Friday, July 31, 2009

Editing Tips #6: Common Mistakes of New Writers

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2009

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.


1. Unrealistic expectations. Writing seems to be the only art form in which beginners expect immediate success. Just because you can read and write, that does not mean your words are ready for publication. I love to sing, but I wouldn’t dream of asking someone to pay to hear me sing. I’ve never received any voice training, I’ve never worked with a professional, I’ve never had my voice critiqued by a pro. And yet new writers, with no professional training, are often perplexed when they receive rejection letters from publishers. If you expect someone to buy what you write, take the time to learn how to do it right.

2. Flowery writing. Novice writers tend to use big words when smaller ones would be more easily understood. A simple word, or a familiar one with impact, is usually a better choice.

3. Overuse of adjectives. Novice writers sometimes use flamboyant (or too many) adjectives. Other new writers use vivid descriptions too sparingly.

4. Overuse of adverbs. Search your manuscript for words ending in “-ly.” You’ll probably find a plethora of them, most of which can be deleted. A strong verb is always preferred over a weak verb with an adjective.

5. Long sentences and paragraphs. Novice writers often pack too much into a single sentence, producing run-ons or long, confusing structures the reader can’t follow. Readers (and publishers) like to see “white space” on a page, not one big paragraph taking up the whole page.

6. Odd or missing attributions. Some new writers tend to omit dialogue tags, leaving the reader to wonder who is speaking. Others fail to vary the “he said” format. While said is nearly “invisible” when used sparingly, many alternatives exist and should be used occasionally. But avoid using flowery tags (like “he intoned”). Instead substitute the thoughts and observations of the point-of-view character. Lines of dialogue followed by an action should end in a period, not a comma.

7. Transitions. Novice writers sometimes omit details that allow readers to go from sentence to sentence and follow the action. Don’t give your readers “literary whiplash” by jumping from one time, place, or point of view too often or too suddenly.

8. Repetition. Obscure words should not be used more than once or twice in an entire book. Even regular words should not be repeated several times on one page or in close proximity. Vary sentence and paragraph beginnings.

9. Point of View. Novice fiction writers often switch point-of-view randomly. When a POV switches is made, start a new section/chapter and immediately indicate who the new POV character is.

10. Mechanics. Novice writers often neglect, or are unaware of, correct punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling rules. Nothing brands a new writer as an “amateur” more quickly.


NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail



Kathy Ide has been writing for publication since 1988. She has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. She is a full-time freelance editor, offering a full range of editorial services for aspiring writers, established authors, commercial book publishers, subsidy publishers, and magazines. Her services include proofreading, copyediting, substantive/content editing, coauthoring, ghostwriting, and mentoring/coaching. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Abstract Photography


An abstract photograph is one whose subject matter emphasizes shapes, colors, and lines, more than the subject itself. Appealing abstract photographs draw heavily on the rules of composition: the rule of thirds, the use of lines and curves, and perspective. Color can also be an important factor.

Most often, when I take an abstract image I am using macro settings, though this is not the case 100% of the time. Extreme macro photographs throw another factor into the mix, shallow depth of field. Without going into a detailed explanation of depth of field, let's just say it affects the amount of objects in focus within an image. The shallower the depth of field the more your point of focus is important.

In this first photograph, my point of focus was the edge of the forward mushroom. Had I chosen the wood beneath it or the mushroom to its left, I would have had a more distracting image. In that case, the large "out-of-focus area" would have been placed in the center of the picture and would have divided the viewer's attention.

Mushroom Colony
Mushroom Colony

Here, I used both the diagonal line of the interwined leaves and the shape of the light to add interest. There is a greater depth of field due to my use of telephoto instead of macro settings. Also, this image covers a larger area than the previous mushroom photograph, which altered my choice of camera settings.

The Effect of Time
The Effect of Time

Color is another strong factor in an abstract image. Both the difference in color between objects and the similarity in colors can create visual appeal. The greener bamboo trunk and the texture of the wood were what caused me to take this photograph.

Bamboo Trunks
Bamboo Trunks

Abstracts are not limited to close-up images. The shape of these seed pods and the numerity of them eliminated the need for me to zoom in. The effect would have been lost in a closer image.


Abstract photography offers up an unlimited number of subjects and is certainly not limited to natural objects. Usually I don't set out to take an abstract image, but am photographing the general area. I especially like them within a series of images as they add great interest when viewing the subject.

Candle Flame Under Glass
Candle Flame Under Glass


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Suzanne Williams Photography
To Read More Of My Thoughts
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Series on how to Choose a Title for my Work

Choosing a Title for my Non-Fiction Book
By Debbie Roome

People buy fiction for entertainment and to escape into an imaginary world of romance or intrigue. They buy non-fiction because they want to learn about someone or something. The secret to capturing a sale is choosing a suitable title that grabs the potential reader’s attention.

What should a Non-Fiction Title Contain
Non-fiction titles need to be more tightly focused than fiction titles as the reader is generally looking for specific information. They also tend to be longer so as to reveal the focus of the content. For example, if you were looking for a book on how to cook Thai curries, which of these three would you pick up?
· Asian Cooking
· Step by Step Thai Curries
· Food from the East

The majority of biographies are written about celebrities, so their name is an important part of the title. Some celebrities are associated with a song, style or object that would also attract a reader’s attention. Below are a few examples for you to consider. If no one springs to mind, type the words into Google and you’ll soon know who they are associated with.
· Moonwalk
· People’s Princess
· Blue suede shoes

Life Experiences
This genre is similar to biography but is often about an unknown person who has had a dramatic experience in life. The story is written to explain how they suffered and consequently triumphed over their circumstances. David J Pelzer suffered extreme abuse as a child. His book is called A Child Called “It” – a fitting summary of the way he was treated as an object instead of a child to be loved. Popular topics in life experiences include stories about life and death encounters in nature, miscarriage, disabled children and terminal diseases. Make sure the title reflects the content.

