Sunday, March 1, 2015

Social Media & Marekting Month


Welcome to what I'm fondly calling: Social Media & Marketing Month here on Thinking Thoughts. If you're a reader, don't worry, I'll still be posting my weekly New Novel News posts as well as introducing you to new writers on {Writer Wednesday}. So no, I have not (nor will I ever) forget you!

But, part of this blog is devoted to writers and one thing I've become increasingly aware of (and passionate about) is marketing. Oooo! The dreaded "M" word. But, as much as there are some scary notions associated with marketing, I've realized that it doesn't have to be that unscalable mountain looming in the distance. It can be...well, fun!

This month I'll be taking a look at the big dogs...
  • Blogging
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram 
  • Pinterest
  • Evernote
  • Google +
  • YouTube
The difference about these posts? Well, they will be with YOU, dear writer, in mind. That's right, I'll be looking at utilizing social media well as a writer. That means I struggle with a lot of the same things you do...voices in my head, procrastination, great ideas, no time....the list goes on!

So, check back during this month for posts directed toward you writers with fun ideas, time savers, expert guest posts, and hopefully a few things you can tweet about too!

And please feel free to join in on the fun! I've created a hashtag for this month (um, don't know what those pesky hashtags are? We'll talk about that too!). So, if you're posting on Social Media make sure to use:

#ttmediachallenge

Yep, not only is this month dedicated to social media, but I'll be challenging YOU after each post to utilize that particular platform. So, how about it? If you're exited about this let me know. The first post will be this Friday (March 6th) so I expect to see you here!

Tweet your excitement using the hashtag above to: @eacreativephoto


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Writer Off The Leash by Michelle Griep | RE:View

Hilarious. Refreshing. Honest.

I love the combination of humor and truth that Michelle has combined in Writer Off The Leash. You'll be smiling from the minute you pick this book up until the minute you put it down. I personally I found many "tweet-able" truths contained within the pages here (and we all know that's an important thing!).

As you dig deeper into Writer Off The Leash, you see the harsh reality of what it means to be a writer. Michelle doesn't shy away from "telling it like it is" nor does she make excuses. Though she sympathizes with the desire to make those excuses. Writing is hard work and you've got to be up to the challenge.

I would recommend this book in a couple of ways. First, I'd recommend it to people who are considering the idea of being a writer. You may be asking yourself, "Is writing something I really want to get in to?" or "What is it like to submit myself to the 'writing life'." This book would be for you. Secondly, I'd recommend it to those who are writers and need a kick-start (or a kick in the pants). Maybe you've been relaxing (dare I say 'laying down on the job'?) and need to be reminded of what it means to be called to be a writer. This book is for you too!

So, do yourself a favor and take a few days to read through Writer Off The Leash. Use a highlighter to make note of her amazing nuggets of truth, and springboard forward from reading it right into your next manuscript.

Rating: 4*
Purchase: Writer Off The Leash

Book Description
(from Amazon)
Are you a writer at heart? How can you tell? And if you are, how do you go about composing and selling the next Great American Novel? WRITER OFF THE LEASH answers these questions and more--all in an easy to understand, tongue-in-cheek style. This is more than a how-to book. It's a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn't know how to take their writing to the next level. Award-winning author MICHELLE GRIEP blows the lid off stodgy old-school rulebooks and makes it clear that writing can--and should--be fun.
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I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Final Favorites | February 2015

I've been pretty busy this month! Lots of blogging and some amazing guests have been featured and I was so excited to do another "Final Favorites" video for you all. There's just something fun about getting the chance to reflect back on the month.

A few posts of note this month: 
 And, while I'm sharing, stop by Putting On The New for my monthly contribution, "A Page From My Journal on Trust". I think you'll like it!

Without further ado...


This month's book Recommendations: 
Book 1, Book 2, Book 3

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Flawed Perspective and A Missed Opportunity: Rob Bell on Oprah

From Christianpost.com
My, oh my. Rob Bell has been busy. Books. Opinions. Oprah. Attempting to undermine the authority of the Bible....

Yeah. That's a thing.

I'll preface this post by saying I don't usually do this. I'm not one to "soap box" it up, but there are some things that I can't let by without a healthy dose of thought, which eventually comes out in words that land on Thinking Thoughts. The inerrancy of the Bible is one of them. Sometimes you have to take a stand, even if that means rocking the boat.

In my post about true love and Fifty Shades of Grey, I said the following:

Without His example of love and self-sacrifice, we wouldn't have a picture of what true love is.
I was talking about Christ here and I stand by that declaration. I fully believe that Jesus, the Son of God, was and is the living example of true and perfect love. That's not a notion I made up, I found it in the Bible. That is, God's word. His authority on the topic of...well, life.

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day I came across a video of Rob Bell on Oprah. As they discussed his new book, The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage(no, I won't be talking about this book), he made some...interesting claims. These claims reached way beyond promotion for this book, though I'll admit I'm not surprised he made them. I remember Mr. Bell in his Nooma videos. At the time I though, Wow, this guy is cool and takes a different approach to life. Awesome.

