Friday, May 29, 2009

Plotting Your Novel Course Starts Monday

Last chance to register for this extensive course that starts Monday, June 1st.

Plot Shots: Plotting Your Novel in 12 Easy Snapshots is an online course taught by multi-published author Janice Thompson. The online course lasts eight weeks, is taught by weekly e-mail lessons.

Every story needs a beginning, middle, and an end. Careful plotting will lead the reader on a satisfactory, realistic journey through each of those stages, creatively weaving in and out, up and down.

But how do we begin to plot our stories? Is there a magic formula?

There are many ways to “start plotting.” How you begin will depend on your personal preference/style. Some work off an outline. Others use Randy Ingermanson’s “Snowflake Method.” Others use the storyboard method.

In this exciting course by multi-published author Janice Thompson, you will learn to use a 12-step plotter, which focuses on plotting your novel in 12 easy "snapshots."

Instructor: Janice Thompson
Course Dates: June 1, 2009 - July 24, 2009
Cost: $150

A wide variety of courses (4-, 6-, and 8-week) are offered year-round through WIES Workshops. We've recently added a course for Writing Women's Fiction, taught by Deborah Raney, and a writing course specifically for young authors, taught by Susan Marlow.

Check the schedule regularly for course descriptions, instructor bios, and updates.



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PUGS Pointers #26: Subject and Verb Must Agree

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
Letters as Letters
Italicize individual letters of the alphabet (unless used in a common expression). Examples:
the letter s
a capital M
He signed the paperwork with an X.
Mississippi is spelled with four i’s and four s’s.
Mind your p’s and q’s
Dot the i’s and cross the t’s


See The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) #7.63.


USAGE TIP

coarse/course
coarse (adjective): not fine
“coarse cloth” “coarse language”

course (noun): a path, a customary procedure, or part of a meal
“in due course” “of course”
“collision course” “correspondence course” “golf course”
course (verb): to pursue or move swiftly
“Airplanes coursed across the sky above her apartment every day.”
“Hot blood coursed through Brenda’s veins as she wrote her suspense novel.”



GRAMMAR TIP

Subject/Verb Agreement
Make sure the subject and the verb agree in number (singular or plural).
“The synopsis and sample chapter (two things) have to be mailed by Tuesday.”
“Each proposal (singular) has to be mailed separately.”
“Every contest entry (singular) has to be received before the deadline.”
“None (not one, singular) of the stories in that book is written in present tense.”

When a subject is followed by a phrase that refers to another entity (with or without commas), the added phrase does not change the quantity of the original subject.
“Terry’s bad grammar, as well as her typos, needs to be corrected.”
“The suspenseful plot combined with unexpected twists makes this a great book.”

Some collective nouns can be treated as either plural or singular, depending on whether you want the focus to be on the unit or on the individual members.
“The couple has a young daughter.” (refers to the two people as a single unit)
“The couple get along well together.” (focus is on two individuals, plural “they”)
“My family is very close.” (focus is on the unit, which is singular)
“My family want the best for me.” (reference is to several people, plural “they”)



SPELLING TIP

freelance/freelancer/freelancing (no hyphen)




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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: www.KathyIde.com. Or get her book Polishing the PUGS, available at www.kathyide.com/published.php.


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 (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Network (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, please visit www.KathyIde.com.





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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Sunshine State

Here in Central Florida we, generally speaking, have 2 types of weather: sunny and aridly dry or sunny and soaking wet. This is not to say we don't have those occasional gray, drizzly days, but any good Floridian knows that the sun will always return in the end. They don't call this "the Sunshine State" for nothing, after all.

After months of drought-like conditions, the summer rains have finally returned, and earlier than normal. Summer afternoons in Florida always mean rain. You can just about put a timer on it. The heating of the sun, causes tremendously tall cumulus clouds to build, then come about 5 o'clock, the sky will fall. And rain here can be torrential. Often we get 2-3" inside of an hour. Rainstorms can be accompanied by gusting winds, startling flashes of lightning, and terrific crashes of thunder.

Distant Lightning Storm, 15 second exposure

Distant Lightning Storm, 15 second exposure


The other evening my husband and I sat on the front porch and watched a distant lightning storm. It was one of those rare occurrences where you get the show the lightning puts on without the thunder or the rain. It was mesmerizing to sit there and watch the shapes and colors that were created in the night sky. I must admit my efforts at lightning photography fall far short of what I have seen some, with the proper equipment, take. However, I discovered that using a slower exposure allowed me to capture the effect of the storm, and I am pleased with the results.