Self-Help Books
There is a huge market for this type of book and the title normally makes a promise to the reader:
· 10 Steps to a Flat Stomach
· The World’s Easiest Guide to Unblocking Drains
· How to live Debt-free within One Year
· Learn Basic Guitar Skills in 10 Lessons
The title is basically a one sentence summary of the book’s content. Make sure the promises are realistic so the reader doesn’t feel let down.

Travel Books
Every bookshop has a travel section and the books range from simple guides to full colour coffee-table books. Again, the title should reflect the content. If a reader wants to know about hotels in Hong Kong, he is not going to buy a book entitled Street Markets in Hong Kong. He will look for something along the lines of The Best Accommodation Deals in Hong Kong.

This is a huge section and includes school books, text books, historical records, scientific books and encyclopaedias. While some of these may end up with academic-sounding titles, there is still room for fun. Ask the average fifth grader which of these two books he would rather learn from:
· Grade 5 Math Puzzles
· Crazy Number Puzzles for Fifth Graders

Non-fiction takes up plenty of space in a bookshop and there will always be a market for it. People are curious by nature and a well-named book may even entice a reader to take up a new hobby. Make up a list of possible titles and run them past family and friends. Ask professionals who work in that particular field and do a Google search to see what pops up. Titles are what sell so it is worth spending time and effort to find the perfect one.

Next week, will be the last in this series. Come back on Wednesday to learn about titles for newspaper, magazine and internet articles.

Series on how to Choose a Title for my Work - Part One

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Photo Assignment #7: More than Blue Skies

Was the SHAPES assignment too challenging? Or did everyone else have a crazy busy week like I did? Keep looking for those shapes, and if you find one, go ahead and post it whenever you get ready.

Assignment for this week:

The color BLUE. Interpreted however you like.

View and post photos over at our Pix-N-Pens album. The password is inspired.

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Part 2: Interview with Cecil Murphey

We continue our celebration for the release of Cecil Murphey's latest book When Someone You Love Has Cancer. Be sure to read yesterday's post for your chance to win a huge gift basket worth $300!

A Word from The Man Behind the Words

by Cecil Murphey

When Shirley walked in from the garage, she didn't have to say a word: I read the diagnosis in her eyes. I grabbed her and held her tightly for several seconds. When I released her, she didn't cry. The unshed tears glistened, but that was all.

I felt emotionally paralyzed and helpless, and I couldn't understand my reaction. After all, I was a professional. As a former pastor and volunteer hospital chaplain I had been around many cancer patients. I'd seen people at their lowest and most vulnerable. As a writing instructor, I helped one woman write her cancer-survival book. Shirley and I had been caregivers for Shirley's older sister for months before she died of colon cancer.

All of that happened before cancer became personal to me--before my wife learned she needed a mastectomy. To make it worse, Shirley was in the high-risk category because most of her blood relatives had died of some form of cancer. Years earlier, she had jokingly said, "In our family we grow things."

In the days after the diagnosis and before her surgery, I went to a local bookstore and to the public library. I found dozens of accounts, usually by women, about their battle and survival. I pushed aside the novels that ended in a person's death. A few books contained medical or technical information. I searched on-line and garnered useful information--but I found nothing that spoke to me on how to cope with the possible loss of the person I loved most in this world.

Our story ends happily: Shirley has started her tenth year as a cancer survivor. Not only am I grateful, but I remember my pain and confusion during those days. That concerns me enough to reach out to others who also feel helpless as they watch a loved one face the serious diagnosis of cancer.

That's why I wrote When Someone You Love Has Cancer. I want to encourage relatives and friends and also to offer practical suggestions as they stay at the side of those they love.

The appendix offers specific things for them to do and not to do--and much of that information came about because of the way people reacted around us. It's a terrible situation for anyone to have cancer; it's a heavy burden for us who deeply love those with cancer.

An Interview with Cecil Murphey:

The first sentence of your book reads, "I felt helpless." Tell us about that feeling.

CM: Because her doctor put Shirley into the high-risk category, I felt helpless. To me, helpless means hating the situation, wanting to make it better, but admitting there was nothing I could do for her.

On that same page you also write, "One thing we learned: God was with us and strengthened us through the many weeks of uncertainty and pain." How did you get from feeling helpless to that assurance?

CM: Shirley and I sat down one day and I put my arm around her. "The only way I know how I can handle this," I said, "is to talk about it." Shirley knows that's my way of working through puzzling issues. "Let's consider every possibility."

If her surgeon decided she did not have breast cancer, how would we react? We talked of our reaction if he said, "There is a tumor and it's obviously benign. Finally, I was able to say, with tears in my eyes, "How do we react if he says the cancer is advanced and you have only a short time to live?"

By the time we answered that question, I was crying. Shirley had tears in her eyes, but remained quite calm. "I'm ready to go whenever God wants to take me," she said. She is too honest not to have meant those words. As I searched her face, I saw calmness and peace. I held her tightly and we prayed together. After that I felt calm. Since then, one of the first things I do when I awaken is to thank God that Shirley and I have at least one more day together.

When most people hear the word cancer applied to someone they love, they have strong emotional reactions. What are some of them? What was your reaction when your wife was diagnosed with breast cancer?

CM: As a pastor, a volunteer chaplain, and a friend I've encountered virtually every emotional reaction. Some refuse to accept what they hear. Some go inward and are unable to talk. Others start making telephone calls to talk to friends. Me? I went numb, absolutely numb. That was my old way of dealing with overwhelming emotions. I heard everything but I couldn't feel anything. It took me almost two weeks before I was able to feel--and to face the possibility that the person I loved most in the world might die.

"What can I do for my loved one with cancer?" That's a good question for us to ask ourselves. How can we be supportive and helpful?

CM: Many think they need to do big things; they don't. Express your concern and your love.

Be available to talk when the other person needs it--and be even more willing to be silent if your loved one doesn't want to talk. Don't ask what you can do; do what you see needs doing. To express loving support in your own way (and we all express love differently) is the best gift you can offer.

