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- Things you see at Christmas: Irony
- Can Mustard Seed-sized Faith move a Mountain…of trash?
- 7 fake TSA -related headlines
- Guess where this Photo was taken
- Tech = Baal (Re: Idol worship)
- DAY 7- Weird Santa Photo Week (Grand Finale)
- Day 6-Weird Santa Photo (STRESSED!)
- DAY 5. Weird Santa Photos Week. Santa’s Creepy Sidekick, Krampus
Tag Archives: writing
Posted on December 7, 2010
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.
I realize writing this will mean I’ll never get a Christmas card from:
- Terri Blackstock
- Wanda Brunstetter
- Ted Dekker (?)
- Karen Kingsbury
- Beverly Lewis
- Tracie Peterson
- Francine Rivers
- Kim Vogel Sawyer
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?)
Posted on December 1, 2010
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
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.) 🙂
If you are a blogger that offers fewer crying opportunities than Jon does, tell us your blog, and we’ll stop by.
Posted on October 6, 2010
Triple Dog Dare is the humor portion of my writing.
This page may give opportunity to divert there, if the post is recent and fairly funny, witty, ironic, or silly. There will be games, riddles, dares, polls, and prizes.
I hope you enjoy it. Tell me what you think about the first post/game. Thanks.
Posted on October 1, 2010
Some of you have been wondering if you can “LIKE” me.
This is perfectly understandable.
You have a battle raging within…or maybe you don’t know what I’m talking about…or both…
We all like to be well-liked, but in this case, if you haven’t figured, I’m speaking about Facebook. It’s a so-called fan page. Even though I’m not my biggest fan, in a desperate attempt at self-actualization, I created my own fan page. Pathetic. I know. But wait.
If I could have changed the name to “Fun page” I would have. It’s really all Facebook’s fault. It’s not vanity. You would do the same thing, if you were backed into a corner. And what a corner…
What if, you’re Not on Facebook?
very bad. Your punishment is to leave a comment explaining why. 🙂
OKAY! I just snapped, a little. Sorry ’bout that. (See why spiritual practices are indispensable? Imagine if I didn’t do them. Yes. We’d all be sorry.) Um. Yes. Where were we?
Right. The Page Facebook page called “Triple Dog Dare” is my way to connect with friends, fans, and the random person who likes to read something humorous.
(Image yourself holding a full pail of funny…See, you’ll love it.)
Click a photo below to get there; and remember, I love you, more than cheddar cheese, despite its power, and I mean that!
If you “Like” and “Share” to your FB page, I’ll leave you a witty quip on your Wall, and you’ll actually like it, (Help me know who you are, and/or confirm you did this, right here, or on my Facebook wall).
Happy Autumn, ya’ll.
Posted on August 24, 2010
Okay, when you become wildly famous, rumors circulate, and some of them must be dispelled. I wouldn’t know much about that.
Just have some fun with this:
1. I invented Pop Tarts
Fiction. But I do like them.
2. I am an illegal alien of African descent.
Fiction. I was born in Puerto Rico, but the island is an American Territory. African descent? My Nana was a bit mum and shifty-eyed on that.
3. I’ve been hit by a bus.
Fact. I’m writing about that right now. Your appetite is now whetted, yeah?
4. Author Donald Miller wrote me a personal note.
Fact. It involved something about Paraguay and paper, but I don’t want to embarrass him too much at the moment.
5. I wrote Hebrews.
Fiction. But, It’d be great to write a book about my husband who makes me coffee each morning, and it could be called, He-brews: All about Hymns and Hers. (Okay, that’s but a working title) Also, I wrote a mediation in the Holy Bible: Mosaic. But, that’s not really the same thing, is it?
6. I’ve been shot out of a canon.
Fiction. But, I’ve both shot a Canon (camera), and written about the (biblical) canon.
7. I’m allergic to bananas.
Faction… half-in-half. Unripe bananas make the roof of my mouth feel like it’s sort of dry, splitting open, and raw. Ripe bananas? No problem.
8. I’m bilingual.
Let’s not get carried away.
9. My son can count cards, like Rainman.
Fiction. Nathan has autism, but his cool savant-type of qualities are limited to paper 3D models and legos. (So far, not all that marketable.)
