Sunday, December 23, 2007

Your Opinion, Please

During the next couple of weeks we're going to be revamping Pix-N-Pens, and we want to hear from you!!!

We want to know what you'd like to see here at Pix-N-Pens. What do you like about this blog? What do you dislike? What would make it better?

I've created a small poll, but it is by no means all-encompassing. If you don't see an answer you like, please feel free to add your own, or even send me an email sharing your opinion. I'd love to hear from you!!! Email tracyruckman @ gmail. com (remove the spaces please)

Merry Christmas, my friends. May God fill your homes and your hearts with His love, joy, and peace.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Entry: The Bean Seed Grows Up

By Debbie Roome

It was cold and wet under the dark brown soil and the seed shivered. There must be a mistake. He was supposed to be a tall, green beanstalk. “God.” he cried out. “What’s happening to me? I’m supposed to be a tall, green beanstalk”

God whispered back. “Wait.”

And so the seed waited. He waited all day and all night and all that changed was his skin became loose. “God!” he cried out. “What’s happening to me? I’m supposed to be a tall green beanstalk.”

God whispered back. “Wait.”

And so the seed waited. He waited all week. Seven days and seven nights and all that changed was his skin fell off and a root started to grow. He liked the root for it pushed him up through the soil, closer to the warmth of the shiny, yellow sun. But he was still worried. “God!” he cried out. “What’s happening to me? I’m supposed to be a tall, green beanstalk.”

God whispered back. “Wait.”

And so the seed waited. He waited another week. Seven days and seven nights and all that changed was the root pushed him above ground and he grew two small leaves. He was happy to be in the sun, but he still wasn’t a beanstalk. “God!” he cried out. “What’s happening to me? I’m supposed to be a tall, green beanstalk.”

God whispered back. “Wait.”

And so the seed waited. He waited two weeks. Fourteen days and fourteen nights and all that changed was he grew some more leaves and roots. He knew he was getting stronger as the rain watered him and the sun warmed him, but he wanted to be tall. “God!” he cried out. “What’s happening to me? I’m supposed to be a tall, green beanstalk.”

God whispered back. “Wait.”

And so the seed waited. He waited another two weeks. Fourteen days and fourteen nights and at last his dream came true. He looked down at himself and he was tall and green and strong with healthy leaves and small white flowers which nodded in the sun. “God!” he cried out. “Thank you for making me a tall, green beanstalk.”

God whispered back. “You’re welcome.”

Submitted by
Debbie Roome

Monday, December 17, 2007

Do You Write for Children?

We're pleased to welcome Marti Kramer Suddarth as our guest judge this week. Marti has written a new book entitled Ping Pong Words and 30 More Children's Sermons.

"Children's time" - a brief lesson specifically targeted for preschool and elementary age youngsters - is an important part of the Sunday morning worship service in many churches today. But many of those who are called upon to provide these lessons feel too intimidated to write their own material. For pastors, children's ministry leaders, and Sunday school teachers who need fresh, exciting messages that captivate their young people, this collection of easy-to-prepare lessons is just what the doctor ordered.

Geared toward the typical age range of the "children's time" audience - toddler to age thirteen - "Ping-Pong Words" is a valuable resource for anyone who presents children's sermons or devotionals. Each of the 31 lessons is scripture-based and runs three to five minutes in length, and many include demonstrations using simple visual aids such as ping-pong balls, family pictures, a flashlight, and clothespins to illustrate common precepts in ways that clearly communicate God's word to young ears, eyes, and hearts. The lessons are flexible and can be incorporated into a variety of churches and ecumenical settings. Appropriate for Sunday School, worship services, religious schools, and day care programs, Bible clubs, and anywhere else where children gather to learn about God, this volume is certain to earn a trusted place on the bookshelf.

This week, our contest will focus on children. Submit a story geared with children as your target audience. Please keep submissions under 1000 words, and get your entry to me at tracyruckman @ gmail. com by Friday, midnight, for your chance to win an autographed copy of Ping Pong Words by our guest. Because of the upcoming holidays, the winner will be announced on Saturday afternoon.