But he's changed. Or maybe who he was the whole time has surfaced? I'm not sure, but I'm saddened by the fact he has such a large platform and he's using it to spread lies.

Yep. I just said it. Lies.
Flickr by Jim Forest

Take his quote he made about the Bible to Oprah: "...And the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense." (quoted from www.cbn.com)

Um, "best defense"? Back up. The Bible isn't a defense. It's the reason. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I decided to dig a little deeper and found a treatise by Bell titled, "What is the Bible?" There was a lot there, it was a looong post (followed up by several more) but I was unhappy with what I found. In essence, he made the point that, in his eyes, the Bible is human. That is to say, written by humans and therefore human in its flaws.

He says, "If you let go of the divine nature of the Bible on the front end and immerse yourself in the humanity of it, you find the divine in unexpected ways, ways that can actually transform your heart." (Rob Bells tumbler)

I'm sorry, but when you "let go" of the divine nature of the Bible in any way, shape, or form, there are no longer any standards. You start to believe a version of God that doesn't fully represent Him. You can suddenly pick and choose the attributes of God you like (ie: love and gentleness), instead of seeing the full image of Him. Both just and loving. Both wrathful and forgiving. Both humble and divine.

When the Bible simply becomes a story, it's no longer truth

This is dangerous because it undermines a standard. Christ set the example for us. The Bible relays that standard in writing inspired by God. The minute the Bible is found to be inaccurate is the minute we get to decide. Decide what to accept and what not to . Decide what to think about God and what we'll throw out. You don't like the idea that there is punishment for sins? Well, if the Bible is just human--just a great story--then we don't have to believe in punishment.

Flickr by Adam Dimmick
This is flawed. There is a lot of info written by far wiser people than me on why the Bible is inerrant (you can see writings by John Piper, The Gospel Coalition, John MacArthur, Tim Challies, and even listen to one of my favorite speakers, Matt Chandler on the topic). There are also historical reasons, but there are spiritual ones too.

We can't pick and choose what God says. Any discount of scripture is against scripture.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
It reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite authors and theologians, C.S. Lewis. It speaks to the reality of who we believe Christ is and what He said about himself and I believe it is the same with the Bible.

C.S. Lewis
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
(source)

God gave us--breathed out--His word to equip us. More than that:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (emphasis mine)
Words that are living and active are not out of date. They are not a defense against the reality of life, but rather a guide in dealing with, handling, and living out a Christ-like example in this life. Can something human made "discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart"? No.

Rob Bell had an opportunity. Sitting there, only a few feet away from one of the most influential women in this modern age, he could have shared the beauty of the gospel to everyone watching. The reality of who Christ is. The hope found in the realization that we've all sinned (Ro. 3:23) and deserve death (Ro. 6:23) BUT that God created a way for us to be made right with Him (Ro. 5:8, 10:10, 10:13).

But he missed it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Delores Liesner {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Delores...

Writing, Speaking or as God’s delivery girl, Delores lives life passionately and humorously revealing dynamic hope and confidence found in the heritage of our personal God. She writes from Racine, WI. Is a CLASS graduate, and has published over a thousand stories, devotionals and articles as columnist, freelance writer, and teacher. Delores is represented by Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency. Part of Delores’ dream is that her writing could help support the Fullness of Life Foundation, Scottsdale, AZ – which provides treatment funding for children with life-threatening illness.

How to connect with Delores...

Blog/Website: http://deloresliesner.com
CWA: http://www.cwareviewcrew.com/the-crew
E-Mail: lovedliftedandled@wi.rr.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/deloresliesner-author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dliesner
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dliesner
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/dliesner/
Her first book to be published early in 2015, is a devotional called Be The Miracle

Author Interview | Delores Liesner

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I’ve always been a storyteller, and as a teen, often crawled out of my 2nd story bedroom window to sit on the roof under the stars and write stories and poetry. I was able to use my skill during various employments (including a nursery school, for elementary through high school education, church plays and curriculum, and as a forensic coach).

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Be The Miracle is very dear to my heart because I lived all the experiences in the devotional and I truly believe we can live in expectation that God is up to something good because those who have a personal relationship with Jesus bring Him with us into every situation.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest? 

...The first hardest thing about publishing was waiting, then hearing genuine compliments from several well-known traditional publishers. Really? I am not kidding you, it was hard — because the compliments were followed by that little word: but. The second challenge was having several offers, and not having peace about them. I was praying about it when I got a call from Elk Lake Publishing (same owners I greatly respect at Book Club Network) and I had complete peace that this was the right decision.

Your Writing
 
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with? 
...That God still does miracles today and that he wants his followers to put hands and feet to their faith and be the answer to prayer for others.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Attend writers conferences! My first conferences were CLASS Christian Writers Conference and Write-to-Publish in Wheaton, Illinois. Both were life-changing, spiritual experiences, and I received important training, professional critique, and had appointments with editors and publishers that resulted in writing opportunities.

