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Monday, January 31, 2011

Turtle and Dragon go on Safari!




Turtle and Dragon Go on Safari was a warm interesting read. Padraig the dragon and Roger the turtle are out on a safari! They try to camp out all night, just like proper adventurers would. But camping out isn’t all about s’mores and a nice fire;  when they hear strange sounds in the dark they look for what could be causing them. But like true safari-ers they classify them as howler monkeys making the screeching noises. A rustling in the leaves is from Giraffes with their heads in a tree, and those are just a few of their identifications! Even when they get scared in the dark neither one makes fun of the other and they stay adventurer buddies trying to sleep in their tent. Roger keeps Padraig’s spirit up and in turn, Padraig is able to help light their way with fire!!

Turtle and Dragon Go on Safari was a book I’d love to have my kids read(IF I had some) with no reservations whatsoever. Great job  Mrs. Paul, and Ms. Denmark! Also, the Illustrations by Vincent Nguyen were exceptional.


To purchase the book try here at Deepershopping.
To find more books like this try here at Deepershopping.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Textual conversations(A sister post)

Though I'm giving this posts it's own page space. It's really a sister post to my previous post on randomness. But since I have another post coming up in line with this one, you get the picture..I can't have triplets.


 Part one of: Text communication; terrific, or trouble in text?


As I write this blog post I'll be blatant. I have no degree, no professional occupation in relation to this topic. I only have my own perception of my surroundings. Right now I deal largely with online conversations. Something that on the whole I feel I'm reasonably adept at holding. My online conversations skills have lent themselves to these basic principles.

The real life intonation supplanted with smilies( :)--;)--:(--:S---:P--etc.).The hand and body motions replaced with: "*stomps*", "*Runs outside and checks temperature.*", "*Shakes fist at the cold*" asterisks comments. Even common politeness is increased with the fact you don't actually have to be interested to type out, "How was your day? How are you doing. How did school go?"

All, of course, with varying levels of grammar and very usage ;) (See, there I did it again with the smilies.)In fact! With all these substitutive options you'd think online and textual conversations would be as rich as real ones. Maybe even more so with all these demonstrative expressions! I'm here to say--it's not. Nothing can replace the real life face time with people.

I used to scoff(albeit carefully) when my dad said to call someone rather than email, and to talk to them face to face rather than call. It's a hassle, they might be busy, it might be awkward, I might not, dare I say it? Enjoy it. Email is much more of a conversation buffer.That's a good thing, right?

Well you know what? He was right. At least for now, textual conversations can in no way shape or form replace real interaction face to face. You can measure a man quickly when you meet him face to face. You can't measure him at all(for sure) when it's text based. There is even something powerful about being able to sell yourself as a person when you talk to someone. To convey the needed attributes for a position you are applying for(In job situations). To show how you carry yourself in a variety of situations. In a nutshell: To show the essence of--you.

Gina Rubel, head of Furia Rubel Communications believes that interpersonal communications is a must. Listed below are some examples that both she and I believe, illustrate that face to face conversation time is not at an end. And that textual communication goes toe to toe with face to face communication and loses. Badly.

  • Employee interviews. Yearly meetings. Organization planning and goal setting meetings.
  • High importance business deals. (This will allow you to do more than sell yourself or your product, but it can alert you to potential pit falls.)
  • Interaction with your client in jobs such as: Law positions, Accountanting, Human Resources department, etc. Not all the time is the client provider relationship built face to face, but those meetings are the pillars of the relationship with online and other methods of interaction filling the in-between times.
 

And you wanna know something else? I was right as well--in a way.  

Email is much more of a conversation buffer.

You can casually send a harsh email without meaning it. A disrespectful email and still be clueless as to why the person is now mad at you. And far too easily send an email that conveys thoughts that you really weren't trying to propagate. But the wonders of text communication and the needed extrapolation that is required on the receiving end of the message, have thwarted us again. I participate in a pro-life fundraiser each year for a local organization. They now have online donation facilities, and this last year email was a big push, even from the organization. Less work, more people contacted faster, easier for donations. All these things were touted--But what they didn't say was it was a beautiful play of the human factor. No awkward phone call. No having to leave your arm chair--or in this case, no having to exit your browser to gain donations.  It made it so much....cleaner, sterilized--bland.

