Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Photo Assignment #3: Lights On!

Our Pix-N-Pens photo album is looking AWESOME! If you haven't checked out the photos for the last few assignments, take time to pay a visit. To access the album, use the password inspired.

This week's assignment:

The use of light creates problems for many new photographers. This week, concentrate on LIGHT. Use light to your advantage to create a special image.

In case you missed them:

Photo Assignment #2

Photo Assignment #1


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Monday, June 29, 2009

Writing Prompt #3: Lights Out

How's your writing coming along? Are the writing prompts helping stir your creative juices?

Here's a new one:

The power just went off.

The prompts are purposely short - our intent is not to point your story down any particular path - just to generate a spark to light your own.

Remember to use these prompts in a variety of ways - try them out for fiction, nonfiction, short and long pieces. You can use them to generate an entire story, or just create a new scene.

In case you missed them:

CWE Prompt #3

Writing Prompt #2

CWE Prompt #2

Writing Prompt #1

CWE Prompt #1

And for the photographers in our midst - don't forget our Photo Assignments on Tuesdays - our photo album already has some great shots! Use the password inspired to access the album and check each Tuesday for a new assignment.


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Friday, June 26, 2009

New Editing Column Each Friday

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2009



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

ACTIVE VS. PASSIVE VERBS

Wherever possible, strive to use strong, precise verbs rather than weak, vague verbs. Instead of saying, “They were going,” write, “They went.” Or better yet, show how they went. “They jogged,” “They raced,” “They ambled,” for example. The more description you can fit into a single action verb, the better.

EXAMPLES:

Passive: It is believed by Sue that a curfew must be placed on her son, Matthew.
Active: Sue believes that she must place a curfew on her son, Matthew.

Passive: It was earlier demonstrated that Matthew could be intimidated by too much freedom.
Active: Friday’s party showed Sue that too much freedom could intimidate Matthew.

Passive verbs often indicate that a subject exists, or that something happens to the subject. Active verbs describe something a subject does.

Passive: Andrew had dark, curly hair and a bushy beard.
Active: Andrew ran his fingers through his dark, curly hair and stroked his bushy beard.

Passive: Two cups of coffee were on the table.
Active: Joe picked up two cups of coffee from the table.

NOTE: Verb phrases that include is, was, are, were, be, been, would, could, has, had, have, etc. are usually passive.

In nonfiction, there are a few acceptable reasons to use passive verbs:

1. To emphasize the action rather than the subject.
Example: Jim’s bioengineering proposal was approved by the committee.

2. To keep the subject and focus consistent throughout a passage.
Example: The astrobiology department presented a controversial proposal to the committee. After long debate, the proposal was endorsed by ...

3. To be tactful by not naming the subject.
Example: The e-mail message was misinterpreted.

4. To describe a condition in which the subject is unknown or irrelevant to the sentence.
Example: Every year, many people are diagnosed with Environmental Illness.

5. To create an authoritative tone.
Example: Visitors are not allowed after 9:00 p.m.

In all other instances, and in all fiction writing, use active verbs in place of passive ones wherever feasible.

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

**********


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, June 25, 2009

What Bugs Me

I love bugs. Well, I should qualify that and say, "I love 99% of all bugs," cockroaches and large, hairy-type spiders being excepted. On days when I am bored stiff, I go outdoors and search for bugs to photograph. The best places to look are near flowers. There's nothing like a patch of overgrown lawn, full of tall weeds and scraggly grass.

"OK," you say, "You have got to be kidding."

No, seriously, those are the best places to look! The first key to photographing bugs is knowing where to find them. The second is to look closely and be gentle. You have to remember you are much larger than a bug. The last key I would offer here is to give them space. Most bugs do not want you directly on top of them. It is best to creep up slowly to avoid scaring them away.

The focus rule for bugs is, as with last week's pets column, generally to focus on the eyes. When the bug is smaller though and you find you are having a hard time, pick a point of focus at a similar distance. (It helps to pay close attention to your LCD screen.) Flying insects can be even more difficult. I often get great results by focusing on the flower (or landing spot) ahead of time and waiting for the insect to land.

