Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Interview with Ben Erlichman

Hey! I'm excited to host guest Ben Erlichman today. He's talking about Splickety Magazine, in which yours truly has a short story published in the current issue!

Why a magazine like Splickety?
I created Splickety Magazine for two reasons: First, I saw a need, a void in publishing that Splickety seeks to fill. That's the need for flash fiction. That void isn't necessarily just a "publishing" void, but also a void in our reader's lives. Splickety is designed for on-the-go readers with busy lives who wish they had time to read more but can't. It's also for folks who enjoy (or even don't enjoy) reading because they can't seem to stay focused on a novel for long enough. They can get an issue of Splickety and consume their fiction in smaller bites.
What's your vision for Splickety's future?
Splickety is on course to put out four magazines this year. We've already launched two, our third will launch in September, and we're hosting the HIS Writers Novel Crafting Seminar Flash Fiction Contest for our November issue (more info here: http://www.hiswriters.acfwcolorado.com/flashfiction_2012.php). Four issues per year is great, but I'd like to get up to six or possibly even eight issues per year within the next five years.

In addition to that, we are in hot pursuit of subscribers for both our digital and print versions of Splickety. My Book Therapy (we can insert the link here once I get it) is running a promotion right now where if you subscribe to the MBT blog, you get our newest issue for free. The second part of that promo is that if you buy an annual subscription to Splickety ($7.50 -digital, $24.95 - print, $29.95 - both) then we will send you the latest digital issues of our three other magazines: Harpstring, Other Sheep, and Starsongs.

What are you looking for from authors?
The best way to describe what I'm looking for from authors is to point you to what we've already published. Read the first issue (which you can download for free any time at http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/324163), and read our second issue (http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/411510) and definitely read our submission guidelines as well (http://inthefray1.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/splickety-magazine-submission-guidelines/)

In short, we need quick, clean, poignant stories that have a beginning, a middle, and an end. They have to have developed characters and conflict. If you can mesh all of that together in a cohesive way, you've got a good shot at being published by Splickety.

Tell us about yourself and your staff.
Splickety operates with much more efficiency now that we are three people instead of two. Previously I had recruited Arpit Mehta (www.arpitmehta.com) as our Art Director well before we ever put out our first issue. He lives in California, recently got engaged (congrats, buddy!) and just re-designed our second issue AND our logo. He's incredibly skilled and I'm blesses to have him helping me with the layout and design.

Andrew Winch is a recent friend who seems more like an old one, even though we met not even a year ago at the ACFW Conference in St. Louis. After editing two issues myself, I realized that I needed help and that, frankly, it was taking too much of my time. I need all the time I can get these days, so I asked Andrew to serve as our Senior Editor. He handles all acquisitions, editing, proofreading (which I help with), and rejections. That's easily 1/3 of what we do at Splickety, so it's a relief that he does those things so I can focus on growing our readership.

As for me, well, I'm 26 and I live in Wisconsin just north of Milwaukee. I'm married to my beautiful wife Ashley, I have a new baby names Liam (who is sooo cute), and when I'm not Splicketeering I'm sword-fighting, shooting guns (at the range), playing church-league sports, and writing. I have a full-time day job, a burgeoning writing career, a family, and a church youth group to juggle, so life is always interesting and rarely not busy. That's just the way I like it, though.

How can one grab a copy?

If you've made it this far into our interview, you will have already seen two links where you can purchase hard copies of Splickety, as well as a link to My Book Therapy where you can subscribe to their blog for a free issue and where you can get info on subscribing to Splickety to get those three extra free issues of our other mags.  To purchase an e-version of the new issue, just email me at subscribe.to.splickety@gmail.com and I'll make sure we get you set up with a way to do that. Actually, emailing me there with any subscription/purchasing questions is a good idea.

