Friday, January 30, 2009

Entry #4 Flash Fiction: A Visit to My Grandparents

A VISIT TO MY GRANDPARENTS

by Patsy Reckhart

The summer I was sixteen I went to visit my Dads parents in Primghar, Iowa they never knew I exited until my Dad returned home for a visit, he said they were anxious to meet me since he had told them that I looked like his sister. They own a huge ranch several miles from Primghar, I had never been on a ranch before and everything was exciting to me, after we had a huge dinner they showed me my room that I would be staying in for the summer. They told me to get some rest as the next morning we were going to ride out to the north field they as they wanted to check the heard of black angus, there had been reports from some of the other ranchers of a large black cougar that had been following the heard. They we would leave early the next morning just as soon as we had breakfast and they said in the closet was a pair of riding breeches that had belonged to Alice and they would fit me since I was about the same size as she was. I was so excited I could hardly sleep. Early the next morning I heard the rooster crowing so I knew it was time to get up by the time I got down stairs breakfast was on the table, every one ate as fast as the could, they were anxious to get on trail, and when I got outside there was a beautiful mare saddled and waiting for me, they said her name was Molly and she was as gentle as could be. There were several other ranchers waiting since everyone wanted to find that cougar , we had been riding for about an hour when the lead man said it was time to start looking. The cattle were moving around ,when all at once someone said there it is the cattle had seen it and before I knew it my Grandmother said stay close to me ,there is going to be a stampede, we rode along trying to stay far away from the cattle, all at once I heard a shot and then another shot someone had got the cougar and all the rancher gave up a big shout of joy and just as soon as they got all the cattle settled down ,we headed back to the ranch.

Submitted by

Patsy Reckhart



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Entry #3 Flash Fiction: Cougar Dennison

"Cougar Dennison"

by Cleda Edson

It was said that Cougar Dennison came into this world screaming with the same sound and intensity of the sandy wind blowing outside the cabin door that blustery March night, 18 years ago, that of a she cat ready to pounce. She had been living up to the name everyday since, in looks and temperament, and Brody was just about ready to take a switch to the seat of his sister's riding breeches. Instead he took a deep breath, stepped back and sat down. As he watched Cougar, in the midst of the stampede of people hired to set up for her birthday party, he let his mind go back to that night. The night he became, at the age of 10, mother to that screaming bundle of energy. Not only was he present for her entrance, but also for the departure of his precious mother.

With both grandmothers gone and both of his parents being only children, having met on the wagon train coming west, and Cougar being the first female born in 4 generations, that only left one little boy to provide the majority of the childcare. Thank GOD for good neighbors, ones with a love for GOD and a talent for passing that love and their childcare knowledge on to others. Sarah Jenkins was like a second mother to them both, but she had her own brood of 10 to look after and of course Pop had to keep the farm going. Considering all the wonders, joys and heartaches and blessings covering the paste 18 years, Cougar had the right to be a little bossy, for you only have your 18th birthday once. "Happy birthday Little Sis."

Submitted by

Cleda Edson



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PUGS Pointers #9: PUGS Errors Could Cost You Money

PUGS* Pointers
(*Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
by Kathy Ide


In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling (“PUGS”). She also explains why it’s important for writers to polish their PUGS.

Each article in this column will address one item in each area. For more PUGS Pointers or to purchase Polishing the PUGS, the book, see Kathy Ide’s Web site.

PUGS Pointers are based on the current industry-standard references in the United States.

For books:

The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition, © 2003)
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, © 2003)

For articles:

The Associated Press Stylebook (© 2004)
Webster’s New World College Dictionary (© 2002)

Many publishing houses have their own in-house style guides that may differ in some aspects from the standard references. However, unless you’re writing exclusively for one particular publisher, it’s best to follow the standard references and let the in-house proofreaders adjust to house style.


WHY POLISH YOUR PUGS?

PUGS errors could cost you money.

If you decide to hire someone to edit or proofread your manuscript, and you haven’t fixed your punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling, you will be paying extra for someone else to do that for you. And how will you know if that editor is right?


PUNCTUATION TIP:

Commas with Dates, CMS #6.46
Dates in text include a comma only if the month and then the date precede the year.
“On October 10, 1980, Donita submitted her fourth book in the series.”

When using only the month and year (or date, then month, then year), do not use a comma.
“Copyright October 1980” or “On 6 October 1924 Angela arrived in Istanbul.”


