Friday, February 27, 2009

PUGS POINTERS #13: PUGS Errors can Tarnish your Reputation

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”).


WHY POLISH YOUR PUGS?

PUGS errors can give Christians and Christianity a poor reputation with the world.

Several months ago, James Dobson expressed concern over a children’s video called “We Are Family.” Keith Olbermann, a nationally known commentator, derided Dr. Dobson for getting so upset about this video. He received a couple of thousand e-mails from concerned Christians who agreed with Dr. Dobson’s views. But he said that many of those e-mails contained gross typos and errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. He included a few examples on his Web site, using them as “proof” of how stupid Christians are. And yes, he used the word stupidity.

The world watches Christians carefully, just waiting for us to make mistakes, actually hoping we will make mistakes so they can “prove” that Christians are stupid and, therefore, that Christianity is only for the uneducated and easily duped.

As Christian authors, we are even more closely scrutinized and criticized than the general public. Many people in this country refuse to buy or read Christian books because they don’t think our books are as well written as those that are published by the secular press. They consider Christian writers and publishers “inferior.” And if they find errors in a Christian book, they will use those errors as “proof” of their point.

Let’s not give them any fuel for the fire of that argument. Polish your PUGS so that your work reflects positively on your faith and your Lord.


PUNCTUATION TIP:

In this column, and in my Polishing the PUGS book, I have stated that US book publishers use The Chicago Manual of Style for punctuation rules, and that newspapers and magazines go by The Associated Press Stylebook. A fellow staff member at a writers’ conference once told me that many magazines she’s worked with are using The Chicago Manual of Style rather than The Associated Press Stylebook. She said the AP style is mostly used for newspapers and journalistic-type magazines. (We learn something new every day, don’t we?)


USAGE TIP:

affect/effect

affect (always a verb, except for one use as a noun in psychology) means “to influence” or "to cause a response.”

“This article will affect the reader’s thinking.”

affect (verb) can also mean “to assume,” “to be given to,” or “to pretend.”

“Deborah affected a silly manner of speaking.”

effect (noun) means “result” or “accomplishment.”

“What was the effect of this appeal for money?”

effect (verb) means “to cause” or “to bring about.”

“The new manager will effect major changes in our sales methods.”

effects (plural noun) means “goods” or “property.”

“The deceased man’s effects were willed to charity.”


GRAMMAR TIP:

different from vs. different than
Things and people are different from each other.

“This guy is different from the others I’ve met,” Becky said.
“Writing is different from speaking,” Colleen said.

Different than is a convenient shortcut for “different from the way in which.” It can be used when comparing action verbs.

He acts different than he talks.


SPELLING TIPS:

handmade (one word, no hyphen)

homemade (one word, no hyphen)

man-made (hyphenated)


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.

For more PUGS Pointers, see Kathy Ide’s Web site. Or get her book Polishing the PUGS, available here.



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, February 26, 2009

Gone Squirrely

I am happiest, I think, when I am puttering about in my yard. I love planting things and watching them grow. The multifarious colors of a variety of flowers brighten up the soil, drawing in all sorts of interesting flying creatures. (Sigh) Gardening is so satisfying.

Osteopermum

Osteospermum


And I love feeding the birds. There is something so happy about a bird. Their musical trills are payment enough for the cost of the seed. The anticipation of what might show up at the feeder, what might fly overhead, begins each day anew. No feather is unwelcome in my yard.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird


But I especially love the squirrels. This love came after I raised an orphaned pair a few years back. When they were old enough I released them back into the "wild", but they hung about for a time. Each day one or the other would return and knock on my door begging for pecans. I looked forward to those knocks. As time went by, they came less and less. Eventually, they didn't come at all. I was sad, but that was, after all, what I'd released them to do.

My Boy

My Boy, Gray Squirrel


The other day I went out to photograph the azaleas. Azaleas are a sure sign of spring here in Central Florida. The pink and lavender formosas each spring dress themselves for a few days in frilly flowers as if they are going to a wedding.

Plenty of Pink

Plenty of Pink


Imagine the smile on my face when I was greeted by one of my small whiskered friends. Flowers forgotten, I stood instead, losing track of time, and admired a squirrel, and he, in turn, stared back at me. For just that moment, it was the two of us each observing the other.

A Friendly Face

A Friendly Face


I suppose I am mostly a back yard photographer. Oh, I read of photographers who travel the world and bring back amazing stories, images of magnificent buildings, and fantastic cultures. And I too am drawn in by the faces of the people, their landscapes, and their seasons.

However, when it comes down to the grassroots of it, I am happiest at home. Just give me a chair and an hour to watch the clouds float by, to count the birds whisking overhead, to close my eyes and listen to the sound of the wind. I think then I am truly at my best.


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Suzanne Wiliams Photography
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to Write for the Internet

Writing for Websites

It is important to remember that the internet is a completely different market to printed publications. Different rules apply and readers are looking for quick answers to their questions. Here are some basic guidelines of how to write effectively for the web.

