Tag: Ava Pennington Page 3 of 11

social media

Easy Video Tool for Social Media

Ever feel like Sisyphos? In Greek mythology, the gods punished Sisyphos for his greed and deceit by assigning an impossible task. He had to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down when it reached near the top. And he had to do it for eternity.

Gaining traction for social media author pages often feels like a Sisyphean ordeal. Just when we think we’ve reached our goal—whether deciphering Facebook algorithms or reaching a new level of followers—the standards change. The proverbial boulder rolls back down the hill and we have to start again.

For example, first we needed engaging posts. Then we were told the posts needed images. Now the experts tell us static images are not enough. Videos are the way to engage our followers.

Social videos can do more than entertain. They can educate, tell a story, promote an event, highlight a testimonial, or provide a summary of your publications.

Still, many of us lack the time, money, or technical know-how to create engaging videos week after week, myself included. But I recently discovered Lumen5, a free app (there’s also a paid version with additional features) that enables me to create video stories with ease from my blog posts.

The first week I tried Lumen5, my Facebook engagement statistics achieved a significant increase. Weekly reach jumped 288%–from 861 to 3.35K. By the 3rd week, my weekly reach jumped to 5.8K. People engaged increased 164%, from 100 to 264 and then to 645. Even my Page “likes” increased. People I did not know shared the post and then became followers. All in the first 3 weeks! And that trend continued with subsequent video posts.

Using Lumen5 is easy, even for a non-techy like me:

  1. I uploaded my blog link (or you can copy and paste your content from Word):

Lumen5

  1. Select a format by clicking on one of the three options. I chose landscape…

Lumen5 format

  1. …And click on a theme:

Lumen5 themes

  1. Then I scrolled through the content and clicked on the significant sentences I wanted included in the video. Each time you click on a new sentence, it’s automatically paired with a new suggested visual slide.

Lumen5 content

  1. I went back and swapped out some of the photos for ones that were a better match. Click on Media and choose a different suggested image or use the search feature for more suggestions. Or upload your own photo.

Lumen5 photos

  1. You can also edit the text, reposition the text on the image, and highlight particular words for emphasis:

Lumen5 edits

  1. Then choose music to accompany your video. I chose a calm selection to fit my content.

Lumen5 music

  1. Finally, preview your video.

Lumen5 preview

  1. You can always go back to edit it further before you select Finish.

Lumen5 finalize

 

Here’s the final result:

Give it a try! Then share a link to your results in the comments!

(Note: this post first appeared on Blogging Bistro.)

Light in the Darkness

I’m usually an optimistic person, but lately it’s become more and more difficult for me to muster optimism as I read the newspaper or watch the evening news. Even my Facebook and Twitter feeds are not immune to the avalanche of bad news. Headlines and links are posted in real time as the events occur—the worse the news, the quicker the post. Frankly, it can just plain wear me down.

Still, no matter how dark our world becomes, regardless of the crisis, hope glimmers and grows at Christmas. In fact, our gloomy world seems to glow the whole month of December.

The rest of the year the world is a dark place, and getting darker each day. Hopelessness feeds on current events, broken relationships, and pervasive immorality. But this isn’t a new phenomenon. Before the birth of Christ, the world had sunk into the darkness of despair. Immorality and idolatry infiltrated almost every area of civilization. Even in Israel, the religious leaders had made an idol of their rituals, substituting unrelenting legalism for a relationship with the true God.

Then, over the skies of Bethlehem, angels broke through the darkness of hopelessness and bathed a group of shepherds in a great light. A heavenly host praised God and proclaimed hope: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11, NASB).

The angels’ message declared the arrival of God’s Son, the One who would identify Himself as the Light of the World. God had not forgotten His people. In the fullness of time He broke into our dark world and shone the light of hope and restoration.

As I decorate my house with Christmas lights, the twinkling lights remind me there is no darkness that cannot be dispelled by the light of God’s presence. As I sing familiar Christmas carols, I remember that the Light of the World was heralded by angels. And as I decorate my Christmas tree, I welcome the assurance that even the darkest sin was paid for when God’s Son hung on a different kind of tree.