Male scolid wasp

Male scoliid wasp, probably Campsomeris plumipes


This brings me to dragonflies. For me, the dragonfly is the king of all bugs. It seems I can never take enough images of them. A lot of dragonfly species never land, and some dragonfly photographers choose to net and release. But I always content myself with the ones I can reach. It is too easy to damage their wings, especially on the younger, teneral dragonflies. If you are not experienced enough to tell the difference, then it's best to be hands off.

Gorgeous Eyes, Blue Dasher Dragonfly

Gorgeous Eyes, Blue Dasher Dragonfly


But the biggest reason I love to photograph bugs is the learning curve. I have been surprised more than once when I moved pictures from my camera onto the computer screen to find scenes I did not know were there. This next image is one of my favorites. I was photographing the ladybug (ladybird for our English readers). But when I finally saw the image, I was amazed at the pair of miniscule flies mating.

The World of Bugs

The World of Bugs


Here is another image where I found something unexpected. This jumping spider was very tiny, less than 1/2", but notice all the strange scorpion-like creatures around it.

Spider and Friends

Spider and Friends


That is really the best part of photographing bugs, capturing the unusual moments, things that you know you'd never see if you weren't looking. I think that is part of my fascination - that so much can be going on beneath my feet and I can never realize it.

Look closely, can you see the tiny male crab spider below?

Male and Female Crab Spiders

Male and Female Crab Spiders



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Suzanne Williams Photography
For More Of My Words
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shepherd's Fall - Full of Twists, Turns, and Subplots Galore!

Author Wanda Dyson has earned a reputation - with her fiction and nonfiction - for works full of plot twists and turns, and Shepherd's Fall doesn't disappoint. As a writer myself, I'm in awe of the various subplots she's seamlessly woven into this story, and have to force myself to stop reading to get my work done. I'm about halfway through right now, and with each turn of the page, I'm truly enjoying the story more and more. The characters have become real to me - so much so that when I'm doing something else I'm thinking about what Nick might be doing now. Excellent book!


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Shepherd's Fall

WaterBrook Press (April 14, 2009)

by

Wanda Dyson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Wanda Dyson lives with her severely autistic teenager on a busy farm with horses, chickens, dogs, cats, rabbits, and the occasional fox, deer, groundhog, and snake. She could seriously live without the snakes, but that's life in the country.

After writing three critically acclaimed suspense novels, she was asked to write the true story of Tina Zahn (Why I Jumped), which was featured on Oprah. Readers characterize her books as "riviting" and "Packed with twists and turns."

Wanda serves on the board of several writers conferences across the country including the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

Wanda has finished the second in this series called Shepherd's Run,that will come out in 2010. And she's hard at work on the third and final installment of the Prodigal Recovery Series - Marti's story -- tentatively called Shepherd's Quest.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Bounty hunter Nick Shepherd is fearless when it comes to chasing down criminals. It's his difficult ex-wife, rebellious teenage daughter, and dysfunctional siblings that keep him awake at night. In charge of the family business, the Prodigal Recovery Agency, he thinks of himself as a shepherd of sorts. When his "flock" is out of his control, Nick's well-ordered universe falls into chaos.

Prodigal Recovery's search for Zeena, a prostitute on the run, leads to a faulty arrest, complicating Nick's business. He is thrown together with Zeena's twin, the beautiful Annie, and the two find themselves on a desperate search. The stakes significantly increase when Nick's daughter is kidnapped. Now, to save someone he loves, Nick must risk everything. But will it be enough.

To read the Prologue excerpt from Shepherd's Fall, click HERE.






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Elements of Successful Fiction Series

Using Color in Writing

Successful fiction is a combination of factors that work together to form a story. Examining these elements can help us to improve our writing and analyze areas that we may be weak in.

Color brings our work to Life
Color is a wonderful gift from God. Imagine if our world was black and white with a few shades of gray thrown in. Words like drab, boring and dull spring to mind.

When I was a child, I had a picture book that I adored. Each page represented a color and this was shown through a photo collage. For example, the yellow page showed a block of butter, a hunk of cheese, a bunch of sunflowers, a ripe peach, a spoon of honey, and a corn cob. This was a visual portrayal of color but we can produce a similar effect with our words.