Why do you urge people not to say, "I know exactly how you feel"?

CM: No one knows how you feel. They may remember how they felt at a certain time. Even if they did know, what help is that to the person with cancer? It's like saying, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I know what it's like and I'm fine now."

Instead, focus on how the loved one feels. Let him or her tell you.

Those with cancer suffer physically and spiritually. You mention God's silence as a form of spiritual suffering. They pray and don't seem to sense God. What can you do to help them?

CM: God is sometimes silent but that doesn't mean God is absent. In my upcoming book, When God Turns off the Lights, I tell what it was like for me when God stopped communicating for about 18 months. I didn't like it and I was angry. I didn't doubt God's existence, but I didn't understand the silence. I read Psalms and Lamentations in various translations. I prayed and I did everything I could, but nothing changed.

After a couple of months, I realized that I needed to accept the situation and wait for God to turn on the lights again. Each day I quoted Psalm 13:1: "O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?" (NLT) I learned many invaluable lessons about myself--and I could have learned them only in the darkness. When God turns off the lights (and the sounds) I finally realized that instead of God being angry, it was God's loving way to draw me closer.

Guilt troubles many friends and loved ones of caregivers because they feel they failed or didn't do enough. What can you say to help them?

CM: We probably fail our loved ones in some ways. No one is perfect. If you feel that kind of guilt, I suggest 3 things:

(1) Tell the loved one and ask forgiveness.

(2) Talk to God and ask God to forgive you and give you strength not to repeat your failures.

(3) Forgive yourself. And one way to do that is to say, "At the time, I thought I did the right thing. I was wrong and I forgive myself."

Do you have some final words of wisdom for those giving care to a loved one with cancer?

CM: Be available. You can't take away the cancer but you can alleviate the sense of aloneness. Don't ever try to explain the reason the person has cancer. We don't know the reason and even if we did, would it really help the other person? Be careful about what you say. Too often visitors and friends speak from their own discomfort and forget about the pain of the one with cancer. Don't tell them about your cancer or other disease; don't tell them horror stories about others. Above all, don't give them false words of comfort. Be natural. Be yourself. Behave as loving as you can.

Thank you, Cec, for sharing your journey and your heart with us. May God continue to bless you and Shirley, and may He continue to use you both to touch hearts and change lives. You are a blessing to us all.

Pixels - leave comments on yesterday's post to be included in the contest should Pix-N-Pens qualify!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Writing Prompt #7: Crossroads

Prompt for the week:

Your main character has reached a crossroads in his/her life. Which direction will he/she take next?

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Win Huge Gift Basket of Books Worth $300!

This week, I'm thrilled to feature a new book by a very precious man I'm honored to call friend and mentor. We're announcing the release of Cecil Murphey's latest book When Someone You Love Has Cancer.

I cried as I poured over this beautiful book - wishing I'd had one so many times before whenever someone uttered the word cancer. The stories within are touching and real, the appendix filled with practical tips that help any of us when someone we love is facing this disease. As you read the book, you know it was written by someone who KNOWS what it's like, someone who UNDERSTANDS, and someone who CARES. It's truly a beautiful book that is perfect to share with anyone to show you care.

Thank you, Cec, for creating a book so beautiful, and so needed.

To celebrate the release, author Cecil Murphey is giving away a huge gift basket of books. During the tour this week, whichever blog ends up with the most comments will qualify to hold a drawing for the basket. Grab your friends and leave your comments below so Pix-N-Pens can qualify!

Tomorrow, we'll also have an interview with Cec, so be sure to come back to read more about him.

Now, information about the book and the author.

About the Book:

The World Health Organization reported that by the year 2010 cancer will be the number one killer worldwide. More than 12.4 million people in the world suffer from cancer. 7.6 million people are expected to die from some form of cancer. That's a lot of people, but the number of loved ones of cancer sufferers is far greater. What do they do when a special person in their life is diagnosed with this devastating disease?

Murphey brings his experiences as a loved one and many years of wisdom gained from being a pastor and hospital chaplain to his newest book When Someone You Love Has Cancer: Comfort and Encouragement for Caregivers and Loved Ones (Harvest House Publishers). His honest I've-been-there admissions and practical helps are combined with artist Michal Sparks' soothing watercolor paintings.

Readers of When Someone You Love Has Cancer will receive:

  • Inspiration to seek peace and understanding in their loved one's situation
  • Help in learning the importance of active listening

  • Guidance in exploring their own feelings of confusion and unrest

  • Suggestions on how to handle anxiety and apprehension
  • Honest answers to questions dealing with emotions, exhaustion, and helplessness
  • Spirit-lifting thoughts for celebrating the gift of life in the midst of troubles

Murphey explains why this is a much-needed book: "Most books about cancer address survivors. I want to speak to the mates, families, and friends who love those with cancer. I offer a number of simple, practical things people can do for those with cancer."

Cec designed the appendix to be the most practical part of the book. He's witnessed too many situations where genuinely caring people had no idea what to do, so he has tried to givea few general guidelines.

1. Before you offer help. Learn about the disease before you visit. Determine to accept their feelings, no matter how negative. Pray for your loved one before you visit. Don't throw religious slogans at them, such as, "This is God's will" or "God knew you were strong enough to handle this."

2. What you can do now. As the first question, don't ask, "How are you?" Instead, ask, "Do you feel like talking." Don't offer advice. Be willing to sit in silence. If you need to cry, do so. Be natural. If appropriate, hug your loved one. Human touch is powerful.

3. Long-term caregiving. The overarching principle is to let the seriousness of the disease determine the amount of time and commitment you offer. This can be a time for you to help them spiritually. Think about tangible things you can do that say you care. Plan celebrations for every anniversary of being cancer free.

Ask them reflective questions such as:

  • What have you discovered about yourself through this experience?
  • What have you learned about relationships?
  • How has your faith in God changed?