1 minute real-time movie




The good thing about rainy weather is how it's annual appearance really changes things. My grass is blindingly green now. The frogs have returned in abundance, and then there's the rainbows. One afternoon recently, after an afternoon of heavy rain, a full, double rainbow appeared in the sky. It is the first I have seen in a long, long while. It took 2 photos, stitched in Photoshop to create the photo below.

God's Promise

God's Promise


If you'd like to see the above photo at full resolution: Click Here.
To view the full set of my evening lightning images: Click Here.


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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, May 27, 2009

Writing for Children Series - Part Three


Story Themes that Appeal to Children

Children have wonderful imaginations and these are reflected in the amazing variety of books that are geared towards them. Like adults, they have preferences and often favor a couple of books that they ask for over and over again. When writing for children, it is helpful to understand the different genres on the market.

Novelty Books for Young Readers
These delightful books appeal to adults as well. They include pop-ups, scratch and sniff, lift-a flap and board books that may contain jigsaw puzzles.

Animal Stories These can be divided into two sub categories. Younger children enjoy stories where an animal is given human characteristics. For example, a tortoise may be portrayed as slow, steady and a loyal friend. In picture books, the animals often wear clothes and live in houses, such as in the tale of The Three Little Pigs.

Older children will find more enjoyment in reading about an animal that is portrayed as an animal, with animal behavior and characteristics.

Traditional Fairy Tales
There are several hundred of these on the market, many written by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. Wikipedia defines a fairy tale as a fictional story that may feature folkloric characters such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants and talking animals. Modern day fairy tales will usually contain similar elements.

Comic Strips
These are immensely popular with the 7 – 12 year age group and consist of a story told through sequential pictures with speech bubbles. Themes vary but include superheroes, space adventures and teen humor and romance.

Books Written in Rhyme
Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl were both masters at this style of writing. Children enjoy fun verse especially when accompanied by pictures.

Humorous Tales
Children enjoy humor from an early age. It may be something as simple as a clown that trips over his laces or a more complex scene where one disaster sets off another. The BFG by Roald Dahl is a good example of light humor geared towards 8 to 12 year olds.

Inspirational Chapter Books
These books often tell the story of a child who has achieved a goal against all odds. The writing style is positive and upbeat and the story encourages the readers to stretch their own wings and work towards their dreams. They can also relate a child’s experience of cancer or other illness, in a way that informs other children and helps them realize they can get through this difficult time.

Fantasy/ Science Fiction
This is a broad category and encompasses anything from J K Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to Dr Seuss’s Cat in the Hat.

Teen Romances
These are popular with girls aged 12 to 16. Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High series are a good example of this type of book. The stories often include high school settings and the first person point of view is favored.

Mysteries, Thrillers and Adventure Books
Enid Blyton was a master at writing adventure and mystery stories for children. Other well known series are the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. This type of book is built around unanswered questions and normally contains a series of clues so the reader can try and figure out the answers.

Educational and Information
This group includes factual books about nature, the world and science and ranges from simple picture books to detailed encyclopaedias.

These are general categories and a story often falls into more than one group. With the wide range of subject matter, there is plenty of scope for someone interested in writing for children.

Come back next Wednesday to learn how to add Christian values to children’s stories.




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, May 25, 2009

Need Help Plotting Your Novel?

Sign up for June's WIES Workshop!

PLOT SHOTS: Plotting Your Novel in 12 Easy Snapshots begins June 1st.

Every story needs a beginning, middle, and an end. Careful plotting will lead the reader on a satisfactory, realistic journey through each of those stages, creatively weaving in and out, up and down.

But how do we begin to plot our stories? Is there a magic formula?

There are many ways to “start plotting.” How you begin will depend on your personal preference/style. Some work off an outline. Others use Randy Ingermanson’s “Snowflake Method.” Others use the storyboard method.

In this exciting course by multi-published author Janice Thompson, you will learn to use a 12-step plotter, which focuses on plotting your novel in 12 easy "snapshots."

Janice Thompson (who also writes as Janice Hanna) is the author of over fifty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She loves to work with other writers, sharing from both her journey and her experience. She is particularly enthused about the Plot Shots course because it gives non-plotters an opportunity to lay out their stories in a simple yet creative way.

Visit Janice's Web site.

Courses are taught online, through e-mail. Students learn at their own pace, from the comfort of their own home or office. Classes are small and provide a great opportunity for one-on-one learning, and networking with the instructor and other students.