10. I’ve stayed in Prague.
Fact. And I like to call it Praha.
Now you try.
1. List 1 fiction and 1 fact, and we’ll make a guess.
2. Guess what the photo is.
Posted on August 22, 2010
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?
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!
Posted on May 21, 2010
Do you think pleading just another way of going too far?
I was never a fan of the plea, “Pretty please” with or without cherries on top. Asking for something: Should this ever be paired with an ice cream sundae type of association? I don’t think so. Food and petitions should stay in separate categories, just like tea and coffee. Or drug addicts and congressmen.
Does pleading scream, “I’m really needy and pathetic!”
However, maybe *direct asking*–if it’s not too annoying–can put something in front of the right person, at just the right time. Something they don’t even know they want just yet, and then blamo, a need is filled. The world is a slightly better place. I said -slightly-.
Maybe pleading, when done properly, is just posturing, timing, and passion meeting in a perfect storm intersection of opportunity.
Well, whatever you call it, I’m going to give it a try:
(So brace yourself)
If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do.
It’s quick, convenient, and reversible (if need be).
(I will not spam your inbox…it’s not how I roll).
Being a subscriber means that my blog posts will get sent straight to you with no fuss or bother.
You needn’t even make here to see what’s cookin’.
You’ll never get behind, but at the same time, you’ll be in control.
Conveniently, there are links in the direct email that can get you here in a jiffy, if you’d like to contribute.
It’s good times.
(To get plugged in, click the button on the right that says, “Wow. So simple. so easy. yes!”)
I’m not sure if that’s begging, pleading, asking nicely, or none of the above, but it’s really the most direct approach I’ve ever tried. I hope you’ll subscribe.
And -Thanks for reading this blog, in any form. It means a lot to me that you came by.
Posted on May 19, 2010
Interview with Ed Cyzewski
Author of A Pathway to Publishing ©2010
1. At the end of each chapter you give Action steps to help a writer move toward concrete goals. Is this what you did when you wrote, or do you wish you had done it? How important is this element?
It’s some of both. Most of the action steps are based on what I have found most helpful, but a few of them come from what I have learned from other writers and publishing professionals. I’ve had some wonderful guides throughout my brief career and they helped me take the right action steps along way, though sometimes I stumbled onto what worked best for me.
Beginning writers need to take themselves and their work seriously, and the best way forward is to take action. Whether it’s something as simple as reading the latest edition of a writing magazine (such as Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, or The Writer) or jotting down ideas for books and magazine articles, we all need to start somewhere.
2. Which part of the publishing process is a beginner most likely to overlook?
I think there are two things beginners can overlook. The obvious one is the degree to which writers must be able to market their work on their own, but the more subtle one is learning how to write a book that is both true to their vision for it and suited to a specific audience. I believe that getting into the heads of readers is one of the most challenging and important aspects of writing. There are a lot of writers who labor over manuscripts that will not connect with readers because they aren’t asking the questions that readers will be asking. I have made this mistake far too often myself.
3. From the start of your book, you tell readers to prepare for rejection. Aren’t you afraid you’ll scare them off?
I used to work at an art gallery, and I was in charge of the volunteers who returned work to artists after it was rejected by a jury. About a quarter of them acted surprised, outraged, and suspicious that their work was rejected. I’ve always thought they shouldn’t submit their work unless they are prepared to see it rejected, and that’s how I feel about writing. Publishing hopefuls should not try this unless they are prepared for editors to say “no,” reviewers to say “not quite,” and readers to say, “That book’s not worthy my $15.”
Handling rejection is a necessary and ordinary part of the business for every writer. Even Christian literary legend Fred Buechner shared at an event last year that his regular publisher rejected his latest book proposal. It never ends, but it does become easier to deal with. In addition, if you can keep the big picture of your writing career (and/or ministry) in view, then a few measly rejection letters aren’t too big of a setback. For a bit more about dealing with rejection, I have a series on it at www.edcyz.com.
4. Do writers really need literary agents in order to succeed?
Agents aren’t exactly required for everyone. I have a friend with a really influential blog, and he was offered a book deal based on this amazing series he posted. No agent necessary. However, for the vast majority of us hoping to secure a book deal with a major publisher, an agent is necessary. Most editors will not even look at a manuscript unless an agent sends it to them.