So how are you using your words and your writing to cast light in a dark world? As the moon reflects the sun, are you using your writing to reflect the Light of the World?

Your words and mine can bring hope to the hopeless and dispel the darkness. Let’s commit to using our words to draw others to the Light of the World this Christmas—for His glory!

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Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Called. In addition to her writing, Ava teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 300 women. She is a passionate speaker and teacher and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. Ava and Russ have been married for 40 years and live in southeast Florida.

For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.

Why Do You Write?

People often ask me why I write.

I keep hearing that this is the worst possible time to enter the world of publishing. Book sales are at an all-time low, despite the fact that by some estimates, more than two million books are published annually worldwide.

I also keep hearing that if you write because you want to be rich and famous, then you’d better find another career. The Jerry Jenkins and J.K. Rowlings of the world are the exception, not the rule.

Finally, with the proliferation of computers and word processing software, most everyone now fancies themselves a writer. The huge volume of submissions decreases the chances of being published by a traditional publisher vs. print-on-demand or self-publishing.

So why do I write?

For me, writing is an extension of teaching. The more I learn, the more I want to share what I’ve learned. Writing provides another way to communicate precious truths—not to brag, but because I’m excited to share what I’ve learned!

Martin Luther described evangelism as “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” This is also a fabulous way to describe how I view writing. I first wrote to share the crumbs I found. Those crumbs satisfied my deepest hunger. Then they multiplied into slices and the slices have become loaves. How can I hoard what I am learning when other people are hungering as well?

I decided a long time ago that I would write as long as God gave me something to write. Whether a traditional publisher chose to publish the work was up to Him. It happens that a traditional Christian publisher did publish my first book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional (Revell books). Another Christian publisher released two children’s picture books co-authored with Crystal Bowman. God has shown me that my job is to use the gifts He has given me and trust Him for the results.

I don’t write to impress others or to become rich and famous.

I write because I cannot not write.

It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or non-fiction, for adults or children.
Why do you do what you do?

 

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Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Called. In addition to her writing, Ava teaches a weekly, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 300 women. She is a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. Ava and Russ have been married for 40 years and live in southeast Florida. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com

 

Are You a Christian Writer?

How is a Christian writer different from other writers?

How is a Christian plumber different from other plumbers?

How is a Christian salesperson different from other salespeople?

Are you a Christian writer, a writer who writes for the Christian market, a Christian who writes for the Christian market, or a Christian who writes for the secular market?

Think about it. We don’t ask plumbers if they limit their services to Christians, do we? Or ask salespeople whether they sell only to other Christians?

So what differentiates a Christian anything from others in his field?

Is it because they talk about Jesus all the time? If so, then does that mean they must always talk about Jesus, regardless of what they’re doing?

Is it because they target their services only to Christians? Then does that mean Christians cannot serve secular markets?

The distinguishing mark of a Christian anything, including writers, boils down to this: Christians—true Christians—will have a living relationship with Christ. They will live and work through the filter of that relationship and a biblical worldview. In other words, what the Bible teaches, in both the Old and New Testaments, will shape both their personal and occupational lives.

Regardless of their business, their values, thoughts, speech, and deeds will reflect the One they claim to belong to. So a Christian writer can write for the secular market (and many do), but they won’t compromise their values by writing content inconsistent with biblical teaching.

Unfortunately, many secular publishers are not happy with those values and will not consider the work commercially viable for their markets. Christian publishing has grown to fill the void, and readers have come to trust these publishers to uphold the standards of a biblical worldview.

Sad to say, though, even when Christians work in accordance with their proclaimed values, the secular world is still not happy. Even sadder, the attacks may come from those who claim to be Christian. A few years ago, Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) in Portland, Oregon, came under attack for—are you ready for this?—teaching children they are sinners in need of a Savior. And the attacks came from people who call themselves Christians.

CEF has been successfully sharing the gospel with children for more than seventy-five years. Their presentations and written materials balance the need for a savior with God’s love expressed in meeting that need by sending His Son, Jesus Christ.