Choosing Titles and Subtitles
State the subject matter as simply and clearly as possible so the titles and subtitles will be picked up by search engines. If you’re writing about cat behavior, a suitable title would be Domestic Cats and Behavior Problems. Don’t go for word plays or clever titles such as Moggy Misdemeanours as these will not feature if someone is searching for problem cats.

Content
Internet readers prefer short passages of text that summarize facts. This is not the place for long, rambling essays or pages of detail. Make sure your work is accurate and list references or links where appropriate.

Layout
It has been said that people read 25% more slowly on the screen as opposed to a printed page. For this reason, it helps to break the article into brief points and separate them with spaces and subtitles. This is easier on the eyes and helps readers to keep their place.

Conclusion
This should be a short paragraph that sums up and confirms the content of the article while ending it off in a satisfying manner.

Keywords
Depending on the website, there may be a facility to enter keywords and phrases from the article. These are picked up by search engines and can affect the amount of traffic that finds its way to your writing. Going back to the cat example, a suitable phrase could be problems with cats scratching furniture. This will yield better results than cats scratching or cats and furniture. Enter as many phrases as possible that relate directly to your article.

Photographs
Pictures add interest to your work and if appropriately titled, can also attract traffic. Make sure they are small enough to allow the page to load quickly, even if the reader is on a dial-up connection.

Next week I’ll be looking at some of the online article directories that invite people to submit their writing. I’ll be covering points such as how they work, is it possible to make money from them and the best way to get started? Make a note to pop back next Wednesday and find out if this is something you could do.


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


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New Coming of Age Novel: Daisy Chain



This week, the

is introducing

Zondervan (March 1, 2009)

by
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting.
She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.
Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).
Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs(nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).
Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries.
Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance from a small Texas town in 1973 spins three lives out of control—Jed, whose guilt over not protecting his friend Daisy strangles him; Emory Chance, who blames her own choices for her daughter’s demise; and Ouisie Pepper, who is plagued by headaches while pierced by the shattered pieces of a family in crisis.
In this first book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper has a sickening secret: He’s convinced it’s his fault his best friend Daisy went missing. Jed’s pain sends him on a quest for answers to mysteries woven through the fabric of his own life and the lives of the families of Defiance, Texas. When he finally confronts the terrible truths he’s been denying all his life, Jed must choose between rebellion and love, anger and freedom.
Daisy Chain is an achingly beautiful southern coming-of-age story crafted by a bright new literary talent. It offers a haunting yet hopeful backdrop for human depravity and beauty, for terrible secrets and God’s surprising redemption.
To read the first chapter of Daisy Chain, click HERE.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Contest Reminder and Update

Just two weeks left in the Write Integrity Editorial Services contest, where we're giving away manuscript edits, blog tours, Web designs, and even an Image Package valued at $1000! Thanks to everyone who has entered so far - this is going to be a grand contest!

Here are the prizes we're giving away on Saturday, March 7th:


Prize #1: One "The Works" edit - up to 100,000 words (up to $1,200 value)

Prize #2: One "Conference Special" edit of your first three chapters and synopsis ($200 value)

Prize #3: One Web site design - up to 5 pages - ($500 value)

Prize #4: One Blog tour #2 ($350 value)

Prize #5: One year free Web hosting ($95.40 value)

Prize #6: One "One-Sheet" Design ($50 value)

Anyone who completes four or more items from the list below will also be entered into a drawing for:


Prize #7: One Image Package ($1,000 value.) This package includes a logo design, domain name, Web site, business card and letterhead design, and one year of free web hosting. Please e-mail Tracy a list of the four tasks completed (and provide links if applicable to that task) and you will be entered to win this prize package.


How to enter to win:

You'll receive one entry for completing each task listed below - only one entry is required for a chance to win one of the first six prizes, but you'll receive an extra entry for each one you complete:

Visit Write Integrity Editorial Services to:

1) Purchase any one of our services. If you purchase more than one service, you'll receive an entry for each.

2) Refer someone who purchases one of our services. (Tell the person you refer to let us know who referred them when they hire us.)

3) Sign up for our quarterly newsletter on the Sign Up! page at Write Integrity. This special newsletter will alert you to any specials or promotions we'll be offering each quarter.

4) Blog about the opening of Write Integrity and our contest.

5) Place a link to Write Integrity on your blog and/or Web site.

6) Place a Write Integrity blinkie button on your blog and/or Web site. You'll find the code over to the right of this post, at the top of the column.

7) Post about Write Integrity's contest on one or more social networks, like Facebook, MySpace, Shoutlife, Twitter, or others.

All entries must be received by NOON on March 6th.


For items 4-7, you must e-mail me a link to the post to receive your entry.

A random drawing will be held from all qualified entries on March 7th and the winners will be notified by e-mail, and then announced here and on Write Integrity. If you win one of the prizes, you can schedule to receive it anytime through the end of the year - you don't have to use the prize right away, although it would be great if you could provide an estimated date so we can add it to to our calendar.

Prizes only will be awarded - no cash subsitutions. If you win a prize you don't need, but need one of our other services instead, we'll work something out!

Thanks for celebrating our Virtual Grand Opening with us! I hope you'll help spread the word.



