Back in my college years I went to my first Greyhound race. Today, the former Lincoln Downs is just short of being a full blown casino. In fact, I heard that they were thinking of eliminating dog races all together. Last time I drove by there the building was adorned with giant teepees which actually looked more like the sails of tall ships rather than anything else.

I never had a good feeling about the transformation of Lincoln Park to Twin River. Funny, even the name change reeks of misrepresentation. There were a lot of promises given to the citizens of our state as well as the local government of the Town of Lincoln. Many were honored and even more were not. In fact, the entire operation is constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. Sure, the taxes from the casino did pay for a beautiful middle school, but what is the actual cost of turning to income from gambling to finance the education of our children? What message are we really sending?

From the beginning I could see the costs to local businesses would be great. Income is limited in the state as well as pretty much everywhere else in the world. There is only so much money out there and when we print more of it what there is becomes worth less. So, if people are spending more money gambling they will spend less money at local restaurants, cinemas and retail stores. To me gaining income from the gambling industry made no sense at all unless somehow the state could increase its year round tourism in order to extract funds from out of state residents. After all, this is how places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City began to thrive shortly after gambling became their primary tourism booster. Yet, even that soon was not enough to draw people in. Today, Las Vegas is becoming more of an amusement part every year. The powers to be have realized the importance of bringing families into the mix and have drifted away from catering to seedy clients of day’s gone buy.

I’m afraid my principle income generating business was one of which was effected by the establishment of the Twin River Casino. Shortly after the reopening of this igniter of false hopes was setting the dreams of Rhode Islanders ablaze I began to notice a sharp decrease in my overall sales figures. Of course we did get one or two winners in over the years that were anxious to waste their winnings, but overall the majority of customers entered the store with a great big “BUT!” “I was going to buy these, but I lost all my money at the casino.” This became the most common factor in the decline of my stores sales. Even layaways became a thing of the past as many of the poorer customers would take that money weekly and invest it in what they perceived as a possible fortune waiting to be had at Twin River.

How easy it was for the leaders of the residents of Rhode Island to quickly give in to what seemed to be the answer to all their problems. It is amazing how, for political gains we can so easily put all our ethical beliefs aside in order to make those we should be leading happy with our performance. Is this how we should gain positions of leadership? I know it’s not. Imagine a general leading his troops in this way. By only taking what is perceived by them to be the easiest path, but in actuality is just a path full of false hopes and empty promises. In favoring the bandage instead of the cure our leaders have sealed our fate and signed our death certificates.

There are no easy, painless or miracle cures that come from the compromising of our moral ethics. All these quick fixes come from the worst seed. From bad seed comes bad fruit and bad fruit will only serve one purpose. It will give us all indigestion! This is what has destroyed the orchard of our society and rendered us ineffectual worldwide. We have spoken, acted and dreamed as barbarians.

No longer do we accept sacrifice for a better life tomorrow. Instead we have chosen to neglect what will guarantee us a greater future in favor of what will soften the inevitable pains of our slow demise. Today we stand without appreciation for all that we have and forfeit the joy of today for what may or may not be tomorrow. Surrounded by luxury we adamantly declare and endlessly protest that it’s not enough. We want the easy way out. The widest, flattest and smoothest path is the one we seek. In this we are just spinning our wheels and traveling to a destination which ends where we will not want to be.

We are chasing false idols. They will not make us happy in the long run. Our hunger will never be satisfied and our thirst never quenched. Satisfaction can only be achieved internally. The real dreams are all fulfilled in our hearts. These other things are just empty gestures and hollow promises. By giving into the external we fail to nurture the internal.

The goal of money for happiness is like quenching our thirst with sand. We just get thirstier.”

I remember vividly the first day I skipped class to go to Lincoln Greyhound Park. Funny thing is that the teacher whose class I skipped was there too. I guess he canceled to try his luck with the dogs. Ironically, in the light of that, it would be even more difficult to proclaim the value of gambling to support education.