About the Author:

Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grieving, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.

For more information, visit The Man Behind the Words.

The Grand Prize Winner will receive a gift basket filled with these books:

When Someone You Love Has Cancer

90 Minutes in Heaven (hard cover)

Heaven Is Real (hard cover)

Daily Devotions Inspired by 90 Minutes in Heaven (hard cover)

90 Minutes in Heaven, gift edition (selections)

90 Minutes in Heaven, audio (5 CD set)

Heaven Is Real, audio (6 CDs)

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Think Big

Everybody Loved Roger Harden

Everybody Wanted Room 623

Everybody Called Her a Saint

Committed But Flawed

Immortality of Influence (hard cover)

Touchdown Alexander (hard cover)

Aging Is an Attitude

My Parents, My Children: Spiritual Help for Caregivers

Don't forget to leave your relevant comments below for a chance to win!

Read Part 2 of our visit with Cecil Murphey.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Editing Tip #5: Citing Sources

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2009

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.


Whenever a book, article, poem, drama, song, database, or illustration appears in tangible form, it is automatically covered by copyright, regardless of whether the work is published or registered with the copyright office. You cannot use another person’s material (or any portion thereof) publicly without the copyright owner's express permission except under two circumstances: fair use and public domain.


"Fair Use" allows limited reprinting of copyrighted material under certain conditions. This is mainly determined by how the work is used, how much of the work is used, and how the use affects the potential sales of the original work. If you have brief quotes from a few published works in your manuscript, and your quotations will not negatively affect the sales of those books, you probably do not need to obtain permission. However, if you have lengthy quotations, or the quoted material is the vast majority of your work, or the comments you make about that material could be harmful to the author's profits from that book, you need to secure written permission from the copyright holder.

This is your job, not the publisher's. Most publishing agreements stipulate that any fees to be paid for quoting copyrighted material are the author's responsibility. Authors are expected to send the publisher all permissions that have been received; these permissions will be filed with the publishing contract.

Other than private in-home listening and playing, Fair Use of music is extremely limited. You can refer to the title of a song, but cannot reprint the music or lyrics (unless it's in the public domain).


When a copyright expires, the owner no longer has exclusive rights. Some authors and composers relinquish their copyright and give their material to the public, either during their lifetime or at their death. It is the author's responsibility to obtain proof that quoted material is in the public domain.

You may use public domain material only if you have a legitimate source of proof (e.g., a tangible original or copy of the work with a copyright date old enough to be in the public domain).


Whether or not the use of others' material requires permission, whenever you quote or paraphrase the idea of another person, you must provide a proper citation for the source in a bibliography or footnote. This not only gives credit to the original author, it enables a reader to locate the source of your quote. Providing references lends credibility to your work. If you do not give credit to the work of others, you are committing plagiarism. Therefore, you should provide full citations to all sources you use, including:

Internet sources
Scripture verses
government documents
nonprint media (videotapes, audiotapes, pictures, and images)

NOTE: Commonly known facts, available in numerous sources, do not need to be enclosed in quotation marks or given a source citation unless the wording is taken directly from another work. (For example, "Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865" does not need a footnote.)


NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail



Kathy Ide has been writing for publication since 1988. She has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. She is a full-time freelance editor, offering a full range of editorial services for aspiring writers, established authors, commercial book publishers, subsidy publishers, and magazines. Her services include proofreading, copyediting, substantive/content editing, coauthoring, ghostwriting, and mentoring/coaching. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Photography and Writing


I was thinking this morning about photography and writing and how it has developed for me. If you'd have told me years ago that I'd be doing a lot of either one, I wouldn't have believed you. Hindsight is a great thing, and looking back at my life, especially from high school on, I can see the path clearly.

Both photography and writing require similar steps in my head. Generally speaking, I am a fairly organized person, and I am married to an organized person. I'm the kind of person who takes something out and then puts it away when they are finished. I'm neurotic about keeping my kitchen clean. You'll not find dirty dishes in my sink when we sit down to eat. I am similarly organized about where and how I keep my photographs.

Ox-Eye Daisies along the Richard B. Russell Scenic Byway, Georgia
Richard B. Russell Scenic Byway

Ox-Eye Daisies

Different people have different systems of organization. I prefer to organize by date and author. This way photos my husband or my daughter have taken will not be confused with those I have taken. I've had that problem in the past. If the photos are all of one particular subject, one I'll probably reattend in the future, then I add a short description after the date. I'm also big on backing up my files. This, again, comes because I once lost files in a computer crash. My life has been captured in a series of images and each image, no matter how trivial, all together make up the story of who I am, so photos are precious.

I am as organized about writing as I am about photography. I like to know what I am going to write about and what information I like to include. I read, re-read, and read again before I post anything. This brings me to my other point of comparison between the two - pace. Where taking photographs and writing blogs are concerned, I am s-l-o-w. I guess some people have the ability to just whiz things out, but I have to take lots of time, study it from all angles, and make three different versions, before I post the final result. It has taken me days before to come up with a product I am ultimately pleased with.

Ox-Eye Daisies

And with both, there is no repetition. I cannot return to that same scene again, have the same light, the same bird in the same spot, no more than I can re-write on a subject and achieve equal results. Light and life are always changing. My job as a photographer, and now as a writer, is to put down where I am at in life, to photograph the things I see now, so that later on, when it has changed again, I can remember where I was at.

Photography and writing go hand-in-hand, one supplementing the other with what it cannot provide. The old saying says, "One photograph is worth a thousand words." I would add, "One word creates a thousand pictures."

Ox-Eye Daisies


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Suzanne Williams Photography
For More of My Blogs
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Series on How to Choose a Title for my Work

Choosing a Title for my Novel
By Debbie Roome

Welcome to a new series where we’ll be exploring the importance of a good title. Whether your writing appears in a church bulletin or on a shelf in a bookstore, the title is usually the first thing the reader sees. If it is dull and uninspiring, chances are they won’t look any further. Read on to learn how to choose suitable titles for novels.