Writing

Where do you find inspiration?
...Life inspires me! I’ve heard of writer’s block, but I’ve never experienced it. Honestly, I think I am the world’s most mature toddler! I am always asking why is that, what just happened, and what if…

How do you find inspiration?
...I journal a lot and try to re-write scripture in my own words, or sometimes in the words I feel God is telling me from my Scripture reading. I try to answer questions like is there something I need to do or stop doing, a teaching I can live out today or new-to-me details about God or the characters in the reading. Notebooks and pens everywhere and jot down bits of conversations, scenes I witness, descriptions of scenery, characters, and ideas for what if… I used to keep them on 3x5 cards in alphabetical file, but I now translate them to documents on my computer and keep them in folders titled Fiction, Greeting Cards, Devotional Ideas, Bible Study, Blog Ideas, Personalities, etc.

Why do you write?
...I am a Writing Junkie. I cannot NOT do it.

...Yes, I’m confessing. I admit it. I see it now for what it is. A habit. No, it’s stronger than that - an addiction.

...I found myself at it again, you see, just this morning. I was casually flipping through Webster’s Dictionary when suddenly my eyes bugged, because I saw myself. There I was - me and my life-blood all wrapped up in that one small word: ad.dict: to apply habitually, as one’s mind to speculation; to give (oneself) up to or over, as a constant practice. 

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Thank you so much for visit the blog today, Delores! For you readers who also love to write - I enjoyed Delores so much I've invited her back next Tuesday to share some thoughts on writing with you all! Make sure you stop by to say hello then (and while you're at it, say hello now!). 

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Last but NOT least... Last week's winner!

If you missed it, check out LoRee's post from last weeks {WW}. But, without further delay, here's the winner...

Constance

Congratulations! Contact me and we'll get you your PDF copy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

No Greater Love: An Afghan Memoir by Tim Moynihan | RE:View

It's no secret that I enjoy reading military fiction. I have a huge heart for those who serve our country and, in my own writing as well as in what I read, I enjoy a positive view of the military. It's a personal preference thing.

I was given the chance to review No Greater Love: An Afghan Memoir and really enjoyed it! It's a novella, so it is a quick read, but the story is well worth you time.

Following Special Forces soldier and now author Colonel Mike Sanchez, we get a look into the mind and heart of a warrior. As told to a slightly hostile audience at a church, the majority of the tale takes place in the mind of Colonel Sanchez, following the story of two brothers in Afghanistan.

I resonated with the story and it's no-nonsense, direct nature as was fitting to the type of story it was. There aren't a lot of frills (which I didn't expect) but the story is solid and heart-catching. Not only are you drawn into the story the Colonel tells, but you are draw into his own part of the story.

I would recommend this to those who enjoy military themes in writing and who are looking for a quick, inspirational read. I found that reading this made me feel as if I was sitting down to coffee with Colonel Sanchez and he was sharing this very personal story. And yes, I did cry at the end, but it's a story of hope as much as it is of loss.

Rating: 3.8*
Purchase:  No Greater Love: An Afghan Memoir

Book Description
(from Tim's website)
Special Forces soldier turned author, Colonel Mike Sanchez, survived the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and converted his military experiences into a new career as an "inspirational" motivational speaker. But his heroic demeanor and outward confidence mask a burden he carries on the inside, the agonizing memory of two brothers with whom he served in the war. Caught off-guard at a public speaking event, Sanchez is compelled to expose the ghosts of his past and his searing memories of a bloody battle on a blasted Afghanistan hilltop where love conquered fear forever.
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I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Playing Saint by Zachary Bartels | RE:View

I had high hopes for this book...and it didn't dissapoint! Come on, with a recommendation from Steven James, I had a pretty good idea Playing Saint was going to be good.

Parker Saint is a pastor rising quickly to fame by telling people what they want to hear. He hasn't lost touch with truth, but with the influence of his mentor, he's realizing it doesn't sell. When faced with the loss of his reputation, Parker agrees to work as a consultant with the Grand Rapids PD, and the walking-cliche, Detective Ketchem.

Filled with a fantastic cast of believable characters, a psycho-killer on the loose, and refreshing humor, you can't go wrong with Playing Saint. I found myself comparing it to Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti with the added bonus of humor that didn't take away from the intrigue, but only added interest.

This is a definite must read from me! If you like a good thriller* that weaves in faith realistically and keeps you guessing, look no further. I'm anticipating more from Zachary in the future and will definitely make time to read what he puts out next.

*One note here: There are elements of the demonic represented in this book. I found that it aided the story and in no way created nightmares for me, but I understand some readers could be sensitive to that - thus the slight warning.

Rating: 5*
Purchase: Playing Saint

Book Description
Yesterday, Parker Saint’s only concern was his swiftly rising star power. Today, he’s just trying to stay alive.

Parker Saint is living the dream. A cushy job at a thriving megachurch has him on the verge of becoming a bestselling author and broadcast celebrity—until life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law. To avoid a public scandal, he agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim. Parker tries to play the expert, but he is clearly in over his head. Drawn ever deeper into a web of intrigue involving a demanding detective, a trio of secretive Vatican operatives, and a centuries-old conspiracy to conceal a mysterious relic, he realizes for the first time that the battle between good and evil is all too real—and that the killer is coming back . . . this time for him..
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I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.