As a writer, I tend to handle criticism and feedback quite well. Nothing ever gets to me. There's no negative press I can't manage; no scathing review I can't brush off as nothing more than white noise.... 

...or I could just be lying to myself. 

If you've ever written a story - especially something you feel strongly about - and had someone give you a negative reaction, you've probably felt like me: crushed. You may consider never writing again. You think it'd be best if the world never heard your voice. Your message. Ever. 

That's a tough place to find one's self, but hey, you're not alone. Even the most seasoned of artists feel some pressure to appeal to their audiences. Yet putting our creative selves "out there" is only one part of the process; standing strong in the wave of responses is another. So, with this episode, I talk through some of the filters I've developed for dealing with the good, the bad, the ugly, and frankly, the apathetic.

And though you don't have to use any of my tactics or filters, what I do hope is that you find this particular episode to be encouraging in your own creative journey. 

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David Ramos has been writing for years. He's published nearly two dozen books (thus far) and for his efforts, has built a small community of readers around him. He even has a new book on the way, Magnetic Faith, due out in March of 2019. 

But, David didn't just "fall into" publication. He sat down and made it happen. He learned what worked; he learned what didn't work. And let's be honest, he's still learning as he goes. 

And that's the theme of my next interview with David Ramos on The Writer's Lens - staying persistent and being disciplined about your goals. David and I discuss what it's like to face rejection and how we, as writers, grow and develop as we continue to put ourselves out there. It's a valuable life lesson and one that can't be ignored if one is to cultivate a life's work of writing and publishing. 

For more on David, you can check out the links below: 

Website - Ramos, Author

Facebook - Link

YouTube - Link

And P.S., don't forget that David has a new book coming out this year called Magnetic Faith. It will be available through Amazon for purchase. 

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Does music tell a story? This was a question I posed as the primer for my next interview with fellow creative, poet, and voice teacher, Mr. Loren Reash-Henz. 

Loren and I connected at a book signing last year and as I've come to find out, Loren has a real penchant for all things music -  teaching, theory, its roots, and its expression. In this conversation, Loren and I sit down to talk about all things music and writing. And how we are all striving to be original and authentic, but oftentimes, we get mixed up on what this can look like. I found this to be a fun and engaging dialogue that opens up a lot of boxes on what we think creativity and art do for a person's soul. And, ultimately, for our culture. 

Loren also works for Apollo's Fire, a baroque orchestra, here in Cleveland, OH. You can find out more about them here.  

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When it comes to using the term, "creative", I'm still a newbie. I happen to think I'm creative (I'm a writer, after all) so tying those two concepts together isn't a problem. When it comes to other creative types, I - like many others - tend to recognize someone for a single gift: making a craft, making music, writing, etc. These all make up the "creative" part of our persona. But is that all we are made for? Just one facet of creativity? For sometimes we encounter someone who is not only creative in one area, but in several different venues too. 

Cue the guest of my next interview: Willie Scott, aka FOLD.

Willie is a return guest on The Writer's Lens and in addition to being one-half of Better Than Blended and co-founder of TKI Publishing, Willie is also a recording artist. He truly puts the idea of putting one's creative interests to work while simultaneously debunking the notion that we have to be so singularly focused on one aspect of our creativity, thus starving our other creative outlets. So in this interview, I explore with Willie all the dynamics that come with being an entrepreneur, a creative writer, a father, and a husband. 

This was a fun interview for Willie and me and I think you'll find it equally enjoyable. 

For more on Willie and his music, you can check out these links below: 

Better Than Blended - Website, Facebook, Instagram

TKI Publishing - Website, Facebook

Matlock and FOLD - Facebook

 
YouTube
 
Matlock and FOLD - "Favor"
 
Matlock and FOLD - "ICIT - In Christ I Trust"
 
Matlock and FOLD - "Turn up"
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It's hard to believe 2018 has already come and gone. So with 2019 here, it's time to do that age-old favorite: make a confession. 

Wait, you mean resolutions, right? Well, not really.

Whenever a new year comes around, we are quick to make lists of what we want to change in the year ahead. We make big - and small - life-altering goals that we hope and pray will come to fruition in the year ahead. And though I'm no stranger to doing such a thing, I thought it might be good to look at the year behind me too. Where did I "miss the mark" on my creative goals? Was I following my own advice? The advice of others? Turns out I have some work to do (don't we all?). 

There were certainly some wins and some misses from 2018. So in this episode, I take a closer look at where things went well and not-so-well as I look ahead to take on 2019. 

Here's a breakdown of what to expect:

2018 "Wins"

  • Podcast still alive
  • New logo
  • Downloads only increasing
  • Journaling
  • Reading more

2018 "Misses": 

  • Missed launch date - The Shadow Of Mars
    • 1st reason: I backed myself into a corner creatively
    • 2nd reason: Not at peace with product
  • Less interviews

 2019 "Looking Ahead": 

  • Re-purposing The Writer’s Lens - storytelling is paramount
  • Guests (new and old) 
  • Keep cultivating good habits 
  • Hitting that Deadline for The Shadow Of Mars

 

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What is a digital footprint

In part 3 of this "Pens of Steel" group discussion, we wrap up our conversation about digital voices and what each of us is doing in our pursuits to hone our unique digital footprints. 