Send out your request for donation in email, and be well on your way to being completely done with your part in fund raising in thirty minutes of checking off email send recipients. I know peers that went with the email route. Sent out large amounts of emails. I also personally know people who chose to give me as apposed to someone who emailed because I talked to them either voice to voice on the phone, or even better, face to face. Email can't match interaction in person, not yet anyway. When I talked to people face to face about this opportunity to help the unborn, my success rate was exponential to email--even substantially larger than phone. People don't want a sterile email, they don't want the no-contact that the culture subconsciously and even perhaps unwittingly as a whole pushes with social medias now, people want face to face. My example is only one of many I could have used but it made an impression on this competitive kid ;)

Now something I'd like to point out here before I end this article and prepare for the next one. My examples are dealing with an older working group of people. My control group  I sourced was not teens. As a whole I believe teens will disagree with my message more. We grew up with email being standard, and for many, txtng bing the wy of lif. (Yes I know that was a shameless example of texting.) Face to face means less to us on the whole, some of us might even rather deal with non-face to face interaction. For one, I don't feel that's a healthy way to live. But more than that, what parts of life could you be missing living that way?




In the second--and last---installment in this series on conversations, I'll address why I believe text based communication is actually harming conversational skills and relationships. But it's not all lost ;) There are things you can do to protect relationships and your communication skills.








Article source for Gina Rubel comments from where I drew from here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A craze.

RAN'DOM, n.
  • 1. A roving motion or course without direction; hence, want of direction, rule or method; hazard; chance; used in the phrase, at random, that is, without a settled point of direction; at hazard.

  • 2. Course; motion; progression; distance of a body thrown; as the furthest random of a missile weapon.RAN'DOM, a.

  • 1. Done at hazard or without settled aim or purpose; left to chance; as a random blow.

  • 2. Uttered or done without previous calculation; as a random guess.




  •  This isn't a post to rail on anyone. This isn't even a post to complain loudly about things I don't like. This is a post, about Random-ness. Right now in the blog and internet circles I frequent, randomness is huge. If you are random you are cool. If you make random blog posts they are, epic. But if you make long drawn out posts when you actually dig into the meat of something it's, good. Well thought out. Nice post. Not often--epic. This isn't a new phenomenon. This isn't something that is new on the block. Randomness is exalted. People want to be random, they want to make little to no sense while amusing themselves--and apparently, others. This isn't just one person. This isn't just two. This is a large amount.


    So why the drive for being random? Why do we feel the need to impress others with our randomness? Why are there blog posts devoted to being random? That's something I'm still trying to figure out. Someone started this being random craze, I know that. Some people made it cool, and now--it's the in thing to do. So instead of emulating articulation of ideas, it's randomness that's the pinnacle of conversation. People fail in online interaction, or the conversations get no where, why? Because randomness is exalted and you can't hold a long term conversation when it's being punctuated by rantings on boot leather and bird wings. It's not possible. Can the problem be fixed? Maybe, but priorities need to be changes, the focus needs to shift, and that my friends, starts with you.

    The Charlatan's Boy



    The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers will definitely rank high on my bookshelf hierarchy. It contains the story of a he-feechie that pretends to be—a feechie to put on shows and make money with “Perfesser Floyd”. Grady is an orphaned feechie that doesn’t know who he is, and the story from the perfesser changes weekly. But he does know he’s uglier than most, and likes to do the feechie act. He also knows that the “perfesser” isn’t much to love, but as he puts it: You have to love someone.

    The finding out of who Grady was in The Charlatan’s Boy added a fun dimension to the story even if it was reasonably predictable.  Sometimes as a reviewer you  say characters live and breath. This time they hooted and “Ollie Ollie Ollie-ed” with their feechie war cry while wheeling and dealing the crowds.  Something that Mr. Rogers did in this books far better than most writers would have, was his character voice. Not once was I left in a lurch at how they talked after an unexpected vernacular choice. The character voices stayed constant and always just what they really would have said.

    The writing quality was excellent and I have no complaints that way. The book moved along at a reasonable pace without pulling you along, but I wouldn’t have minded a faster paced read. One of my only bones to pick with the book is the ending! I didn’t get a good feeling of closure. Sure—I mean there is going to be another book, but the reader deserves a satisfying ending. I felt like it was almost rushed, still at least we had a partial conclusion.

    All in all, would I recommend this book? Definitely!

    Check out the first chapter here. 
    Find it at Deepershopping here.
    Find more fun fantasy reads at Deepershopping here.

    PLEASE RATE IT!

    I recieved this book for free from Waterbrook Publishing and this is my own opinion.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Interview with Matt Koceich!