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Friday, February 20, 2009

PUGS Pointers #12: Competition is Tough

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”).


WHY POLISH YOUR PUGS?

Competition is tough.

I love to sing, and my voice sounds delightful when I’m alone in my car with the radio blaring. But I wouldn’t dream of asking someone to pay to hear me belt out a tune. Not without taking some serious singing lessons.

If you’re writing just for family and friends, it may not matter so much whether every comma is in exactly the right place. But if you want to get your book published in today’s highly competitive commercial market, you need every edge you can get. If you expect people to buy what you write, you need to take the time to learn how to do it right.



PUNCTUATION TIP:

Pluralizing Words

Do not use an apostrophe for most plural words. Examples:
dos and don’ts no ifs, ands, or buts
ABCs VIPs
the 1980s the Joneses
five Toms, four Dicks, and three Harrys
“I had to go to two DMVs to get my license renewed.”

Exception: To avoid confusion, pluralize single lowercase letters as well as abbreviations with two or more periods (or that have both capital and lowercase letters) by adding apostrophe-s. Examples:
x’s and y’s a’s and b’s
p’s and q’s M.A.’s and PhD’s


(See The Chicago Manual of Style 15th edition, #7.6–7.16, 7.65 and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style 14th edition p. 51 and The Associated Press Stylebook pp. 190–192)


USAGE TIP:

aid/aide
aid (verb) means “to provide what is useful or necessary.”
“One nurse can aid several patients during one shift.”
aid (noun) means:
“a subsidy granted for a specific purpose” (Example: “financial aid”)
“the act of helping” or “help given” (“providing aid,” as in money or supplies)
“something by which assistance is given” (Example: “an aid to understanding”)

aide (noun) means:
“a person who acts as an assistant.”
“The aide helped the teacher hand out tests to the students.”

GRAMMAR TIP:

that vs. which
That is used with “restrictive clauses,” phrases that narrow a category or identify a particular item in that category.
“Manuscripts that are not solicited by the publisher will be returned to sender.”

In this example, the category is manuscripts. The “not solicited” phrase narrows the category to unsolicited manuscripts. If you took out the phrase, you’d have “Manuscripts will be returned to sender,” which would be different.

Which is used with “nonrestrictive clauses,” phrases that add something about an item already identified.
“My manuscript, which was not solicited by the publisher, was returned to me.”

The item—”my manuscript”—is already identified. The “not solicited” phrase adds additional information. You could take out the phrase without changing the meaning of the sentence. “My manuscript was returned to me.”

NOTE: Which clauses require commas; that clauses do not use commas.



SPELLING TIP:

dining (I see this spelled with two n’s all the time, probably because dinning is also a word, so spell check doesn’t catch it.)



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.

For more PUGS Pointers, see Kathy Ide’s Web site. Or get her book Polishing the PUGS, available here.



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.





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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Finding My Place

I was reading an online debate today between a group of nature photographers. And while the subject of the debate isn't really important, I was struck instead by the numbers. Each photographer participating in the debate had their opinion, their way of taking photographs, their methods of processing. Each was so sure of how they felt. Take, for instance, the eternal argument about using RAW or JPEG. How many people have weighed in with their thoughts on that one? And will it ever be resolved? Probably not.

I do have my own thoughts and opinions, along with everyone else. But in amongst the number of everyone else with thoughts and opinions, I often feel rather small. There I stand with my little point-and-shoot, chasing after bugs and butterflies that I often cannot identify. Where do I fit in? What is my place?

Female IO moth, 9-5-2005

Female IO Moth


Colossians 3:12 states, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering..." There is something to be said for humbleness, for meekness, and kindness. The "biggest" people are often those with the smallest opinions.

I have met some really great people, people who have found a way to make their life fit in to that of others, those who give of themselves without measure or thought, who would inconvenience themselves to serve another. And when I am feeling small and insignificant in the size of all the debates, arguments, and opinions rotating in the atmosphere, these people are an encouragement to me. By living their lives in an example of humility, by being kind to someone "smaller" than themselves, I am uplifted and reminded of true purpose.

The Simple Things, 10-5-2003

The Simple Things


I want everyone to love photography as much as I do, and I strive each day to communicate through photos and words how beautiful and marvelous the world remains. My true heart's desire is for people to see that spring still comes, flowers still open, and the sun still sets in as many marvelous colors as it has before. Above all, I want to do this by being kind, being humble. I pray someone else can say about me, the things I say about those whose lives have inspired my own.


People at Sunset, Longboat Key, Florida, 7-27-2001

People at Sunset, Longboat Key, Florida


Each of us has such a small corner of the planet to live in, and perhaps my place is to share what I can of my tiny spot in it. Never feel your life is too small to not share it with another. Something you do will affect someone else, but it's how you will be remembered that matters the most.

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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, February 18, 2009

When Writing Leads to Speaking in Public

Are You Comfortable when Addressing a Crowd

Many people start off as writers and find that their work opens other doors for them. One of these doors may be invitations to speak to the public. Of course this can be intimidating - especially if you are a stereotypical writer who loves their own company and can spend hours alone, in front of the computer. Even if you are more outgoing, the thought of speaking in public can still be daunting. Before declining such invitations, I’d encourage you to consider they may be part of God’s greater plan for your life.