How to Choose Titles for Novels
As a general rule, fiction books normally have a title of one to three words. These words are very important as they should give the reader an inkling of what is inside the book and possibly the genre. Think of bestsellers you have read this year and make a list of their titles. Are they appropriate? Do they rouse curiosity? Here are a couple I have read recently that were perfectly titled:

· Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult – tells the story of a child with osteogenesis imperfecta – brittle bone disease
· The Associate by John Grisham – a thriller about an associate lawyer
· The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – the theme of the kite runner is threaded through the book
· Foreign Body by Robin Cook – a medical thriller set in India·

One Word Titles
Christian author, Karen Kingsbury uses one word titles for her Redemption series: Redemption, Remember, Return, Rejoice and Reunion. The repetition of the first letter helps the reader to recognize that they belong together. Other authors have written stand-alone books with titles of one word. Ted Dekker favours these with novels such as Kiss, Obsessed, Skin and Sinner. The titles invite questions and suitably describe the content.

Two Word Titles
John Grisham makes good use of these with books such as The Partner, The Firm, The Client, The Brethren and The Testament. Again, the title fits the story line and gives a glimpse into the subject material.

Longer Titles
While some authors use longer titles, remember these take up more space on the cover and spine and will be smaller in size. They are also more difficult to remember. In spite of this, some books with long titles have been very successful. Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet by Jamie Ford is a good example as is Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark.

Make the Title Interesting
Unusual titles generate more interest and prospective buyer will often choose an exciting title over a mundane one. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a title:
· Does it sound intriguing
· Is it open to several interpretations
· Have you used a play on words
· Is it figurative or literal
· Does it summarise the book’s contentDoes it sound intriguing

Analyze your Title
Unusual titles generate more interest and prospective buyer will often choose an exciting title over a mundane one. has a free application whereby you can enter your proposed book title and it will calculate the chances of it being a best seller. I tried out a few and the results were interesting. Try out some of your own and see what score you get.

Come back next Wednesday when we’ll examine how to title non-fiction books.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Photo Assignment #6: Shapes

The photos being submitted each week for our assignments are creating a wonderful album. Be sure to check out all the entries over at our Pix-N-Pens Photo Album. (The password is inspired.)

This week, let's take on shapes. Take some photos that focus on the SHAPE of the subject or of SHAPES as the subject itself.

Then choose your favorite, and add it to our album. The password is inspired.

And who knows, we may have a contest with all of these some day, too!

For other assignments, check last week's post.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Writing Prompt #6: Snowstorm

I know - it's the middle of a sweltering July, and I'm thinking snowstorms.

So this week, a one word writing prompt:


Use the prompt to create scene or story ideas for your novel, short story, magazine article, or nonfiction book. Use it to create a poem or a song. The choice is your - let your imagination run wild.

One of our Pixels asked the purpose of the prompts. They're mainly for your benefit, but we may just have a contest one day - you never know around here.

For more prompts, check last week's post.

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Talking About: Things Left Unspoken

Eva Marie Everson is one of my favorite people in all of CBA. Her heart is pure gold, and her stories always fresh and original.
Make a pitcher of sweet tea, grab a copy of Things Left Unspoken, and tell the family you don't want to be disturbed. Then, climb onto your porch swing, or settle in your recliner, and get ready for one interesting tale.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Things Left Unspoken

Revell (June 1, 2009)


Eva Marie Everson


Eva Marie Everson taught Old Testament theology for six years at Life Training Center in Longwood, Florida and has written numerous articles for (including the acclaimed Falling Into The Bible series), and has had articles featured in numerous publications, including Christianity Today, Evangel, Christian Bride, Christian Retailing, The Godly BusinessWoman and Marriage Partnership magazines. Eva Marie has been interviewed by radio, television, newspaper, and Internet media outlets. In 2002Eva Marie was one of six Christian journalists sent to Israel for a special ten-day press tour.

Eva Marie’s work includes the award-winning titles Reflections of God's Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel, Shadow of Dreams, Sex, Lies and the Media, and The Potluck Club series.

She is married, has four children and five grandchildren, and lives in Central Florida.


Every family--and every house--has its secrets. Jo-Lynn Hunter is at a crossroads in life when her great-aunt Stella insists that she return home to restore the old family manse in sleepy Cottonwood, Georgia. Jo-Lynn longs to get her teeth into a noteworthy and satisfying project. And it's the perfect excuse for some therapeutic time away from her self-absorbed husband and his snobby Atlanta friends.

Beneath the dust and the peeling wallpaper, things are not what they seem, and what Jo-Lynn doesn't know about her family holds just as many surprises. Was her great-grandfather the pillar of the community she thought he was? What is Aunt Stella hiding? And will her own marriage survive the renovation? Jo-Lynn isn't sure she wants to know the truth--but sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known.

To read the first chapter of Things Left Unspoken, click HERE.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tour: Through the Fire

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Through The Fire

Bethany House (July 1, 2009)


Shawn Grady


Shawn Grady signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named “Most Promising New Writer” at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Through the Fire is his debut novel.

Shawn has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in northern Nevada. From fire engines and ambulances to tillered ladder trucks and helicopters, Shawn’s work environment has always been dynamic. The line of duty has carried him to a variety of locale, from high-rise fires in the city to the burning heavy timber of the eastern Sierras.

Shawn attended Point Loma Nazarene University as a Theology undergrad before shifting direction to acquire an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science Technology as well as Paramedic licensure through Truckee Meadows Community College.

Shawn currently lives in Reno, Nevada, just outside of Lake Tahoe. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, three children and yellow Labrador.


Firefighting burns in Aidan O'Neill's blood. The son of a fireman, O'Neill has a sixth sense about fire and often takes dangerous risks. When one act of disobedience nearly gets a rookie killed, O'Neill is suspended. His weeks off are supposed to be a time to reflect but instead he escapes to Mexico, where another rash act of bravery actually kills him. But only for a few minutes.