Instructor: Janice Thompson

Course Dates: June 1, 2009 - July 24, 2009

Cost: $150

Send Tracy an e-mail to register.


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Friday, May 22, 2009

PUGS Pointers #25: Who or Whom?

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

Foreign Words
Isolated words and phrases in a foreign language should be set in italics if they are likely to be unfamiliar to readers. If it’s a fairly common word, check Webster’s Collegiate to see if the word has been adopted into English. If so, don’t italicize.

See The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) #7.51 and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style pages 242–243.

For articles, The Associated Press Stylebook (p. 99) says that foreign words that are not universally understood should be placed in quotation marks (with an explanation of its meaning).


USAGE TIP

clench/clinch
clench (verb) means “to set or close tightly.”
(Clench is a “transitive verb,” which means it requires an object, such as hands, fingers, jaws, or teeth.)
“Melissa clenched her teeth when Myra clenched her fist.”

clinch (verb) means to “settle,” “make final or irrefutable,” or “secure conclusively.”
(Clinch is most often used for the securing of an agreement, argument, or verdict.)
“Jeanette’s evidence clinched the argument.”
clinch (verb) can also mean “to hold an opponent in close quarters” in boxing.
clinch (noun) means “an act or instance of clinching in boxing” or “an embrace.”


GRAMMAR TIP

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

1. 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.)

2. 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.


SPELLING TIP

espresso (not expresso)


**********

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, May 21, 2009

The Photography Principle

The more popular digital photography has become, the more digital editing software has improved, the easier it has become to be sloppy with photography. Over the years, I have taken plenty of photographs of questionable quality. I have had folders full of out-of-focus, too dark, or too bright images, and I have used photo-editing software to save some. I am grateful for that. However, when I find an image takes too much correction, I always stop and ask myself, if it is just better to move on.

I cannot profess to be one of those old-time film photographers who once "did it all" manually, and I have never developed my own roll of film. I got my start when digital was in its infancy, with a camera resolution of 640x480 pixels. But from the very start, I have held on to one guiding principle for every image. My goal, no matter what the subject, is always to "Get it right the first time." Above all things, I want each image to not need any photo editing at all.

Pastureland
Polaroid PDC 640
9-6-2000

Pastureland, Lakeland, Florida


I believe there is a limit to what should be done to a photograph. If I were being totally honest, I would admit I don't really like HDR images, which are all the rage right now. I find they lack the reality that makes a photograph unique and interesting. Digital art notwithstanding, over-editing is, for the photographer, a bad habit to get into.

One Foggy Morning
Ricoh RDC-7
11-6-2000

One Foggy Morning


I am most pleased when my photographs can stand on their own. This means I knew what to do, and I chose correctly. But if I find an image needs some post-editing, my second highest principle is to keep the photograph as genuine as I can. I am never trying to remove the naturalness of the subject or to create something that could not have been there. A well edited photograph will not look like it was edited.

No, for me, being able to to produce the best exposure with the best composition, staying true to the authenticity of the subject, and using only the camera's inherent abilities is what is the most rewarding.

Green Anole on Heavenly Bamboo
Ricoh RDC-7
1-15-2001

Green Anole on Heavenly Bamboo



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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, May 20, 2009

Writing for Children Series - Part Two


Writing for Different Age Groups
Writing for children sounds like lots of fun ... and it can be ... but there are basic rules and guidelines that need to be followed for success. Because it’s such a diverse market, the industry has divided it into several age groups. These categories are fairly loose and overlap in areas, so use them as a guide, not as rigid divisions.

Early Childhood 0-5 Years
It’s never too early to introduce a child to the joys of reading and even babies can be entertained with cloth and board books. Picture books are most popular in this age group and there is a definite technique to putting one together. The most common format is a 32 page book that allows 24 pages for the actual story and illustrations. Ideally, these will be twelve double-spreads and each should present a stage in the story. Most publishing houses have their own illustrators and will accept text on its own merit. Never underestimate a young child’s capacity for understanding. The wording in these books must be polished, coherent, interesting and able to bear repetition.

Beginner Readers 5-7 Years
Stories for beginner readers are produced with large print and illustrated on each page. They are a step up from picture books and include the early reading schemes used in schools. There is a subtle shift, in that the text begins to overshadow the illustrations, and varies from a few words per page to a total of 2000 for the book.