USAGE TIP:

back-seat/backseat
For Books: According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:

backseat (noun)
“Henry found a wad of gum on the backseat.”

back-seat (adjective)
“Terrence was a back-seat driver.”


For Articles: Per Webster’s New World College Dictionary, spell as two words (back seat) when used as a noun to mean “a secondary or inconspicuous position.” Example:
“Food takes a back seat to romance when you’re in love.”


GRAMMAR TIP:

Dangling Modifiers

When you start a sentence with a modifying word or phrase, the next thing in the sentence is what must be modified by that word or phrase. A “dangling modifier” is a phrase that does not clearly and sensibly modify the appropriate word.

Example: “Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the Mustang seemed to run better.”
A Mustang cannot change its own oil. So you’d want to rewrite that as:
“Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, Sandra found she got much better gas mileage.”


SPELLING TIP:

babysit/babysat/babysitting/babysitter
One word (no hyphen) according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

For Articles: According to The AP Stylebook (p. 25), should be baby-sit, baby-sitting, baby-sat (one word with a hyphen), except for baby sitter, which is two words, no hyphen.


AUTHOR BIO:

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 Kathy's Web site.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Entry #2 Flash Fiction: Facing the Truth

Facing the Truth

by Kitty Justice

Marlene was still in great shape with only the lines of time visible on her face. Her riding breeches were much too tight for a young lady much less one of her advanced years. As she walked with the stealth of a and grace of a cougar, several new comers to the annual stampede along with all the locals followed her path with their eyes. The Stampede had started back in the fifties as an event to raise money for the elderly of the community. Never in Marlene's wildest dreams did she think it would include her. She refused to think of herself in those terms and dared anyone else to do so either. The event tables for the dinner were littered with place cards holding the names of those who she knew deserved to be there but then with a shock , she saw the undeniable truth in black and white. The card read "Marlene Havershaw " and it was sitting on the Elderly table. Just like the big cat that she reminded everyone when she moved around, she snatched the place card from it's honored place but before she could destroy the offending beacon of age, a steel hand grasped her wrist. She looked up at the tall dark man who would dare touch her and she flashed her dazing smiled and purred "I was only looking at the delicate penmanship."Jake Masters , the Chairman of this years event, knew this to be a bald face lie but accepted it as the truth for now.

Submitted by

Kitty Justice



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What I Have Learned From Others

When I was young, my entire goal in life was to get out of school. I thought that graduating would be the end of instruction. I know now, looking back on it, that that is primarily a teenage frame of mind. Learning is something people do, or are supposed to do, their entire life.

I never tire of hearing new things. But the first step one must take is being able to admit you don't know everything. There is nothing worse than someone who has an answer, or a defense, for every action. Personally speaking, I know I don't know it all. As a result, I have taught myself to feed my desire for facts by gleaning from the wisdom of others. What I know about photography I received by studying the paths of other photographers. I did not model my style of photography after any one individual, but rather, what I do with my camera lens today is the result of tidbits from many people. There is nothing better to help your photography than viewing the work of others. I have spent hours just trolling the web staring at photographs. Even images I don't care for, I learn from when I learn what I don't want to do.

Similarly, who I am today, the decisions I make, the things I say, and the steps I ultimately take are a combination of what I have captured from the knowledge and actions of everyone else whose life has affected mine. My grandmother taught me to love birds as she loved birds, and countless friends on the web taught me how to photograph them and others how to identify them.


Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler


One man, my mentor whom I have discussed before, taught me to appreciate bees and wasps. He and others taught me how to photograph them. And it only took one person on the web a few minutes to recognize this bee species and genus and know that it was a female. I am who I am as a result of what I have taken in from so many others.


Bee, Centris nitida

A Visitor In My Garden, Centris nitida


Knowing I don't know it all is a relief to me. Knowing I don't have to fix everything or always have an answer is another release. Knowing when I make mistakes, I can be forgiven is the final step to true freedom. Being thankful for all I have received is my gift to all those people, nameless or otherwise, who have shared what they know with me.


