Monday, March 30, 2009

Professionalism Can Make You or Break You

It's rare that we have a quiet Monday here at Pix-N-Pens, but when I saw nothing on the schedule, I jumped at the opportunity to share what's been on my heart the last few weeks.

Professionalism. It's a must in any business, and lately I've experienced some very unprofessional attitudes, so it's time to discuss. I hope you'll share your experiences with us in the comments.

1) Answer business e-mails. I know we all get tons of junk mail, tons of personal mail, and tons of business mail. But if you run a business - and writing/editing/publishing IS a business - you must answer your business mail.

Two weeks ago, I sent a professional letter to a business, requesting information about an upcoming event. After a few days, I hadn't received a response, so I sent a second letter to another person at another address I had for the company. I know the coordinators and they know me - we've actually met in person a few times. But both e-mails have gone ignored - even though I've seen one of the recipients on Facebook regularly the entire two weeks. Totally unprofessional. Not helping their business, their event, and not helping their reputation - at all.

2) When you send e-mails to strangers, or to distant acquaintances, introduce yourself.

Since I offer free three-page edits to potential editing clients, along with writing services for all types of writing, I regularly receive odd e-mails nowadays. Many of the e-mails offer no clue of what the person is wanting or needing - especially if they've sent me 100 pages, rather than three! I appreciate succinct letters, but not to the point I'm left clueless.

3) Be professional in your correspondence.

Twice, I've been less than professional myself when replying to writers. Both of these times were early in my career, and I'd followed these writers online for some time and felt I "knew" them well. But they didn't know me from Adam.

Both writers were offering opportunities for volunteer positions. The e-mails I sent were casual, friendly, and totally unprofessional. No wonder they offered the positions to someone else. Someone with more professionalism, and much more sense.

Presenting yourself unprofessionally gives you the mark of an amateur, regardless of how many years you've put in. Is that the image you want to convey?



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Saturday, March 28, 2009

We've Been Awarded!

Several weeks ago, Pix-N-Pens was given a special award, and I never got around to paying the award forward. Now we've been nominated again, so I'm making the time to share the news and share some blogs.

Thank you, Susan J. Reinhardt and Yvonne Blake for nominating Pix-N-Pens for the Premio-Dardas award.

We're honored to receive this award with so many other wonderful blogs.

About the Premio-Dardas:

"This award 'acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write.'

Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers.

It's a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."






Here are the rules:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted it to you, along with his/her blog link.

2. Pass the award to other blogs that you feel are worthy of this recognition. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen as recipients.


Here's a list of bloggers we wish to recognize:


Amy Barkman


Debra Ullrick - Christian Romance Writer

Lynda Schab - On the Write Track


Erica Vetsch - On the Write Path

Nancy Williams - Loved & Protected

Writer to Reader

Maggie Brendan - Southern Belle Writer







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Friday, March 27, 2009

PUGS Pointers #17: Colons, Anyone?

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”).


PUNCTUATION TIP

Colons, CMS #6.63 and CWMS pp. 148–149 and AP p. 328

A colon introduces something (or a series of things) that illustrates or amplifies what is written before the colon. Example:

The panel consisted of three agents: Ned Aloof, Terry Friendly, and Mel Charming.

Capitalization with Colons, CMS #6.64–6.66 and CWMS p. 148 and AP p. 328

The first word following a colon is lowercased unless (a) the first word after the colon is a proper noun, (b) the colon introduces two or more sentences in close sequence, (c) the colon announces a definition, or (d) the colon precedes a speech in dialogue or an extract.

“Latisha had two choices: Should she try to write a steamy romance novel? Or should she go for a self-help book about punctuation addiction?”

Michael: My book has already been printed.

Timothy: Then you can’t correct the error until the second printing.


USAGE TIP

all ready/already
all ready means “completely ready,” as in “We are all ready to be published.”
already (adverb) means “previously,” as in “My book has already sold a thousand copies.”


GRAMMAR TIP

Generations of English teachers have taught students certain rules that are either personal preferences or rules that have changed over time. For example:

Never start a sentence with a conjunction. (See CMS 5.191.)
A conjunction is a word that defines the relationship between different units of thought. Examples: and, so, but, if, or. Writers are often taught that beginning a sentence with a conjunction makes it incomplete, a sentence fragment. And sometimes that’s true.
Example: “Try to catch me. If you can.”

But sentence fragments are perfectly acceptable (if not overused, confusing, or unclear). Experienced writers may deliberately use the occasional sentence fragment for emphasis or to create a particular tone. (Note, however, that a dash can also be used for emphasis, and is preferable if the effect is the same.)

In many cases, opening with a conjunction does not turn a sentence into a fragment; it simply serves to connect the current information more strongly to the information that comes before it. Beginning a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but, or however is sometimes the best way to express the sentence’s relationship with the previous one. As with sentence fragments, avoid overdoing this type of sentence construction.


SPELLING TIP

backyard
Spell as one word, whether used as a noun or adjective.

**********


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, March 26, 2009

Special Discount on Delaware Conference - Register by the 28th

I just received this information about an awesome Delaware conference, and wanted to pass it along ASAP.

SPECIAL DISCOUNT PRICE TO ATTEND THE DELAWARE

CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE


The 4th Delaware Christian Writers Conference will be held on April 24 & 25 at the Word of Life Christian center in Newark, Delaware (just 40 minutes from the Phila. airport). Regular price to attend is $229, but if you sign up by Saturday, March 28, you can save $130 and pay only $99.

Ten exciting workshops, writing contest with cash prizes, pizza party, lots of freebies and more laughs than you can imagine.

Conference details and schedule can be found at the conference Web site.

Remember, you must sign up by Saturday, March 28 to get this special $99 price. E-mail John Riddle for more info.

John Riddle
Conference Director
Delaware Christian Writers Conference


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Somewhere In The Atmosphere

Any photographer who diligently practices their art will eventually realize they take more of a certain type of shot. For some that is landscapes, or birds, or people. A lot of my subjects seem to come in waves. I'll do a lot of landscapes for a while and then it seems like there are so many insects popping up before my lens.

Lately, I've been a bit lost in the atmosphere. (Okay, no jokes from the immediate family!) I am ever fascinated by the sun, the moon, and the stars. For me it is as much the regulation of it, the daily sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, that appeals to me. My family would agree that I am a creature of habit. I like certain things done certain ways, all the time, every time.

Burning Sun

Burning Sun


At night the sky here is just as amazing, with so much "up there" for me to see. A recent article in the National Geographic magazine (November 2008 issue) talked about "The End of Night". Its basic storyline was how much people, living underneath the "pervasive orange haze" of street lamps, have forgotten what the night sky is really like, how many people really don't get to "see" the stars, and how important darkness is to both society and the earth.

