The Writer’s Lens – A “Best Of” Interview Compilation

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

 

 

The Writer’s Lens – Response Episode: “Is The Lord of the Rings a ‘Racist’ Story?”

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 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.

The full episode can be found here.

The “Pens of Steel” Group Discussion Special: Competing in the Sea of Voices

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?

Clockwise from top to bottom: Josh “J.C.L.” Faltot, Brian Del Turco, Willie Scott, and Brent Mclaughlin – The “Pens of Steel”

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

The “Pens of Steel” Group Discussion Special: What Is A Digital Voice? PART 1

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.

From left to right clockwise: Josh “J.C.L.” Faltot, Brian Del Turco, Willie Scott, and Brent Mclaughlin – The “Pens of Steel”

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

 

Source: Podcast Link Here

Interviews with Brian Del Turco, The Voice of “Jesus Smart: The Podcast”

Welcome to the #NarrativeWars.

Brian Del Turco is a fellow creative in Cleveland and is the voice of Jesus Smart: The Podcast as well as the owner / operator of LifeVoice Quest. He is passionate about emerging voices – those looking to broadcast and share their message with others – and I’ve been fortunate to dialogue with Brian about this topic. For we live in the digital age and we are surrounded by hundreds of incoming messages, all vying for our attention.

That being said, how do we sort through them?

How do we know what is true?

How do we know what is not true?

Brian and I begin our discussion on the #NarrativeWars in part 1 below.

034: Take the Red Pill — Wake Up to the Narrative Wars with Joshua C. Faltot! 

In part 2 of our conversation, Brian and I dive deeper into the concept of #Worldviews and what they mean to each of us.

On my podcast, The Writer’s Lens, I take a look at things through the lens of a writer. I believe human beings tell stories to help them interpret their world. To make sense of things. To exchange information and share experiences.

This can ultimately shape our individual worldviews. The conclusions we make; the stories we believe; the ways we think the world ought to be.

For this second half, Brian and I discuss in greater length how we are not only in the midst of a #NarrativeWar, but a battle of competing #Worldviews too.

039: War of the Worldviews with Joshua C. Faltot

Brian is a commentator on society and culture with great and helpful insights who can also be found on SubstanceTV’s podcast at SubstanceTV.org.

#1,000…and counting

Thanks to all who have been tuning into my podcast, The Writer’s Lens.

This past week, I hit the 1,000 downloads mark so thanks for being a part of the creative / writing journey with me!

Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.

And just in case you missed the latest and greatest, I started a new series (beginning with Episode 40), where I’ll be (hopefully) going from inception to publication for my second book, The Shadow Of Mars. Be sure to tune in or share with anyone you think may benefit from following along in this process.

Till next time.

J.C.L.

Support for “The Writer’s Lens”

If you’ve been wondering how to support my new podcast, The Writer’s Lens, then there’s a few ways to do so:

Listen

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the growth of any program relies on its viewership. More listens generate more opportunities for other potential listeners to find out about The Writer’s Lens. And don’t worry, there are no quizzes or exams waiting at the end of any episode…maybe.

Share and / or Subscribe

Sharing is caring. Well, unless you’re five and your parents make you do it. Either way, sharing the podcast can make others aware of what The Writer’s Lens can offer. Especially for those actively seeking the kind of content we are working on and could be of benefit to them. Have a creative friend? Someone who loves storytelling? Someone who wants to hear from entrepreneurs and creatively-minded folks? It’s encouraging to know there’s a community out there that can help you. And on that note, I’ll add that as therapeutic or fun as this can be for me personally, I’d love to see growth in other people’s lives too. The gain we get is the gain we give.

Comment / E-Mail

This may be the most frightening aspect of social media: asking for comments. We all know how treacherous the Internet highways can be so why ask for feedback? Well, because engagement creates opportunity for growth. There are always good topics I’d like to do, but may not be aware people are looking for them to be discussed. Seeing how my audience is responding helps me key into what’s working. Or what isn’t. So again, if you like what we are doing – let us know. Don’t like we are doing? Let us know that too. Gently.

Support Though Monetary Donation

There are always costs associated with doing something. Be it the time we spend or the materials we require. So, if you aren’t always able to share, subscribe or the like, you can always provide a monetary donation to help The Writer’s Lens keep moving forward, but even more so, enable this podcast to get better than what it was yesterday. Not to mention (but I will), there are some cool rewards available for those who give above and beyond.

You can check out those rewards by going here. And again, you can find The Writer’s Lens on Podbean, iTunes, and even YouTube.

Thanks in advance and talk with you all again soon!

– J.C.L.