Polka Dotted Wasp Moth

8-26-2001


Polka Dotted Wasp Moth



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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How to Write Travel Guides and Brochures

More about Travel Writing


Welcome to part two of our travel writing series. Last week we looked at writing a first-hand account of a trip; this week we look at the more formal aspect of producing brochures and guides. This side of the market is more often covered by fulltime writers, employed for the specific purpose of putting together a variety of travel publications. The firms who employ these writers also pay graphic designers to fit the text around scenic photos and colourful backgrounds. The result is a professional glossy brochure or magazine. A freelancer is at a disadvantage without this back up team but there are still opportunities available.

Look for Potential Markets
Go into your local tourism center and have a look at what is on offer. Take home a selection to see how they are written and laid out. Here is a list of the type of businesses that commonly advertise to tourists:

· Car rental firms
· Hotels/motels and other accommodation
· Tours/cruises/day trips
· Extreme sports such as bungy jumping and white water rafting
· Access to natural wonders such as caves and waterfalls
· Entertainment venues
· Restaurants
· Scenic Flights

From your knowledge of the area, analyze if there are any companies that are not represented but have something to offer tourists. These would be a good place to start looking for some work. If you have a friend who’s good at layout and design, maybe you could work as a team. Remember to price printing costs if you decide to go this route.

Contact the Professionals
Track down the companies that churn out travel brochures and send your résumé into them. Offer to do freelance work on smaller, lesser known locations or areas that are not included in their material. You could also offer your services as a stand in if they suddenly need an extra writer.

What is Included in a Guide or Brochure
They are commonly written as a list of facts with a little description thrown in. Some are stand alone brochures for a specific resort while others are general ones, covering a town and surrounding area. These are the things that are generally included:


· Where to stay
· What to do
· What to see
· Where to eat
· Climate and monthly average temperatures and rainfall
· Shopping
· Cultural differences to be aware of
· Historical background
· Maps

Look Beyond the Obvious
Look at putting together something different that will pay you through advertising sold. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:


· Free Activities
· Activities for $25 and less
· Child-friendly activities
· Christchurch for the Disabled
· Extreme Sports in New Zealand
· Beauty Treatments in New Zealand
· Events Calendar for February 2009
· Off the Beaten Track – Secrets from the Locals

Be prepared to do a lot of research and spend time in libraries and interviewing people if you’re determined to get into this line of work. It can be great fun and very rewarding but don’t expect to find huge success overnight. It will be a case of taking things step by step and seizing every opportunity.


Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 and Faithwriters.



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Monday, January 26, 2009

Entry #1 Flash Fiction: In the Nick of Time

In the Nick of Time
by Mary M. Alward


A flash of bronze streaked from a thicket toward the herd of cattle. Luke turned his horse with a flick of the reins.

“Cougar!” he yelled.

Luke knew if the cougar reached the herd, the cattle would panic and stampede. The ranch hands certainly didn’t need that to content with on top of everything else that had happened lately.

He dug his spurs into the sides of his horse and headed toward the cougar at full gallop. His friend, Charley, was riding hard from the opposite direction, rifle poised. Luke hoped that Charley was quick enough to avert disaster.

A shot rang out! The cougar tumbled, regained its footing and vanished behind a cropping of rock.

Luke reined in his horse as he approached Charley and slid from the saddle. Charley dismounted and dusted off his riding breeches.

Luke slapped Charley on the back. “Good work,” he exclaimed. “and just in the nick of time.”

Submitted by

Mary M. Alward


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New Flash Fiction Contest - deadline Friday!

UPDATE: We are changing the length of the flash fiction contest this week. Please make note of it when submitting your entry.

We welcome Miralee Ferrell this week as our special guest judge for our Flash Fiction contest.

You could win an autographed copy of Miralee's book Love Finds You in Last Chance.

Just submit your own HISTORIC flash fiction story - 300 words or less - to enter the contest. But there's a twist. Your flash fiction must include all three of these words/phrases:


cougar

stampede

riding breeches


Submit your story to me by e-mail at tracyruckman[at]gmail[dot]com by Friday, January 30th, midnight for your chance to win! I'll post the stories as they arrive - include a link to your own blog or web site, and I'll include that with your entry if you wish.


Now about our guest judge:


Miralee Ferrell has been writing since 2005 and is the President of Portland ACFW. Two of her books have released and another is coming at the end of 2009. She and Allen, her husband of 36 yrs. live in Washington state and have two grown children. Miralee serves on staff at her church and ministers to women. She and Allen hope to spend a few months a year on their 51' sailboat that Allen is restoring.