Called back to Reno, he's now haunted by visions of hell and paralyzed in the face of fire. And at the worst time, because an arsonist is targeting Reno. With a growing love interest with one of the investigators complicating everything, Aidan must discover where his trust rests as the fires creep ever closer.

To read the first chapter of Through The Fire, click HERE.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Please Help Welcome our New Book Reviewer!

Faithful readers of Pix-N-Pens know I always make changes around here in August, and the next few weeks we'll have a few surprises and/or announcements for you once again.

Pix-N-Pens welcomes Phee Paradise to our family as Book Reviewer. Sometime around the first week of August, Phee will begin posting book reviews on Mondays. We're increasing the number of books we're reviewing, and we'll be adding more variety, too.

(Phee and I connected through FaithWriters - if you haven't joined, you may want to check them out!)

I asked Phee to introduce herself:

I am a retired student leadership trainer from the University of
Massachusetts Amherst. Now that I have time to devote to freelance
writing, I pray that my work will be used by God to His glory. I was
blessed to be a missionary kid and love to share that experience in my
writing. I’m a happily married mother and grandma. I love children’s
ministries, gardening and reading. God is good … all the time. All
the time … God is good.

Pixels, please help welcome Phee to our family!

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Editing Tip #4: Developing Fictional Characters

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2009

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.


Characters have names. They have eyes, hair, feet, and hands. They are male or female, tall or short, thin or fat. (Assuming, of course, that your characters are human beings!) But that is just the beginning.

As you write, work up a detailed character sketch for each of your main characters. What are their physical attributes? You don’t want your hero to have blue eyes in chapter 1 and brown eyes in chapter 8 (unless you make this change for a reason, and make it obvious to your reader).

Go through your thesaurus to collect a few adjectives, adverbs, and verbs that accurately describe each character. Don’t try to give all the details. A few highlights will suffice.

You may wish to clip pictures out of newspapers and magazines and use them to help you envision your characters. You can find interesting faces in advertisements, catalogs, and magazines. Look for pictures of clothing and jewelry your character might wear, places your character may visit often (such as rooms in their homes). You may wish to start a three-ring binder with sections for each of your characters. Include clipped pictures as well as written descriptions, other attributes, and a timeline of various important events in their lives.

But a collection of traits with physical attributes does not add up to a believable character. You need to know what motivates your characters, why they are the way they are, etc.

As you write your story, questions about each character will evolve, and as you answer them, your story will grow. What problems do your characters face? What are their goals? What are their professions, hobbies, virtues, and vices? What do they care about? Are they happy? Fearful? Sarcastic? Lonely? Bitter? Self-assured? Timid? What do they like/dislike?

What are their secrets? When, how, and to whom will those secrets be revealed? If you reveal secrets gradually, your reader will feel there are more surprises to come and new things to find out about your characters.

Don’t make any of your characters either all good or all bad. If your villains do not act with understandable motivations, they won’t seem real. Why, you must ask yourself, does this dreadful person do such awful things? If you don’t know what drives him--however far back in his past the reason may exist--he won’t seem real to you, or to your reader.

Your protagonist must be admirable, or you won’t hold your readers. But he should have some faults, too, to make him “human.”

What emotions do your characters experience during the course of your story? Fear is one of the major emotions your main character will feel—not necessarily physical fear (although there can be some of that), but fear, at least, that his important goals will not be accomplished. The specific cause of fear should change during the course of your story. If your character expresses the same fear over and over again, suspense wanes and the reader will become bored. Your story must grow and change and turn in different directions, and so must your characters.

To understand your characters more completely, you may wish to have one or more of them start a “diary.” Of course, this diary will not be included, word for word, in your novel. But as your character “talks” about himself in the first person, he may begin to feel more real to you. You may be surprised to learn what he thinks, especially about the other characters in your story.


NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail



Kathy Ide has been writing for publication since 1988. She has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. She is a full-time freelance editor, offering a full range of editorial services for aspiring writers, established authors, commercial book publishers, subsidy publishers, and magazines. Her services include proofreading, copyediting, substantive/content editing, coauthoring, ghostwriting, and mentoring/coaching. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Butterfly Bonanza


Some years I can't recall seeing many butterflies. Other years I will see mostly one particular species. I am always grateful for seeing any butterfly at all. Well, I don't know if it's the weather this year, my new location, or just personal magnetism (which I seriously doubt) but this year I am having a real bonanza. It helps, of course, that I took the time this past spring to plant the flowers that would attract them. It also helps that I leave the caterpillars alone and allow them to eat my plants down to a nub. Whatever the reason, I have enough photographs this year to fill a very large book.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Photographing butterflies is mostly a matter of patience. It takes patience to wait for the butterfly to settle on the flower and patience to choose the right camera angle. Here in Florida, you have to add patience to stand in the midday sun sweating profusely and somehow not make any startling movements. I have done a lot of that this year!

There are camera settings that work better for butterflies. Certain species of butterflies move faster than others. Black swallowtails are notorious for continual movement of their wings, even when they are feeding, and most Sulphur butterflies are rarely ever still. For these, I often use Shutter Priority, and set the shutter speed for what will best stop the action of the wings. In the photographs below I used 1/1000 second. However, I also moved my ISO up to 200 since the fast shutter speed would give me less light in the scene. These small yellow butterflies were in constant motion, flitting around and around each other. I wanted to somehow capture the essence of their activity as well as the different markings on the upper portion of the wings.

In Flight, Sleepy Orange Sulphur Butterflies
In Flight, Sleepy Orange Sulphur Butterflies

Sleepy Orange Sulphur Butterflies

The biggest composition rule for photographing butterflies involves paying attention to the shape and size of the butterfly. It is usually best to get all of the butterfly, the entire wing structure and any tails or antennae, in the image. A clipped wing, for instance, can be very distracting to the viewer. Also, typically, I like to use a larger aperture in butterfly photographs. This softens any distracting background elements and isolates the subject.