I am most fortunate to have this daily show before me each evening. The moon in its predictable courses rises each evening, sweeps across the sky, and sets sometimes in the morning clouds.

Bleary-eyed Moon

Bleary-eyed Moon


I'd like to think I could be one of those amazing star photographers who capture the glory of the starry night sky with its amazing shapes, colors, and forms. I'd like to expand people's notions of how awesome and huge the whole thing is. But instead, I'll have to limit myself to the occasional picture of the sun or the moon as it rises before me, and store all the plethora of other images of it solely inside my head.

Early Moon and Clouds

Early Moon and Clouds


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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, March 25, 2009

Christian Writer’s Conferences: Interview with Alton Gansky

The Value of Conferences

Greetings, Pixels, and welcome to the third and final instalment of our Conference Series. This week, Alton Gansky takes time from his busy schedule to share some thoughts about conferences.

Welcome, Alton. We’re privileged to have you with us this week. Can you tell us what conferences you are involved in and when and where are they being held?

I do a number of conferences each. In fact, I’m just back from teaching at the Florida Christian Writer’s conference. The conference I’ve done most frequently and now direct is the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers conference . This year’s conference is being held May 17-21 at the Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, North Carolina. It’s one of the largest conferences of its kind and set in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Amazing scenery.

How did you get involved in these conferences?

I began doing conferences not long after my second and third novels appeared. Conference directors like to have experienced writers, editors, and agents on faculty. I was invited to several conferences to teach fiction. Ironically, the first conference I attended was one at which I taught. Things have changed since then. Today, writer conferences are the best way to learn to write and to pitch ideas. They have become networking centers where authors can pitch directly to agents and editors. I teach at these conferences because it allows me a way to give back to the writing community. I love teaching at conferences. Being surrounded by new writers invigorates my craft.

What actually happens at these conferences?

The answer varies from conference to conference. There are two types of conferences. Some focus on education and use a small faculty of experienced writers and editors. These conferences set out to teach the basics of craft. Education is the focus. The other kind of conferences do the same educational work but also try to fill the faculty with agents and editors so conferees can pitch ideas. These conferences not only draw new writers but experienced ones.

In both types of conferences, education is the foundation. Students sign up for workshops or continuing classes in their chosen field. Those who wish to write Bible studies attend classes geared to area of the industry. Those wanting to write novels chose classes that help them achieve that goal.

Large Christian conferences often have worship times and keynote speakers. For example, at our next Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference we will hear from Cec Murphey, Angela Hunt, Sally Stuart, and many others. We have about 35 people on faculty. Conferees can also sign up for appointments with the faculty to get a little one-on-one time.

Another great advantage to attending a writer’s conference is networking with other writers. A lot of friendships have been made at these events.

What level and type of writers are the conferences aimed at?

I can’t speak for every conference. BRMCWC is designed to help the novice to the writer with several years of experience. A spin off of BRMCWC is Novel Retreat, a conference for people who have written a novel and want to refine it and learn some of the more advanced writing techniques. It is important for those considering attending a conference to do their homework. Most conferences try to be helpful to every level of writer.


What can writers expect if they come along to a conference?

First they can expect to have a good time. Writers love hanging out with other writers. Second, they can expect information overload. Conferences happen over just a few days. Taking classes morning and afternoon can be overwhelming. Gather as much information as possible and sort through it as you have time. Third, they can expect inspiration. Nothing is more motivating than spending time with someone who has travelled the road you’re on. Fourth, they can expect an honest portrayal of the publishing industry, something every writer needs.

How can writers know if they’re ready to attend a conference?

They’re ready if the desire to write has become consuming. If a writer has been thinking about publishing, then it’s time to get to a conference or two. But conferences are also good for those who are just wondering about writing. What better place to be exposed the real world of the wordsmith?

Can you give us some advice on preparing to attend a conference?

Ask, “What do I want to learn?” Writing is a big universe. Some want to be freelance writers; others novelists; other devotional writers; others want to write nonfiction books. It is impossible for a student to attend everything, so be selective. If the student is uncertain what area they want to pursue, then I suggest they take workshops in several areas to help refine their desires

Do you believe conferences can play an important part in a writer’s growth?

Absolutely. Writers never stop learning or growing. The more we know about the craft, the more we realize how much there is to learn. Certain professions (architects, doctors, and lawyers) set up “practices.” Those fields have an unending need for learning. Writing is the same. When asked what I do for a living, I’m tempted to say, “I have a writing practice.”

I learn something new at every conference I attend.

Alton L. Gansky is the author of 30 novels and nonfiction books. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Tarnished Image). His books have been published by Victor Books, Random House/Waterbrook Press, ChariotVictor, Zondervan, Realms, River Oak, Tyndale, Broadman & Holman, Penguin/Tarcher, and others.

As founder and principal of GANSKY COMMUNICATIONS, Alton has provided writing services to many publishers such as Broadman & Holman, Simon & Schuster/Howard, Tyndale, GRQ, Ink, and Strang, and others. Additionally, he provides business writing services to industries ranging from mining to hospitals.



Here is a list of other Christian Writer's conferences that may be of interest to you:


ACFW
Mount Hermon
OCCWF
Delaware
Antelope Valley
Write-to-Publish
Kentucky
St Davids
Susquehanna
Bethel College
Oregon
Colarado

Happy hunting!

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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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Step Into Your Future: A Businesswoman's Path to Profits

We have a special blog tour this week:

Step Into Your Future: A Businesswoman's Path to Profits

by Rosemary Regier-Hossenlopp





What specific incident inspired you to gather together this information and put together a book?

Rosemary Regier-Hossenlopp: Let’s face it, being a Small Business Owner is HARD. You don’t have time to focus. You’re stressed and you rush around. You’re all over the place; catching planes, picking up kids and completing proposals and contracts. And it seems like you’re doing this all at once. You’re lost in the trees and blind to the forest.

The heart of success is figuring out what gets you the best results. You hear about business planning techniques that can help you focus on getting the business results you want. But you procrastinate in implementing them. I know this because I have been there too. It is overwhelming when you need to be the plumber, the accountant, the salesman and the person who delivers the goods. It is hard to make the time to work “on” the business and not work “in” the business. More planning advice is available at my Web site.

What’s the story behind the book’s title?

Rosemary Regier-Hossenlopp: I feel so good when I work with other business owners to help them understand how to tame the things that steal your time. The great thing is that when you focus and produce results, you get to share your story of your products and services with everybody. You meet people who help you connect with others. You play a bigger game. People will recognize your name. You enjoy life. Your sphere of influence grows. You get more opportunities to create alliances with people that you now only dream about.