Do you know why the dogs run around the track so desperately to the finish line? The truth is I did not. It looked like they were chasing something, but I could not for the life of me figure out what that was. It turns out that during their training they are made to believe that they are chasing a rabbit around the track. Although it is nothing but a false image they continually chase it time and again. They rarely catch it and even if they did would immediately realize it was not at all what they expected it to be. As a matter of fact, the finish line is not what they thought it would be either. They are stuck on a track and continually going in circles repeatedly chasing after a phony prize. After years of working as hard as they could many are put down and few are adopted, but none ever achieve what they perceived would be their reward.

The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect

Recently there has been a lot of talk about self publishing. Although I do believe it is wonderful to be able to publish what we want when we want, we must be certain that our reasons for publishing are valid and compatible with this means. Why are we publishing? If the answer is because we want to make truck loads of money or become a famous well read author than I am afraid that self publishing is by no means the way to go.

You see, self publishing, vanity publishing or partnership publishing are rarely going to give a writer incredible results as far as money and fame go. However, if the writer really has something important to say; it is a wonderful way to help others. Often as we move away from the traditional route we can really lose track of what it takes to become a well read author.

Many times it is the literary agent who acts as a filter. A good agent will be totally honest with a writer about their work. The best agents will encourage a want to be author to continue working at their craft. Ten thousand hours is roughly the amount of exercise required to reach the optimal condition in any profession. Persistence is the key. The more we work at the things we are passionate about the better we become at being passionate beings that are ready to be all that we are created to be.

I think the first step in the life of any writer, preacher, teacher or any other professional is to get the Ego right out of their way. Protecting our ego only serves to hinder our growth and halt our progress in the field of choice. Let’s get things straight; we are never the best we can be right out of the gate. Being fantastic at anything takes initiative, persistence and passion. We must understand that we always have more to learn.

I called literary agents filters. They are just that and the big time publishers know this well. In fact, they count on them to present them with the best of the best. If an agent continually pushes through inferior work he/she will find themselves pushing at closed doors sooner than they would like. You see, they will lose the respect of the publishers who get hundreds of manuscript per week and have little time to read works that just are not up to par.

I understand the temptation that exists within the mind of a would be author to just tear off the bandage fast and submit their manuscript, but I highly recommend holding off submitting anything until the work is as good as it will get. By the way, literary agents and publisher do not want completed manuscripts; they are looking for a book proposal. If you don’t know what that is I strongly recommend that you Google it as soon as your done reading this essay. Please, do not send a complete manuscript. A good agent will generally receive about one hundred of these per week and have little chance to look at them even if they chose to.

I am very surprised that with the newest surge of self publishing companies out there that nobody has mentioned that one of a literary agent’s top priorities is to protect a writer from being read before their time. In my position I have had the misfortune of reading some self published works that have made this the most obvious purpose in any agent’s career. There are a lot of potentially great authors out there today. People with wonderful imaginations and enlightened souls, but they just are not ready to be read and it is a cold hard fact that they never will be read again by me. When an agent tells us no it is to protect us from damaging our name or our brand. Brand image is the most important thing in publishing and for that matter in just about anything else. If a writer is serious about having a career as an author I highly recommend working at their craft until they get to the point where they can acquire a good agent.

Just think about it for a minute. How many times have we gone to a terrible restaurant and rushed back to try another meal? I would say rare to never. Why would we? What we expect is the same slop we got the first time and we are not going to spend our hard earned money on that again. If we went to see a movie by a certain director and it stunk up the theatre we would be very hesitant to ever see another one by the same director. This is why it is crucial for actors and directors to carefully evaluate any script before they agree to participate. The future of their careers depends on it!

We would not want to eat a cake before the timer sounds telling us it is finished. I am not interested in dealing with anything that is half done and neither is the rest of the world. Many times a new writer’s work is just that. It takes time to create something worth reading. The process takes perseverance, practice and passion.

Recently, I was driving my son to basketball practice and a conversation arose that touched on this very thing. Lately I have come to have an awful lot on my plate. With two books coming out at about the same time, book reviews needing to get finished and several other projects in the mix; I was tempted to just send the publisher my proof approval for the paperback edition of “The Secret of Divine Intervention.” I’ve gone through the manuscript a handful of times already and figured that it had to be good enough.