About the Book:

It's 1877 and Alexia Travers is alone in the world. Her father has died unexpectedly, leaving her burdened with a heavily mortgaged horse ranch. Marrying one of the town's all-too-willing bachelors would offer an easy solution, but Alex has no interest in marriage. Instead, she dons men's trousers and rides the range, determined to make the ranch a success on her own.

But despite Alex's best efforts, everything seems to go wrong: ranch hands quit, horses are stolen, and her father's gold goes missing. Alex is at her wit's end when wrangler Justin Phillips arrives in Last Chance with his young son, looking for a job. But there seems to be more to Justin's story than he's willing to share. Will Alex ever be able to trust him? More importantly, will the independent woman finally learn to depend on God?









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You Could Win a 2009 Christian Writers' Market Guide

Virginia Smith is giving away a copy of Sally Stuart's newly released 2009 Christian Writers' Market Guide (complete with CD to download on your computer.)

Just visit her Web site and register for a chance to win!

Deadline is January 31st, and you must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada to enter.

Let us know if you win, and we'll post it here!



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Love a Good Pirate Story? Here's One For You!



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Red Siren

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)

by

M.L. Tyndall


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include: The Restitution, The Reliance, The Redemption and The Falcon And The Sparrow.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Lady Faith Westcott has turned her back on God and on man. Having witnessed the hypocrisy in the Church of England, her older sister's abuse at the hand of her husband, and her own mother's untimely death in childbirth, Faith has determined never to marry and to gain enough wealth so she and her two sisters will never have to depend on man or God again.

To that end, though a lady by day, she becomes a pirate by night and begins her sordid career off Portsmouth when she attacks and plunders a merchant ship commanded by the young Dajon Waite. Humiliated at being defeated by a pirate and a woman no less, Dajon returns home without cargo and ship, and his father expels him from the family merchant business.

After a brief sojourn into debased society, Dajon rejoins the Royal Navy, where he finds comfort in the strict rules and redemption through his service to others. Three years later, he is sent to the frontier outpost of Charles Town, South Carolina to deal with the pirate problem. There, he connects with his mentor and old friend, Admiral Westcott, who has just arrived with his three daughters.

Much to Dajon's utter dismay, Admiral Westcott, who is being called away to Spain, asks Dajon to be temporary guardian of his three lovely daughters. One of the ladies seems familiar to him, a striking redhead who immediately sends his heart thumping.

Faith recognizes Captain Waite as the buffoon whose ship she plundered off Portsmouth. Yet, he appears no longer the fool, but instead a tall, handsome and commanding naval officer. Despite her immediate attraction to him, she labels him the enemy, but sparks are guaranteed to fly during the next few months when independent, headstrong and rebellious Faith falls in love with God-fearing honorable, rule-following Dajon-especially when Faith continues her pirating off the Carolina coast while her father is away.

Will Dajon catch her? And what will this man of honor and duty do when he does?

To read the first chapter of The Red Siren, click HERE.





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Friday, January 23, 2009

PUGS Pointers #8: PUGS Errors are Distracting

PUGS* Pointers
(*Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
by Kathy Ide


In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling (“PUGS”). She also explains why it’s important for writers to polish their PUGS.

Each article in this column will address one item in each area. For more PUGS Pointers or to purchase the Polishing the PUGS book, see Kathy Ide’s Web site.

PUGS Pointers are based on the current industry-standard references in the United States.

For books:


The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition, © 2003)
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, © 2003)

For articles:


The Associated Press Stylebook (© 2004)
Webster’s New World College Dictionary (© 2002)

Many publishing houses have their own in-house style guides that may differ in some aspects from the standard references. However, unless you’re writing exclusively for one particular publisher, it’s best to follow the standard references and let the in-house proofreaders adjust to house style.


WHY POLISH YOUR PUGS?

PUGS errors can be distracting.

If I'm reading a book, no matter how good the content or story might be, if there are too many mistakes in punctuation, usage, grammar, or spelling, it's tough for me to get past those enough to concentrate on the book. I have been known to stop reading a book, and put it back on the shelf, if I find too many errors. And there are other readers like me out there.

Don't let PUGS problems distract readers from your message or your story.


PUNCTUATION TIP:

Descriptive Phrases, CMS-15, #7.27 and AP p. 327

An apostrophe is not used when a noun is “attributive”—used in a descriptive sense rather than showing possession.

