Art Beats Money. Hands Down. Every Time.

I’d love to sell more product. But it’s not my highest priority. For me, art beats money. Hands down. Every time. I’d rather be the creator of great works of art than a millionaire. I’d rather help others become great artists than teach them how to sell.  The world needs more art.   

medium_6360759447 art beats money, a museum

I’m an artist. I consider great writing, poetry, and songwriting as timeless and priceless. I aspire to leave a body of work that might be remembered for its artistic beauty.  Money is secondary.

Art is human. Art is divine. It defines who we are as human beings. It comes from the soul, our deepest inner-space. It’s inspired by something unexplainable.

Money, on the other hand is actually cheap and fleeting when you think about it. It’s made of paper. It’s transferred as bits of data. It only represents wealth. It is not wealth itself. It has no artistic beauty in and of itself.

Great art beats money every time because great art is the beauty of humanity. It represents our journey.

I’m an artist. A writer. A poet. A musician. I can’t help you make millions of dollars. I have no get-rich-quick schemes up my sleeve. I can’t help you market your product and rake in cash. But if you’re like me. You don’t care. Because art beats money.

But there are a few things I can do for you. I can help you on your creative journey. I’m a teacher. I can help you write better messages. I can help you create stronger speeches. I can teach you secrets of creativity. I can help you put the art into your art.  

If you’d like my help, please contact me. Also, see me teaching page. And take a minute to sign up for my free monthly newsletter

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A Train Called Forgiveness

At Amazon

Now available as an audio book @ Audible. Narrated by Bill Cooper.

A Train Called Forgiveness, the first book of The Cult Trilogy, is a story about coming to terms with an abusive childhood. It’s currently available at Amazon. Read independent book reviews @ StretchedRansom Man, & There Go I.


27-year old Andy Burden was a child member of an extreme, religious-based cult. In A Train Called Forgiveness, Andy lives and works in the small town of Jocelyn, Washington. He suffers from an undiagnosed case of moderate, paranoid schizophrenia. The story juxtaposes Andy’s schizophrenic present, with the memories of his cult past. Throughout the story, Andy begins to discover that the voices in his head are echoes from his past, and he learns that he has the power to control them. He also begins to listen to a different voice, a voice that speaks directly to his heart. As Andy journeys across the country by train he meets an array of unusual characters. He begins to discover new ways of understanding and dealing with his past.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Train Called Forgiveness, April 28, 2012
This review is from: A Train Called Forgiveness (Paperback)

From the moment you begin reading, until the moment you finish, Dan Erickson draws you into the mindset of the cult member. His unique perspective brings an insight that the reader wouldn’t ordinarily have. Dan was there. Dan saw the inhumanity and raged against the injustice long before his adulthood. This is a powerful, moving and heavy story based on real events. Only another cult member would normally be able to fully understand this story but Dan has found a way to make it come alive and believable. There is hope and triumph as Dan explains how he learns to forgive.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A book review of “A Train Called Forgiveness”, June 21, 2012 By Cristy Rasmussen
This review is from: A Train Called Forgiveness (Paperback)

I began this book not knowing what to expect. I found myself intrigued and read the book in a day. I love books that you enjoy reading so much you start to do research on the subject material the books were based on just as soon as you have finished the book. When I finished “A Train Called Forgiveness” I found every article I could on the cult this author was living with to try and satiate my intrigue.

I was able to take some new perspectives from this book that were enlightening. I had preconceptions from the beginning (I’ll admit it) about cult members, neither good nor bad, but I sometimes forget about the ones who don’t choose to participate and this book really opened my eyes to the fate of some of these adolescent individuals. I want to express that even though there are tragic events in the book there is also a lot of meaning in the title of the book and I feel that this gives the book a good balance.

I would recommend the book to anyone who wants a book that they can’t wait to read when they have to put it down. I am excitedly awaiting the next book…….