Thanks, Ben. I loved issue 1.1 and am so thrilled to have my short story, Snagged, included in 1.2. The sneak preview I got to check out is exciting. Each story is different and engaging. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Help me name a character who looks something like this.(Eyes are blue, though.) His last name is West. He's a good guy.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


http://www.metrolic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/crying-tears.jpgThe elevator doors slid open and a lovely young woman stepped inside from the maternity floor. I opened my mouth to say hello but she turned her head to the wall and began sobbing. Her grief filled the elevator and gripped my heart.
“Can I help you in any way?” I whispered. She shook her head ‘no’ and tried to get control of herself. I reached in my purse scrounging for tissues.
“May I pray for you?” I handed her a little pack of tissues. She looked at me with red, tortured eyes and her lips parted as if to speak, but the doors slid open on the lobby floor. She bolted.
How I wished I had something to give her besides tissues. I determined I would never again be unprepared in those unexpected divine appointments to minister.
I searched and found the most amazing evangelism tools at a site called The Pocket Testament League. This well designed ministry, attractive and easy to navigate website is on the cutting edge of providing free evangelism training to anyone wanting to share Christ.
Free copies of pocket-sized gospels of John are on their way to my house right now. There are over 30 stunning cover themes to choose from. Thinking of the sad young woman in the elevator, I chose a beautiful lighthouse theme with stormy seas in the background. I will be prepared now to give something besides tissues to the people that God has cross my path. The gospels are available in English, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese. 
The Pocket Testament League provides complete support for the Christian community. Taking the 21 Day Challenge is a wonderful way to experience the life of Jesus. EvangelismBoot Camp is a course offered to learn how to share faith in Christ. Free daily devotionals and member testimonies are inspirational and motivating. Membership is free. Donations are accepted to cover the cost of the pocket gospels. Sponsoring others in their ministry is another option. 
I think one of my favorite tools on the site is the mobile phone app. All the features I’ve mentioned are available on the go and include the ability to build and connect with a team of fellow evangelists. I can even drop a pin on a map indicating where I’ve shared a pocket gospel of John, access a daily Bible reading, and watch inspirational videos.
Not bad for a ministry that has been around since 1893. Let me encourage you to visit ThePocket Testament League. You’ll be inspired, motivated and equipped to fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20) because “how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them?” (Romans 10:14)

Did you check out the site? What did you think?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Andy Griffith...He always reminds me of my father. Actually, Daddy was like Andy Taylor when he was "cool" and he was like Barney Fife when he was uh, not cool. Lovable, either way. I've always loved the Andy Griffith Show. I wrote a book about Andy and Barney growing up in Mayberry in the 30s. Here's the first chapter.

In honor of Andy Griffith....