Rule of thumb: If something is for or of the group, don’t use an apostrophe.
Examples:
a teachers college (a college for teachers)
a writers conference (a conference for writers)
writers guidelines (guidelines for writers)
a used books sale (a sale of used books)


USAGE TIP:

aisle/isle
aisle (noun) is a passage, as in “We met in the grocery store aisle.”
isle (noun) is an island, as in “We spent our honeymoon on a tropical isle.”


GRAMMAR TIP:

more than vs. over

More than is used with figures (numbers).
“More than one thousand people bought Vickie’s book.”

Over refers to spatial relationships.
“The football soared over the receiver’s head.”


SPELLING TIP:

airfare




AUTHOR BIO:

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 Kathy's Web site.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Solitude

Language... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone. ~Paul Johannes Tillich, The Eternal Now

It is not often I get the opportunity to be alone. It's not that I go out of my way to avoid people, okay, truthfully sometimes I do, but I think I am at my best when given time just to be with myself.

Photographs are my escape. It's amazing all the places I can travel in my mind. Often I just sit down at my computer, dial up a site like Webshots and select a location.

What for me makes a great album of travel pictures is variety. I want to see various landscapes, along with macros, and sunsets, and wildlife, and maybe a picture of yourself. Videos are also a nice addition. Sound conveys so much more of a location.
Another key is details. And by details, I'm not talking about the EXIF data. No, I love to read the stories and notes about the trip. The information should be concise, but entertaining. I want to know something about the time of day, location, and how you got there, or what drew you to take that image.

This image was taken at a nearby reptile zoo. It was in an area nearby talking people and yelling children. But I remember when I took it that I was struck by the stillness and silence in that particular spot.

A Silent Place, Gatorland, Orlando, Florida

A Silent Place, Gatorland, Orlando, Florida


Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that's where I renew my springs that never dry up. ~Pearl Buck

I find that my ability to convey the quietness of a place, is usually the result of finding the right composition for that location. I am always preaching about composition. Good composition can make or break an image. It more important than lighting to me. You can have great light but it be a boring image. But in reverse, you can have an interesting image with not so good light.

Knowing what composition to use, is the result of many hours of "seeing" like a camera. By this I mean practice at composing scenes without your camera in your hand. After a while it becomes like 2nd nature to know where to stand and what angle will show that scene to its best advantage.

God's Cathedral, Bald Cypress

God's Cathedral, Bald Cypress, Orlando, Florida


When we cannot bear to be alone, it means we do not properly value the only companion we will have from birth to death - ourselves. ~Eda LeShan

I always say that you have to "be yourself" before you can be anything else. I am the best wife and mother when I know who I really am inside. This means taking my faults and flaws with the rest and being able to forgive "me" when I make mistakes. I then have more confidence in my reactions and less doubt in myself.

Green, Tenoroc Trail, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

Green, Tenoroc Trail, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida


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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Learn how to be a Travel Writer

Travel Writing that Grabs Attention

As promised, we’re having a look at travel writing this week. It’s commonly regarded as a lucrative market that is difficult to break into. The secret is to start small, build a reputation and persevere.

Travel writing can be divided into two broad categories: information dispersal such as you would find in a guide book or brochures and entertaining first person accounts of a trip. There is plenty of scope for both kinds of writing and it is an advantage to become proficient in both styles. Today we’ll focus on first person accounts and next week, on information guides.

Many newspapers and magazines favor the first person approach as it is generally more interesting and if done well, will leave the reader longing to visit the destination. Here are some important things to consider when putting together an article of this type.

Guidelines
Choose a specific publication and look up their guidelines on the internet or request them by post. If none are available, read as many back issues as you can and take note of the style and length they seem to prefer.

Location
If you’re just starting out or haven’t done much traveling, write about your home town. It may not seem interesting to you, but undoubtedly has some features that would be attractive to tourists. Pick up brochures from your local information centre and visit places of historical significance or natural beauty. Take notes and photographs and try out the entertainment that is on offer.

Bring the Experience to Life
Breathe life into your account by brief descriptions. Make the reader taste that curry, breathe that fragrance and touch that icy water with you. Describe the bells that rang out each evening and write about tangles of wildflowers in cream and lavender, clinging to gray mountainsides.

