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Infiltration IV

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COLLABORATED BY MALACHI GIBSON, LUKE CROUCH, AND CARTER PIERCE

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Ivan Molchalin waited. He looked out the window. He scrolled through the news. He pretended to take a nap.

It had been too long. After the radio had gone out, he’d overheard enough to gather that the passengers thought there would be a quickly ensuing explosion or toxic gas attack. But for half an hour, nothing had happened. They’d calmed down a little, reassuring one another, growing quiet.

And Ivan took his time. He had three hours until the plane landed, and three hours was plenty of time to move. He moved so slowly that no one noticed. He covered his hand with his iPad, letting a video play on the screen, but not paying attention to it. His fingers found a small cylindrical object in the white bag which accompanied his oxygen tank. It was small, disguised as a prescription bottle. It even had some vitamin E tablets inside, in case anyone checked. But the bottle itself had reinforced carbon fiber walls and could hold pressure up to 1,000 psi.

For the next five minutes, he carefully screwed the bottle onto the top of his oxygen tank. If anyone looked in his direction, they might have thought he was simply adjusting the knob on the tank itself.

The bottle screwed on sideways so that the bottom stuck out. The bottom was reinforced as well, but not quite as strongly. He’d had to install some interesting components along with the carbon fiber.

But he’d tested the bottle hundreds of times, and it had worked perfectly so far. He wasn’t worried.

He flipped a tiny switch on the oxygen tank’s regulator, sighing as if he was very tired. A few heads turned in his direction as he leaned back comfortably in his seat, and turned away again disinterestedly a moment later.

Time mattered now.

As soon as he’d flipped that switch, the plane no longer had three hours until landing.

He began counting seconds.

At his side, the bottle began filling with pressurized liquid oxygen. The things that looked just like vitamin E tablets dissolved slowly, certain elements inside them connecting magnetically and moving toward the tiny components at the bottom of the prescription bottle. A spherical bullet slowly formed. The oxygen mixed with other gasses contained inside the tablets, creating a chemical reaction that solidified the magnetic dust into a hard object.

The apparatus at the bottom of the bottle engaged on a timed que, and the bullet was blasted at exactly 981 psi across the cabin.

It didn’t hit anybody.

But it didn’t have to. Ivan Molchalin didn’t want it to. He had only one bullet, and it had to kill everyone.

He’d aimed it well.

The window directly across from him shattered, the force of the wind outside along with the air pressure creating a vacuum that sucked every loose object inside the cabin toward it.

The rest of the glass in the plane imploded instantaneously, covering the passengers in tiny shards and splinters. Someone’s very small child was sucked out by the vacuum. Screams erupted everywhere.

The wind roared inside the cabin, deafening Ivan. He stood slowly, grasping the top of his seat with one hand to steady himself. The man in brown tweed also stood, looking around wildly. Ivan shouted, “What happened?” but only for effect. No one heard him over the wind. He had one last trick up his sleeve, and this one would be the master stroke. It was no time to give away that he knew what was going on.

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Copyright by Carter Pierce 2022 All Rights Reserved

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~Reflectionsofrenaissance.com

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Infiltration III

__________________________________________________

COLLABORATED BY MALACHI GIBSON, LUKE CROUCH, AND CARTER PIERCE

__________________________________________________

Ivan Molchalin listened to the chaos with grim pleasure. He loved the sound of people screaming. The audible terror.

At first it hadn’t been so loud. After the stewardess had relayed his message to no great effect, the pilot himself had opened the door and told them that everything was going to be just fine.

For a while that had calmed the passengers.

Ivan had gotten bored.

The man beside him with a brown tweed suit and dark circles under his eyes had been woken up by the commotion, so Ivan turned to him, putting on a groggy air as if he himself had just woken up as well. “Are we being attacked by terrorists or something?”

The man in the brown tweed suit shrugged, and muttered something under his breath that sounded like “wouldn’t surprise me.”

“What’s that?”

“I wouldn’t know; I just woke up.”

Then Ivan got an unexpected stroke of luck, for the man in tweed turned in his seat to face a heavy-set, worried-looking woman behind them, and asked, “Ma’am, do you know if we are under attack by terrorists?”

The woman shook her head and said she didn’t. A moment later she was asking the man beside her.