Marti Kramer Suddarth is an elementary schoolteacher and freelance writer who lives in Corydon, Indiana. Her stories and music reviews have appeared in several publications, including Heart-Stirring Stories of Love and Chicken Soup for the Shopper's Soul, and she is the author of Mini-Musicals for Special Days (Contemporary Drama Service). Suddarth is an active member of Community of Hope Nazarene Church in Corydon, and she is a graduate of Oakland City University and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What Lies Within by Karen Ball

Today, we're having FUN FRIDAY! I'm so pleased to present the following review for talented author Karen Ball's latest release. Karen is one of my very favorite authors, and What Lies Within is on my Christmas wish list - I can't wait to read it! Karen's books are always fun, rich, and carry a few surprises. (And they usually have a doggy or two in them - if you're a dog-lover like me, that's an added bonus!)

If you haven't read any of Karen's books, I urge you to check her out - you won't be sorry.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
What Lies Within
Multnomah Fiction (November 20, 2007)
Karen Ball


Karen Ball , bestselling novelist, is also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling. Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."


Nothing’s going to stop Kyla…

until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.

Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.

Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.

Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…

Sunday, December 9, 2007

How To: Nonfiction Book Proposals

This week, we are pleased to welcome Mary E. DeMuth as our guest judge and guest blogger.

Mary helps people to turn their trials into triumphs. An expert in Pioneer Parenting, Mary enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow. Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005). Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, including Watching the Tree Limbs (nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

A pioneer parent herself, Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, where they planted a church.

Mary has created a new product to help us writers, and I asked if she'd share some of it with us. She also offered to give one away as our prize this week! Read the details below.

Are you ready to write a nonfiction proposal
that grabs attention?
by Mary DeMuth

First things first: You need to know a few things before you start.

1) Know your passion. I’ve alluded to this earlier. A good book proposal emerges from a passionate idea. Examine yourself. Think about the topics you get passionate about when you talk to folks. Talk to others who know you well. Share your book idea and see if they catch your passion for it. It’s a huge undertaking to write a proposal, so be sure you have the passion to carry an entire book.

2) Know your book. What genre is your book? Where it would be shelved in a bookstore? How well do you know what the book will be about? Do you have access to good research, great interviews? How unique is your book? Will a pub board find it unique?

3) Know your immediate audience. The first audience of your proposal is actually the agent or publisher you’re querying. Find out everything you can about the agent or publisher. Do they specialize in the genre you’re writing? Do they take new authors? How many? Have you attended a writer’s conference and spoken directly to the editor or agent? What kinds of books are they looking for? Purchasing a market guide is a great first step. Analyzing books already represented or published is another great step. (If an agent already represents three mom authors, chances are he/she won’t want to take on another mom author.)

4) Know the bookselling industry. Do you know what is selling in the industry? What has oversold? What trends are up and coming? Go to bookstores and walk the aisles, sign up for newsletters and updates from the publishing industry, go to conferences, talk to booksellers. It’s absolutely imperative that you know what you’re getting into before you embark on this journey.

5) Know yourself. Writing a proposal is the first step in a very long journey. Do you have what it takes to count the cost of bringing a book to fruition? Can you take constructive criticism? Do you have the time it takes to not only write the book, but to edit it in a timely manner and promote it when it releases? Do you have a critique group to support and help you through the process? Author Jan Winebrenner says publishing a book “is like giving birth to an elephant—only more painful.” Are you ready for that?

Excerpted from Nonfiction Book Proposals that Grab and Editor or an Agent by the Throat (in a good way!) by Mary E. DeMuth.
You can purchase the download for only $10!
Or, you can win one this week, with our contest.

Since Mary writes a variety of genres, and a variety of topics, AND she is also a talented photographer, our contest this week is WIDE OPEN. Submit any type of writing (short story, article, essay, letter, poem - your choice) or photography for your chance to win Mary's designation of BEST OF THE BEST! Just limit your written portion to 2000 words or less, and your photographic submissions to no more than 4 photos per entry.