If you want to try publishing without an agent, keep in mind that you’ll probably make tons of mistakes, some of which may affect your bottom line, control over your material, and future works. One friend I know narrowly avoided legal trouble because of some misunderstood contract terms. I view agents as an insurance policy and as a first line of defense to make sure your proposal/manuscript is as bullet proof as possible.
5. You mention self-publishing as an option in this book, and the book itself is self-published. This has been thought to not be a legitimate form of publishing in the past. Is that still true, and what makes a self-published book succeed?
As far as legitimacy, let’s note the three major things publishers provide: editorial/design development, distribution/marketing, and authority. Today writers can hire their own editors, designers, and publicists, while selling through online sites instead of book stores. Most nonfiction writers won’t get in the door at a publisher without a marketing platform that will enable them to sell their books anyway.
If an author can make a legitimate case for writing a book and selling it to a specific niche, then I think it has a shot as a self-published work. Many authors are publishing commercially and self-publishing, but they are doing so with an established marketing platform and a degree of authority—Cory Doctorow and Seth Godin come to mind. I have spoken with one very well known editor at a major NYC publishing house who said, off the record, that self-publishing has lost its stigma for the most part. I don’t think self-publishing in and of itself is illegitimate. Authors who skimp on editorial development, design, and building their credibility are the ones who give self-publishing a bad name.
Let’s face it, book covers with clip art and tacky fonts are a tough sell. I hired my brother-in-law (www.joelinmotion.com) who is fresh out of Savannah College of Art and Design to put my cover together. He’s not a professional book designer, but he knows how to pick fonts and colors. The small investment I made in his help made a huge difference in the quality of the book in my opinion.
Having commercially published first, I can say that self-publishing involves a ton more work since you’re doing all of the little things yourself, such as book lay out, sending out press releases, and worrying about how your book appears at online sites. Since I can’t say this self-published book is a success yet, having just released it, I can’t quite answer this question definitively. However, I think the key to success, however you publish, is to market your work until you drop and to contribute to your community of readers.
6. First time writers don’t think too much about marketing their book. You seem to speak to that issue a lot. Was this a surprise to you, and what nuggets did you learn when you published?
I was blown away by how hard it is to sell books. The most effective way to sell books is in person. I’m a big fan of blogging and all that, but when you can hand someone your book and tell its story in 30 seconds, that person will most likely buy it. The personal connections you build online may be significant and may sell books, but selling it in person is quite effective. In addition, I’m a big believer in radio and podcast interviews, as well as online videos. Anything that helps readers make a personal connection with the author will be most effective because we’re all wondering, “Do I trust this person?” Think of the best ways you can answer that question, and that’s how you need to market. Having said all of that, writers need good web sites with stellar blogs in order to stay connected with their readers.
One other nugget is to begin thinking of every personal connection that can help you book speaking events. I find it really tough to find speaking engagements where I can talk about my books, and it can be hard to land events at book stores. Start thinking about this now. If you’re going the self-publishing route, keep in mind that many book stores will not want to host a self-published author, so think up some plan B options.
7. You offer lots of extra free goodies and resources for new writers, tell us about some.
I think most writers will benefit from the online marketing chapter that I listed online. It covers everything from setting up a web site and writing a blog to using social media. This is a good place to begin building a platform, even if your long-term goal is to integrate speaking engagements and radio/podcast spots. I also have a sample of the book available for those who aren’t convinced by my “brilliant” answers here.
There is a growing list of links at the Resource page, but a glitch in my blogging program erased about 90% of them. I’m adding them again, so keep dropping by there for suggested articles and books on publishing.
Lastly, my writing blog www.edcyz.com has a bunch of series that writers will find helpful. My latest series covers what I learned from the self-publishing process.
Thanks for hosting me on your site Lisa! Happy writing.
Posted on March 17, 2010
I wanted to share this video, by travel writer Rolf Potts, because I appreciated Rolf’s worldview, and attitude about enjoying life. I think we’d be better off absorbing his 5 tips, than doing, or seeking a great many other things.
Rolf’s begins by telling viewers that time (not money, achievements, or things) is our greatest temporal treasure.
Enjoy and live well.