As this is part three, be sure to check out our earlier discussions (if you haven't already) by clicking the links below.

Part 1: What Is A Digital Voice?

Part 2: Competing In The Sea Of Digital Voices

 

Brian Del Turco, owner/operator of LifeVoiceQuest

Website: http://www.lifevoicequest.com/

Podcast: http://www.jesussmart.com/

 

Willie Scott, co-founder of Better Than Blended and T.K.I. Publishing

Website: https://betterthanblended.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/betterthanblended/?hl=en

 

Brent Mclaughlin, writer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brent.mclaughlin

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To bring in the new year, here's something a little different from The Writer's Lens. This episode deals entirely with soundbites from each of my various interviews. And though there are plenty of other good nuggets from the full interviews, these clips were pieced together around a common theme: what's it like to be a creative who is looking to hone his or her voice and garner an audience. 

Perhaps this is something you are looking to hone in 2019? And beyond? These voices, and other guests I plan to have on this program, will be speaking into these areas so stay tuned in 2019 for more! And stay up to date by subscribing to The Writer's Lens.   

Links to the full interviews: 

YouTube Channel (audio and video)

Podcast Channel (audio only)

 

Guests on The Writer's Lens 

- Willie and Rachel Scott, Co-founders of Better Than Blended and TKI Publishing

- Darrick Dean, Fantasy author; Among The Shadows

- Daniel Luketic, Entrepreneur 

- Dr. Robert Snyder, Author of various children's books, war veteran, and speaker

- Brent Mclaughlin, Writer

- Immanuel Mullen, Co-founder at TheStoryIs

- Colleen Ward, Owner at Colleen Ward Studio

- Brian Del Turco, Jesus Smart: The PodcastSubstanceTV, and owner at LifeVoiceQuest

- Kay Smith, Content creator and art teacher

 

 

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The Lord of the Rings is a fantasy tale that has inspired millions. Its story of good versus evil transcends generations. And it uses rather unconventional forms to do it: with fictional beings like hobbits, dwarves, and elves. 

But there are men and women in this fantasy too. And orcs. And goblins. And trees that talk and walk. And...racism? Wait...what

Last month, I came across an article on the Internet that caught my attention. A fellow science fiction writer was being interviewed for a podcast and when the topic of Tolkien's classic came up, the author went on to say that the Lord of the Rings has "hard to miss" themes of racism throughout. Considering how I'd never heard this claim before, I did some research and found that there have been others who have felt the same way (not a lot, but they are out there if you look). So I did what any social media personality with a platform would do: I did an episode detailing what I thought of this accusation.

Because this is a serious thing to say. Not just because the Lord of the Rings has birthed an entire genre or because it made millions at the box office - it's because of the nature of the claim. It touches deeply on sacred grounds. And if tossed around flippantly, we run the risk of being short-sighted on what could be considered "racist" and what is not. 

So, is Tolkien's work racist? Enclosed in this episode are my thoughts on that matter as well as why I felt the need to address it. 

 

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The Internet is a sea of voices and narratives. 

In part 2 of this group discussion special, the Pens continue the dialogue on "what is a digital voice" - while transitioning into another frequently asked question: how do we compete with so many other messages? Should we be focused on beating other voices? Or should we just focus on our own message? 

Jump back in with Part 2 and just in case you missed Part 1, you're in luck - you can click here to check it out and get back up to speed.

And for more info on the rest of the group, here are some links below: 

Brian Del Turco, owner / operator of LifeVoiceQuest

Website: http://www.lifevoicequest.com/

Podcast: http://www.jesussmart.com/

 

Willie Scott, co-founder of Better Than Blended and T.K.I. Publishing

Website: https://betterthanblended.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/betterthanblended/?hl=en

 

Brent Mclaughlin, writer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brent.mclaughlin

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Welcome to the Rise of Digital Voices! 

In case you didn't already know, the Internet is FILLED with competing messages. Thanks to the onset of social media platforms, more people than ever have the ability to share their unique voice with the rest of the world. And in doing so, can create online communities where similar minds (and interests) can congregate. To share ideas. To share insights. To share individual stories. 

This is the Age of Digital Voices - a time when the gatekeepers of information have been usurped by the end user. 

In this very special episode of The Writer's Lens, I sit down with three other creative voices: Brian Del Turco of Jesus Smart: The Podcast and owner/operator of LifeVoiceQuest; Willie Scott co-founder of Better Than Blended and TKI Publishing; and Brent Mclaughlin, aspiring writer. These three gentlemen make up our Cleveland creative group otherwise known as the "Pens of Steel" and for the first time, we are recording our conversation concerning this growing phenomenon of the social media landscape. 

This will be the first of a three-part discussion on the topic so stay tuned for more to follow in the coming weeks. 

And for more info on my fellow conversationalists, here are some links below: 

Brian Del Turco

Website: http://www.lifevoicequest.com/

Podcast: http://www.jesussmart.com/

 

Willie Scott

Website: https://betterthanblended.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/betterthanblended/?hl=en

 

Brent Mclaughlin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brent.mclaughlin

 

 

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