For a pleasing butterfly photograph you must choose the right camera angle! In most of my butterfly photographs I either try for a perpendicular "underside" wing shot, as seen in the photo below, or a view of the top side of the wings when they are fully opened. This view will again try your patience because it is seen less often. The camera angle that does not usually work in a butterfly photograph is the view looking straight at the front of the butterfly, especially when the butterfly has its wings closed. Because they are thin, this view leaves nothing for the viewer to really see.

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly
Gray Hairstreak Butterfly

Last week, I talked about those photographic moments where you find you have photographed something you've never seen before. This next photo was one of those moments for me. I spotted this butterfly feeding in my front flowerbeds, and at first thought it was a Gulf Fritillary, which I see often. At second glance, I realized it was smaller in size and not as orange as its cousin.

What a thrill! It really reiterates last week's words. You never really know what you'll come across, or what you'll see, from day-to-day that will inspire you. For me right now it's butterflies!

Varigated Fritillary Butterfly
Varigated Fritillary Butterfly

If you'd like to view more of this year's photographs, you can visit My Webshots.


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Suzanne Williams Photography
My Blogger
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Elements of Successful Fiction Series

Using Homes as a Tool in Fiction

By Debbie Roome

Welcome to the last part of this series where we’ll be looking at homes. Everybody has a place to call home whether it be a spot under a bridge, an upmarket condo or simply a room. I saw a snatch of a dating reality show recently, where the girl had a chance to explore the bedrooms of three prospective dates. The idea was that she would learn something about their characters by looking at their living space. In a similar way, the introduction of a home into fiction should reveal something to the reader.

Make a List of Types of Home
Stretch your imagination and write a list of at least twenty kinds of homes. Here are a few to get you thinking:

· Bungalows
· Chalets
· Pole and dagga huts
· Boats
· Tents
· Palaces

The type of home your character lives in depends on many factors such as location, wealth, personal taste and circumstances. Be sure to consider all these before creating a home.

What are Homes Constructed from
Homes are built from a wide variety of materials. Think of the western world where most people live in houses constructed from wood or brick with glass windows. In other parts of the world, common materials include stone, mud, grass, prefabricated panels and canvas.

What is in the Home
Once you have decided on the exterior, set about designing the interior. What type of artwork, carpeting, furnishings and drapes suit your fictional character? Would she prefer modern, retro, classic or plain quirky? Is her home filled with potted plants and caged birds or does she prefer sculptures and overstuffed chairs? What about an eccentric dowager whose home is a shrine to Elvis Presley?

Homes Reflect Wealth and Status
The size and location of a home are generally a reflection of a person’s position in society. A king lives in a palace and a beggar in Calcutta lives in a slum. Make sure the home is appropriate for the character.

Ensure the Home Reveals Character
Decide whether it should be pin neat or untidy with piles of papers and a messy kitchen. Are there dusty attics and secret rooms or is the main feature a magnificent library where books surround a favorite chair?

Using a Home to Advance the Plot
Items in the house can be used to move the story along or create intrigue. Think along the lines of stolen jewels hidden in the cellar or someone’s bones in the chimney. Is there an ancient letter caught in the roof that will transform someone’s life? What about a weakness in the design of the home or a flaw in the heating system?

Recommended Reading
John Grisham’s Painted House is an excellent example of using a home in fiction. It tells the story of a house that was never painted because of the cost and what happened when a child decided it needed painting.

A house is an expression of the people that live within it and can be used powerfully in fiction. Don’t dump your characters in a nondescript suburban box if a beach cottage is more conducive to the story – try out different ideas and as your character comes to life, you will know what type of dwelling suits them.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Photo Assignment #5: Critters

Did the action photo get you stumped last week? I'm still waiting on that hummingbird to appear. We put up the feeder this weekend, and we've seen them several times - just never when I have my camera handy!

Be sure to visit our Pix-N-Pens photo album at Photobucket (password inspired) to view the beautiful photos being submitted! And to share your own adventures.

This week's assignment:

I love photographing and viewing photos of God's creation. So this week, get out and take some photos of His critters, and join me in thanking Him for His creativity!

Then, submit your best photo of the week over at our Pix-N-Pens album and invite your friends to come check out all the entries.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

We Have a Winner!

Last week's special guest judge, Adam Blumer, chose Seema Bagai's short story, "The Unexpected Ride," as winner of our contest.

Adam - thanks for judging the entries and providing comments to all the authors - we appreciate your time and effort very much!

Congratulations, Seema! You'll receive a copy of Adam's debut novel Fatal Illusions.

As promised, here is Seema's story, for your reading pleasure.

The Unexpected Ride
By Seema Bagai

The bang startled Katherine. “What was that?” As the car shook, she gripped the steering wheel and maneuvered to the side of Highway 1. Turning off the ignition, she stepped out to investigate. Her tan pumps crunched in the gravel.

Great. A flat tire. Not today. She slid back into the driver’s seat and reached for her phone. No bars. She folded her arms, and stared at the cloudless sky.

“I thought you wanted me to attend this thing. Now what?” The crashing ocean waves below the deserted highway provided the only reply. Bodega Bay was miles behind and Katherine was unsure of the distance to her destination. A glance at the printed directions inside the invitation offered no clues. She fingered the ivory envelope with her name and address printed in calligraphy.

Within seconds, a pick-up truck pulled up. From the rear view mirror, Katherine glimpsed a neatly dressed man approach. She reached over to make sure the doors were locked.

“Can I help you?” He smiled and pointed to the tire.

Katherine hesitated as she studied the stranger. He doesn’t look like a rapist. Then again, they look like everyone else.

“I can change the flat.”

Squeezing her phone, Katherine cracked open the window. “Thank you.”