 

I Am Still Writing And I’m (Still) Publishing A Book This Year

I don’t do the blog thing much these days. Between parenting, husband-ing, socializing, podcasting – there is very little time for therapeutic writing (though writing a book is quite therapeutic).

That being said, I wanted to put something out there. Namely how I am still writing. Just not on this platform. I’m actually trying to finish a book. Yeah, no joke.

The Shadow of Mars, the follow up to The Road To Mars, should be available sometime this year. When? I have no idea. Don’t ask me. But, I am on the second read through of the manuscript. So that means I’m about 80% of the way to my goal.

Another goal I’m pushing towards is 1,000 unique followers and listens on my podcast, The Writer’s Lens. So, if you’re of the creative type, you’re writing a book, finding your “voice”, exploring hobbies and passion projects, and interested in taking that journey with another person foolish enough to share his insights and failures, then it’s a good place to check out.

So enough of the shameless self promotion. And back to that writing thing. Till next time.

J.C.L.

 

 

Of Heroes and Ordinary Men

As of late, I’ve been reading a book called Ordinary Men. It’s a recount of German police battalion 101; a documentation of the men who served as part of Nazi Germany’s Order Police during the Second World War. The policemen, as cataloged by author Christopher Browning, are given an assignment on the morning of July 13, 1942 that would change their lives forever. And subsequently, the lives of every Jewish man, woman, and child living in the ghetto of Jozefow. Though only police officers, the battalion is handed down orders to “liquidate” the entire ghetto and thus, murder every single Jewish person – amounting somewhere in the thousands – that resided within. As you might suspect, the orders are carried out in full. But, not without consequence. In the days and years that follow, the members of Battalion 101 experience extreme regret, bitterness, and entanglement of their very souls. It’s a chilling read and a grim reminder of how quickly things can devolve into madness.

What’s more, the book chronicles how so many of these average police officers were given a choice: to carry out their orders or to simply “walk out.” The majority of them did not choose the latter. And though some did outright, a vast majority of officers participated. The details of which I will leave for those who wish to read the book themselves.

As a writer of fiction, I am in the business of creating stories. Stories that not only tickle the imagination, but project images and ideals of I would constitute as heroic. For without heroism, few protagonists are memorable.

And yet, when it comes to real life, the heroes we find in story are remarkably absent. Bullies surround a kid at school and no one intervenes. An employee knowingly removes money from the company bank account and those in the know turn a blind eye. If confronted with these situations ourselves, we’d all like to believe we’d rise to the occasion. That we’d mirror the heroes of our favorite fantasy or fiction and become the star of our circumstances. However, as I’m reading through Ordinary Men, it’s easy to see that we aren’t always as virtuous as we tend to think, nor are we as brave as we’d choose to believe. External forces – coupled by our own internal ones – drive us to self-preserve, to retain self-interest, and forego the sacrifice that might be necessary to simply do what is good and just.

But, what is good and just? Writers have been tackling what is right and what is wrong since the beginning of time. And the more specific and morally gripping the scenario, the cloudier our answer tends to become. Yet by continually engaging in stories that challenge our thinking on these matters, we continue to cultivate the best parts of ourselves: the traits most associated with what is admirable and what is desirable. And that’s worth writing about.

For more on that topic, check out my latest podcast We All Wish We Could Be The Hero.

Good. Evil. What’s The Difference To A Writer?

Good versus evil. It’s a common tale; one that’s recreated and retold over and over again: Luke vs. Vader. Aragorn vs. Sauron. Harry Potter vs. Voldemort, to name a few. As a youth, I was exposed – like so many others – to this age-old battle. Bedtime stories portrayed what it meant to be “good” and by contrast, what it meant to be “bad.”

Often, readers differentiate good from evil because the authors make it known to them. The most common form is the monomyth, as coined by writers like Joseph Campbell. It’s the idea that a hero – the protagonist – embarks on a journey, sparked by a call to action, to upend some injustice that has been done to him or others. The climax of the journey is a showdown between protagonist and antagonist; with the antagonist representing the opposite objective of the protagonist. And in most cases, it’s the villain whom the hero must upend.

Yet, not every battle between good and evil is so black and white. Popular stories like Game of Thrones present characters who one moment may seem virtuous but a few scenes later reveal their selfish intentions. Heroes and villains are thus, harder to pinpoint.

To go even further, Showtime’s television drama, Dexter, follows a serial killer who – ironically enough – only kills “bad guys.” Though murder would usually be considered wrong or evil, in this narrative, the prospect of killing villains is portrayed as good. Or at the very least, is meant to challenge the viewer as to what he or she would do if given the same situations as Dexter.

For more on this subject, be sure to check out my latest podcast episode. And be sure to subscribe to my channel, The Writer’s Lens!