What’s specific inspiration changed your life … and why do you feel it had such a ‘mind-shifting’ impact on you?

Rosemary Regier-Hossenlopp: I believe in easy; an easy way to see what you need to do and came up with a quick process that allowed me to identify steps that accelerated my success. You can get more information at my Web site.

Chapters in the book include:

What's Your Dream Business?

Catch Your Business Vision on Paper

What Makes Your Business Stand Out from the Crowd?

Call Out Your Business Reason for Being on Paper

The Truth About Your Time

Create a Money-Making System

and More!













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Monday, March 23, 2009

50 Things Under $50 You can Do to Promote Your Book

I subscribe to the Worldwide Freelance Writers newsletter, and last week, it featured an article I thought so valuable, I e-mailed the author and asked if I could share it with our Pix-N-Pens readers. Penny Sansevieri graciously granted my request - I hope you enjoy her article as much as I did. Thanks, Penny.

Be sure to check out her Web site, too. It's chock-full of information!

50 Things Under $50 You can Do To Promote Your Book

by Penny Sansevieri

If your book marketing budget is tight (and even if it's not) you might want to consider some ideas that are powerful, and won't cost you as much as you think. Here are a few to consider!

1) Buy your domain name as soon as you have a title for your book. You can get domain names for as little as $8.95.

2) Head on over to Blogger.com or Wordpress.com and start your very own blog (you can add it to your Web site later).

3) Set up an event at your neighborhood bookstore.

4) Write a few articles on your topic and submit them onto the Internet for syndication.

5) Check out your competition online and see if you can do some networking.

6) Do some radio research and pitch yourself to at least five newstations this week.

7) Ready to get some business cards? Head on over toVistaprint.com. The cards are free if you let them put their logo on the back.

8) Put together your marketing plan.

9) Plan a contest. Contests are a great way to promote your book.

10) Google some topic-related online groups to see if you cannetwork with them.

11) Send thank you notes to people who have been helpful to you.

12) Send your book out to at least ten book reviewers this week.

13) Do a quick Internet search for writers' conferences or book festivals in your area you can attend.

14) Create an email signature for every email you send; email signatures are a great way to promote your book and message.

15) Put the contents of your Web site: book description, bio, q&a, interviews on CD to have on hand when the media comes calling!

16) Submit your Web site to the top five directories: Google, MSN, Alexa, Yahoo, and DMOZ.

17) Write a great press release and submit it to free online press release sites.

18) Write your bio, you'll need it when you start pitching yourselfto the media.

19) Schedule your first book signing.

20) Start your own email newsletter; it's a great way to keep readers, friends, and family updated and informed on your success.

21) Go over to Yahoo Groups and join some online groups on your topic - it's great Internet networking!

22) Develop a set of questions that book clubs can use for your book, and post them on your Web site for handy downloads.

23) Add your book info or URL to your answering machine message.

24) Join Audio Acrobat ($20 a month) and begin recording audio products you can sell on your Web site.

25) See if you can get your friends to host a "book party" in their home. You come in and discuss your book and voila, a captive audience!

26) Find some catalogs you think your book would be perfect for and then submit your packet to them for consideration.

27) Go around to your local retailers and see if they'll carry your book; even if it's on consignment it might be worth it!

28) Add your book to Google Book Search.

29) Research some authors with similar subjects and then offer to exchange links with them.

30) Is your book good for the My Space market? My Space hasrecently started doing book reviews.

31) Write a "So You'd Like To ..." article for Amazon.com.

32) Ask friends and family to email five people they know and tell them about your book.

33) Leave your business card, bookmark, or book flyer wherever you go.

34) Are there any book fairs you could participate in? Look them upon the Net!

35) Pitch yourself to your local television stations.

36) Pitch yourself to your local print media.

37) Work on the Q&A for your press kit. You'll need it when you start booking media interviews!

38) Pitch Oprah. Go ahead, you know you want to.

39) Is the topic of your book in the news? Check your local paper,and write a letter to the editor to share your expertise (and promote your book!)

40) Stop by your local library and see if you can set up an event, they love local authors.

41) Do you want to get your book into your local library system? Try dropping off a copy to your main library; if they stock it chances are the other branches will too.

42) Go to Chase's Calendar of Events (www.Chases.com.) and find out how to create your own holiday!

43) Going on vacation? Use your away-from-home time to schedule a book event or two.

44) If your book is appropriate, go to local schools to see if you can do a reading.

45) Got a book that could be sold in bulk? Start with your local companies first and see if they're interested in buying some promotional copies to give away at company events.

46) Don't forget to add reviews to your Web site. Remember that what someone else has to say is one thousand times more effective than anything you could say!

47) Trying to meet the press? Search the Net for Press Clubs in your area, they meet once a month and are a great place to meet the media.

48) Want a celebrity endorsement? Find celebs in your market withan interest in your topic and then for it. Remember all they cansay is no.

49) Ready to get some magazine exposure? Why not pitch some regional and national magazines with your topic or submit a freelance article for reprint consideration.

50) Work on your next book. Sometimes the best way to sell your first book is by promoting your second.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Penny C. Sansevieri is a book marketing and media relations specialist who coaches authors on projects, manuscripts, and marketing plans, and instructs a variety of coursing on publishing and promotion. To learn more about her books or her promotional services, visit Penny's Web site. To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email through this link.


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Friday, March 20, 2009

PUGS Pointers #16: Apostrophes can be Illusive

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”).


PUNCTUATION TIP:

Apostrophes for Years, CMS #9.34 and CWMS p. 51 and AP p. 328
If years are abbreviated to two numerals, they should be preceded by an apostrophe.
Example: Kimberly graduated with the class of ’82.

NOTE: If you’re using “curly quotes,” make sure the apostrophes (and single quotation marks) are curled in the right direction.
’82, not ‘82
’tis, not ‘tis


USAGE TIP:

elusive/illusive
elusive (adjective) means difficult to grasp, isolate, or identify.
“Her novel contained so many elusive concepts I had difficulty following the plot.”
“The elusive criminal led the search party further into the woods.”

illusive (adjective) means based on or producing illusion; deceptive.
“The murderer’s illusive clues took the detective on several wild goose chases.”

Just remember: elusive is the adjective form of the verb elude (meaning avoid, escape).
illusive is the adjective form of illusion (meaning deceiving, misleading).


GRAMMAR TIP:

Generations of English teachers have taught students certain rules that are either personal preferences or rules that have changed over time. For example:

Never split an infinitive. (See CMS 5.160.)
An infinitive is the to form of a verb: to go, to holler, to whisper, to study. Splitting an infinitive means to put some word (usually an adverb) between the to and the verb: to quickly go, to loudly holler, to quietly whisper, to avidly study.