Words have Power
Words are creative. God spoke the universe into existence and we can influence others by the words we speak and write. Positive words can motivate, heal and comfort whereas negative words can cause anger, destruction and hopelessness. As writers we have a precious gift in that our words have the potential to change lives – whether spoken or written.

Some People are not Readers
That’s just how it is. God has given us all different abilities and some people absorb information better by hearing it spoken. For that reason, a writer who speaks will often reach people who would never read their books or articles. Invitations to address groups are opportunities to share our message and bring about positive change in people’s lives.

Seize Opportunities to Speak in Public
See them as God-given platforms whether you are speaking to a packed auditorium or a small group in someone’s home. You’ve been invited to speak because someone believes you have something to share that can touch and change people’s lives.

One Engagement Leads to Another
Most of the speaking I do is to Christians and in a church context. Early last year, however, I was invited to speak to a group of 100 retired people. The president of the club noticed I often wrote articles about Zimbabwe for our local paper and invited me to share on my experiences while living in Africa. As a result of that afternoon, I received another four invitations to speak to other clubs. These are secular groups but I wove my testimony into my story and people’s lives were touched.

Speaking is Closely Related to Writing
In fact some people pursue a career as speech writers. Putting together a talk is very similar to constructing an article. It needs an introduction, a middle and a conclusion. Throw in a few anecdotes, add some expression and there you go. Of course the practical application is not as easy as it sounds but like any skill, practice helps and the more you do it the easier it will become. Try and use your notes as a guide as there is nothing worse than a talk that is simply read. People want the speaker to use the whole stage and be expressive and lively as well as interesting and cohesive.

If God gives you the opportunity to speak, He will make sure you have the ability to do so. Embrace any chance you get and dedicate your words to Him. You’ll be amazed at what unfolds before you.


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



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Monday, February 16, 2009

Like Family Stories? You'll Love This One About Sisters!

This week, we're honored to welcome once again Virginia Smith as our special guest. Ginny's on "blog tour" this week, promoting her wonderful new book Age Before Beauty, and we're giving away a copy with a fun new contest!

Age before Beauty, the 2nd book in the Sister-to-Sister series, is a sweet, heart-warming tale about one of three sisters. Book One in the series, Stuck in the Middle, followed the life of middle sister Joan, while Age before Beauty allows us a peek at older sister Allie, a new mom who wants to stay home with the baby. The characters become family, and you'll cheer for them, cry over them, and celebrate with them. And thankfully, Ginny has announced the title for the 3rd book, scheduled to release in February 2010 - Third Time's a Charm involves us in younger sister Tori's life. I can't WAIT!

About the Contest:

To enter: Submit to Tracy by e-mail a funny story, 200 words or less, about (1) being a new parent, (2) something that happened on the job, or (3) an incident with your mother-in-law. Entries will be posted as they arrive; deadline is Friday, February 20th, midnight. Winner will be selected in a random drawing from all qualifying entries and notified by e-mail. We'll announce the winner here at some point over the weekend. The winner will receive an autographed copy of Age before Beauty.

About the book:

Desperate to stay home with her baby, Allie Harrod launches a new career. Sure, she dropped out of Girl Scouts because she was lousy at cookie sales, but makeup is different, right? She'll do anything to make enough money to cover her share of the household bills, but how can she focus on her business when her list of problems is growing? None of her pre-baby clothes fit, her checking account is dwindling, and her mother-in-law has decided to move in! To top it off, her husband's attractive coworker suddenly needs his help every weekend. Middle sister Joan insists that God has the answers to all her problems, but Allie isn't so sure. Can she really trust him?

You can view a fun book trailer at Ginny's Web site.


About the author:

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted ten novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom, Stuck in the Middle, and her newest releases, A Taste of Murder and Age before Beauty.

In March of 2008 she was named "Writer of the Year" at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God's truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, "Biblical Truths in Star Trek."

Visit Ginny's Web site.

About the Tour:

Ginny's blog tour is the debut tour for Write Integrity Editorial Services. We hope you'll visit the other blogs participating in the tour - tell them Tracy sent you!


Christian Work at Home Moms

Lynda Schab's On the Write Track

A Mom Who Loves Reviews

LillePunkin

The Life of a Home Mom

Frugal Living

Gone Frugal

Bibliophile's Retreat

Sips 'n Cups Cafe

I Need to Read

Projecting A

Kindred Thought

Jennifer Tiszai

Stamped with Grace

Amy Barkman

Book Bargains and Previews

My Reading Room

Mountain Breeze Writer

Christian Book Scout

Books, Movies, Chinese Food

Edgy Inspirational Author

Pix-N-Pens

Relz Reviewz

Vicki Tiede's Grace Lessons

Camy's Loft

Cara's Musings

Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Artistic Blogger

Sherry Kyle

AusJenny

My Friend Amy

Write by Faith




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Fun New Read

Mary Connealy became one of my top favorite authors with Calico Canyon, and this week, we're celebrating the sequel's release: Gingham Mountain.