Email your entries to me at tracyruckman @ gmail. com by Friday, December 14th for your chance to win! I'll post the entries as they arrive and Mary will judge them over the weekend. The winning entry, announced on Monday, December 17th, will receive a free copy of Mary's download, and all the regular promo perks.

You can learn more about Mary DeMuth at:

Urgent Call to Prayer and Fasting

We had no contestants this week - where is everyone? Hope you'll come back and play very soon! We miss you!

I've posted previously about fellow writer Kristy Dykes. Her husband Milton posts the following:

Kristy has been diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme stage four tumor. According to all reports, except the Word of the Lord, this is terminal and without a miracle she will not live long even with radiation and chemotherapy.

We believe God works miracles. We are not kooky, foolish people. We just believe God's Word is for today, for our lives, and works to help meet our needs. Is anything too hard for the God of all creation?

He has called all of us to pray for Kristy specifically on Monday, December 10th, 3:30 p.m. Eastern time - Kristy will receive her first radiation treatment. Milton has also posted the following:

How shall I pray for a MIRACLE on MONDAY for Kristy?

I will pray first with worship and honor to His Holy Name.

I will prepare my heart through repentance and fasting to remove any hindrance or distraction.

I will confess His faithful Word and its precious promises.

I will humble myself before His mighty greatness.I will agree with the thousands who will be praying today for a miracle for Kristy.I will remember the marvelous works that He has already done for us.

I will anoint with oil and pray the prayer of faith.

I will speak in accordance to the words of the Spirit He gives.

I will prophetically proclaim His glorious Word over Kristy.

I will believe in His faithfulness and call on His mercy if I have missed any point of significance.

I will give thanks for God is good.I will stand back and see the salvation and healing of the Lord.

I will rest Kristy in the arms of our Savior and Redeemer.

"The horse is made ready for battle, but the victory rests with the Lord." Proverbs 21:31

Will you join with us?

I am not asking for hours of prayer.

Just pray with humble, faith-filled, fervancy.

Share the Opportunity for a Miracle on Monday for Kristy Today!

A Miracle on Monday 3:30 EST, Dec. 10, 2007

Please share her website so caring believers can follow up in prayer.

Please join us as we all pray for Kristy.

May God send Kristy a miracle, this side of Heaven.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Small Groups - Do You Belong to One?

We have a unique contest this week, with an equally unique guest judge. Pix-N-Pens is pleased to welcome Teena Stewart as our guest this week.

Teena Stewart is married to an ordained minister and is a published author, ministry consultant and coach. She works in collaboration with DreamBuilders Ministry in Motion , an organization that equips church leaders.

Her book, Successful Small Groups from Concept to Practice is available through Beacon Hill, November 2007 or on her small groups page . The Stewarts are in the process of starting a coffee shop ministry in North Carolina.

And this is where YOU come in.

Teena is looking for ideas about small groups and for her coffee shop, Java Journey. Enter this week's contest one of three ways: submit an essay or article related to the theme of Small Groups--An Intimate Environment Where People Can Linger, Learn and Latch Onto Christian Principles OR submit ideas for Java Journey - these ideas can include recipes, artwork, suggestions for forming small groups, or ideas on how best to utilize the coffee shop for small group formats. We're open for any and all ideas and suggestions, but please keep your submissions to 2000 words or less.

This contest will only last one week, so get your entry to me at tracyruckman @ gmail. com (remove spaces please) by midnight Friday for your chance to win! We'll choose one winner from all entries received, and one winner from anyone leaving comments below. The entry winner will receive COFFEE from Java Journey, and an autographed copy of Teena's new book Successful Small Groups. The comment winner will receive a beautiful china COFFEE MUG and a copy of Teena's book.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


We had a slight delay in announcing the winner of our Grand Prize Drawing - I had to touch bases with the winner - but now I'm thrilled to announce that


is the winner of our Grand Prize for December 2007.

Carolyn has become a regular around the Pix-N-Pen blog, winning several contests, and referring people to our newsletter.

You can get acquainted with Carolyn and read about her books on her website, Meditations of the Heart.

Congratulations, Carolyn! And thanks to everyone for participating!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program - submit your entry for this week's contest to win COFFEE!