Rule of thumb: If it’s just as easy to word something in a way that avoids splitting an infinitive, do so—if for no better reason than because some readers, editors, and proofreaders will fault you if you don’t. However, if doing so interrupts the flow, or makes comprehension difficult, go ahead and split that infinitive.


SPELLING TIP:

Whenever two spellings are given in the dictionary, the first one listed is almost always the preferred spelling. For example:

amid (not amidst)
among (not amongst)
backward (not backwards)
forward (not forwards)
gray (not grey)
till (not ’til )
toward (not towards)

**********

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, March 19, 2009

Lost In My Thoughts

I find myself today with a lot of alone time. As my husband and daughter are off doing other things, here I sit...well, me and the dog, at least. She is always a faithful companion.

I'm so cute!

I'm so cute!


So I have decided to spend this spare time usefully and do something I have been putting off - namely, sorting through some more of my grandmother's papers. My grandmother, who passed away a year ago last April, was always one for saving things. She clipped articles from the local newspapers, collected postcards and photographs, saved church bulletins, re-wrote poems she heard or saw, sent cards for every occasion...and then there are all the letters.

If letter writing was an art form, my grandmother perfected it. Nothing she did gave a greater reward of friendship than her letters have. She took the time to make each of them personal, to include information that person would find interesting, to chat about people they both knew, or events they all remembered. She wrote faithfully to so many people for years. Even months following her passing, we continued to receive notes of inquiry from those who "hadn't heard from Juanita."

Granny's Amaryllis

Granny's Amaryllis


As I sit here at my table, and filter through 84 years of her memories, it brings back those of my own. What I wouldn't give for just one hour with her around the old table with a half thawed glass of iced tea in front of me and an open box of Pecan Sandies. I guess this is what has me a bit lost today. How do I put a price to these things she had put her own value on? I see now that the value of them is not in the worth of the paper or the printing, but it is in her collection of it as a whole. Individually, they are just transitory moments that came and went, but together they create a picture of one woman's life.

No one else can have the memories my grandmother had of her life, and no one in the future can have my memories of her either - not entirely. As I look back at pictures of her family, people she knew and loved, I am more detached from them than she was, and I'm sure that in the future, someone will look back at pictures of me and feel the same sense of detachment. I think it is not that we, each of us, strive to not be forgotten by the world at large; no, I think it's that we want to be remembered at least for a little while by someone who really loved us.

My grandmother, her younger sister, and her Mom, at the beach.

Lettye, Juanita, Wynell Hammond


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Suzanne Williams Photography
http://home.roadrunner.com/~swilli41/index.html
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Christian Writer’s Conferences: Interview with Marlene Bagnull

The Value of Conferences

Welcome to part two of our conference series. This week we are privileged to have Marlene Bagnull as our guest and she has some encouraging words to share with us.

Marlene, conferences are exciting opportunities for us as writers. Can you tell which conferences are you involved in and when and where are they being held?

The Colorado Christian Writers Conference is May 13–16 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park (northwest of Denver and on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park). The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference is August 6–8 at Philadelphia Biblical University north of the city.

How did you get involved in these conferences?

In 1983 I wrote a column for The Christian Writer (now The Christian Communicator). The editor asked me if I’d be willing to arrange for him to teach a one-day seminar in the Philadelphia area. To my amazement over 100 people attended. Even more amazing is what Father has done in the past 25 years, growing us to a three-day conference of over 200 conferees and 50 faculty.

The story of how I ended up directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference is longer.

Around 20 years ago I was invited to lead the Conference Directors’ Symposium at the Biola Writers’ Institute. I didn’t feel qualified to lead it and recommended that Susan Titus Osborn ask Gayle Roper instead. I have to admit that mentally I kicked myself for throwing away the opportunity, but a few days later Susan called back and invited me to teach the continuing session for advanced article writing.

Teaching and appointments kept me too busy to attend much of the Conference Directors’ Symposium, but I did meet Debbie Barker, the director of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. We got to know each other on the trek to the dorms, and then I “just happened” to grab Debbie’s manuscript out of the pile of mss turned in for an afternoon critique session that drew 70 people. God forged a very special friendship with her, and for seven years I served on her conference faculty, arriving early and staying afterwards to help.

When Deb adopted two little boys and could no longer manage directing the conference, she asked me if I wanted to take it over. Initially I said no. How could I manage two conferences? But God wouldn’t let me walk away from this opportunity. I finally said yes and have been directing the Colorado conference since 1997.

What actually happens at these conferences?

Each year I ask Father to use both conferences to draw all the participants, conferees as well as faculty, closer to Him; and each year I hear powerful stories of how He has touched lives. Our general sessions focus on worship and prayer as well as messages built around the conference theme. I have no doubt that these sessions prepare us to receive all God has for us in the continuing sessions, workshops, panels, one-on-one appointments, and the fellowship we share over meals. His presence is obvious and, as a result, our goal “to encourage and equip you to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives” is reached.

What level and type of writers are the conferences aimed at?

Because both conferences have a faculty of over 50 agents, authors, editors, and publicists and offer 7–8 continuing sessions, clinics, 42 workshops, and earlybird workshops we are able to address the needs of beginning and advanced writers. Believing in the “power of story,” both conferences have a strong emphasis on fiction. Two special emphases at this year’s Colorado conference are continuing sessions on “Making a Difference in the Life of a Child” with Cindy Kenney and “Growing Your Women’s Ministry” (writing and speaking) with Linda Evans Shepherd. The Philadelphia conference will offer a continuing session on screenwriting with Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and Publisher of Movieguide® and Chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission. For those who are considering self-publishing, the Colorado conference has a continuing session on “The Adventure of Independent Publishing.” From the writer’s life and craft to marketing published books we seek to give writers the practical help they need to effectively “write His answer” (this year’s theme), regardless of the genre.

What can writers expect if they come to a conference?

Beyond all they will learn in the classrooms and the friendships they will make with other writers, each person who registers for the entire conference will receive four, free 15-minute appointments with our faculty. The earlier you register, the better opportunity you have to get your top choices.

How can writers know if they’re ready to attend a conference?

If you long to share what God has done in your life, are burdened by the needs of others, or concerned about issues facing our nation and the growing animosity towards Christianity and God is nudging you to “write His answer,” you need to do it! If you’ve always wanted to write a book or short story or magazine article but have never gotten around to it, a conference is a great place to finally get started. “It’s the equivalent of a full semester course in writing,” one conferee said. If you’ve been writing for some time but have not known where or how to submit your work (or have found your submissions bouncing back), a conference is the place to connect with editors and agents.

Can you give us some tips on preparing to attend a conference?