Make a Color List
I’ve found it helpful to make lists of words that relate to a certain colour. These can be written into a notebook or saved as a computer file. If you’re feeling creative, you could include pictures to illustrate the words. Be sure to leave space so you can continue to add to the lists and refer to them when you need a dose of inspiration.

Here are some of my thoughts about the color white: pristine, pure, angel’s wings, fluffy cotton balls, dazzling, brilliant, crystal drops, coiled bandages, crinkled cotton, starched bed linen, a nurse’s cap, sparkling snow, sheets flapping in the wind, bleached bones, tulle and tutus.

How to make Colors Interesting
Because colors are common, the impact in fiction tends to fade unless they are introduced in fresh new ways. Here are some examples of creative use of color:

The car was the exact shade of her glossy red lips
The tulip was the color of pure sunshine
The sky looked like a giant bruise

Did you notice that in two of these sentences, the actual color is not mentioned but rather implied?

Creating Atmosphere with Color
Color can be used to set a scene and reveal character. A rebellious youth may have a black bedroom and wear dark clothing with metal accessories. An elderly woman may have a penchant for green scarves and yellow clothing.

Raise Questions with Color
Some items are traditionally colored in a certain way. Tamper with that and immediately the reader will ask why. Why did the bride wear a bright orange gown? Why was the Ferrari painted pink? Be sure to reveal a good answer later in the story.

A Word of Warning
Don’t get carried away with color or your story will sound overdone. There are times when a simple red, blue or yellow will suffice.

Recommended Reading
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards is a wonderful example of how to use color effectively. In the first page, there are seven references to color, and the book as a whole contains some beautiful descriptions that incorporate color.

Colors are a gift and we can use them to add life, depth and texture to any piece of writing.

Come back next week to find out how food can be used to strengthen a story.


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, June 23, 2009

Photo Assignment #2: Color Us Red

Have you checked out the photo assignments from last week? Visit our special Pix-N-Pens group album at Photobucket to see the entries posted. (Password inspired.)

Did you find the assignment easy? Difficult? Challenging? Fun?

I procrastinated with mine, but Monday, I managed to get it done. I found it challenging and fun - definitely not easy!

Photo Assignment #2: Color us RED. Your interpretation - whatever path it takes.

During the week, take photos that fit your assignment, then post your favorite over in our group album. (Use password inspired.) You will have to have a Photobucket account, but it's free. After you sign up, you can subscribe to the Pix-N-Pens album, and then you can post photos to it. Let me know if you have any problems.

In case you missed it, Photo Assignment #1.


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Writing Prompt #2: Fun Money

So, how did you do last week? Did our first writing prompts - here on Pix-N-Pens and on CWE - help your writing during the week? Share your successes - or your struggles - with us in the comments.

Writing Prompt #2: You've just won $10,000 "fun money" for a writing contest (not as an advance). What will you do with the money?

Remember to think of this prompt in several aspects - fiction, non-fiction, short piece, or book-length.

And check back tomorrow for the photo assignment of the week.

In case you missed the last one: Writing Prompt #1

Christian Writing Examiner Prompt #2


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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Photographing Pets

There are times when something happens in your life that reminds you why you take pictures. This week I was reminded of this when I lost 2 dogs in a tragic accident. My heart is heavy at their loss, but because of my images of them, I never have to forget.

If I were to put a finger on what makes a good pet photograph, it would be capturing the essence of their personality. Pets do not pose, as a general rule, so it can require a lot of time and patience to get the shot you want. In fact, I have found that the longer you follow them around, the more they will relax and ignore you. You really want them to ignore you. I have spent hours just sitting outdoors, often in the blazing sun, waiting for this moment. With my dogs, I knew the easiest method was to sit on the opposite side of the fence for a while. Eventually, they'd give up on getting my attention. Then I'd pose my camera, get the focus set, and whistle or call their name. Up comes the face I was looking for all along.

This picture is of our dachshund, Ginger. She is the daughter of the 2 pets I 'lost' this week. She loves to sit on the porch in her bed, so I moved around facing her and pretended to photograph flowers.

I'm so cute!