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A Train Called Forgiveness: Excerpt Six

Here’s another excerpt from my first book, A Train Called Forgiveness, available at Amazon.

This excerpt begins Andy Burden’s journey by train across the country. On his journey he meets several characters that help him to learn the power of non judgment and forgiveness. This is only the beginning of his journey by train and his journey to forgive his greatest enemies:

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Let’s start over.  It’s October, 1991.

I’m a burden to you.

Why? My story will make you think. You’ll question long-held beliefs. You’ll question power structures and religion. The story will disturb you. Or at least, it should. If it doesn’t, I question your humanity, your ability to feel.

My name is Benjamin Andrew Burden. I go by Andy, sometimes just A.  A. Burden. I’m 28 years old. I live in a 20-foot trailer in the middle of an apple orchard in Jocelyn, Washington.

A. Burden. It’s ironic, isn’t it? I guess God has a sense of humor.

I used to drink. I used to smoke weed. I’ve been clean for several months now. Sometimes I hear voices. Since I’ve stopped drinking and smoking pot, they’ve faded.

I worked all summer for a stone mason, saved my money, bought a ticket for the train. The stone mason told me there’s a place for each stone. In the midst of my story, I’m looking for my place.

Tonight, I’m riding a train, The Empire Builder. Sometimes, in order to tell a story, you have to leave the story, separate yourself from the story.

My story is painful. It’s about child abuse, the loss of innocence. It’s about fear, isolation, and paranoia. I need to get away from it, escape, yet it still haunts me, every day. My story’s a burden, but it needs to be told. Somebody out there needs to hear it, perhaps many.

The train is heading east, toward Spokane. It ends in Chicago. My past returns with the mere thought of Chicago.

Peter used to tell us he had connections in Chicago, said he knew people in the mafia. He claimed he could take someone out with a phone call. He told us, “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll never cross me.” I was young, yet not easily intimidated. Part of me knew: Peter was full of shit. But I was still afraid of him.

After Chicago, I’m not sure where I’m going, maybe Nashville. I brought my guitar and a few of my best songs. Maybe, I’ll make some connections.

A stranger came into The Crossroads a few months back, before I quit drinking. He told me that God had a message for me. He said, “You’ve got a special talent, Andy. God wants you to use it. Go to Nashville. Go.” He was probably a crackpot, but here I am, on the train.

I find comfort in trains, in train travel. I love the clattering bell at the crossings. I love the long, twisted whine of the whistle in motion. I love the powerful pull of the engine and the clacking off the wheels on the track. Most of all, I love the slow, gentle sway, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. It soothes my restless spirit.

Tonight, I’m wrapped in my Grandmother’s quilt. It keeps me warm as I stare out the window into passing darkness.

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Great Speech Introductions: The Power Of Start

Great speech introductions are essential for grabbing your audience. It’s true what they say about first impressions. We don’t get a second chance.  It’s especially true when you’re giving a speech.

You get one chance to start your speech out in a way that makes your audience members go “WOW!” There’s power in great speech introductions.

medium_100452760 A pen and the word start: great speech introductions

Last week we covered using strong support in the post and audio blog: You Need Strong Support. This week I’d like to offer a few pointers about creating a solid speech introduction. Great speech introductions should accomplish four things:

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Tweaking Twitter: Follow Less, Be More Genuine

How many people do you follow on Twitter? I just got done tweaking Twitter. I cut the amount I’m following by 90%. Did I just shoot myself in the social-media foot?

medium_9295748051 Tweaking a soundboard like tweaking Twitter

I only joined Twitter a couple of years ago. I followed others to get others to follow me. That’s what I thought I needed to do. But now I’m not so sure.  

I’ve read dozens of articles about Twitter. I’ve gleaned a little useful information. But everybody has a different opinion. I wind up confused. I feel like a lost boy in a forest of giants. So I decided to make my own rules and now I’m tweaking Twitter.

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