Young Fiction for Confident Readers 7-10
This is a transition stage between learning to read confidently and being able to finish a book with around 100 pages. Illustrations are still important but may be simpler line drawings as opposed to full colour pictures. The books are often divided into six or more chapters, presenting the story in manageable chunks for young readers.

Chapter Books 9-12
These are an expansion on the above category, with less in the way of illustrations, and more in the way of chapters and length.

Older Children and Teenage Fiction 12-18
Children who are prolific readers at this age will normally have preferences for certain genres. As a result, there is a wider cross section available for this age group. It’s like a junior version of adult novels and includes mystery, thrillers, adventure, fantasy, school and many more. Unlike adult novels, the protagonist is often a teenager or young person and the first person point of view is common.

If you’re interested in writing for children, now may be a good time to pay another visit to your local library. Choose a selection of books in the age group you favor and analyze the content, illustrations and length. Look at the titles and covers and try and work out what has made them a success.

Next week we’ll be looking at the themes used in children’s writing. This will be great fun so come back and have a look next Wednesday.

Read Writing for Children Series - Part 1

More articles on Writing for Children:

Interview with best-selling children's book author Bob Hartman

Writing Children's Books: Not Just the Facts, Ma'am

Have You Read a Toddler's Book Lately?

Read to Me: Create Memories with Books

Tween Fiction: Disaster or Delight?

Early Reader Books keep kids interested in learning


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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Friday, May 15, 2009

PUGS Pointers #24: Apostrophes and Curly Quotes

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

Replacing Omitted Letters
An apostrophe replaces omitted letters in a word. Examples:
readin’ and writin’
’tis the season
rock ’n’ roll
ne’er-do-well

NOTE: If you’re using “curly quotes,” make sure the apostrophes are curled in the right direction. Example:
’tis, not ‘tis

See The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) #7.31 and The Associated Press Stylebook page 328.


USAGE TIP

best seller/best-selling
best seller (noun): a book that has sold more copies than most

best-selling (adjective): having sold more copies than most

NOTE: Never one word, bestseller


GRAMMAR TIP

Most of the time, the subject pronoun of a phrase or sentence refers to the subject noun of the previous phrase or sentence, while the object pronoun refers to the object noun.

Example:
“Stephanie told Nancy about the book signing. Then she told her about the potluck.”
[“She” refers to Stephanie (subject), and “her” refers to Nancy (object).]

This rule of thumb does not apply if the identity of the pronoun is obvious.

Example:
“Wanda told Daniel she wouldn’t eat caviar. He told her he never ate shellfish.”


SPELLING TIP

CAT scan (all-caps CAT, acronym for Computerized Axial Tomography)



**********

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, May 14, 2009

Salesmanship, Part 2

To make a sale, any good salesman will know all there is to know about their product and will be able to answer any questions. Where photo sales are concerned this can involve factors like pixel size, dpi, and resolution. Some buyers will know what they want. For these, it is simply a matter of providing what they have requested. But to be able to help those buyers who need a few pointers, it is so important that a photographer have some knowledge of what will work best in different situations. Truthfully, sometimes I just don't know the answer right away. But I never let my ignorance come across to the buyer. There is always some way to find out, somebody you can inquire to, before you respond.

Last week I covered the finesse involved in salesmanship. Being able to stand for your demands and pleasing the buyer is a practiced skill. In the same manner, so is projecting a knowledgeable image. I must know how to send to the buyer what they have requested. If that is a print it might include where to have the print made, what size prints are best for that particular image, and how best to send it to the consumer. If it is a digital file, I need to know picture formats (jpg, bmp, tiff, etc) and the best method of transmission, whether that is email, removable media, or any number of file sending sites. Before I respond to the buyer, I take the time to know exactly what to say. On the other hand, providing too much information can be overwhelming. My ultimate goal in making a sale is to be helpful, not confusing.

Photobucket


And here is a tip, never be afraid to ask to see the results. Most organizations are more than willing to provide complimentary copies of whatever they are working on. I know I am always a bit curious to see how my photographs have been used. But I do offer a further word of caution, don't be pushy and never ask twice. You will either receive what they have promised or you won't.

In return, always be willing to just give some things away. There is a fine line to walk between being firm and being malleable. A big part of a professional image will be seen with your generosity. Personally, I decided long ago to never charge churches. That is my gift for what God has in turn given me, and I believe it has paid off both in further sales and in the image I have left in the minds of others.