The question spread like wildfire, the tongue of some over-wrought, imaginative youngster translating it into a statement. “We’re under attack by terrorists, and we’re all going to die!”

Someone else repeated it, and soon everyone was shouting it. Everyone who had been asking thought that someone else knew, and the people who started shouting it thought that the kid had been told by someone else.

The whole plane was a commotion; an uproar; a glorious cacophony of shrieking and wailing and shouting.

Lies spread best when you don’t know enough, Ivan thought. It was wonderful. Satisfying.

Because, theoretically, they were under attack by a terrorist.

But this terrorist wasn’t with Isis or Al-Qaeda or the Taliban–he was a loner. His hired thugs, people like Tom who had helped him hijack the onboard communication system, were already dead. Killed by other hired thugs who knew nothing about Ivan or his project.

Now it was just him, the plane, the pilot, and the passengers. And one particular passenger.

He didn’t know who the passenger was. That he was on the plane was without question. Inside information from the airport personnel told him that Jack Raummi was on board. But Ivan had not gotten the portrait, or the phone number, or the plane ticket, or the seat number. He’d just gotten the name Jack Raummi, and the number and time of the flight.

Today, before the plane landed, Jack Raummi would die.

Ivan didn’t care about all the other innocent people on board. So long as he killed Jack, he’d be avenged of his brother’s death, and he’d be satisfied.

And he’d probably be dead as well, because he didn’t have landing gear.

But he didn’t care. Revenge was all that mattered.

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Copyright by Carter Pierce 2022 All Rights Reserved

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~Reflectionsofrenaissance.com

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Infiltration II

__________________________________________________

COLLABORATED BY MALACHI GIBSON, LUKE CROUCH, AND CARTER PIERCE

__________________________________________________

“Please fasten your seatbelts,” a woman’s polite voice said over the intercom. It sounded a little scratchy, as if the overhead speaker wasn’t working quite right.

Which, if his inside man had done his work, would be exactly the case.

Ivan Molchalin polished his thick round glasses with the hem of his suit jacket, replacing them on his face a little awkwardly. There was a lump on his nose he wasn’t quite used to. He methodically buckled his seat belt, situating his oxygen tank on the floor between his legs, and looked out the window to his left.

Someone sat down in the seat to his right. A thin man in a brown tweed suit with dark circles under his eyes and a day’s shadow of a beard on his cheeks.

Perfect, Ivan thought. He’ll be asleep in no time.

The plane took off presently, instructions coming over the speakers. Ivan didn’t really pay them attention. All the safety precautions were about to be useless. Besides, only about two thirds of the words were intelligible. Static was getting pretty bad. Somewhere there was a loose wire, waiting for the speaker to move enough to break it.

And attached to that wire was a car battery that could fry most of the connected wires in the system in about twenty seconds. As soon as it was broken . . . no more radio.

The man to his right, just as he’d predicted, quickly fell asleep.

Ivan reached into the small white bag that accompanied his oxygen tank and withdrew a brand-new iPad. Most people used those bags for extra parts for their tank. Not Ivan. He needed that space for other things.

He booted up the iPad and went directly to the news. Anyone watching would quickly become uninterested. After about ten minutes of this, he calmly pulled down the menu and opened the Wi-Fi properties window.

Two minutes later he’d hacked into the plane’s communication system.

Next, he uploaded an obnoxious soundtrack to the onboard computer. A moment later it blasted through the speakers, deafening the passengers with its sharp squeal and harsh static.

Then everything went silent.

Perfect. Tom had done his job.

But the passengers had been frightened by the unexpected noise: they were standing up and asking questions and trying to figure out what had happened.

The stewardess came through a door at the front of the plane, and all eyes turned in her direction. Now they’d be told what was going on.

The stewardess seemed a little worried, but she was obviously trying not to show it. “Our communications have been interrupted. We’ll have them up and working again in a few minutes. Please be patient.”

People took seats again, whispering to each other. What had happened? Why were communications not working? Could the plane still talk to the ground, or had that connection been cut as well? What was going on?

No one noticed the old man by the window, scrolling calmly through the news.

Ivan took a long, slow breath, trying to calm his racing heart. He was almost ready for the final stroke.

Nobody on the plane would ever worry again.