With any animal portrait, you want to be sure to get the eyes in focus. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and more specifically, those would be photos where behavior are involved. I raised and later released this pair of squirrels when Hurricane Charley destroyed their nest in 2004. There are places in it that are out of focus, and the background on the right-hand side has overblown highlights, but because the eyes are in focus, it has become one of my favorite images of them. It really captures their rambunctious personalities.

My Squirrels


The macaw in this next photo, whose name was Howard, was at a local zoo It is another example where I had to wait for the right pose. Notice also that I did not attempt to capture the entire bird, but focused on the face. With birds especially, it can be difficult to get a good portrait if you are trying to include the entire bird.

Howard, Macaw, Gatorland, Orlando, Florida


The most important thing about photographing your pets, is that you never stop. I look back now and am so glad that I took the time. What seemed to be so trivial is so very valuable now.

Photobucket

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

To read more of my words, visit my Blogger pages.

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



Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thinking like a Successful Writer


Believing in Yourself
The following is a quote that some attribute to Nelson Mandela. Regardless of who said it, it is a powerful statement with a wealth of meaning. You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. Inspiring words but how many of us can say they are true of our lives?

The T-Shirt Principle
Imagine yourself with a wardrobe full of T-shirts. Each has a title emblazoned across the front such as wife, mother, sister, cook, teacher, secretary, dental nurse, hairdresser etc. We all play many roles in our daily lives. Now look through your pile for the shirt that describes you as a writer. What does it say? Average writer, wannabe writer, hopeless writer, closet writer or does it scream in bold letters, confident writer, creative writer, writer yielded to God, persistent writer?

Thoughts Influence Actions
Romans 12:2 is a familiar verse from the Bible: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Our lives are formed by our thoughts, attitudes, dreams and desires. What goes through our mind influences the way we live.

What should I think about Writing
If you’re reading this column, it’s probably because you have an interest in writing. You may be a beginner or may have years of experience. Perhaps you fit somewhere in the middle. My question is, are you playing small or do you believe God has a plan for using your gift?

Shine as a Writer
God loves to use our words. He wants us to shine for Him and even if the grammar is not perfect and the construction a little clumsy, He can still use what we write.

Put on a New Shirt this Week
I encourage you to imagine yourself buying a new T-shirt – one in your favorite colour and in a fabric that feels like a second skin. Now look at the title on the front and make sure it’s one that suits you: inspired writer, life-touching writer, truth-sharing writer, gifted writer, or any other positive description.

This may seem simplistic but try it for a week and see how your mind-set begins to change. I’ve been through the process and from mumbling apologetically that I’m trying to be a writer, I confidently tell anyone I meet that I am a writer.

You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.


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, June 16, 2009

Photo Assignment - 6/16 - 6/22

We're starting something new here at Pix-N-Pens. Each Tuesday, I'll post a photo assignment. During the week, try to photograph the assignment, and then look through your photos and pick ONE that you think represents the assignment best, and post it over at our special Pix-N-Pens group folder at Photobucket. I set up the group so that readers of Pix-N-Pens can view it, but not anyone else and no one can copy your work when you post it. You'll need the password - inspired - to login.


The purpose of these writing prompts (on Mondays) and photo assignments on Tuesdays is to help us CREATE. I'll be using the prompts and participating in the assignments myself - as a way to spur my own creativity, and pull me out of any ruts I might be in during any given week. I hope you'll join me.

This week's assignment:

Turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Choose an ordinary, everyday item around your house, and photograph it in such a way that it becomes an extraordinary piece of art.

Sometime during this week - June 16-22 - select ONE of your photos, and post over in our special Pix-N-Pens group folder at Photobucket. The password is inspired. Then, leave a comment letting us know you've posted your photo.

Have fun. I can't wait to see your work. And figure out what I'm going to shoot, too!



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Monday, June 15, 2009

Something New - Writing and Photo Prompts

We're starting something new this week here at Pix-N-Pens - for writers and photographers.

Each Monday, I'll post two writing prompts. One here at Pix-N-Pens, and one over at Christian Writing Examiner. With the writing prompts, apply them to one fiction and one nonfiction project - of any length. Based on the prompt, you could write a poem or a novel, a blog post or a nonfiction book. Don't share the words you write based on the prompt, but feel free to share your experience - was the prompt helpful? Did you write an article from it? Or get through a difficult scene of your WIP? Or was the prompt not helpful at all? Post your comments about the writing prompts in the comment section for that prompt.