Photobucket


Negotiating a sale involves more than money. It involves people and their impression of you. A successful sale is one where both sides come away satisfied. You are thought to be friendly and knowledgeable, and they have what they need to complete their project. But sales should never change what you like about photography. I didn't begin taking photographs to make money. I did it because I enjoyed it. Taking the images and viewing them later are what mean something to me. Through each sale, be yourself, and most of all, continue to enjoy taking pictures.

Photobucket


Here you can read "Salesmanship, Part 1 (And Motherhood)".

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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, May 13, 2009

Writing for Children Series

General Overview of Writing for Children
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to look at the different aspects of writing for children. In the early 90s, I wrote regularly for a magazine in South Africa that accepted short stories for children. At the time, I had three children under the age of six and was in touch with what interested them. These days, I write the occasional story to be read at public events and have had a couple printed in local Christian publications.

Writing for Children Requires Skill
There is a common misconception that writing for children is easy and anyone can do it. Some people regard it as a market for beginners. In fact, writing for children is more diverse than writing for adults, and requires skill and understanding.

Why Should I Write for Children
All children love stories and creatively written words are a wonderful medium for teaching Godly values to them. As writers, we can influence young lives and lead children to an understanding of Jesus as their friend. We can also use our imaginations and create wonderful stories that captivate and entertain.

Where do I Start
The best place is in the children’s section of your local library. Set aside a couple of hours and go and browse through the shelves. Look at the different types of books and ask the librarian to point out popular titles. Children’s writers often concentrate on a particular age group so try and pinpoint what bracket appeals to you.

Trends in Children’s Writing
While there are some favorites that keep on going, (Think Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton) the children’s market is ever-changing. What appealed to children forty years ago, doesn’t necessarily appeal now. Young children like brightly-colored picture books and humorous stories. Modern stories for older children may include current fashions, popular slang, and references to international events and technology.

Writing for children is not my favorite form of writing, but I recognize the value in it. I have a couple of stories in the free reprints section of Faithwriters.com, and every so often, I do a Google search to see if they pop up anywhere. Have a look on Page 2 of this site, to see one that has also appeared on several other sites and has been forwarded as an email. I don’t receive payment for these, just the satisfaction of knowing the words are touching children’s lives.

Next week, I’ll be looking at the different age groups and the type of writing within each category. Be sure to come back and have a look.

Writing for Children Series - Part 2


More articles about Writing for Children:

Interview with best-selling children's book author Bob Hartman

Writing Children's Books: Not Just the Facts, Ma'am

Have You Read a Toddler's Book Lately?

Read to Me: Create Memories with Books

Tween Fiction: Disaster or Delight?

Early Reader Books keep kids interested in learning



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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Friday, May 8, 2009

You Could Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

Happy Friday, Pixels! It's time for another fun, huge contest!!

Here are the rules: Read the information below, and then help spread the word. For every blog post, every Twitter feed, every Facebook note, and mentions on Shoutlife, MySpace, LinkedIn, your Website, flyers to your writers group, wherever you can think of - the more creative the better - just NO SPAMMING - you'll need to come back here, and leave a link or a description of your efforts in the comments. Every comment on this post that includes a link to a post or a detailed description of how you helped spread the word about WIES WORKSHOPS will receive an entry into the drawing for a $100 Amazon Gift Card. And if you sign up for one or more of the courses, be sure to mention that in the comments, too, (or send Tracy an e-mail if you prefer) and you'll get another entry! I do reserve the right to disqualify any entry based on content or spamming practices.

Links can be posted here between now and Friday, June 19th. The WIES Workshop schedule is updated frequently, so check the schedule for new ideas to post. I'll announce the winner of the $100 Amazon Gift Card on Monday, June 22nd.

Now - here's the big announcement - something I'm very excited about and hope you'll help get the word out. This is the press release I'm sending out to various places - feel free to copy and paste it yourself:

Write Integrity Editorial Services is pleased to announce the formation of WIES Workshops, online writing courses for writers in the Christian market.

“Our goal is to help Christian writers gain and practice the skills they need to succeed in the Christian market,” says Write Integrity owner and Workshop Coordinator Tracy Ruckman. “Our instructors include some of the best and most respected authors in their field. Many of the instructors are bestsellers and award winners and all of them are multi-published.”

Registration is now underway for the first course, which begins June 1st.

Plot Shots: Plotting Your Novel in 12 Easy Snapshots, is an eight-week course taught by Janice Thompson (who also writes as Janice Hanna.) She is the author of over fifty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She loves to work with other writers, sharing from both her journey and her experience. Plot Shots gives non-plotters an opportunity to lay out their stories in a simple yet creative way.