While looking at my son I began to realize that an opportunity had arose to discuss what “good enough” really is. Is my book really good enough for my present readers and those who have never sampled my work in the past? Was I willing to rush this wonderful work to the public just for the sake of making it available right away? The answer came to me with a resounding “no!” The most important thing is to make it as good as it can be. Every extra hour I spend proofing and editing will contribute directly to making it better than the last.

I explained to my son that it is the same with anything else we strive to be great at. We must put our heart, soul and spirit into whatever is our passion if we expect to excel at it. Good enough is never the same thing twice. Every time we do something we get better at it. This applies to anything and everything in our lives. If we choose to put all our energy into it we will improve. Half baked will never render a gourmet meal!

He knew exactly what I was talking about. Being passionate about basketball has given him a drive to constantly improve. Putting his ego away has allowed him to appreciate those who have achieved higher levels of advancement and has given him the initiative to try harder, practice more and work harder. Passion is bringing his game to a whole new level every time he plays. As his dad it is always nice to hear the other parents yelling shouts of encouragement to him from the stands, yet when I asked him if he could hear them yelling “Go Jordan!” he answered, “No dad. I’m too busy focusing on the game.”

The important thing for us to understand is that we are only limited by what we think is impossible, the sacrifices we are willing to make and the price we are willing to pay to truly be the best that we are created to be. As we come to agreement with ourselves the Universe has no choice but to comply, but if we step out on Ego ahead of our time we will barely make a splash.

You see, when we are prepared and ready to be the best we can be we will make a huge splash! We will have become a huge rock thrown into a large pond. The ripples will go out from the center and touch many people, places and things. We will definitely make some waves. However, if we throw ourselves as a pebble into a big pond very few will experience our talents, abilities and skills. The pebble will be swallowed up and its ripples will quickly fade away.

Ron’s “In the Beginning God…” Review

Dr. P.T. Dyer-Goode does a fantastic job of combining the astrological signs in the heavens above with the profound guiding scripture of the Holy Bible. Her approach is concise and fascinating. “In the Beginning God” paints an incredible vivid picture of the meaning behind the maps that God has placed in the heavens and elaborates on the prophetic record of His Divine Plan. Through the mastery of the Zodiac we can all read and interpret Biblical information which will lead us through the Second Coming. In addition the “Axis Sifts” and various ages are elaborated upon. The timing is right for this book. The answers many are seeking exist “NOW” in the pages of “In the Beginning God…”

Past, present and future events are all shown by Dr. P.T. Dyer-Goode in her detailed analysis presented within the pages of a book that I believe takes a scientific approach to finding our way to the immanent events foretold from Genesis through Revelations. This book’s detailed illustrations and detailed hypothesis will be compelling reading to Christians of all denominations as well as those of other faiths.

If you are seeking answers to the mysteries of the firmament this book offers much of what many are looking for. Dyer-Goode’s educational, spiritual and practical background contributes greatly to her abilities to get her point across in a way that intrigues and captivates the mind of the reader.

Ron’s “And Then There Was Heaven” Review

Spirit is living in these pages. I was reading it this morning when suddenly my lamp dimmed and I felt a presence. I asked, “Who is here?” As I closed my eyes the face of my mother’s mother appeared. I felt the vibration of her love engulf my entire being. As her spirit slowly left me the lamp regained its brightness. I looked up at the page number and to my surprise this wonderful experience happened while I was on page 111. Thank you for facilitating this connection.

I read this book in two sittings. It was one of the most difficult books for me to put down. At one point I became so engrossed in this work that I considered the idea of a “Hands Free Reader.” I read it throughout the first two days I had it wherever I could read it. It was a friend while waiting in my car for my son to get out of CCD classes, in the stands at basketball practice and pretty much anywhere else they had the elements present which would allow me to read.

Thanks again for a wonderful experience that filled my heart and soul with love and light. God bless!

In faith always,

Ron Ash