The Web site for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference has lots of information to help conferees prepare that can be summed up in three words: pray, plan, and prioritize. Pray, asking God to confirm what conference He wants you to attend and what workshops He wants you to take. Plan how you will gain the most from the conference by studying the editorial needs of the faculty who will be coming and preparing to pitch your ideas and manuscripts to them during the one-on-one appointments. Prioritize what you can realistically accomplish pre-conference and during the conference. You do not need to have a completed manuscript to talk with an editor, and you do not need to attend every workshop. Do not squeeze God out of your days before, during, and after the conference.

Do you believe conferences can play an important part in a writer’s growth?

Absolutely! I don’t think I would have persevered and gotten eight books published and made over 1,000 sales to Christian periodicals without the contacts made at conferences and all I have learned and continue to learn. Friendships made with other writers help me to grow spiritually and professionally. We need each other!

Marlene Bagnull is the author of 5 books, including Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers and the compiler/editor of 3 other books. She gives “Write His Answer” and “Get Your Book in Print” seminars around the nation, has served on the faculty of over 70 Christian writers’ conferences, teaches At-Home Writing Workshops (a correspondence study program), and helps Christians publish affordably and professionally through Ampelos Press. She founded the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship in 1983 and directs the yearly conference. This is her 13th year directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

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: Michal



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Michal

Revell (March 1, 2009)

by

Jill Eileen Smith



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jill Eileen Smith is the author of several articles, poems, and stories, and her unpublished novels have placed in five writing contests in the past five years. A children’s story, which she wrote for her church led her youngest son to faith in Christ several years ago; much like a gospel tract led her to the Lord at a similar age.

That story, “Seeking Treasureland,” is now available. Jill is a member of several online writing groups and helps promote fellow authors’ works through monthly interviews on the "Spotlight" page of her website. She, along with her husband and children, are active members in their local church. A stay-at-home mom, she homeschooled the couple’s three sons for twelve years through high school, seeing them go on to higher education.

In her spare time, Jill teaches piano, reads, does picture scrap-booking, and enjoys trying out new recipes, especially those that include dark chocolate. Jill and her family make their home in Southeastern Lower Michigan.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Can their epic search for true love survive a father's fury?

The daughter of King Saul, Michal lives a life of privilege--but one that is haunted by her father's unpredictable moods and competition from her beautiful older sister.

As a girl, Michal quickly falls for the handsome young harpist David. But soon after their romance begins, David must flee for his life, leaving Michal at her father's mercy in the prison that is King Saul's palace.

Will Michal ever be reunited with David? Or is she doomed to remain separated from him forever?

Against the backdrop of opulent palace life, raging war, and daring desert escapes, Jill Eileen Smith takes you on an emotional journey as Michal deals with love, loss, and personal transformation as the first wife of King David. Jill Eileen Smith has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has gathered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

To read the first chapter of Michal, click HERE.




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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ministry Opportunity - Can You Help?

I receive a monthly e-newsletter from the Heart of God International Ministries. This month, we received a call to help provide 28 bicycles for pastors in India. Last night we received an update, and I got permission from my friend Jan Ross to share the information with all of you, and ask for your help.

From JournEzine:

Currently 28 of our pastors have absolutely no means of transportation. They travel on foot for several miles to attend Bible classes each month. They walk between villages to minister to the tribal villagers several times a week. In fact, they walk wherever they go since there is absolutely no other way available for them to migrate from one place to another.

We have seen pastors injured, kidnapped, terrorized by naxals or wild animals, and worse, as they travel by foot to carry the Gospel to villages who have never heard the name of Jesus. (Yes! There still are people who have never heard!)

We have been challenged to provide 28 pastors with a new bicycle; we have been given a deadline of March 16th to raise the money to provide this special gift to these precious men. All total, we need $1820 to fulfill this request.


One bicycle will cost $65.00 (approximately 3400 INR)
$65 x 28 = $1820

AS IF 03/13/2009,

WE HAVE RECEIVED $1550FOR BICYCLES
WE STILL NEED $270

If we raise the entire amount by March 16th, all other costs associated with transferring the money and purchasing, delivering, and assembling the bicycles in India will be covered. This in itself will save a tremendous amount of money, which will help us continue monthly support of evangelistic outreaches, the Heart of God School of Ministry, Food for Lepers, and more.
Please offer your best gift to help provide a bicycle to each of these pastors. We don't want to beg, but this project is so important to our Indian pastors. We want to show them that God is able to provide for them, to bless them, and to encourage them in their work as Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.

Please send your check or money order to:

Heart of God International

ATTN: Bikes for Pastors

P. O. Box 248

Willard, OH 444890


Or, if you prefer, please use PayPal to make your donation immediately with a credit card or check.

For your donation of $65 or more, we will make sure the bicycle you purchase is delivered with a personalized gift tag from you, with your message on it. Be sure to tell us what you want written on your gift tag.

Thank you so much for your help to make this request a reality for these MOST deserving men. If we succeed, we will be sure to share pictures with you of the pastors receiving this most valuable gift. We can't think of anything that would bless them any more than to have the means to travel in a safer and swifter manner. It would be an honor to make this dream a reality for the Pastors of Heart of God in India.

Pixels - can you join me in helping provide these bikes? Any amount would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!


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Friday, March 13, 2009

PUGS Pointers #15: Are You Callus or Callous?

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”).


PUNCTUATION TIP:

“Jr.” and “Sr.”, CMS #15.19 and CWMS p. 154 and AP p. 134

The abbreviations Jr. and Sr., as well as roman or Arabic numerals such as II or 3rd, after a person’s name are part of the name and should not be separated with a comma.

Examples: James Jefferson Sr. Dexter Harrison III


USAGE TIP:

callous/callus
callous (adjective) means “having calluses” or “feeling no emotion or sympathy.”
“The suspect’s callous hands revealed an occupation involving physical labor.”
“The reporter was a cold, callous man.”
callous (verb) means “to make callous.”
“A childhood of abuse had calloused her to the needs of others.”

callus (noun) means “a hard, thickened area on skin or bark.”
“The calluses on his hands reminded Shannon of a farmer she once dated.”
callus (verb) means “to cause calluses to form.”
“The physical labor callused his fingertips and palms.”

NOTE: mucous/mucus follows the same rule.


GRAMMAR TIP:

The pronouns who and whom can be confusing. But there are some tricks you can use to determine which to use when.

1. whom is always preceded by a preposition because the action has to happen to, with, or for the person being referred to.
The man to whom you wrote the check no longer works at this company.
The bowlers with whom I play won every tournament last season.
The audience for whom the book was written is teenage girls.

2. Try substituting a he/she or him/her pronoun. If he/she fits, use who. If him/her fits, use whom.
Diana, who rented the room, left the window open. (She rented the room.)
Diana, to whom the room was rented, left the window open. (It was rented to her.)