If you end up submitting your creation for publication - share your successes with us!

On Tuesdays, I'll post a photography assignment here at Pix-N-Pens. During the week, try to photograph the assignment, and then look through your photos and pick ONE that you think represents the assignment best, and post it over at our special Pix-N-Pens group folder at Photobucket. I set up the group so that readers of Pix-N-Pens can view it, but not anyone else and no one can copy your work when you post it. You'll need the password - inspired - to login.

The purpose of these prompts and assignments is to help us CREATE. I'll be using the prompts and participating in the assignments myself - as a way to spur my creativity, and pull me out of any ruts I might be in during any given week. I hope you'll join me.

Today's Prompt:

It's August 10, 2035. What does your schedule look like for the day?

And remember, I post a second prompt each week over at CWE, too.



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Exciting News from our own Debbie Roome!

I'm so excited to announce that Pix-N-Pens Columnist Debbie Roome has won the Rose and Crowns New Novel Competition for her novel Embracing Change.

For her First Place win, Debbie receives a monetary prize and a contract for PUBLICATION of her novel! Details are still coming, so we don't yet know when the book will be published, but as soon as Debbie has the information, she'll let us know.

Congratulations, Debbie! We're rejoicing with you!



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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The 2 Most Important Factors, Part 2

I believe the two most important factors in creating a good photograph are light and composition. The first most important factor for me is light. We talked about this previously. Having the correct light, the right exposure, in an image is not dependent on what camera equipment you use. Instead, it is the result of knowing how to use aperture, shutter speed, and ISO effectively, and knowing their affect on each other. Good exposure in an image comes from practice making the right decisions with your particular camera based on the available light.



COMPOSITION

Composition is a general term referring to the placement of objects within the photograph. "Good" composition is the result of placing these objects in a location that best "draws" the viewers eye. This is called visualization. Famed photographer Ansel Adams referred to visualization as "seeing it in your mind's eye". (To hear it in his own words, visit this link.) In other words, before I snap the shutter, I ask myself a number of questions. "What do I want the viewer to see? What is the subject of this photograph?" I might then ask other questions like, "At what angle will my camera best capture the scene? If I shift myself left or right, forward or backward, what will that bring into or eliminate from this photograph?" "Seeing" the answer to these questions, "seeing" the photograph as it will be in its finished state before you have snapped the shutter is visualization.

It all comes back to making the right decisions based on knowledge you have practiced and acquired. In the following photograph, I used the "S" curve of the pathway to draw the viewer's eye deeper into the image. In effect, this causes the surrounding elements, the flora, to disappear. I "saw" the pathway and "saw" the effect I wanted before I took the picture.

Walkway, Gatorland, Orlando, Florida

Walkway, Gatorland, Orlando, Florida


In that image, I had to ask myself what did I want people to focus on? And in that case, I chose the pathway and then adjusted my composition accordingly. The purpose of this next image was to give the viewer an idea of the thickness of the forest. Using the rules of thirds, I broke the image up horizontally into 3 pieces and placed the trees in the upper thirds. The dark trunks provide a strong vertical element, and despite their limited vertical distance in the photograph, you still get the idea they are much stronger and taller. I then gave most of the image, the bottom 2/3rds, to the palmettos. I purposefully adjusted my footing to place the strongest fronds in the foreground.

Now, at the same time I was visualizing the image horizontally, I watched for vertical elements as well. Where I finally stood for this image placed the largest pine to the left-side of the photograph, next to some larger taller palmettos, thus creating depth.

Pines and palmettos

Pines and Palmettos


I have found it to be a great exercise to spend time just composing images in my head. Even without a camera in my hand, or any intent to take an image, I think about what I would do to create the best photograph. Continued use of this technique has made it easier to compose images where the subject is not as stationary as a flower or a tree.