Other courses already on the schedule include:

Introduction to Writing Christian Novels by Virginia Smith

The Passion of Self-Publishing by Kathy Ide

Writing the Historical by Kathleen Fuller

Dialogue by Eva Marie Everson

Writing Magazine Articles by Jeanette Hanscome

Fiction Book Proposals by Virginia Smith

Building Your Publishing Credits by Kathy Ide

Writing for the Middle Grades by Susan Marlow

Writing Devotionals by Jeanette Hanscome

Writing for the YA Market by Jeanette Hanscome

Courses already assigned but still in the planning stages will be added to the calendar as soon as possible. These courses include:

Writing Devotions for Kids or Tweens
Writing for Children
Setting as Character
Career Building
Characterization
Writing How-To Books
Writing for Tweens and Teens

We also have several other courses in the early planning stages that will be added as the information becomes available.

Each course is taught through an online group, and lasts from four to ten weeks, depending on the course. Fees range from $100-$150 per course. "This is a good alternative to writer's conferences if you can't afford to go, or can't take the time away from family, work, or other obligations. Our courses provide quality instruction, some offer handouts, some multi-media presentations, and of course, all courses offer invaluable networking with other students and the instructor," says Ruckman.

Registration is now open for some of the classes. Check the Write Integrity Web site regularly for course descriptions, dates, and fees.

For more information, e-mail Tracy Ruckman.


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PUGS Pointers #23: Plural Pronouns Pose Problems

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
For . . . sake Expressions
“For . . . sake” expressions usually leave off the s when the noun ends in an s or an s sound. Examples:
for righteousness’ sake
for goodness’ sake
for heaven’s sake

See The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) #7.22 and The Associated Press Stylebook page 326.


USAGE TIP

altar/alter
altar (noun): a table or platform used in a church service
“The new bride and groom prayed together at the altar.”

alter (verb): to change
“Roxanne hoped his outburst wouldn’t alter their friendship in any way.”


GRAMMAR TIP

Make sure the pronoun and its antecedent agree in number.
“Trevor’s two sons are sloppy.” (plural)
“Neither one of them combs his hair.” (singular)
“Portia’s two daughters are neat; they both clean up after themselves.” (plural)

NOTE: In an effort to avoid gender bias (using he to refer to both sexes) and the annoying repetition of him/her, he or she, and the like, some writers use they as a singular pronoun when referring to someone whose gender is unknown or irrelevant.
“If an editor (singular) likes your query, they (plural) will request a proposal.”

However, using the plural pronoun they to refer to a singular antecedent presents a problem in agreement. This style is acceptable in verbal speech, but not in writing.

You could reword the above sentence to:
“If an editor likes your query, he or she will request a proposal.” OR
“If the editors like your query, they will request a proposal.”


SPELLING TIP

brainpower (one word, not two)



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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 at www.kathyide.com/published.php.


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 (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Network (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, please visit www.KathyIde.com.





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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Salesmanship, Part 1 (And motherhood)

Sales is perhaps my least favorite part of photography. I was not, for some reason, blessed with an extroverted personality. Being outgoing, talkative, and even friendly sometimes, are not my best traits. I am much more of a thinker. So when it comes to making a photo sale, I usually have to force myself to act "outside of the box". I give credit to my ability to do this to my mother.

I was thinking the other day about what I'd say of what my mother taught me. (I have half-jokingly told my own daughter what to say if anyone were to ask her this same question. Looking her in the eye, I told her to say, "People are stupid!" Which, by the way, has been proven right more than once.) I think the one thing she really gave me was about making commitments. Never make promises you cannot keep. Your word is the most important thing for you to honor. Second would be the ability to keep these commitments. The fact is that sometimes you just "have to do what you have to do", and for me salesmanship is definitely one of those things.

My mother

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Making a sale can be one of the most thrilling things for me because it means I have both taken a photograph someone found pleasing and acted correctly to make the sale. Successful sales come, after all, mostly because of my attitude. I must make myself approachable. If I make the wrong impression through my behavior, then I will lose the sale. Here is where I use all those rules my mother taught me: only promising what I can deliver, keeping to the time table I have put forth, and always saying "thank you". A buyer who is appreciated will come back for another sale.

I also know I must be adaptable to what a buyer wants. I never set limits on what my photos can be used for. They have been printed in educational and gardening books, used as bookmarkers, made into postcards, and even mailed out as invitations for religious ceremonies. My job is not to dictate what the buyer wants the photo for.