SPELLING TIP:

Whenever two spellings are given in the dictionary, the first one listed is the preferred spelling.

**********

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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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Christian Writer's Conferences: Interview with Colleen Coble

The Value of Conferences

For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be focusing on Christian writer’s conferences. These are an incredible blessing to the writing community and well-worth the cost. Best-selling author Colleen Coble is involved with two of these conferences and kindly agreed to share some thoughts with us.


Colleen, welcome to Pix-N-Pens and thank you for being our guest this week. Can you tell us what conferences you are involved in and when and where are they being held?

I'm involved in the American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference and the Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. Mount Hermon is coming up in Mount Hermon, CA from April 2-7, 2009. ACFW is Sept 17-20 in Denver CA.

How did you get involved in these conferences?

Mount Hermon was the first Christian Writer's conference I attended. A crit partner, Kristin Billerbeck, lives in California and told me about it. It's set in the redwoods and has a wide range of writing topics. Lots of editors and agents attend, and it's a great place to learn about the business and to network. I met my current editor, the fabulous Ami McConnell, at Mount Hermon in 2001. I know if I hadn't met her face-to-face, I wouldn't be at Thomas Nelson today. That personal connection is so important! I'm thrilled to teaching there this year!

I write fiction so I've been involved with ACFW for many years. Its focus is only fiction. I'm now CEO of the organization as well so am involved in the planning stages for it. It's the premier conference for fiction and nearly every publishing house has an editor in attendance. Many agents attend as well. It's a great conference to learn how to write fiction and to network with other writers. We cover many genres and the location changes from year to year. This year we're in Denver, and next year we're in Indianapolis.

What actually happens at these conferences?

While the workshops are fabulous for learning the mechanics of writing, the really important things go on outside of class. The attendees make friendships and connections that last a lifetime. You can find a critique partner or an agent or an editor. You learn how the business is changing and how you can be part of those changes. You may find a new type of writing you want to try. You have the camaraderie of learning that we're all facing challenges. It's a magical time to discover you're not alone and not "weird." There are other people out there who think about character and plot while they're brushing their teeth!

What level and type of writers are the conferences aimed at?

Both conferences have something for all levels. Mount Hermon has a professional track for authors who have written several books as well as beginning authors who are just starting. ACFW strives to make sure there is something for the writer just learning what point of view is as well as the seasoned author who makes a living at writing novels. Both groups benefit from interaction with each other too. The new writer hears how the published author faced rejection, and it's an encouragement when their first manuscript is turned down. The seasoned author is privileged to share her wisdom and also gets to share in the excitement of the new author. At ACFW some of the publishing houses routinely award a contract or two at the conference, and it's an exciting time for all of us.

What can writers expect if they come along to a conference?

They can expect to go home changed. They'll have new friends, a new commitment to craft, new connections to build on, and some exciting new ideas to try.

How can writers know if they’re ready to attend a conference?

I think everyone NEEDS to attend a conference. Yes, it costs money. But writing is a business. Any business requires an investment. Especially in today's publishing climate, the networking that goes on is hugely important! You might not be ready to submit a manuscript, but there are classes that will benefit you even if you don't know what point of view is all about or how to incorporate a setting into your book. Those are things you can learn at a conference.

Can you give us three tips on preparing to attend a conference?

1. If you're pitching a manuscript, have the idea distilled down to a paragraph of the big concept.
2. Determine to step outside your comfort zone and talk to other people. Don't be intimidated by the published authors. They are there because they want to talk to YOU.
3. Look over the class offerings and be honest about where you are. If you're just learning, take the entry level classes and don't complain that you can't take the advanced ones. Begin where you are.

Do you believe conferences can play an important part in a writer’s growth?

Absolutely! Even after having written thirty-five books, I learn something new at every conference. I develop deeper friendships and learn more about the business. I will always go to conferences!



Best-selling author Colleen Coble has won the ACFW Mentor of the Year award twice, and her books have won or finaled in numerous contests including RWA's Rita award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, Booksellers Best, the Daphne du Maurier, and the National Readers' Choice Award. Visit her at colleencoble.com and girlswriteout.

Available Now: Cry in the Night-Bree Matthews faces the greatest challenge in her life after finding an abandoned baby in the woods.

Many thanks for sharing with us, Colleen. I'm sure your words will inspire many of us to sign up for a conference this year.

If you've ever attended a Christian writer's conference, please feel free to leave a comment and tell us how it benefitted your writing. We'd love to hear from 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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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Pixel Wins Huge Gift Basket!

Yet another Pixel is a PRIZE WINNER!

Saturday, we posted information about Cheri Cowell's latest book Direction. Anyone leaving a comment was entered into a drawing - among many blogs - and one of our own Pixels won!


Congratulations, Stephanie Craig! You are winner of this huge gift basket!



Thanks for participating, Pixels. I love knowing that Pix-N-Pens is such a WINNING place! What a blessing!



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The Passion of Mary-Margaret

The minute I finish one Lisa Samson novel, I long for the next. With my schedule, I'm only reading for fun one book a week right now - and Lisa's latest, The Passion of Mary-Margaret, is this weekend's book. I've already started on it - just a chapter, but I can already tell it's one I will devour.


Do yourself a favor. If you haven't read any of Lisa's books - make it a priority. Each of her books is fresh, original, and very different from anything else you've ever read - and your life will be blessed and enriched because of her words.




This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Passion of Mary Margaret

Thomas Nelson (March 10, 2009)

by

Lisa Samson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

Her novel Embrace Me has been named as one of Library Journal's books of the year.

She lives in Lexinton, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.

She stays busy by writing, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying ... some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Mary-Margaret accepts a calling that surpasses her wildest dreams . . . and challenges her deep faith.When Mary-Margaret Danaher met Jude Keller, the lightkeeper's son, she was studying at convent school on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay. Destined for a life as a religious sister, she nevertheless felt a pull toward Jude-rough and tumble, promiscuous Jude.

After sojourning as a medical missions sister in Swaziland, Mary-Margaret returns to the island to prepare for her final vows. Jude, too, returns to the island, dissolute and hardened. Mary-Margaret can hardly believe it when the Spirit tells her she must marry the troubled boy who befriended her all those years ago, forsaking the only life she ever wanted for a man she knows she'll never love.

To read the first chapter of The Passion of Mary Margaret , click HERE.





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Monday, March 9, 2009

Winners of the Write Integrity Editorial Services Grand Opening Contest!

We finally have winners! It took awhile to gather all the entries, choose the winners, and then get the bios of everyone, but we've almost made it! :-) I'm still waiting on one bio - I think the winner may be out of town at the moment, so I'll update this post when she replies.