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Gingham Mountain

Barbour Books (February 1, 2009)

by

Mary Connealy



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary's writing journey is similar to a lot of others. Boil it down to persistence, oh, go ahead and call it stubbornness. She just kept typing away. She thinks the reason she did it was because she was more or less a dunce around people—prone to sit silently when she really ought to speak up(or far worse, speak up when she ought to sit silently).

So, Mary had all these things, she wanted to say, in her head; the perfect zinger to the rude cashier, which you think of an hour after you’ve left the store, the perfect bit of wisdom when someone needs help, which doesn’t occur to you until they solve their problems themselves, the perfect guilt trip for the kids, which you don’t say because you’re not an idiot. She keeps all this wit to herself, much to the relief of all who know her, and then wrote all her great ideas into books. It’s therapeutic if nothing else, and more affordable than a psychiatrist.

So then a very nice, oh so nice publishing company like Barbour Heartsong comes along and says, “Hey, we’ll pay you money for this 45,000 word therapy session.” That’s as sweet as it gets.

Mary's journey to publication is the same as everyone’s except for a few geniuses out there who make it hard for all of us. And even they probably have an Ode to Roast Beef or two in their past.

There are two other books in this Lassoed In Texas Series: Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

All aboard for a delightful, suspense-filled romance, where a Texan is torn between his attraction to a meddlesome schoolmarm and the charms of a designing dressmaker. When Hannah Cartwright meets Grant, she's determined to keep him from committing her orphans to hard labor on his ranch. How far will she go to ensure their welfare?

Grant Cooper is determined to provide a home for the two kids brought in by the orphan train as runs head-on into the new school marm, who believes he's made slave labor out of eight orphaned children. He crowds too many orphans into his rickety house, just like Hannah Cartwright's cruel father. Grant's family of orphans have been mistreated too many times by judgmental school teachers. Now the new schoolmarm is the same except she's so pretty and she isn't really bad to his children, it's Grant she can't stand.

But he is inexplicably drawn to Hannah. Can he keep his ragtag family together while steering clear of love and marriage? Will he win her love or be caught in the clutches of a scheming seamstress?

To read the first chapter of Gingham Mountain, click HERE.







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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Free Online Course for Work at Home Moms

Work-at-home moms have a special place in my heart, and when I learned about the opportunity below, I knew I had to share it with you. The ladies over at Christian Work at Home Moms are offering a FREE course that will help WAHMs start, build, and/or market their own home business. The course is even designed to help you explore the different options available for home businesses.

Check it out, and if you participate, please e-mail Tracy with a review of your experiences, and we'll post a follow-up. We'd love to share your successes!


CWAHM.com Announces Work At Home 101
A FREE online 3 week course designed to give moms a work-at-home starting place.

Most people are curious about working from home. We know others do it, but aren't sure how they do it.

CWAHM.com's Work at Home 101 is designed to give you an overview of the choices available that will allow you to work from home. This online course will give you the starting place you've been searching for.

Best of all - it's completely free! CLICK HERE!

Some of the things covered during Work at Home 101:

* Where to Start
*
Telecommuting
*
Home-Based Businesses
*
Avoiding Scams
*
Entrepreneur Tips
*
AND MUCH MORE!


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Friday, February 13, 2009

PUGS Pointers #11: Polished Pugs Impress Publishers

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



WHY POLISH YOUR PUGS?

Polished PUGS impress publishers.

Even if you’ve already had one or more manuscripts accepted for publication, you can really impress your publisher if you “polish the PUGS” before submitting your work. Your editors will be able to focus more on content if they don’t have to worry about the mechanics. And the less time your proofreaders have to spend fixing the mistakes, the less money your publisher will have to spend on that part of the process . . . which will be one more advantage in your favor when you pitch your next manuscript!


PUNCTUATION TIP:

Double and Single Quotation Marks
Double quotation marks are used for short quotes within the text (called a “run-in quotation).
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3 NRSV).

Single quotation marks are used to indicate quotes within quotes.
“And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matthew 4:19 NASB).

Note: There is no other use for a single quotation mark.

(See The Chicago Manual of Style 15th edition, #11.33 and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style 14th edition p. 344 and The Associated Press Stylebook pp. 334–336)


USAGE TIP:

accept/except
accept (always a verb) means “to receive,” “to agree with,” or “to say yes to.”
“Bethany House did not accept Carol’s proposal.”

except (verb) means “to omit,” “to exempt,” or “to exclude.”
“Joe was excepted from the list of those invited.”
except (preposition) means “other than.”
“Everyone except Nanette had the wrong answer.”


GRAMMAR TIP:

anxious vs. eager
anxious indicates fear, nervousness, extreme uneasiness, or worry (anxiety).
“Debbie was anxious about the exam.”

eager means you are enthusiastic, ready to begin.
“Brooke was eager to start writing her new novel.”


SPELLING TIP:

brussels sprouts (not brussel sprouts or Brussels sprouts)



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.