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Copyright by Carter Pierce 2022 All Rights Reserved

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~Reflectionsofrenaissance.com

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Color Vs Emotions

“Color is the smile of Nature!”

~Leigh Hunt

Color, thank God, is everywhere. Even on the darkest day where the sun doesn’t seem to want to shine, if we look up, we’ll still get blinded because it’s still there. Color Psychology has not really been anything that I studied, until recently. However, in the past, I recognized that I was more drawn to sites that had colors, brighter pictures, happier themes, whether or not the content that I was reading was joyful or sad.

As someone who enjoys creating websites, slides, photoshops, bookmarks, and practically anything creative, I tend to lead towards brighter color schemes. As I was touching up on things in my portfolio, I started to wonder if color can actually affect people’s moods? Will people most likely subscribe to my website if it’s brightly colored? Should I go with a white background or black with colors that pleasantly add to it?

Did you actually know that there was a thing called color therapy? According to Verywellmind.com. “Several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practiced chromotherapy, or the use of colors to heal. Chromotherapy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colorology.” As stated by Colorology:

-Red is used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation.
-Yellow is thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
-Orange is used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels.
-Blue is believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.
-Indigo shades are thought to alleviate skin problems.

Color can also do so much more than this. Color can actually impact people in some very surprising ways: Warm colors like red, yellow, and orange evoke higher arousal emotions, such as love, passion, happiness, and anger. Cool colors, like blue, green, and purple are linked to calmness, sadness, and indifference. Colors can actually set into play these emotions! Wow, that’s crazy!

A very interesting movie, actually it was one of the first movies that I got to see in the movie theaters, Is Pixar’s Movie, Inside out,( June 19, 2015). It was about the kinds of emotions that the human body, and what it would be like if those emotions were given a character. The five main emotions are Joy, she is a bright yellow, Anger, a warm red, Disgust is a poisonous green, Fear is pale purple, and Sadness is a deep blue.

Life is like a rainbow. You need both rain and sun to make its colors appear. ~Unknown

So, what about the connection between warm or bright colors and website followers? Looks actually matter. “Over 40 percent of shoppers base their opinion of a website on the overall design, and over 50 percent of shoppers won’t return because of overall aesthetics.” This was said by Veniadmin at Venedidgital.com, in their article, How the Psychology of Colors Boosts Website Conversion.

“Color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions.” Says Kendra Cherry at Verywellmind.com, “Certain colors have been associated with increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eyestrain.” She goes on. That’s amazing how color can have that effect on people, yet also scary at the same time.

So, when you’re working on the details of your own website, do you ever think about these things? Maybe if you do, it’ll start bringing in some more followers? There are many times when you can think about color and not when it comes to website building! Like, what clothes you are going to wear, what your resume will look like, what color you’re going to paint your new house, and much more. Color is just something that I can’t go without, and by reading and researching I have learned that other people can feel some of which I feel throughout the day when it comes to colors.

Sources:

Cherry, K. (2020, May 28). Color Psychology: Does It Affect How You Feel? Verywell well. https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824

Vetter, C. (2019, December 5). The effects of colors on behavior. Neurofied. https://neurofied.com/effects-of-color-on-behavior/

Cherry, Kendra. “Can Color Affect Your Mood and Behavior?” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 28 May 2020, https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology

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Learning a New Instrument!

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“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato

Is music something in life that you can’t go without? For me it definitely is! Just relaxing, listening to some contemporary music, and thinking about my day is a way that I wish that I could spend every moment of my life. Music is everywhere! In nature, while you shop, at sports events, during school, etc. Have you ever thought about contributing to the music world? But… where would you start? All you gotta do is: Choose that lucky instrument that will be best for you, bring together some scraps of money and purchase it, be excited and practice, practice practice, as well as a few other things! You can do it!  There is just about a guide for anything these days. How to pick a new puppy, how to start a blog, how to become an entrepreneur and use… How to choose an instrument. 

Choosing An Instrument:

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When choosing an instrument, consider where you live. If you live in a small one-bedroom apartment a drum set, a grand piano, and an organ probably isn’t going to be the best choice for you. Perhaps considering something smaller such as a guitar, a ukulele, or a keyboard. 

Find some sort of balance when it comes to time management. Find also what your heart desires. If you just want to learn how to play the piano just so you can perform in hospitals and the airport when you’re there, maybe rethink this? Unless you’re accident-prone, or a mass traveler, that isn’t a realistic goal.