The winners of the Write Integrity Editorial Services Grand Opening contest are:


Prize #1 - "The Works" edit:

Connie Brown

Connie Brown is a writer and Webmaster. She has worked as a technicaltrainer, analyst and tester on a Web development team. Connie'spublished work includes articles for faith-based periodicals as wellas for The Waterline, a newspaper that serves Naval DistrictWashington.

Visit Connie's two blogs:

Sequoia Thoughts

e-Salt and Light

Prize # 2 - "Conference Special" edit:

Terri Kraus

After eleven co-authored books with husband, Jim, Terri Kraus has added her award-winning interior designer’s eye to her world of fiction. She comes to her latest series, the Project Restoration series, naturally, having survived the remodel, renovation, and restoration of three separate personal residences, along with those of her clients. She makes her home in Wheaton, Illinois, USA, with her husband, son, Elliot, miniature schnauzer, Rufus, and Siberian cat, Petey.

Visit Terri Kraus at her website.

Prize #3 - Web site design:

Ann Knowles

Ann Knowles is a freelance writer/editor from NC. She has been writing since 1991 and editing since 2005. She is retired educator of thirty-three years and has taught all ages from kindergarten through community college. She also operated Carolina ESL Services, consulting and training teachers of English language learners. She believes that God has called and gifted her to do the work she is doing. Winning this contest confirms this calling for her. Her motto is "His glory...my joy."

Look for Ann on the internet after Tracy creates her Web site.

Prize #4 - Blog Tour Coordination:

Lynda Schab

Lynda is a freelance writer whose work has been published in greeting cards, articles, and several anthologies. She has been a finalist in several national contests, including the 2008 ACFW Genesis contest, 2007 RWA Get your Stiletto in the Door Contest, and the 2007 FaithWriters Page Turner. Lynda recently finished her first novel and is now in the editing stage.

Visit her online:

Lynda Schab

On the Write Track

Prize #5 - Free Web hosting:

Elizabeth Pina

Elizabeth says: "I live in Texas, am married, and have four children. The youngest is sixteen and the eldest thirty-something ; ) Which puts me in my VERY late twenties …

I have a full-time job plus a bunch of dogs, livestock, and 4-H projects. I’m always busy, but find as much time to write as possible.

Thanks to wonderful help from friends such as you, Tracy, my writing has improved dramatically over the last twelve months and I now have a full (Inspirational Contemporary Romance) out with an agent and editor.

Life is good, and God’s blessings often found in the strangest places.

Visit Elizabeth on the Web, and on her blog.

Prize #6 - One-Sheet Design:

Laurie Foston/Cheryl Haynes

Laurie Foston is the pen name for American science fiction author and author/illustrator of children's stories, Cheryl Haynes. She has also published under the name Cheryl Hodgetts Parker and Cheryl Henry Hodgetts. She resides in Southaven, MS at an angle from the house where John Grisham lived before his career blossomed. Cheryl says she didn't live there when he did but hopes that area will be as propitious for her as it was for him.

Cheryl is a beauty pageant judge for America's Most Beautiful Girls and is a member of the American Council of the Blind as well as being a member of several writers forums. She is also the founder of a web-based think tank called Authors' Crossroad and is a contributing editor of Wikipedia. She is willing to do freelance writing but only in special areas of interest.

Visit her on the Web.

Prize #7 - Image-Building Package:

Karri Compton

Karri Compton, wife and mother of three, devours Christian fiction whenever possible. Her favorite genre is suspense/thriller, especially Ted Dekker novels. Since promoting biblical worldview fiction is dear to her heart, she reviews on her blog, Fiction Fanatics Only! and is a staff reviewer and interviewer for such sites as Title Trakk and The Christian Suspense Zone. She also enjoys musical theater and mulling over ideas for her own novels. Her latest published works appear in Cross & Quill and Peculiar People’s novel collaboration, Struggle Creek.

CONGRATULATIONS and thanks so very much to all of our winners, and all of our participants. You helped make our Grand Opening a HUGE success, and I appreciate your promotion, referrals, encouragement, kind words, and your business with all my heart.

If you ever need editing, Web, or marketing services, I hope you'll consider Write Integrity.



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Win Mary DeMuth's Daisy Chain

We have lots going on here at Pix-N-Pens this week, so you may get a couple of posts today as I try to get all the information in. Stay tuned for the winners of the big contest from Write Integrity - I'm waiting on bios from a couple of the winners and then I'll make an announcement!

A couple of weeks ago, the CFBA offered Mary DeMuth's new release Daisy Chain as their feature, and I posted the book information, but I hadn't yet read the book at that point, so I could not post my own review.

This week, Mary is on blog tour again, and I received a 2nd copy of the book, so I'm going to give away the brand new copy this week to one of our readers. The details will follow later in this post.

Daisy Chain is one of those books you don't want to like because it's a sad story. But it's powerful and rich, filled with 3-D characters so real you forget you're reading fiction.

I don't like sad stories - it's just one of my own personal quirks that I've recently learned about myself. But I do love, and greatly appreciate, tremendous writing - and Daisy Chain is excellent.

Mary's characters - some I loved, some I hated - tugged at my emotions. I had to put the book down at times, but then found myself longing to get back to it. Finally, the story pulled me enough that I couldn't stop reading - regardless of the pain.

Great job, Mary. I think this may be one of your best books ever.

Now for the contest:

Do either one of the following items by this Friday, March 13th, and I'll enter your name into the drawing for Daisy Chain. If you do both, you'll get 2 entries.

1) Visit any of the blogs participating in the Daisy Chain tour, links below, and leave a comment on that blog. Then, come back here, and leave a comment about that blog - something you liked or discovered while there that others may want to know about.

2) Post a comment about this contest, mentioning both Pix-N-Pens and Daisy Chain, on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog, then leave a comment here with a link to your post.

Look for the Daisy Chain tour on Facebook, too -Mary's giving away "signed (and kissed) copies" of three of her books.

Here are the blogs featuring Daisy Chain during our MARCH 9-13 Tour.

