes!

Things look a bit different here.

Do. Not. Panic.

Sometimes I need to try something new. But, it’s not only for the sake of refreshment, but also for the sake of improvement. I’ve tried to streamline away some of the noise. Tell me what you think, okay? What would you change?

Handy Tip of the Day (for navigating the new styled site)

Scroll to the bottom for (some of) the old sidebar options. (search the blog, see other pages, sign up for updates, oh my,  I’m winded…)

ALSO!

I could really use your help for the BUZZ 25K.

The what, uh, what, Buzz? You say. Right. I’ll tell you:

With the new look/revamp, it’d be ridiculous, fun, and interesting to see the “reach” of readers and visitors like you. What kind of ripple effect do you have?  You are the one with the power. I’m just here for your amusement… but I digress.

What if we top out the hits (scroll to the bottom to see the  hits counter) to 25,000, this week? YOU and your peeps could make it happen.

If you want to help, let some people know about this blog. (Tweet on it, stat about it, facebook it, link to it, text…heck, you decide how, just use your creativity, and don’t break any laws. ~Little brother, I’m talking to you.) If you want you can leave a comment that you helped, or how you did it.

Thanks for reading.

There’s GREAT stuff coming in July!


Lurking

A one way conversation

They say that 90% of people who visit a blog simply “lurk.” That is, they read, and rummage around a bit, but do not participate or respond to posts by leaving comments–even when it is encouraged.

Why do you think this is?

(Smash the stats, and answer rather than lurk this time, k?) 😉

Thanks for reading!

Featured Guest Blogger: CHAD ESTES!

I’ve been enjoying Chad’s blog, and social media shout outs for a while now; so I was quite excited, when this busy guy agreed to guest post here. It’s a joy for me to share things with readers here, including people. 

Chad Estes

 

Chad is a legend. Even “Biblical Learning Blog” (at http://www.biblecollege.org)  included his blog, Captain’s Blog, in their list of Top 50 Ecumenical Blogs. So, it’s really an honor to have him here.

When I asked if he would be a guest blogger, Chad mentioned that wanted to share his heart, and I hope you soak in his contribution.

Leave your comments, afterwards, and show him what a polite readership I am fortunate enough to have by visiting his site, and to say “thank you.” 

Chad, Thank you!

I Want You to Want Me

-Chad Estes

        What we learned on the schoolyard playground seems to hold true in life. Those with the mad skills are the ones in demand. Those who can’t keep their eye on the ball, or catch an easy pop fly are picked to play right field and bat at the end of the order. This peer rejection is like the sting of a wasp, and unless you get off the field, you will probably get hurt by the same stinger, over and over again. 

    Adults play this same game. We want to team up with those people who benefit us, and help us win. We do this in business and in social circles. We even do this in church. Those on the outside of our margins–because of divorce, financial status, education levels, or addictive behavior issues, maynot be the first ones invited to our home fellowships. It isn’t their children that we invite to spend the night with our children. 

   But actually my thoughts about rejection aren’t about being picked last; it is the rejection that comes from being picked first. 

What? 

Yes, there is also a rejection issue with being picked first on a team because, more often than not, you are being picked for what you can do instead of who you are.  

     This is acceptable as long as you can keep up with the performance levels, but if your stats ever start to stumble, so will your value to the team. 

     It would be nice if this didn’t happen in Christian circles but unfortunately, it does.

Many churches and ministries recruit to a position based on a person’s perceived contribution value (Do they have good speaking skills? Can they lead a team? Do they agree with my direction? Will they serve this vision?) like it was written on stone tablets. But, when recruiting is all based on performance there will be a day when those skills will slip, or someone, even more qualified will come along. And when our positions are challenged, we may resort to some sort of spiritual steroids to help keep us on the field of play. The bad thing is these unnatural growth hormones actually stunt spiritual development It’s a cheap trick. 

       Today, I had a meeting where I was being recruited because of my ministry skills. But, as I drove home, I realized I was actually feeling the sting of rejection even though I’d been offered a position. The recruiter wasn’t really interested in me as much as she was interested in what I could do for her. She doesn’t really know me, nor does she know my heart. And unfortunately with her priorities all about her vision, she never will take the time to know what my heart is about. And so though it is a heady offer, it is a path that leads to performing, pretending, and pain. 

       My real value is my heart, not my skills. The skills are deteriorating with age. My heart is in the process of being renewed.

                  What I really want out of this life is to be picked by someone to be on their team, or be their friend not, because I’m a good player, or that I fit a niche, but simply because they want to be with me.

How about you?

  • Which rejection hurts you more—the kind from not being included, or the kind from being selected for performance-based reasons?
     
  • What do you suggest are ways to build relationships outside of these judgments and expectations?