“Sure. Pop the trunk and I’ll get the spare. Within seconds, he called out. “Bad news. The spare’s gone.” As he returned, he said, “Gualala is the next town. I could drop you off at a mechanic’s. Someone can bring you back with a tire.”

Katherine glanced at her watch. I’ll be late.

“Where are you headed?” He smiled.

“The lighthouse at Point Arena. A wedding.”

“Me, too. The Powell and Franklin wedding, right? How about if we attend the wedding and afterwards we can see about fixing your car?”

She flinched for a second and nodded. “I hope it’s no trouble.” She straightened her suit, followed the man to his truck, and climbed in.

“No trouble. My name’s Josh.”

She reached out to shake his extended hand and realized she was still gripping the phone, which she dropped into her lap before returning the greeting. “I’m Katherine. Thank you so much.” She smiled as she felt her shoulders relax. She looked past Josh at the gorgeous view of the ragged northern California coast.

“Have you been to the lighthouse before?” Josh asked.

“No. I'm from Illinois. I flew in to San Francisco last night. It's my first time in California.”

“I've been to lots of weddings up there. The place is beautiful. Tom and Chloe chose a great place to get married.”

“Are you on the bride or groom's side?”

“Both.” When she shot him a puzzled look, Josh added, “I'm their pastor and the one performing the ceremony. What about you?”

Katherine flipped her purse over and over in her lap and bit her lower lip. “Groom,” she whispered. “I haven’t seen him in a long time, though.”

“Tom never mentioned being in the Midwest, and you said you’ve never been to California.” Josh paused, hoping his passenger would fill in the blanks. After minutes of silence, he added, “I don’t mean to pry. I’m just curious how you know Tom. I’ve known him for years.”

“Um, well.” Katherine hoped to preserve her makeup from being smudged by the tears pooling beneath her closed eyelids. She fumbled in her bag for a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she blurted, “He’s my son.”

“Wow. I should have figured it out. Tom said his birth mother’s name was Katie. He’s talked about you before, but didn’t say you were coming.”

“It’s a surprise. I’ve kept in touch with Josephine and Marcus over the years. They would send pictures and I’ve even talked to Tom on the phone and sent cards. He asked me to come to his graduations. They wanted me to meet him in person, but I always made excuses. Then I received the wedding invitation, and, after a lot of thinking and praying, I felt like it was time.”

“Why have you waited so long?”

“I was sixteen when I met Tom’s biological father. He was performing card tricks on a street corner in Chicago. One afternoon, he took me to get a pop and we talked and talked. He said he wanted to become the next Houdini. After that day, I would watch him every day after school. Sometimes we’d go to his apartment. He told me he loved me, but one day he forced me to…”

She dug her fingernails into the leather purse and turned to look out her window. Her voice cracked as she continued. “When I found out I was pregnant, I told him and he vanished a week later. The first time I held my baby, I saw his father’s face. Each picture of Tom reminds me of the man who abandoned me.”

“Have you forgiven him? The magician, I mean.”

Katherine nodded. “I have and I’ve asked God’s forgiveness, too.”

“I’m sure Tom and Chloe will be thrilled to finally meet you, and to have you celebrate this day with them.”

“I was going to slip in and out and not tell anyone. But now I don’t have a car, so…”

“Have you also forgiven yourself?”


“You’ve flown halfway across the country to attend your son’s wedding and you aren’t even going to tell him you’re there. God has forgiven you, so what makes you think you can hide in shame? Besides, how do you think Tom will feel when he finds out you came and didn’t introduce yourself?”

The remaining miles passed in silence. The lighthouse appeared on the horizon and Josh steered off the highway. Katherine finally said, “You’re right. I need to face everyone and show my happiness for the couple. I’m kind of glad I got the flat tire.”

“It was a God thing,” Josh said as he parked the truck and they headed for the ceremony site.

About the Author:

Seema Bagai is an elementary school teacher and writer in Southern California. She is currently working on a historical fiction novel. Visit her blog.

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Blog Tour: Who Made You a Princess

I admit - I wasn't too crazy about this book, Who Made You a Princess, in the beginning. Ritzy, glamourous teens are just not my thing, and all the chicky stuff (designers, etc) just flew over this tomboy's head. But I kept reading, reminding myself I'm just a bit older, ahem, than the target audience for this book. Author Shelley Adina created characters I wanted to know more about, and provided enough twists and turns that I couldn't put it down even if I'd wanted to. One scene made me so mad I wanted to clobber one of the characters, and found myself praying for the broken heart of another! But the ending was one of the most satisfying endings I've ever read. I highly recommend this book - for any age. (And now I've got to hunt up the others in the series!)

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Who Made You a Princess

FaithWords (May 13, 2009)


Shelley Adina


Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages.

Shelley is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She writes books about fun and faith--with a side of glamour. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, watching movies, and making period costumes.

The All About Us book series has its own home over on the Hachette website. Stop by and see what the five fabulous girls at Spencer Acadenmy are up to! Series Website.

Her other books in this series includes book one, It's All About Us, Book Two, The Fruit of my Lipstick, and book three, Be Strong & Curvaceous. This present book is book four.


Shani Hanna returns to SpencerAcademy for her senior year after an amazing summer spent with her friends Lissa, Gillian, and Carly. But the best part about summer was meeting Danyel Johnstone. Danyel is cute, smart, cool, and super nice. All Shani has to do is get him to see her as more than just one of the gang.

But when the girls return to school, they find a new addition to the distinguished student body: Prince Rashid al Amir of Yasir, an oil-rich desert kingdom in the Middle East. Prince Rashid moved to California to prepare for an eventual MBA at Stanford ... and to romance his future wife: Shani Hanna!

It turns out, Shani's family and the prince's go back for generations, entwined in tradition, obligation, and family honor. In each generation, members of the two families have expanded their business interests through arranged marriage. Will Shani put aside her feelings for Danyel to pursue her family's wishes? Or will God answer her prayers for an intervention?

To read the first chapter of Who Made You a Princess , click HERE.

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