Photographs
Travel writers are normally proficient enough at photography to sell their pictures along with their stories. Study brochures and articles to see what type of shots are preferred and practise taking similar ones. Pictures bring a story to life and often say more than a paragraph of description. I took the photograph at the top of the page while sitting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand. It describes the peace and beauty better than my words could ever do. This photo with the all the gold was taken while I was walking through the gold souk in Dubai a couple of years ago.

What to Include
Introduce as many of these elements as possible when writing a general account:
· Food
· People/culture
· Dress
· History
· Climate
· Flora and fauna
· Things to see and do
· Shopping areas and accommodation


Look for the Unusual
I do a fair amount of travelling and always try and explore the suburban areas of a town or catch public transport to see a different side of a city. On a recent trip, my husband and I were driving around a tiny settlement and spotted a home that had a fence made entirely of wheels. Little snippets of local knowledge like this, all add to the allure of an area.

Where to Start
The most logical way is to write your experiences in such a way that each area leads onto the next in a natural flow. You are imparting knowledge while disguising it in an interesting personal account.

Travel writing can be great fun and even if you only write a few stories each year, it can bring in some extra cash and could possibly pay for your next trip.

Come back next week to find out about writing travel brochures and guides.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 and Faithwriters.


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Monday, January 19, 2009

CFBA: Stand-In Groom

We had no entries in the contest this past week, but be sure to pick up Kaye's book. Stand-In Groom is the CFBA pick for this week, but since I posted my review here last week, I won't repeat it this morning. I loved the book, and encourage you to read it.


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stand-In Groom

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)

by

Kaye Dacus


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there.


She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her website and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?

George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

To read the first chapter of Stand-In Groom, click HERE.

What they're saying about it:

“Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story.”– Romantic Times, 4-Star Review

“Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus’s clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters.”–M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King’s Pirates series

“Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you’re going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignent ride in Stand-In Groom.”–Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder




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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Life in Infrared

One of the biggest and most important rules of photography, and one I have talked about here before, is that photography should be fun. If you stop having fun, then it's time to reassess what your real goal is. For instance, when I realized that entering photo contests made me unhappy and frustrated, I stopped entering them. I began to see that these contests caused me to stop photographing the subjects I enjoyed, the things I wanted most to remember. Instead I was always concentrating on what would win.

I find insects incredibly fascinating. I could sit and watch bees buzz on flowers for hours. When I plant my flowerbeds, I look for plants that draw insects - the more the better.

A Visitor In My Garden

A Visitor In My Garden

And snakes are really cool creatures. I respect them, but I also protect them. They are part of the natural cycle and serve a purpose. You'll never see me kill a snake or watch you do it silently.

Rat Snakes (captive)

Rat Snakes

So what do insects and snakes have to do with infrared photography? Ah, but here's my point. Infrared photography is FUN. Just as watching bees buzz or finding a snake crawling in my garden would really make me happy, so does infrared photography.

I am certainly not the expert on how to take infrared and can only speak from my own experience. But the basic rules for infrared follow the rules for good black and white images. Infrared photography is all about contrasting light, shapes, and textures. The lack of color in the image means there has to be something else that draws the eye.

I find it best to include solid objects. Architecture, trees, and fences are good subjects. Infrared light always turns foliage white, so too much foliage will create a lack of depth in the image.

Plantation House

Plantation House


Oak Hammock, Kissimmee State Park, Lake Wales, Florida


Oak Hammock, Kissimmee State Park, Lake Wales, Florida


Water and skies also make great subjects. This is because, like buildings and trees, they turn black. The contrast between dark and light is really what makes infrared so appealing to me. In some ways it makes my color photographs better by forcing me to concentrate on the exposure and composition.

Docks, Lake Kissimmee

Docks, Lake Kissimmee, Florida


So, okay, you don't like bugs and you hate snakes. Maybe infrared doesn't appeal to you either. Then go out and find what does! Each of us has a unique vision. What my photographs speak of will not match what yours do.

Go make your own photographs and above all make them FUN!

* For my infrared photographs I use a Hoya R72 circular filter and always a tripod.

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

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


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sweet Reading!

Our 2nd CFBA book this week is one sweet read. My hubby started teasing me because I carried it around the house reading while I did chores. Get it - you'll love it.





This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sweetwater Gap

Thomas Nelson (December 16, 2008)

by

Denise Hunter


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A story of new beginnings from best-selling Romance for Good™ author Denise Hunter.