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 (http://www.thechristianpen.com/) and the Christian Editor Network (http://www.christianeditor.com/). To find out more, please visit www.KathyIde.com.





Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Things I Love

As I sat down to write this blog, it seemed like I had many items on my list of "most Loved" things. I love words, spelling them, defining them, writing them. I love knowing their etymology, where they came from and how they developed. Words make such marvelous pictures in the mind.

The Bible, John 18:5

John 18:5


I love history, stories of historical events, people from the past, antique furniture, and old buildings. Just wondering about what has been or who has been there fires my imagination.

Second View, Bok Tower in Infrared, Lake Wales, Florida

Second View, Bok Tower in Infrared, Lake Wales, Florida


And obviously, I love photography. Photography is what heals me, what relaxes me. When the hustle and bustle of everyday life begins to drag me down, I know I need only retreat behind my lens. Being behind the lens turns all the distractions around me off. Nature's small, infinite beings become large and amazing, and the large things, frustrations and often my own ineptness to a task, become small again.

The World of Bugs, 5-18-2001

The World of Bugs


My grandfather, who passed away in 2002, had a silly poem he used to quote. When one year my father and mother attended a Valentine's banquet, my father was asked to say something sweet to her. Handed the mike, he did the unthinkable...he quoted it.

Love is a funny thing
Shaped like a lizard
Goes all around your heart
And gobbles at your gizzard

And my mother's reaction? She expected nothing else! To think now, my grandfather has been published, of sorts, makes me smile.

No, probably no one really knows the true interpretation of his poem, but it's the thought that something he said has lasted past his lifetime. It has been passed down to my father, who passed it down to me, and I passed it down to my daughter. It has endured, and I love that.


My Grandfather plowing his fields

My Grandfather



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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, February 11, 2009

Overcoming the Fear of Writing

What Scares us as Writers

Have you ever sat down and felt incapable of writing another word? Have you ever analyzed why you feel that way? It could be that you’re suffering from a fear of writing. If so, you share a fear that strikes the hearts of all writers to one degree or another.

What are Writers Afraid of
Many things but most of the fears can be traced back to the fear of failing – of writing inferior material. Here’s a list of some of the fears we do battle with:

· Fear of failure
· Fear of not having writing ability
· Fear of looking foolish
· Fear of wasting time and effort
· Fear of criticism
· Fear of having nothing to write about
· Fear of exposing inner feelings

How to Handle the Fear
The best way is to confront it head on. Try and pinpoint what frightens you the most and then deal with it in the best way possible. This may be by taking a writing course and learning the basics of how to write or it may be getting up the courage to post a piece off to a magazine or newspaper. If it gets rejected, welcome to the club! Rejections are part of life for a writer.

Keep on Trying
I still get nervous when I send off a piece to an editor. In January I wrote an article based around a 1984 edition of our local paper. I emailed it to the editor and waited...and waited...and waited. He’s not the best communicator so I eventually sent him another email. “Did you have a chance to look at the article I sent you on January 26th?” His reply was short and sweet. “Nice piece. Will run next week.” That episode had a happy ending but I’ve had my share of rejections. I remember making a suggestion for a series to the same newspaper and they said to go ahead and write part one. I did so, interviewing several people and taking photos in the process. They rejected it as being 'too Local'. It was very embarrassing telling those concerned that the story had been axed...but I didn’t give up. Since then I’ve written plenty of other stories for the paper but still get the odd rejection.

Find the Right Audience
Certain styles of writing suit different publications and editors. There is a local writing group in Christchurch who consistently pick my work to pieces and criticize it. The same stories have placed in competitions in other areas and I’ve learned that our styles just don’t mesh. I still submit the occasional piece to them but don’t worry if they hate it. If you feel that something you’ve written has potential, get someone who does a lot of reading or has a good grasp of English to check it for you. Then search for a market for it, even if it is a non-paying internet site. Just seeing your name on a published piece of work is encouraging.

I’ve heard that even best-selling authors still experience fear when releasing a new book. Will the public like it? What if it’s a flop? What if my creativity has run out? What if I only had one good book in me? The secret is to turn fear to your advantage. Don’t let it stop you but allow it to keep you sharp and always striving for improvement. In a strange way, it can become a good friend.

PS I've started a new column aimed at learning how to relate to people with disabilities. I'd love you to pop over and have a look.

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



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Blog Tour: A Cry in the Night




This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Cry In The Night

Thomas Nelson (February 3, 2009)

by

Colleen Coble



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Colleen Coble's thirty novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best awards. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

AWARDS:

2004 More Than Magic winner for Best Inspirational RomanceWithout a Trace, Thomas Nelson2004 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year


ABOUT THE BOOK:

The highly anticipated novel that delivers what romantic suspense fans have long awaited-the return to Rock Harbor.

Bree Nichols gets the shock of her life when her husband-presumed dead-reappears.

Bree Nichols and her search and rescue dog Samson discover a crying infant in the densely forested woods outside of Rock Harbor, Michigan. Against objections from her husband, Kade, who knows she'll become attached, Bree takes the baby in. Quickly she begins a search for the mother-presumably the woman reported missing just days earlier.