Me

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Nor do I dictate a set price. Small companies cannot afford the same price as large companies. Individuals will not pay the price a small company will pay. My photographs are only worth what that buyer is willing to spend. A few inquiries usually suffice for me to get an idea of what the photo will be used for and the amount the buyer is wishing to invest. People value being given some say over how they use their money. And by placing the cost in the lap of the buyer, I can both not lose the sale of the smaller organizations and not lose higher paying sales either.

Salesmanship is all about finesse. Finesse means I make the buyer feel his wishes are foremost while at the same time being firm on what I want to receive in exchange. I never do what makes me uncomfortable. No amount of money is worth that. However, sales are not really about me. In the long run, making a successful sale is about pleasing someone else and leaving a good impression of both my work and myself when its completed.


My daughter

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Here you can read "Salesmanship, Part 2".
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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, May 6, 2009

Setting up a Writing Portfolio

Organize your Writing Records

As a writer, it’s important to build a portfolio and have your work well organized. I realized this years ago when confronted with a massive list of Word documents and an overflowing box of magazines and newspapers.

What is a Portfolio
A writing portfolio can be defined as a collection of work that is designed to showcase the talents of a writer. Typically, it includes copies of their best published works. It’s a tool to convince someone that you have writing ability and will be able to produce work of a high standard.

Why do I Need a Portfolio
Some writing groups, editors and publications require submission of published clips before accepting work from a writer. A portfolio means this kind or information is on hand and easy to access.

How do I set up a Portfolio
You need to choose some of your best published works, and pieces that have won significant award, and arrange them into some kind or order – either by date or by topic. If desired, you can keep a copy of any relevant qualifications in the back of the folder. Before you can do this efficiently, you will need to make sure your document storage system is in order.

Organizing Computer Files
This is where the organization needs to start. Even if you prefer to handwrite your initial drafts, the computer is generally where work is finalized and polished. It is important to store it in easy-to-access folders that make logical sense. I have one main folder called Word Documents. Within this, I have folders that are titled according to their contents. For example, I have one called Pixnpens, and only my articles for this website go into that. I also have folders for other websites, letters, business correspondence, short stories, longer stories, books, projects etc.

Folders and Sub-folders
Within these folders, I sometimes add sub-folders. I do this where there are a large number of files that fall into similar categories. For example, in the folder where I keep my articles for Suite101, I divide them into groups such as health articles, writing articles, craft articles and family articles.

Use Logical Filenames
In other folders, I have several versions of some of my work and I differentiate between these by adding a suffix. I wrote a story entitled Going Home to Die and sold it to Radio New Zealand. I then shortened it and changed it to the first person point of view for an anthology published in another country. The folder has two versions. Going Home to Die Radio NZ and Going Home to Die anthology.

Physical Publications
I normally buy two copies of any magazine or newspaper that publish my work. One copy is stored in a box and I cut the article out of the other and store it in a file. If I feel it’s worthy of placing in my portfolio, I buy a third copy.

Online Portfolios
If you have a website or blog, consider adding your portfolio to it. This can consist of links to work published on the internet and pdfs of printed clips (make sure your contract allows you to display these). This can be useful if seeking work in countries away from home.

Organizing Physical Portfolios
Make a physical portfolio as smart as possible. Use a professional looking folder, or at the least, a smart file with plastic sleeves to protect the work. If using original copies, glue them onto board to keep them firm and tidy. If using photocopies, make them the best quality possible.

Keep it Current
If you’re looking for work in 2009, don’t present a portfolio that’s full of work from the 80s and 90s. Editors want to see up-to-date, relevant pieces.

Organizing files and setting up a portfolio can be a messy, time consuming process. Set aside a day or weekend and determine to get your writing in order. The results will be satisfying and once you have a system in place, it’s a simple matter to maintain your portfolio.

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, May 4, 2009

An Inspiration for All: Meet Connie Pombo

Before I go into detail about this week's book, I have an announcement. I've recently been named the National Christian Writing Examiner at TheExaminer.com. Over there, we'll discuss all things related to Christian writing - conferences, resources, training, interviews, profiles, and more. Hope you'll come over and check us out!


With this week leading to Mother's Day, I interviewed one of my favorite moms and authors to share a bit of her life with us. Her testimony is so tremendous, we'll share it today here on Pix-N-Pens and on TheExaminer, and then I'll share the rest of her interview on Wednesday and Friday over at TheExaminer. Be sure to check over there for the rest of the interview.