Chapter One

     Opie Taylor left the Law Office of Ernest Theodore Bass, Jr. with an envelope stuffed in his pocket.  His cell phone buzzed.
     “Hey, Eunice.”  The lump in his throat stopped him short.
     “Opie, are you coming back to the house?  There are tons of people here.  They came straight from the funeral.  I want you to eat something.”
     “Ernie gave me a letter,” the lump was rising again, “from Pa.  I think I’m gonna take a walk and I’ll be back in a while.    You’ll be alright with Andrew and Kathy?”
     “Yes, our new daughter-in-law already has everything well in hand.  She is presiding over that mountain of food in the kitchen and making sure everyone is served.  Andrew follows her around like a puppy.  Her wish is his command.  Newlyweds, still, those two.” 
     His Pa had loved that grandson of his.  He loved Andrew’s wife as well. 
     “And Helen?” Opie asked. 
     “She’s lying down, and Thelma Lou is hovering over her like a mother hen.  It must be hard on her, with Barney gone only a couple of months,” Eunice said.
     “I reckon so, I‘ll be back soon.” Opie answered.  Eunice giggled at his use of that old familiar Mayberry dialogue.  Opie was amazed at how quickly he reverted to the old country speech whenever he came home.  His staff at the New York Times wouldn’t believe their ears if they could hear him now.
     Andrew Jackson Taylor hadn’t been Sheriff of Mayberry for the past ten years, but he was still considered the father of the town.  The townspeople were reeling and lost at the death of their beloved Sheriff Andy Taylor.  They seemed to look to Opie for some kind of strength or direction.  He felt the weight of it.  How could he help anyone, give any kind of stability when he felt the foundation of his life kicked out from under him?  His dearest friend, father and mother, confidant and counselor, greatest fan and cheerleader, but most of all his shining example and greatest inspiration was gone.
      They’d never sing together, talk about current events with his Pa’s unique perspective, skip rocks on Meyer’s Lake or fish together again.  For so many years Opie and his father talked nearly every day.  Opie was always running ideas or family problems through his Dad’s infinite wisdom, cracking jokes old and new, and generally sharing the every day details of their lives with each other. 
Andy, over time, had told Opie many things about the townspeople that he grew up with, things he hadn’t known as a child.  Opie felt he knew the people of Mayberry like the back of his hand, even better now than when he was a kid, thanks to his father’s faithful tales.  His mind wandered back to that morning on the Lake after they’d fished.  Andy had praised Opie for his catch then they fried it up for breakfast.  Opie had seen Indians become blood brothers on TV and he wanted to make a pact by slicing their wrists and rub them together and be blood brothers forever.  His Pa had played along but instead of cutting their wrists he drew a mark on their wrists with a charred rock from the fire and led them in an oath; they raised their right hands and said something like, “In the name of  Boujum Snark, spirit ‘o the water, Trillen Camp, spirit ‘o fire, and”, oh, what was it, somebody “spirit ‘o the air, we do hereby make a pact to be blood brothers and never be separated forever.”  Opie had tried to sabotage Andy’s efforts to date after that, until Andy sat him down and told him how much he loved him.  That memory stayed in Opie’s heart all the years after, and they really were blood brothers.  Opie didn’t know how he was going to live without his father’s presence. 
     Now it seemed like Mayberry was looking to Opie for some kind of strength, for guidance.  Shoot, he didn’t even live here anymore.  He could hear his father’s voice in his head, “Act like somebody.”  Somebody who?  Somebody who gives up his dream job at the New York Times to come home and take care of Helen, the whole town for that matter?  Why couldn’t Helen move to New York with Opie and Eunice and Mayberry take care of itself? 
     And now the letter.  Ernie’s eyes had filled with tears when he turned the letter over to Opie.  “I’ll never forget what your father did for me, for my family.  If there is anything I can do, Opie, please just say the word.  If it weren’t for your pa…“ he choked up and extended his hand for a shake.  The letter was scrawled on the front in his pa’s handwriting, “Go on up to Meyer’s Lake.”
     Ernie’s office was located in the old Walker’s Drug Store across the street from the Courthouse.  Opie took a few steps across the street toward the old building.  No, he couldn’t deal with that now.  He’d better head on up to the Lake, read the letter and then get back to his pa’s house and help Eunice with all the company.
      The walk would clear his head, and the solitary, still pristine atmosphere at Meyer’s would shield him from onlookers as he read his pa’s letter.  They’d said everything there was to say.  What could his Father have written to him and wanted delivered posthumously? 
     At least it was a beautiful day, cool and clear.  They were past the North Carolina summer humidity but not yet into winter’s cold.  Meyer’s Lake was surrounded by pines and evergreens, but sprinkled throughout were oak and sycamore that showed their fall colors. 
     The air was crisp and fresh.  Even in his grief Opie appreciated the clean air of the country, one of the things he missed living in New York. 
     He sat down on the ground at the edge of the Lake, where he and his pa sat fishing countless times.  He closed his eyes and pictured the two of them on their old faithful canoe, Gertrude, casting their lines and talking quietly.  He could taste Aunt Bee’s bologny sandwiches that she always packed for them when they fished.  He got up and plunked a rock into the still, shining water.  He watched the ripples fan out and he stood there until the water stilled again.
     Opie sat back down on the ground, thinking Aunt Bee would have a coniption because he was in his best suit.  He missed her. 
     He opened the letter and was taken aback at the scent of his father’s after shave.  He knew his dad hadn’t purposely scented the letter.  He probably had started writing it right after shaving and applying the Aqua Velva. 
    “Dear Opie, if you’re reading this then I’m gone.  I hope I’ll be sittin’ on a heavenly porch somewhere having coffee with Aunt Bee, Barney, Brisco Darling and all the others who went before me.  I hope you’ll think of us that way, all a talkin’ about how proud we are of you and your family.  I know you’ll take care of Helen, that’s not what this is about.  There are some things that I wanted you to know, things I couldn’t tell you while I was there, just too precious, painful and sweet.  Maybe it’s because it involves people we know and love.  I just couldn’t talk about it while they were alive, in case they didn’t want people to know.  It’s nothing earth shattering, just very personal to Mayberry, to us and why I am the way I am (was, ha).  It all started when your grandma died...