While teams scour the forests, Bree ferrets out clues about the missing woman. But she soon discovers something more shocking: Bree's former husband-long presumed dead in a plane crash-resurfaces. Is he really who he says he is? And should she trust him again after all these years?An engaging, romantic suspense novel from critically-acclaimed author Colleen Coble.

To read the first chapter of , click HERE.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Introducing ... Write Integrity Editorial Services - Win Prizes!

Another big contest, and a big announcement!

I'm very pleased to announce the Grand Opening of my new business:

WRITE INTEGRITY EDITORIAL SERVICES



Write Integrity offers manuscript editing, marketing and promotion like logo designs, blog tours and social networking services, writing services and web design. We formed our business with the writer in mind, but many other businesses can benefit from our services, too. Please come over to Write Integrity to learn about our services and see if we can assist you in any way.

As a GRAND OPENING Special, all orders over $25, placed by February 21st, will receive a special discount:

$25-$50 - 10% Discount

$50.01 - $99.99 - 15% Discount

$100 and above - 25% Discount


To celebrate, we're having a BIG contest, with SEVEN prizes! (Would you expect anything less here at Pix-N-Pens?)

Here are the prizes we're giving away on Saturday, March 7th:

  • Prize #1: One "The Works" edit - up to 100,000 words (up to $1,000 value)

  • Prize #2: One "Conference Special" edit of your first three chapters and synopsis ($200 value)


  • Prize #3: One Web site design - up to 5 pages - ($500 value)


  • Prize #4: One Blog tour #2 ($350 value)


  • Prize #5: One year free Web hosting ($95.40 value)


  • Prize #6: One "One-Sheet" Design ($50 value)

Anyone who completes four or more items from the list below will also be entered into a drawing for:

  • Prize #7: One Image Package ($1,000 value.) This package includes a logo design, domain name, Web site, and business card and letterhead design, and one year of free web hosting. Please e-mail Tracy a list of the four tasks completed (and provide links if applicable to that task) and you will be entered to win this prize package.

How to enter to win:

You'll receive one entry for completing each task listed below - only one entry is required for a chance to win one of the first six prizes, but you'll receive an extra entry for each one you complete:



Visit http://www.writeintegrity.com/ to:

1) Purchase any one of our services. If you purchase more than one service, you'll receive an entry for each.

2) Refer someone who purchases one of our services. (Tell the person you refer to let us know who referred them when they hire us.)

3) Sign up for our quarterly newsletter on the Sign Up! page at Write Integrity. This special newsletter will alert you to any specials or promotions we'll be offering each quarter.

4) Blog about the opening of Write Integrity and our contest.

5) Place a link to Write Integrity on your blog and/or Web site.

6) Place a Write Integrity blinkie button on your blog and/or Web site. You'll find the code over to the right of this post, at the top of the column.

7) Post about Write Integrity's contest on one or more social networks, like Facebook, MySpace, Shoutlife, Twitter, or others.

All entries must be received by NOON on March 6th.

For items 4-7, you must e-mail me a link to the post to receive your entry.

A random drawing will be held from all qualified entries on March 7th and the winners will be notified by e-mail, and then announced here and on Write Integrity. If you win one of the prizes, you can schedule to receive it anytime through the end of the year - you don't have to use the prize right away, although it would be great if you could provide an estimated date so we can add it to to our calendar.

Prizes only will be awarded - no cash subsitutions. If you win a prize you don't need, but need one of our other services instead, we'll work something out!

Thanks for celebrating our grand opening with us! I hope you'll help spread the word.





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Friday, February 6, 2009

PUGS Pointers #10: Details are Important

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?

Details are important.

How much time and effort have you put into the other aspects of your writing? Is your manuscript not worth polishing? If your craft was pottery, would you go to the effort of creating a beautiful pot and then not varnish it? If you made an afghan, would you not tie off the last row? If you sewed a garment, would you not finish the seams and hems?
And if you did create something without finishing it properly, would you put out your unfinished craft for sale to strangers, expecting people to pay you for it?


PUNCTUATION TIP:

Quotation Marks with Other Punctuation
1. Closing quotation marks always come after a comma or period.
ACFW held workshops on “Characterization,” “Point of View,” and “Floating Body Parts.”

2. Placement depends on whether the punctuation is part of the sentence as a whole or part of the quotation in particular. Examples:
Candy asked, “Do you know the way?”
How can we motivate teenagers who continually say, “I don’t care”?
Tiffany shouted, “Fire!”
I can’t believe he said, “Your story is boring”!

(See The Chicago Manual of Style 15th edition, #6.8–6.9 and
The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style 14th edition pp. 344–345)


USAGE TIP:

advice/advise
advice (noun) is a suggestion or recommendation.
Cec gave me excellent advice about publishing my book.
advise (verb) means “to suggest or recommend.”
Frani advised me to strengthen the conflict in my romance novel.


