Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ecclesiastes 11:2: How to be Profligate

Corrugated (Photo credit: Andrea Kirkby)

"Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns.  Don't hoard your goods; spread them around. Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night" Eccl 11:1-2(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

Like corrugated warts, storage barns have cropped up all over the countryside. People have so much junk, they now need to rent these pleated sheds to hold it all. If these hoarders are anything like me, those buildings hold cheap Christmas decorations (especially strings of lights with one burnt bulb so none on the string light), stuffed animals and worn-out sheets that have a few good uses left in them. Few hold the treasures you see discovered in Storage Wars.

How about you?  What would happen if you were to die tonight? Remember that old guy in the New Testament who built bigger barns to store all his goods? Didn't come to a good end.

_6300258 "Shed"
_6300258 "Shed" (Photo credit: spootonium)
Why not try something decidedly un-materialistic? Give it away. Be generous. What can you gain?
  • Space in your study
  • A happy friend or neighbor who really needed that thingy
  • A write-off on your taxes
  • A few extra bucks for not having to rent/buy a:
    • storage shed
    • an addition to your house
    • a bigger house
      • in a bigger house, you'd have to rent a U-Haul to haul it all from the old place to the new
      • in a bigger house, you'd have to buy more stuff to fill up the spaces.
Ecclesiastes is a tremendously happy book of the Bible. If we're profligate with God's blessings, great joy will fill us. 

How do you cast your bread on the water?   
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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Key to Failure in Writing

Proud As A Peacock
I loved the Dixie Chicks. Their sound crossed the line between old-time country and the contemporary. The use of the fiddle, the guitar work, the entire package worked for these classically trained musicians. Perhaps success came too easy for them and handed them their key to failure.

They should have understood their genre. Country fans love the USA and conservative values (mixed too frequently with whiskey and guns...but I digress). Repeatedly, the group bashed the United States.

No public feud breeds good publicity. The Chicks constantly bashed their colleague Toby Keith.

They'd be caught in a transgression, chastised, then apologize and repeat their errors. They thought they were too good to fail. But it wasn't true.

Perhaps the same could have been said about  Lindsay Lohan, Oscar Pistorius, Lance Armstrong, Rehoboam, Absalom and Saul--to name a few.
Hans Holbein d. J. - The Arrogance of Rehoboam...
Hans Holbein d. J. - The Arrogance of Rehoboam - WGA11598 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What they suffer from, destroys our chances of a successful writing career.  

How? So glad you asked. It could probably be summed up in the battle cry:

 "What do they know?"

Have you given place to any of the following?
  • several critique partners say something doesn't work. You reply, "What do they know?"
  • too much is marked up in your sample critique, so you discard the whole thing.
  • an editor wants you to change something--maybe a scene a bit too graphic for your audience. If you refuse, you are asking, "What do you know? You, of course, have a better handle on it.
  • you're so good, you have no need to spend good money on courses--and what do the free ones, like those offered at ACFW have to offer? You know the material as well as the teacher.
  • which brings me to the next point--you tell the instructor what he/she is doing wrong--how much more successful your way is.
  • since God gave you the story, any changes will ruin the message--maybe even bring down His wrath on the one who refuses to accept it.
  • you refuse to enter contests and see what seasoned authors and editors have to say because one judge, one time, was harsher than necessary.
I hate to say this, but I'm a good one for publicizing my foibles, I've been guilty of much of this. Do you know of any I've missed? (Of course, not about me--but useful for the general writing population.)
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Platform Building: How to Fail

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase
You got that coveted three-book deal with Penguin. You know that to ensure success, you have to build a platform, that is find potential customers. So you fire up your twitter feed, add people onto google+ and have exceeded one thousand friends on facebook. You set up HooteSuite, and you think you're in business.

English: Google+ wordmark
English: Google+ wordmark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But you fail. Why? Maybe it's because you:
  1. post the same feed to all your social networks, so those who are linked to you see the same message over and over and over again.
  2. highjack the feed with post after picture after re-post. Have you ever had a friend who constantly calls, texts, drops by? Can get tiring
  3. never respond to anyone else's posts
  4. never show the personal side of your life--just your livelihood
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
Platform building isn't about spamming the world. Until you're Jerry Jenkins, Justin Beiber or Julia Roberts, no one will care that your latest YA romance about poltergeists has just been released, unless the reader is a fourteen-year-old girl who followed the Twilight saga. Maybe.

Case in point. I run this fabulous blog. When I check the traffic sources viewing it, I discover only people from facebook or from search engines read it. Never from other social media sites. With my twitter and google+ accounts, I do what I said not to do. I only post that I have a new blog up, and the end result is no traffic.

However, on facebook, I interact with my "friends." I read the posts, laugh at the jokes and respond. Many of these people have become, if not real friends, more than just names. Those people visit the blog from time to time. And when I'm really lucky, share it.

Think smart about networking. Simply seeing your name scroll by will do nothing to build your platform.

What other things do we do that fail to build up our network?

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ecclesiastes 10:3: Ten things like folly

A Little Folly
"Dead flies putrefy the perfumer's ointment, And cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor" (Eccl. 10:3).

My house sparkled. The floor spread before me, spotless, nary a speck of dust lay on my highly polished furniture, and sunlight sparkled through pristine windows. I inhaled deeply. And what did I smell? A dead rodent.

My country house had been plagued by one varmint, or maybe two. I tucked d-Con behind the plumbing under my sink, and a tiny mouse must have eaten deeply, the crawled into the walls and died.

The results? No matter how my house gleamed, the stench of decay ruined the effect.

What is a little folly like?
  1. one tiny stain on a white shirt
  2. a speck of lettuce between your front teeth
  3. a smudge of mascara under the eyelids
  4. a small crack on the driver's side windshield
  5. cheap perfume in a crowded opera house
  6. one dollar overdrawn the day before payday
  7. one hair in your vichyssoise
  8. one flu virus
  9. a grain of sand in your running shoes
  10. forgotten antiperspirant on a job interview
Can you add to this list? How are these things like folly?
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