5 Minutes for Books

A Peek at My Bookshelf

A Spacious Place

Actual Unretouched Photo

Along the Way

Amy Storms

Ashley Weis

Aspire2 Blog

Awesome God . . . Ordinary Girl

blah-blah-blog

Blame it on the Loud Mouth Gene

Blog Tour Spot

Bluebonnet in the Snow

Book Nook Club

BookingIt

Bookworm’s Nook

Bound to His Heart

Callapidder Days

Camy’s Loft

Canadian Prairie Writer

Carla’s Writing Cafe

CommuniKate

Cyndy Salzmann

Declaring His Marvelous Work

dreamers of the day

Edgewise

Faith Fuel

Faith of a Single Mom

Fictionary

Five Bazillion and One

Giving Up on Perfect

Heading Home

Healthy Spirituality

Home-Steeped Hope

i don’t believe in grammar

it wasn’t me

Janell Rardon’s Blog

Just Pure Lovely

J’s Spot

Kindred Heart Writers

Krellfish

Leap of Faith

Life is one daily adventure

Lift My Noise

Lighthouse Academy

Literary Discoveries

Literary Fangirl

L’Chaim

Margaret Daley

Mari’s Morning Room

My Life Message

Paper Bridges

Partners in Prayer for Our Prodigal

Pix-N-Pens

Positive Moms

Prayerfully Penned

Rachel Hauck

Refresh My Soul

Reviews by Donna

Sarah Winfrey

Scraps and Snippets

See Ya On the Net

Simplifying Motherhood

Sips ‘n Cups Cafe

Sky-High View

The Gospel Writer

The Journey of Writer Danica Favorite

The March to Freedom

The Serial Writings of Robin Shope

The View From Here

The Writing Road

Whosoever Will Outreach Ministry

Wild Words . . . Photos and Fine Art

Wisdom Walk

Word Vessel

Write by Faith



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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Leave a Comment for Chance to Win Huge Gift Basket!

Pixels - here's another huge contest, but you must act fast. Leave a comment relevant to this post below and your e-mail address where we can contact you if you win, and you'll be entered into a drawing for HUGE gift basket books and goodies worth $135! Leave your comment by Monday, March 9th!



Feeling Lost? Need Directions?

Author Shares Six Tips for Finding Your Route



(Orlando, Florida) Have you ever wished you could look into the future and obtain better insight in order to make wiser decisions for your best outcome? So many times, results from poor choices could have been avoided if we had seriously considered the direction of God's guidance for our lives, instead of trying to figure things out on our own. In her book, Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life, Cheri Cowell presents six questions readers should ask themselves when facing important decisions. Through observation and exploration, she examines each question and shares examples of how others--from Bible times to present day--have used these questions to find God's way in the story of their lives. From career options to medical decisions to relationship questions, Cowell's instruction and guidance helps readers learn how to make confident choices as they seek God's direction on the road of life.



Cheri Cowell, a popular conference speaker and writer, uses her experience in ministry to encourage and equip Christians seeking answers to the unspoken questions of faith. She is earning a degree in theological studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, where she and her husband, Randy, call home. For more information, visit Direction and Discernment.



An Interview with the Author:

Obviously, the search for God's will is a topic of interest to many Christians today. What would you say is the most common misconception about seeking God's direction for ones life?

I encounter this same question every time I speak on this topic. The answer is what I call the Myth of the Path of Relative Ease, which says when we finally find God's perfect will we'll be on easy street. Easy Street promises smooth sailing and a peace-filled life. But I've learned this is anything but biblical. The Bible tells us we can't use an 'easy life' as a road-sign pointing to His way. In fact, His way promises to be a bumpy road filled with potholes and dangerous cliffs. The exciting thing for us is when we learn to walk in His ways, we'll have a Companion for the journey who knows the dangerous curves ahead.


In Direction, you write about the process of determining if something is God's will or not. You say to test it against the character of God. How can we know what the character of God is like?

I don't presume to know all there is to know about who God is, but when looking for the leading hand of God, it's important to know how we see that hand. Some see God's guidance as that of a loving Father showing His child the best way to live so as to protect from harm, others know Him as a Best Friend who shares all that's needed to make wise decisions. Then there are those who see God as a Guide, almost like a whitewater rafting guide who's been down this rapid before and can show the way.

When you are personally faced with a big decision to make, what's the first thing you do?

LOL, I think I'm like most people. I have well-worn paths I retreat to, and some are not healthy. I'm afraid I tend to talk it out with friends instead of first talking to my Best Friend. I'm fear-filled first instead of crawling up in my Father's heavenly lap and seeking His heart on the matter. And yes, I also rely on the common road signs most of us have relied upon when making big decisions—Bible reading, prayer, open & closed doors, and the sense of peace we're to have when walking in God's light. This last list sounds like a good thing, but I've learned there's a good way to do this and a not-so-good way. The not-so-good way is the one that says these road signs are to point me to God's perfect will. The 'good way' is to use these same road signs as a means of drawing closer to the heart of God instead of looking for a hidden will. It is in this position, close to the heart of God, where we are best able to hear from God.


Sometimes we think we only need to go to God about the big decisions in our lives. What evidence do you have from God's Word that He is interested in every decision?

I call this the Too Big and Too Small God problem. When we make our God so big, He becomes aloof and distant. When we buy into this lie we only go to God when the decision is big enough. Such decisions often find us at God's door begging for direction such as, "Who am I supposed to marry; should I take this job and move my family; or is it ever okay to take my loved one off life support?" These are indeed big decisions that require a Big God, but if we're only going to God when a situation is big enough, we're missing most of life. Most of life is lived in the humdrum of everyday decision-making. It is the ordinary day-in-and-day-out little things like, "'Do I run this yellow light; do I tell her how I really feel even if it means losing a friend; or do I pick up the phone and call that person I've been thinking about all day?" where the little things add up to become big things. Satan tries to tell us these are the small things a Big God should not be bothered with. This is one of his favorite tools. He used these same lies with Jesus during His temptation in the desert, but Jesus knew they were lies. We, too, need to learn to identify Satan's lying tongue.

You're continuing your education at Asbury Theological Seminary. What are you hoping to do once you finish your degree?

It is my prayer to write and speak biblical truths more effectively. I am so blessed to have this opportunity to earn a Masters in Theological Studies. As I gain more knowledge, I've seen my writing and speaking gain power and conviction.

When a Christian is totally consumed and overwhelmed by the stress of making the right decision, it is tough to put everything in perspective. Are there some practical tips you can share so that he/she can still continue with their everyday life?

Certainly. My first suggestion is to take time to be alone with God. Our God-time is often the first casualty of a stress-filled life, but this is precisely the time when we need Him the most. Next, find some help. The Christian life is not to be a solitary event. Even Jesus went to the Garden with four friends. Share with a handful of committed Christians your struggles, ask for practical help if necessary, and then invite them to lift you up in intercessory prayer. This last step is forming what I call a Clearness Community. Through this Community you will hear God's voice more clearly than any one of us can discern on our own.

How is Direction an extension of your own personal search for God's will?

As I answer these questions I'm sitting in Tennessee in a vacation cabin where my husband and I are seeking God's direction about a potential move here from our home in Florida. My friends have teased, "You know, there's this really good book you should read…" Their levity allows me to keep things in perspective as we weigh the options, seek the leading of the Holy Spirit, and trust in a God who walks with us no matter what decisions we make.




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