    Alright! Today we are honored with an interview with Matt Koceich!

    Hey Mr. Koceich! Thanks so much for joining me with an interview today! For those that don’t know, Mr. Koceich has a brand spanking new title out with Marcher Lord Press, The Sending. A spiritual thriller. :D 

    Check it out here! Now, on with the interview.


    So right off the bat, why don’t you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

    Blessed with a loving wife and four children, I am an elementary school teacher in Arlington, Texas. Back in 2008, I had the opportunity to complete a five-day writing residency with Jerry B. Jenkins as part of the first Christian Writers Guild Craftsman course. That was an amazing experience.

    What are your other interests besides writing? Do you ride the range in your spare time?

    By God’s grace, my wife and I had the chance to travel to Ethiopia where we adopted our son, Yakob. We fell in love with the people and culture in Addis Ababa and can’t wait to get back. I think about this whole journey and how we’re all adopted children of God.  

    The Sending is your first published book I understand. I’ve also heard that you are working on your next book. Can you tell us a little bit about the first one, and perhaps a teaser for the second?

    The Sending is a blend of suspense and fantasy. Mark Grant has the ability to see distant places and is paid a hefty sum to locate the Garden of Eden. Evil forces try to harness Mark’s power for their own plans. Namely, the armies of darkness want the fruit of the tree of life so they can live forever. Mark will become their first human host unless he learns how to channel his gift for the good of God’s kingdom.

    The Breaking, Book 2 of my Soul Kingdom trilogy, focuses on a young lady who has the ability to hear people’s prayers. At first the pleas are overwhelming, bringing with them constant migraines and stressful dreams. Then in the midst of the chaos, she hears a certain victim’s plea for help. The woman can’t stop ‘breaking’ the prayers until she saves the victim. When she finally finds the victim, she realizes that the real nightmare has only begun.

    How do you manage to juggle the position as a father, a husband, family leader and provider, while being a writer at the same time? What has seemed to work for you?

    Up early. Up late. And write on my lunch break at work.

    When did you first feel the urge to write? And how did it manifest itself. I remember when I was in first grade I would get a blank piece of paper and a pencil and copy sections of my picture books. Can you say plagiarism? Fast forward to college…I started reading a lot and wanted to make stories of my own.

    Who was most instrumental in the decision for you to be a writer?

    God. The Sending started off as a completely secular novel with the Garden of Eden as the only biblical piece. After I “surrendered all,” I felt the strong desire to turn the book into a story that would glorify God. I think it’s important that we write for Him and His glory.

    As a Christian, is your writing more directly, or indirectly, influenced by your faith? Is it influenced?

    Yes, my writing is faith-based. Take The Sending, for example. I was always interested in the Garden of Eden account. The Tree of Life is the Bible’s bookends appearing in both Genesis and Revelation. It sort of reached off the page and tugged at my thoughts. Writing Christian speculative fiction lets me explore my faith. It allows me experience God’s Word in new ways.

    I know we have many would be published authors in our midst reading this, what tips can you give them?

    This one is my favorite question. I say that because I’ve become a pro at learning things the hard way! Don’t look for your worth in the outcome. Enjoy the journey. As you write, remember that your real identity is who you are in Christ. His grace is enough. Not a “published” novel and God’s grace, but simply God’s grace. Write the story God has placed in you. Don’t try to write what you think a publishing house can sell. Let the rejection letters motivate instead of discourage.

    As a first time published novelist yourself, what was the hardest part of the writing/editing/agent/publishing circle?

    The hardest part for me came in two parts. First, all the years I spent trying to get my story published. The stamps, query letters, emails…those were the times I felt like a hamster running the proverbial wheel. The second part is coming now when I read reviews of my book that are less than stellar. I have to remember that we are writing for our Savior and not some earthly book award or prize.

    I’ve seen a picture of you with your beard, do I get one too if I live in Texas?

    Ah yes. Truth be told, my cheeks and chin are the only place on my head where hair feels free to grow! Our planet’s gravitational pull might just be a tad stronger under Texas.

    Are there any last thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

    Thank you for spending some time reading this interview. I hope my writing journey helps people realize how much they are loved by the Lord. Thank you Millard for the chance to share my story. Blessings to you and your readers. Please come over to my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Matt-Koceich-Just-Past-the-Books/122172144504013 for more discussion forums on writing and faith.

    Thanks for the interview, I really enjoyed it, and I hope you did too!