Another tip would be exploring your options and preferences. Think about the questions: Which genre of music do you like? What kinds of sounds do you like? What is your music personality? Dramatic, slow, wild, contemporary, plain, bassy? 

Get Yourself An Instrument

Choosing an instrument can be hard. A tip is that almost every instrument at first try can feel awkward. Just like learning how to ice skate. Your shoes might feel weird (fingers) and you might get blisters (sore) but with practice, your body gets used to the change!

Think about the cost. Just like anything you buy you have questions running through your mind

How long will it last?
How much do I want to spend?
Do I NEED this? Or do I WANT this? 
Will I be happy with it in the future? 

Make sure you don’t go overboard on this decision. Just like if you were to buy your first car, you’re not going to go out and buy something worth 4 houses… Start small to save for the future! Second-hand stores, craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, garage sales and just searching the web can be a great place to start when it comes to buying an instrument. Think about the cost. Just like anything you buy you have questions running through your mind

Practice Makes Perfect:

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Practicing after a while can get tiring, but it’s important. When you’re practicing make sure you are doing it right, that way when you have it mastered, you won’t have to learn it the RIGHT way. 

Picking Those Songs

There are many great song learning books out there! If you don’t read music you can go with chords or play by ear. If you find yourself liking classical music, then when practicing, pick something in that genre. I myself have had trouble getting into the role of playing classical as a person who loves pop culture. Trying new genres can also improve your skills.

Find that artist that you love and go for the simplified version until you got the basics mastered and you can add some of the ‘oomph’ to it! Lists of songs have the same chords over and over again. For example, Dear August by P.J Harding and Noah Cyrus.

Pay attention to this verse:

Am                                C

Slowly, why’s the morning come so slowly

                     F                        C   C/B

When I got no one to hold me through the dark?

This line is special because it consists of the chords, Am, C, F, C, C/B. Then it goes onto the second part:

Am                                 C

Patient, they tell me that love is patient

                      F                C

But it never wants to wait on my drunk heart

You end up seeing that same pattern again, Am, C, F, C, C/B

Just like children’s books, when a child is just learning to read, repeated words can help them remember the sounds and the words. Music is the same way! 

Find Out A Way Of Learning:

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Finding Those Other People:

Today there are so many great sites out there that can help you learn your instruments. For example, Ultimate-guitar.com. I most definitely recommend this!, Youtube, Tik-Tok, and so many others! Finding tutors can also be helpful. Ask the people around if they have any teacher recommendations. Again, think about your costs. Music lessons can be expensive… 

Having an excuse, other than just playing at a hospital, can help you improve. Hanging out with friends and having a jam session, joining the youth group worship team, starting a sibling band, having a mini-neighborhood concert can really help you! 

So, why should you even bother to learn a new instrument? There are many benefits to music! It can help expand your brain growth, improve your language skills, and can build your memory, attention, and concentration.

“Music cleanses the understanding; inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Sources:

How to: 7 tips to learning a new instrument. (n.d.). Gulfnews.com. https://gulfnews.com/entertainment/music/how-to-7-tips-to-learning-a-new-instrument-1.65368679

Woeppel, M. (2021, June 17). Four Tips for Picking the Perfect Musical Instrument. Music with Megan. https://www.musicwithmeg.rocks/post/four-tips-for-picking-the-perfect-musical-instrument

~Reflectionsofrenaissance.com

Infiltration IV

__________________________________________________ COLLABORATED BY MALACHI GIBSON, LUKE CROUCH, AND CARTER PIERCE __________________________________________________ Ivan Molchalin waited. He looked out the window. He scrolled through the news. He pretended to take a nap. It had been too long. After the radio had gone out, he’d overheard enough to gather that the passengers thought there would be a quickly […]

Infiltration III

__________________________________________________ COLLABORATED BY MALACHI GIBSON, LUKE CROUCH, AND CARTER PIERCE __________________________________________________ Ivan Molchalin listened to the chaos with grim pleasure. He loved the sound of people screaming. The audible terror. At first it hadn’t been so loud. After the stewardess had relayed his message to no great effect, the pilot himself had opened the door […]