Connie Pombo's latest release, and a perfect Mother's Day gift, is The Ultimate Mom. Do yourself a favor and pick one up. Connie has three stories in the book, and many other authors share heartwarming stories, too.


CWE: The testimony of your life is tremendous, and such an inspiration to so many - myself included. Please share your story with us.

CP: It’s interesting because I never sought to be a writer/speaker, but sometimes you have an epiphany and you realize that’s what you were meant to do your entire life—you just never realized it before.

The day I started to write was the “worst” day in my life; I heard the words no woman wants to hear, “you have breast cancer.” I was forty years old at the time and my boys were just 9 and 14 and I wondered, “What are they going to do without a mother.”

My high school friend flew to Pennsylvania to take care of me during treatment and she handed me a journal with the words, “Start Writing!” I let that journal collect dust because I was numb and reeling in shock. As with many cancer survivors, the last day of treatment was like falling off a cliff. I held it all together until that last day of radiation treatment and then I “crashed.”

I don’t remember walking out into the hospital parking lot, driving home, or how my dozen pink celebratory roses made it from the back of the car seat to the kitchen table, but I was numb. For the first time in my life, my family saw me without a smile on my face or laughter in my voice. My husband sent me off to California to visit my folks, but that week still remains much of a blur. I had hit rock bottom and was diagnosed with clinical depression.

When my husband picked me up at the Baltimore Washington Airport, he couldn’t believe how I had digressed so quickly in such a short amount of time. As we drove up the driveway to our home, I noticed that my husband had perfectly landscaped the backyard (that’s what husbands do when their wives are going crazy). And in the center of the yard was a gorgeous pink dogwood tree. I asked him, “What’s this?”

And with tears glistening in his eyes, he said, “This is our tree of life; we’re starting a new beginning. God hasn’t brought us this far just to leave us.”

For the first time in weeks I saw a glimmer of hope; it was brief but it was there.

The next few weeks allowed me to build on that glimmer of hope, and one afternoon as I looked out at that tree in full bloom, I asked myself the question, “What if I had a year to live, what would I do?”

I randomly wrote down 27 things I wanted to do before I died: write a book, take a photography course, go back to Italy and visit friends, and #27—parachute out of an airplane. It was my “bucket list.”

That was 13 years ago and today I’ve accomplished every single passionate “to-do”—except #27. Through my tragedy, pain, and loss, I discovered my passion of speaking and writing. Ironically, I worked seven more years in the medical field, so I could obtain “life insurance,” and the day that my policy was handed over to me, I quit the medical profession. And I’ve never looked back. Shortly afterwards, I attended the Weekend of Hope in Stowe, Vermont for cancer survivors and their families, and during that week I discovered my passion for writing. I took a “Writing to Heal” course, and finally got out that journal that my friend had given me at the beginning of treatment and started writing. I felt like Forrest Gump, I just kept writing and writing. I’m not sure when I’ll stop; I hope never!


Head over to TheExaminer on Wednesday to read Part 2 of our interview with Connie Pombo.







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Friday, May 1, 2009

PUGS Pointers #22: Avoid Ambiguous Pronouns

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
Interjections
Commas should be used to set off interjections. Examples:
“Well, I don’t like to brag, but my last book sold twenty copies.”
“Why, I can’t even imagine that kind of success.”
“Hey, I meant twenty thousand copies.”

See The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) #5.192–197.


USAGE TIP

car pool/carpool
car pool (noun): an arrangement in which a group of people commute together by car, or the group entering into such an arrangement

carpool (verb): to participate in a car pool


GRAMMAR TIP

Don’t confuse the reader with pronouns that are unclear or ambiguous. Example:
“When Lori and Jan entered the room, Gayle noticed her right away.”
Which woman did Gayle notice?

Avoid using the pronoun it in confusing contexts. Example:
“As Allison drove her car up to the service window, it made a rattling sound.”
Does it refer to the car or the window? Rewrite to something like:
“As Allison drove up to the service window, her car made a rattling sound.”

“Audrey reached for her glass and drank it in one gulp.”
In this sentence, the it refers to the glass, and she didn’t drink the glass in one gulp.



SPELLING TIP

bookstore (one word)



**********

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: www.KathyIde.com. Or get her book Polishing the PUGS, available at www.kathyide.com/published.php.


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 (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Network (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, please visit www.KathyIde.com.





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