So what does this have to do with writing—especially writing for children? As Christian writers, whether we write for the Christian market or not, we need to be absolutely sure our work is filtered through a biblical worldview. The attacks will come, perhaps from the secular world, perhaps from those who claim to be Christian.

It’s up to us to do our homework. To understand what the Bible teaches. To write in such a way that won’t ever conflict with biblical principles. When the attacks come, and they will, we need to be certain the attacks are against the cause of Christ, not because we mishandled God’s Word or His principles. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11 NIV—emphasis added).

Whether we write for a secular or Christian market as Christian writers, let’s be diligent to accurately represent Christ and a biblical worldview and leave the results to Him.

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Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Called. In addition to her writing, Ava teaches a weekly, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 300 women. She is a passionate speaker and teacher and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. Ava and Russ have been married for 40 years and live in southeast Florida. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.

 

Seasons of a Writer’s Life

The calendar tells us that it’s time for the seasons to change again. Still, beyond winter, spring, summer, and fall, we experience other seasons, too. We move through seasons of life as we parent babies and teenagers, experience empty nests, and become caregivers for our own parents.

Writing adds another layer to already full lives. So let’s talk about seasons in a writer’s life.

Season 1: I Want to Be a Writer

You might have been in third grade or a freshman in college when you realized you loved to write. Perhaps you began to write then—a diary, journal, short stories, maybe even a full-length book. Or not. Maybe you put aside thoughts of writing as you began your family and cared for your children as they grew from infancy to young adulthood. Perhaps, like me, you followed a corporate career track, putting your writing dreams on hold. Maybe you’re still in this season.

Season 2: I Am a Writer

You’ve been writing for a while, but when anyone asks about it, you brush off questions with a self-conscious shrug. “Oh, that? That’s just a hobby.” It’s more than a hobby, but you aren’t ready to tell anyone. Why? Because the first thing people want to know is whether you’ve had anything published. A question no writer wants to answer if the answer is no. But one day, you stood straight, squared your shoulders, and spoke the words aloud: “Yes, I am a writer.”

Season 3: I Want to Be an Author

Is there a difference between being a writer and an author? I believe so. A writer writes for private enjoyment. A writer writes because they can’t not write. An author writes for publication. But to be published, we have to actually show others what we’ve written. Not just show them, but open ourselves to critique. The truth may hurt, but without truthful and sometimes painful edits early in our careers, publication often remains out of reach. Still, who wants to hear that their baby is ugly?

Season 4: I Am an Author

You attended writers’ conferences. Joined writers’ groups. Read books on writing. And you wrote. After mounds of rejection letters—enough to wallpaper a room in your house—you finally hold the golden ticket: an acceptance letter for your work. An agent chose to take you on. Or a publisher published your book. Someone considered your work to be commercially viable. Enough so that he or she even paid you. Was it an article? A short story? Or the Great American Novel? Whatever it was, you’re now an author.

Season 5: Platform, Platform, Platform

In the real estate business, location is everything. In the publishing business, platform is everything. Once we’ve written a fabulous book, we must market it. No matter how moving the story is or how helpful the nonfiction premise, it won’t matter if readers don’t read it. So we market. We tweet. We post. We travel. We speak. We sign. And we do it all over again in a never-ending cycle. But that’s okay, because we’re authors.

Season 6: I’m Not a One-Story Wonder

You hold your first book in your hand, thrilled beyond imagination. Your baby is in print, for all to read. But a frightening question haunts you. Can I do it again? Do you have another book in you? To compound your worries, not only do you have to write another book, you still have to market your first book. Writer? Author? Marketer? Yes. Yes. Yes. Circus jugglers could learn a thing or two from us!

So what’s my point? Publishing isn’t for anyone who thinks he or she can go it alone. There’s no room for lone rangers in this business. We need each other. We need critique partners, beta readers, and influencers. And even though words are our medium, we also need friends who understand without a word being spoken.

What season are you in?

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© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography
Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Called. In addition to her writing, Ava teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 300 women. She is a passionate speaker and teacher and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. Ava and Russ have been married for 40 years and live in southeast Florida. For more information, visit her at AvaWrites.com.

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