Infiltration II

__________________________________________________ COLLABORATED BY MALACHI GIBSON, LUKE CROUCH, AND CARTER PIERCE __________________________________________________ “Please fasten your seatbelts,” a woman’s polite voice said over the intercom. It sounded a little scratchy, as if the overhead speaker wasn’t working quite right. Which, if his inside man had done his work, would be exactly the case. Ivan Molchalin polished his […]

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The Benefits of Journaling

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There are many things in this world that can take a turn for the worse. Relationships, medication, your job, friendships, the weather, and so much more. Oddly enough, when these things happen, we tend to focus on the bad and ugly things rather than the good. So, can journaling take away these issues? Not necessarily, but there’s something about writing down your thoughts in a leather-bound notebook that is so satisfying to the soul. 

 A quote that I tend to cherish and keep close to my heart is, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” This was said by an amazing writer and poet by the name of William Wordsworth. Writing is so much more than sitting down and scribbling on paper. It’s allowing yourself to breathe. Writing can take, what should have been, and give it another opportunity. 

Journaling can be for everyone, anywhere and anytime too! Journaling can be used to achieve goals, track progress and growth in your own life, help you gain self-confidence, reduce stress or anxiety, strengthen your memory, help find your inspirations,  and many other things! Keeping track of your emotions, such as keeping a mood tracking log, can help you keep more control. Being able to keep an eye on your emotions can possibly help you see a pattern throughout the days, through the rough and stressful moments in your life, and so many other things. When you write down your thoughts, it can give you a safe place to recall memories, think out loud about things you have always kept inside, etc. 

Journaling can be more than just writing down your day-to-day thoughts. Just like a whole library of books, there are a series of many genres that we can enjoy.  You don’t just have to write the same thing over and over again. For example, how your day went, what you ate, the people you saw and etc. Life as a journaler can be SO much more exciting and worth more! Different ways you can journal are by:

  1.  Making a dream log. Take notes of your dreams! A tip for this is to write as soon as you wake up in the morning. 
  2. A food journal: Keeping track of the foods that you eat, and how they make you feel after. Who knows, you could draw attention to something you might be allergic to that affects your mood and behavior! 
  3. Gratitude journal: These are so helpful. They let you see the beauty around you and help you see what amazing things are in your life. Sometimes you can get caught up in the darkness around you and not see the light. 
  4. Sketch journal: This can help you express yourself through pictures if words don’t always come to you. 
  5. Checklist journal: If you have trouble throughout the day finding stuff to do and then not feeling satisfied with your day, a checklist journal can help with those emotions! At the end of the day, you can see what you’ve completed! 

Keeping a journal can actually change your life and for the better! Journaling has actually helped clear my emotions. And for you, it can help you mop up all puddles of stress in your life, it exercises your mind and memory, and it allows a safe place for you to rant about life decisions, politics, and ANYTHING you want to write about. 

Writing things down, such as in a gratitude journal, can help you become more naturally positive, makes you give less power to negative emotions, and writing down things can help you make them feel more real. It helps improve your self-esteem. Showing gratitude can help prevent some social comparison, and having gratitude can help you trust others, as well as yourself. 

So, it’s easy right! Don’t be afraid, pick up that journal, find a fancy pen, and just relax and write. There are so many options when it comes to journaling. Trust me, it won’t become boring. 

Sources: 

COHEN, Y. (2017, August 1). 5 Reasons Keeping a Gratitude Journal Will Change Your Life. Goodnet.Org. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.goodnet.org/articles/5-reasons-keeping-gratitude-journal-will-change-your-life

Hardy, B., Ph.D. (2021, January 5). Keeping A Daily Journal Could Change Your Life. Inc.Com.   Retrieved, February 20th, 2021 https://www.inc.com/benjamin-p-hardy/why-keeping-a-daily-journal-could-change-your-life.html

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Infiltration

__________________________________________________

COLLABORATED BY MALACHI GIBSON, LUKE CROUCH, AND CARTER PIERCE

__________________________________________________

He appeared totally harmless. Slightly pudgy, wearing round, thick-lensed glasses — a shock of white hair and a short white beard. He was carrying one of those portable oxygen tanks that old people use, the long white plastic tube going under his nose and pumping air through the little holes so he could breathe it in. He walked with a slight limp, gazing about in a curious manner as he made his way toward the TSA team in their neat grey-and-black uniforms, and the boarding ramp beyond. 