    I'm definitely going to check out that Facebook page, I encourage you all to do the same! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of The Sending, The Breaking sounds mind blowing too! Again, find The Sending here, and read the sample below!



    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Enoch by Alton Gansky



    Enoch is a book, once read, you don’t easily get out of your mind. It’s laced with spiritual action and warfare. Spiced with straight faced humor. And bordered by characters that are larger than the pages on which they sit. I found the idea of Enoch arriving again with a message from God to be absolutely fantastic! Mr. Gansky literarily colored in a Biblical character making him both believable and making the reader eager to learn more. And gave me the fun cause to question, “What if he really did come back?”. All that to say, I felt the plot was reasonable, but still not the showcase of the book. Again with Mr. Gansky it was the characters that made the storyline work for me. But with lesser characters I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed it near as much. I would say the plot would be the weakness of the book. Between a pretend psychic who might be more real than she knows, a man from the past named Enoch, and a broken and frustrated man looking for a fresh start; Alton has given us an amazing mix between new, old, and redemption.

    Find it at Deepershopping here.
    Find other books by Alton Gansky at Deepershopping here.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    A test...

    Hey there :)

    Right now I'm testing something in my reading preferences. Now of course reading something I consider morally wrong is--wrong. But something an little different, reading something I consider theologically wrong? That's the quandary I'm looking at right now with reading The Appearing  By Kristen Wisen. The book while, good so far morally(if a tad bit shallow) makes theological statements I wouldn't agree with. I knew this before I started the book, so I've started it with trepidation.

    Now, what about a test? The test is, I knew I wouldn't agree, for solid Biblical reasons with the books stand eschatologically. However, the test is, how influencing will this book be on my viewpoint? Fiction is such a powerful tool, can it penetrate my reasoning and supplant ideas I've had? No, in this case I think not. But someone less entrenched in their ideas? Extremely. I looked up some of the scripture references they used, non-descript, not much to say about them. Which I suppose is good ;) It's not heresy I'm reading!! (Which is a topic I think I'd like to blog post on..)

    Anyway, it's just an in-my-face reminder that fiction is amazingly powerful. I'll finish the book God willing and give you my final opinion, but---I can't read with a blank slate, that my friends, would be the worst thing I could do.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Joy

    Joy in the midst of trials. Joy during trials.

    Joy is an interesting thing when it comes to suffering, are we called to be joyful all the time during a trial? Just at the beginning? What are your thoughts, and why?

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    My newest project

    Hey guys!


    This is a little something I cooked up this afternoon! I got a reference image from Mirriam Neal! Wow! She did an amazing job on tons of different angles..*whistles* Anyway, this is a dragon wing ;) For those that can't tell. Hopefully I'll be able to skin it soon! :D

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    The Door Within

    Noah's got another giveaway, this time though, it's a real classic!! The Door Within by Wayne Batson! Head on over--enter--good luck!

    Millard

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer



    If you could please rate the review  here. I'd be forever grateful :D

    Mere Churchianity was a book I picked up with bias for the church and against some of it's commonly accepted practices. I was also biased for the Biblical model as well as with the trepidation that I would simply be reading a radical anti-church as a whole, book. But…as I read it I realized it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was indeed against much of the church as a whole, but, not simply because it was the church. Michael Spencer’s bone to pick with the church was it’s church shaped—not Jesus shaped spirituality. The lack of Jesus behind the churches’ doors and simply a church and what they say. He believes that this is the case with a majority of churches and as such believers are walking away from the church in search of God.

    If the book had stopped there---and I almost did, it would have been a disappointment. He filled much of the first part of the book with what I consider burned out Christian rhetoric. However, the book beefed up as it drove toward the finish line and added some solid issues that I knew were on target with church problems. He started with the address of hearts of his readers, some of their insecurities and legitimate pains. And finished with trying to show that Jesus shaped spirituality was the way to go.

    There were quite a few things in the book I disagreed with, however---he did have some good points. I’d recommend the read with a grain of salt.

    A little humorous note: Mr. Spencer made the comment that millions of copies of books like, "The Purpose Driven Life" and other books on how to truly know God are sold based on people feeling the church with a God vacuum of nothingness. I agree somewhat, however--his book will sell on the same premise ;)


    You can purchase the book here on amazon, or here on Christianbooks.com.
    You can also read chapter one here.
    Find it at Deepershopping here.
    Find more books on spiritual growth and the church at Deepershopping here.
    Happy Reading!