When Josephine's family insists she come home to help with the harvest, the timing works. But her return isn't simple benevolence-she plans to persuade the family to sell the failing orchard.

The new manager's presence is making it difficult. Grady MacKenzie takes an immediate disliking to Josephine and becomes outright cantankerous when she tries talking her family into selling. As she and Grady work side by side in the orchard, she begins to appreciate his devotion and quiet faith. She senses a vulnerability in him that makes her want to delve deeper, but there's no point letting her heart have its way-he's tied to the orchard, and she could never stay there.

A brush with death tears down Josephine's defenses and for the first time in her life, she feels freedom-freedom from the heavy burden of guilt, freedom to live her life the way it was intended, with a heart full of love.

To read the first chapter of Sweetwater Gap, click HERE.





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More Thoughts about Writing in 2009

Inspirational Thoughts on Focusing Your Work

I haven’t written a thing for three whole days. That’s not because I’m lazy, but because I’m enjoying a short break away with my husband. It’s midsummer in New Zealand and we’ve spent the last few days cruising the fjords, riding cable cars, paddling in lakes and driving through a dozen mountain villages.

I find it’s good to have a break from writing every so often. It often allows fresh creativity to arise and new purpose to surface. I found both of these in a most unexpected place.

While visiting a little town called Wanaka, we stopped in at a place called Puzzling World. This is a fun centre where children and adults can play with all kinds of puzzles, brain teasers and 3D games. It also includes rooms full of pictures and models that create the most amazing illusions. My first thoughts came to me while in the Tilted House.

A new Perspective
The Tilted House is a series of rooms whose floors have been sloped at a fairly steep angle. Steps, running water and furniture have been arranged to match the true horizontal level and the effect is downright weird. My head was spinning and people were hanging onto walls as they moved around. Have a look at the picture of Kevin and you’ll get a glimpse of what I mean. The painted man behind him is holding a plumb line showing the true level.

While I was moving through those rooms, my whole perspective was altered. I imagined what it would be like to live in a house that had floors like that. It was a new, unexplored world and while I would not recommend it as a life style, it reminded me that we tend to live in such a narrow field of experience. My prayer is that God will stretch me this year. That I will venture into new territories in my writing and be willing to experiment and try new things.

Finding our Way
The next thing that caught my attention was the maze that is attached to Puzzling World. This photo shows about a quarter of it. The goal was to find our way through the passages until we reached the blue tower in the corner. A big sign informed us to allow at least an hour to do this.

As we set off, I was reminded of what I shared in last week’s column: that God gives us a compass, not a map. Kevin and I were amazed (sorry) at how difficult it was to find our way through the passages. Dead ends, loops and no entries blocked us all over the place. Even so, we kept progressing towards the blue tower. Isn’t our writing often like that? We may find an opportunity and embrace it, only for it to fade away after a few months. Maybe we try our hand at a certain type of writing to find it doesn’t really suit us. However, the blue tower of our hopes and dreams is still sitting there, challenging us to reach it.

God will Help us
Have another look at the maze and note the bridges dotted here and there. When we climbed these, we got a view of the maze from the top and were able to plan which way to go next. I believe that God has given all of us a blue tower to work towards. The bridges are the time we spend with Him, when He shows us what to do next and inspires us to press on.

Define Your Dreams
I want to encourage you to define what your blue tower is. Do you want to double your output this year? Is there a specific website or publication that you would like to be published in? Do you want to complete a writing course that you started months ago? Once you have pinpointed your goal, set off towards it. You will encounter problems, dead ends and difficulties, but keep the tower in sight and keep heading in the right direction. You’ll be amazed when you look back and see the progress you’ve made.

Next week I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the different types of travel writing. Make a note to pop over for a look next Wednesday.



Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 and Faithwriters.




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Monday, January 12, 2009

First Contest of the Year!

I'm very excited to announce our first contest and first guest judge of the year. We are celebrating the release of Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus. The book was my "Sunday treat" yesterday, and treat it was. I found myself sighing with pleasure many times throughout the book - it was touching, tender, and sweet, but had enough conflict and drama to keep me turning those pages. About 3/4 of the way through I realized I was almost finished with the book, and I actually felt sad. I wasn't ready to leave Anne and George - and the rich, warm setting of their story - behind.


I became acquainted with Kaye in 2005 at the ACFW conference, and have followed her path to publication over on her blog. She works hard, keeps an inspiring positive attitude, and encourages countless of other writers along the way. I'm excited for her, proud of her and her beautiful, excellent book, and highly recommend you read, enjoy, and learn from her any way you can.