They had him take the loose change out of his pocket and put it on a little tray. They asked if he had any keys on him, and he said no. Someone patted him down, lifting the oxygen tank away from his side for a brief moment to check behind it before letting it bump back into place. He walked between a pair of upright posts. 

Something beeped, and he jumped a little. “Oh,” he said with a rueful smile. “It’s the tank. I’m sorry gentlemen. I can do without it for a moment.” He carefully unstrung the white plastic tube from under his nose and moved the padded shoulder strap over his head, setting the apparatus on the ground gently, bending a little at the waist, stiffly. He straightened with dignity, and stood between the posts again. No beep was forthcoming. 

“You’re good to go, sir,” one of the uniformed young men said with a kind, somewhat paternal smile. “Have a nice flight.” 

The man nodded briefly, returning. He bent at the waist, a little stiffly as before, and picked up his oxygen tank, methodically placing the shoulder strap over his shoulder and the tube under his nose. He took a deep breath of air, as if he’d been experiencing a mild case of suffocation. He offered the TSA team an all-encompassing smile, just as kind and paternal as the one offered to him had been, and said, “Thank you, gentlemen. I greatly appreciate your efforts to keep our community safe. I wish you a wonderful day.” 

He turned, walking sedately toward the boarding ramp. His heart was pounding with adrenaline, but his mind remained as steady and calculating as ever. Not even the slightest hint of the grim satisfaction he felt was evident in his face. 

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Copyright by Carter Pierce 2022 All Rights Reserved

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~Reflectionsofrenaissance.com

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8 Sites for Writers

NaNoWriMo

https://nanowrimo.org

This is probably one that a lot of people know about and/or have participated in. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.

You can’t necessarily publish your works through NaNoWriMo. It’s built for keeping track of your progress with multiple helpful statistics, including day-by-day word count, lifetime word count, total projects, etc.

It’s a social platform as well: you can invite friends to chat and have word-sprints with you (or with an entire group!), and you can exchange ideas and concepts. Also, each book you put on NaNoWriMo has a cove plate display. This means your friends can check out your cover, a short synopsis, and even an excerpt of the books you’ve done.

I have done NaNoWriMo a few times and enjoyed it. The November challenge is the main thing: write 50,000 words in 30 days. However, you can start a new project and goal any time you want!

Amazon

https://kdp.amazon.com

You can buy a million things on Amazon. Pretty much everything from A to Z, as the little arrow under the company name depicts. But did you know that you can also sell things? KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing. So far all of my books have been published through KDP.com, and I find the process extremely streamlined and easy to understand.

Once you’ve got your book finished (Drafted, edited, covered, etc.) you just upload all your text and images and hit publish! It is free to publish, but if you’re looking for advertisement you’ll have to pay for that. You can order “Author Copies” at printing price (normally just a few dollars a book), and sell them from home as well.

Sheet Music Plus

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com

For those of us who like to write and buy music, SMP is pretty great. I’ve put a few of my orchestral pieces on there in PDF form (no one has bought them yet . . . ) and I love to browse music. Some of their pieces have Mp3 format clips that you can listen to, however, most are just the sheet music. Good old grand staff and dots and lines. If you write that kind of thing, check this out!

Lulu Jr.

https://www.lulu.com/create/print-books

I used this site when I was little to publish one of my first short stories. Up until that point I’d been writing full sagas (and I’m not saying they were any good, but I’m not kidding either!), and Lulu was having a contest of some kind, which I entered in order to mix up my career at the age of 9. That being said, It’s been a long time since I’ve used them, but my overall experience was good.

Their hardback binding is beautiful and high-res, and if the contest I entered hadn’t been solely for handwriting, I’d be able to comment on the readability of their text : )

Wattpad

https://www.wattpad.com

Here’s one I have not used at all: I’ll come right out and admit it. I don’t write fan fiction because it doesn’t use my full capacity of creative tendency. But if you’re one of those people that loves coming up with alternate endings to Harry Potter, Crispin and the Cross of Lead, and The Hunger Games, Wattpad might just be the thing for you!

Some of my writing friends use it and I’ve heard good things about it. At first I was reluctant to mention it because I myself have not used it, but I didn’t want to leave it out in case it could help someone. So check it out and leave a comment below if you have extra info on this site!