GRAMMAR TIP:

Misplaced Modifiers

The position of a modifier determines what thing or action is being modified.
“Sharon sent out a proposal for her book on living with horses last week.”
Sharon’s proposal wasn’t for a book about “living with horses last week.” Reword:
“Last week Sharon sent out a proposal for her book on living with horses.”

“The editor told me on Thursday I have a book signing.”
Did the editor say this on Thursday, or do you have a book signing on Thursday?
“On Thursday, the editor told me I have a book signing.” Or:
“The editor told me I have a book signing on Thursday.”


SPELLING TIP:

divorcé (a divorced man)
divorcée (a divorced woman)

fiancé (a man engaged to be married)
fiancée (a woman engaged to be married)

For Articles: The AP Stylebook (p. 94) does not use accent marks over the e’s in fiance and fiancee.



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.





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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Happy Memories

It could be because I did not get one last year, but as I looked through some vacation photographs from 2007, I realized I was smiling. What a good feeling those pictures evoked, and that was surprising to me because 2007 was not a good year. Unfortunately, it was one of those years that I wanted to "just end" and never think back on. But maybe it's the old saying about looking back through "rose-colored glasses" because it seems to me now that some things about that year weren't so bad.

Vacations are supposed to be happy and carefree. They are endless days and late nights of doing things you've always wanted to do. They are smiles and laughter with family you don't spend so much time with or friends you never get to see. On vacations you can hike up the highest of mountains, view the vastness of a majestic wilderness, or simply stand and gaze as the sun sinks below the horizon. You can, in fact, do nothing at all, and it mean something.

I missed that last year. Oh, I was busy enough building a new house, a house that I adore and can't believe is really mine. But now that it's 2009, where are the vacation pictures for me to look back on? the funny movies of family antics for me to watch?

I remember one year we had traveled north to the mountains of North Carolina, something we had done before, but this year we determined to find a new spot, some place we'd never been. My dad walked around for days saying he'd "find a new road" to drive on. So one morning we all piled into the car and headed north on our quest. Somewhere along the same route we'd always driven my dad decided to hang a left.

Well, if you've never been to the North Carolina mountains, you'd not know that an unknown left or right may just take you into the middle of nowhere quick with no way to turn around. At first, it wasn't so bad; we drove through a small town, smiling and admiring the buildings, stopping for pictures along the roadside, doing touristy things. I love those. But then we got hungry. The only restaurant we could find was Wendy's. Now, I like Wendy's, but we were on vacation and we wanted to eat at one of those quaint mountain restaurants.

Alongside the Road

The View Along Hwy 129, North Carolina


We passed up fast food to follow another winding road, headed towards a place we'd been told about. Problem was, it didn't look like we'd ever get there. In fact, it didn't look like we'd get anywhere at all, but the scenery was beautiful alongside the road. We stopped at a bridge and looked over at some floating house boats. That was interesting, but where was the restaurant? After about and hour or so of driving, finally we found it...CLOSED for the season!

Said closed restaurant in the middle of nowhere

Tapaco Lodge, Along Hwy 129, North Carolina


There we stood in horror, miles from anywhere, at the edge of the mountains, our stomachs grumbling fiercely (especially my daughter's who was beginning to whine). There was no choice in the matter but to either turn around or go forward. Tempting fate, we went forward.

Back in the car, we eventually rounded a curve and came across a really strange sight. It turned out to be a biker hotel. Now, I'm all for the freedom of the open road, but this place scared me. It seemed to be deserted, and there was this tree. Not daunted, my parents got out and went in to ask for directions. In my head, I was counting, vowing to call 911 (though cell service was probably out and that would have been a moot point) if they didn't return within 10 minutes.

Nameless Biker Hotel somewhere in western North Carolina

Photobucket


You never know about the people you'll meet sometimes. The 2 ladies who ran the place ended up being very nice. "No problem," they said, "just go that way about 45 minutes and you'll find town," so back in the car we went.

What a beautiful drive it was - winding roads, slanting sun through bare tree limbs, rays glinting off the water of a river far below. We stopped for photographs, and we stopped for photographs, and we stopped for photographs, over and over and over. Staring and grinning at all the beautiful scenery we plumb forgot the time and lunch. (Well, again except for my daughter. Fortunately for her, my mother found a box of crackers in the trunk.)

River, North Carolina

The Little Tennessee River, North Carolina


Two hours later....yes, 2 hours...we finally saw the clock. We'd been all day now, since about 9 AM, on the road with nothing to eat. We were God knows where and it was about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, we saw a sign. It was as if the heaven's opened and a ray shined down...okay, I am seriously exaggerating. It was just a road sign, and on it was written the name of the very town we had driven through early in the day. You know, the one with the Wendy's?

Yep, you guessed it, if you are thinking ahead in this little memory of mine. We had lunch that day at Wendy's. We had driven several hundred miles and for over 2 hours in a complete circle!

The road In Nowhere

Hwy 129, North Carolina


Memories are precious things. Each day that goes by we create new ones. Each picture we take preserves some aspect of them for us. Never stop taking photographs, and never stop sharing your memories. Against the infinite span of time, they are all so fleeting.

A Framed View

Picture Framed, Fontana Lake, North Carolina


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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.