About Stand-In Groom:

When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she’s found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her “dream” quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman? George came to Louisiana to plan his employer’s wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancée when he’s so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two find a happy ending?

Now for the contest:

Submit to me by e-mail a humorous wedding scene (rehearsal/wedding/reception) where someone from the bride's or groom's romantic past shows up. Scene can be 1000-1500 words, and must be submitted by Friday, midnight. (January 16th.) Block-style paragraphs are preferred, but not required.

Entries will be posted as they arrive, and a winner will be announced over the weekend. The winner will receive an autographed copy of Stand-In Groom.

More about our judge:

Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there. She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her blog, Write Place Write Time, and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.

Kaye was born in Louisiana but has lived in several different areas of the country including Alaska, New Mexico, and Northern Virginia. Since 1996, she has called Nashville, Tennessee, home.

In May 2004, Kaye graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration on Professional Writing, as a part-time student while working full-time. After graduating, she immediately enrolled in graduate school. In June 2006, she received her Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Her thesis novel, Happy Endings Inc., is now her first published novel, re-titled Stand-In Groom.

Professionally, Kaye has worked in the newspaper and book publishing industries for the past fifteen years. She currently works as a freelance editor and copywriter for several publishing houses.

Romance novels were amongst the first books she ever read, so it was natural when she started writing as a young teen, that would be what she penned. Stand-In Groom, in addition to being her master’s thesis, was her fourth complete manuscript. But she has hundreds of files on her computer of snippets and starts and synopses of story ideas dating back to the mid-1980s.

Kaye is a member of Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville, where she sings in the choir. She’s a Jane Austen fanatic and loves watching and discussing British costume-drama movies with friends. When time permits, she’ll usually be found traveling to visit family in Arkansas or Louisiana. Her grandmother and parents are her biggest supporters and where she draws her strength and encouragement to stick with it even when the road gets rough. She has one sister (and brother-in-law), five nephews, and a thirteen-year-old niece, who is also a writer.





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KISS





This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

KISS

Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)

by

Ted Dekker and Erin Healy


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), Obsessed, Renegade, and Chaos.

*******************

Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Gilbert Morris, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.

She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk."

Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a Colorado-based consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She and her husband, Tim, are the proud parents of two children.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Let me tell you all I know for sure. My name. Shauna.

I woke up in a hospital bed missing six months of my memory. In the room was my loving boyfriend-how could I have forgotten him?-my uncle and my abusive stepmother. Everyone blames me for the tragic car accident that left me near death and my dear brother brain damaged. But what they say can't be true-can it?

I believe the medicine is doing strange things to my memory. I'm unsure who I can trust and who I should run from. And I'm starting to remember things I've never known. Things not about me. I think I'm going crazy.

And even worse, I think they want to kill me.

But who? And for what? Is dying for the truth really better than living with a lie?

Sometimes dying with the truth is better than living with a lie.

After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion.

Her estranged father, a senator bidding on the White House, and her abusive stepmother blame Shauna for the tragedy, which has left her beloved brother severely brain damaged. Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it.

In this blind game of cat and mouse that stares even the darkest memories in the face, Shauna is sure of only one thing: if she remembers, she dies.

To read the first chapter of KISS, click HERE.

What people are saying about KISS:

“The human brain could actually be the real final frontier—we know so little about it and yet it drives the world as we know it. So when authors like Erin and Ted bravely explore these mysterious regions, going into complex places like memory and soul and relationships, I become hooked. The creativity of this suspenseful story is sure to hook other readers as well. Very memorable!”~Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice and The Other Side of Darkness

“Dekker and Healy prove a winning team in this intriguing, imaginative thriller.”~James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Try Darkness

“Kiss by Erin Healy and Ted Dekker is a superb thriller that hooked me from the first sentence. The original plot kept me guessing, and I may never look at a kiss the same way again. I’ll be watching for the next book!”~Colleen Coble, author of Cry in the Night

“The writing team of Erin Healy and Ted Dekker has taken me through a page-turner with Kiss. It’s one of those books that you think about when you’re not reading it. I highly recommend it, especially if you don’t mind staying up late because you can’t put the book down!”~Rene Gutteridge, author of Skid and My Life As a Doormat











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