VistaPrint

https://www.vistaprint.com

Here’s one for the dirt-cheap advertisers out there! Use your book cover and create a business card to hand out to people when they ask how your latest project is going. If you don’t write huge long pieces but have a quippy sense of humor, maybe put one of your ideas on a shirt.

Vistaprint sells lots of accessories including bags, notebooks, and mugs, all customizable. I’ve used Vistaprint many times, and am pleased with the results.

TinyURL

https://tinyurl.com

This is basically a trick of the trade as far as advertising goes. If you want to link to some abstract, alpha-numeric URL website where your book is sold, but want people to be able to type it in easily, use Tinyurl.com to create a link between the long URL and one that’s easy to read and write. When someone types the easy one into a web search, they’ll go directly to the site.

An even easier and faster method for those who have smart phones is:

Flowcode

https://www.flowcode.com

The QR code on this website (on the About Us page) was created using Flowcode. It’s easy and free. You can create a QR code linked to anything in a matter of seconds, just as fast as you copy and paste the website link into the Flowcode site. Download your code and you’re ready to go! You can print it onto cards, share it on social media, or put it in the back of your previous book to advertise for the one you’ve just published!

I would love to go to a full 10 sites just because of the number 10, which seems to be used for just about everything these days, but I’ll be unique and leave it at 8, letting you wonder if there’s anything special about that number. Days later you’ll realize that I was just running out of inspiration and that your wondering did no good.

I hope this blogpost helps you out! If you have other recommendations for writers who want to save a buck, I’d love it if you commented!

God bless and happy writing : )

~Reflectionsofrenaissance.com

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Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s that time of year again! Stores are already stocking for Easter, beer is flying off the shelves, some folks are Christmas shopping, and most everybody has turned the heat up indoors. In our fast-paced American culture, I think a lot of people miss the deeper things. A few of us are lucky and have the time to sit and ruminate on meanings and origins, but I fear that the vast majority of Americans are too busy with their everyday lives; their jobs, activities, family life, you name it, to mentally engage some interesting topics that mostly go by the wayside under the categories of “uninteresting,” “maybe later,” or “there’s something more important.”

I don’t watch football myself, but I’ve heard from many friends that this is a common Thanksgiving Day occupation. People have a big family get-together, eat some fancy food, pop open the beers, and sit down to watch some fast dues run across the field and make big bucks.

I’m not here to discourage watching football on Thanksgiving, by any means. It’s a fun game, entertaining, often inspiring to those of us who are packing a few extra pounds (myself included), and overall a good pastime. However, I can’t imagine that this is what Americans were doing in 1623 when television had not even been dreamed of and people were still using the stars as their Global Positioning System. So how did Thanksgiving start?

We’ve all heard the stories about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans getting together for a big feast, but when and why is not often covered. In the Free Birds movie, people are depicted eating pizza instead of turkey. Pizza was first sold commercially in 1897 by an Italian man named Gennaro Lombardi, so that theory is out, even if we’re accounting for time travel, because as soon as those turkeys go back into the future, Lombardi no longer has the corner on the market and pizza probably doesn’t exist anymore. And while turkey may have been on the Pilgrims’ spread, it was definitely not the main course. Chronicler Edward Winslow recorded that the Wampanoag Indians brought five deer to the feast, and also that the Pilgrims had gone fowling beforehand, which implies any number of birds such as ducks, geese and swans could have been brought back. And they didn’t have cranberry sauce on their meat: the sugar onboard the Mayflower during the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean was almost depleted by November 1621. Cooks didn’t start boiling cranberries with sugar and serving the concoction with meat until about 1670.

Food-related rituals aside, why did the feast happen in the first place? Why were the Indians a part of it? Did the Pilgrims have a really amazing harvest year and want to throw a party? Well, that was part of it. But one of the reasons that they had such a great harvest was because the Wampanoag tribe showed them how to grow corn or maize, which had not been grown in or brought over from England. Backing up a step, the Pilgrims had had a terrible previous year filled with sickness and food shortages. If they had not been taught to grow some of the native grains, they may not have survived. So, the Thanksgiving feast was held not only to thank God for their new country, their lives, freedom, and recovery from the sickness, but also to thank the Wampanoag for teaching them the skills they needed to have in order to survive in the new climate.

Today we tend to breeze by the history of the event as we eat food and watch football, but it should at least trigger some recognition and appreciation when we realize that without the Pilgrims working so hard to get here across the Atlantic, the Wampanoag tribe showing them the ropes, and God’s Providence protecting and leading them the entire way, we wouldn’t have the luxuries we have today, and there most likely wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving Day at all.

If you want to learn more about how the Pilgrims got here, what they did when they arrived, and why God was such a huge part of the voyage, watch the movie “Monumental” (linked below).

In conclusion, let’s make Thanksgiving, instead of a time to focus on our appetite, a time to reflect on all the amazing and wonderful things that God has done for us, to be grateful for the people around us, and to remember the struggle of the Pilgrims that got us to where we are today!

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuN86qIqfw0 )

( https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/first-thanksgiving-meal )

~Reflectionsofrenaissance.com

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Why Work When You Could Play a Videogame?

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Yeah, we’ve all been there, I think. In modern America the pull of the screen has become increasingly strong, the graphics are way better than they were in 1822, and the plots! jeez, the plots are insanely complicated and amazing. (Mostly). But after all this, could there be drawbacks to playing videogames?

In my opinion, yes.

Here’s little sister’s point of view: I’m sitting there on the couch (slouching, I admit it!) chewing on a sandwich or a candy bar, moving my thumbs back and forth.

Here’s mom’s point of view: I’m sitting on the couch moving my thumbs back and forth when there are plenty of chores to be done around the house (yeah . . . as boring as they are).

And dad’s point of view? Well maybe he wants to spend time with me, teach me how to run the table saw out in the garage, or go fishing. I’m sitting there improving my reflexes and earning gold coins with which I can buy new things to help me . . . uh . . . play more of the videogame.

So, halfway through the previous paragraph, I stopped writing and put in an 8-hour day of manual labor. (I’m not kidding) I’m tired, dull-minded, hungry, and generally done for the day in a physical and mental capacity. On the other hand, I mapped some new roads while driving, found a good place to buy Costco-sized chocolate muffins for $1.29, learned some things about prepping for and pouring concrete, helped a guy take apart, fix, and rebuild all the parts behind the wheel of his work van, and learned a lot of new things while listening to him talk.

So why work when you can play a videogame? The answer is simple. If you’re out in the real world, even when it’s crazy cold outside and threatening snow like it was today, or if it’s uncomfortably hot, in short, if the sun isn’t shining while you’re making hay, you’re still learning something. Your muscles are not subject to atrophy, and you’re learning that you maybe want to have an indoor job when you grow up . . .

While some video games are nice, and can often present a good pastime or relaxation factor, my point is that perhaps we use them too much. Besides that, there are so many games out there that do not add any good material to your brain. Your grey matter (or wet matter) has a rough digital storage space equivalent of 2.5 million gigabytes of information1. Why waste it on memories of Halo, Fortnite, or Tetris? C’mon, does Mariokart 8 improve your ability to drive . . . or does it improve your desire to spike your adrenaline by going fast and getting points by destroying other vehicles by throwing turtle shells at them? I don’t think that’s a very good life lesson.

Hopefully this blog inspires you to shut your computer down (quick! before finishing this sentence!) and go chop vegetables in the kitchen or throw those dirty socks in the laundry, or better yet, look through the window and perhaps wonder who had the inspiration to make snowflakes so unique, or turn the leaves red and gold when autumn came around.

As for me, I much prefer enjoying the beautiful world around me while I can see it, and enjoy the product of my fellow humans’ creativity when it grows too dark to see. Or . . . perhaps . . . there are such things as flashlights . . .

And there are also a multitude of amazingly productive things to do besides enjoying the sunlight and improving your mind during the daytime: consider writing a story and emailing it to us a sample of your own creativity to post on our blog!

“Why you waste all that time watching the TV? If you use that time to develop your God-given gifts, wouldn’t be long before folks was watching you on TV!” (Gifted Hands ~ The Ben Carson Story 26:01 mins.)2

1( https://www.cnsnevada.com/what-is-the-memory-capacity-of-a-human-brain/ )

2( https://archive.org/details/GiftedHandsTheBenCarsonStory )

~Reflectionsofrenaissance.com