The green anole lizard below was only at this location with his head at that angle for a brief second in time. I actually ignored a lot of opportunities to click the shutter, in effect missing a lot of shots, as I waited for him to do something more "compositionally" correct. This does mean that sometimes I miss a picture of something I would otherwise have captured. But for me, I would rather have 1 visually pleasing image than 50 poor ones any day.


Green Anole on Pindo Palm Leaf

Green Anole on Pindo  Palm Leaf


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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, June 10, 2009

How to Cultivate a Fertile Imagination

Learning to Seek Inspiration

God has given us a wonderful gift in our imagination. Our modern world has developed from people imagining outrageous things like flying, surgery in the womb, space travel and so much more. We are surrounded by creativity; the chairs we sit on, the malls we shop at, the cars we drive, all started in someone’s imagination. Imagining is also a vital part of story-telling and there are ways we can develop this skill.

Become an Observer
I love watching people – it doesn’t matter where I am. Everyday locations such as coffee shops, trains, buses, airports, sport arenas and banks are wonderful places to observe people’s behavior. Look for mannerisms, emotions and reactions as well as unusual dress styles and appearance. Many people that I’ve brushed shoulders with for a brief moment, have appeared in my stories.

What if
This is a great question to get your imagination going and can be asked in any situation. What if my brakes failed on this hill? What if this letter contained news of a sister I never knew I had? What if my flight was diverted to Africa? What if I inherited a toy shop? Ask yourself this type of question as you go about daily life.

Feed your Imagination
An idle mind is an unimaginative mind. Feed it by reading a cross section of books and playing games or doing puzzles. The idea is to get used to thinking about different topics and stretching your abilities. I’ve just completed four hours of instruction in New Zealand Sign Language. It was an amazing experience and I learnt so much more than the signs themselves. I now have a basic understanding of Deaf Culture and what it means to be deaf in a hearing world. I’ve a feeling a deaf character may pop up in one of my future stories.

Engage the Five Senses
Writing is a product of what we feel, experience and imagine with our five senses. I was in Wellington last week, walking down the main street towards the train station. I had a looming deadline for a short story competition and was trying to think of an idea – with little success. It was an icy day and as I passed a large book store, I paused in the doorway, enjoying the warmth that spilled out. As I did so, one line popped into my mind – the aroma of paper and new books. (Don’t you just love that smell?) The whole story followed a few minutes later and I wrote it out while traveling on the train.

New Textures and Tastes
In a similar fashion, I’ve found that exposing myself to a variety of different experiences helps my imagination. We have several fair-trade type shops where I live, and I love to wander through them. The sight and feel of wooden carvings, stone chess sets, woven rugs, silk scarves and jasmine soap always brings pictures to mind.

These are a few simple ways to develop imagination skills, but the most important way is by prayer. Ask God to drop thoughts, scenes and stories into your mind as you go about daily life. He longs to use us and I know by experience that He answers these prayers and inspires imaginations.

Have a wonderful creative week and come back and leave a comment if you have an inspired moment you’d like to share with us.


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, June 8, 2009

We have WINNERS and a Review


Before I announce the winners of The Renewal contest, I must share with you about the book.


I finished reading The Renewal by Terri Kraus this weekend. The first evening, I read all the way to Chapter 18 - could not put it down. At 1 a.m. I FORCED myself because I had to get up at 4:30 the next morning. (Overslept, but we still made our destination in time. Whew!) Then I finished the book the next night.

Terri knows how to torment her characters. The book was riveting - a definite page-turner. I found myself either really liking and loving the characters, and really hating other ones. I cheered for the heroine, and kept hoping things would work out with the hero. The setting was fantastic, and the secondary characters were memorable and unique.

I became a HUGE Terri Kraus fan overnight, and hope you'll seek out her books. You'll become a fan, too.

Now - we have WINNERS!!

The winner of the first $25 amazon gift card is Bunny. She will be awarded the gift card and an autographed copy of The Renewal. Sometime this week, she'll hold a contest on HER website, and the winner there will receive the second $25 amazon gift card and a copy of the book.

The winner of the autographed copy of The Renewal is Cindy Wilson.

And I couldn't leave out Lynda Schab, who helped promote Terri's books, so we're also sending her a copy of The Renewal, too!

I'll announce Bunny's winner when she has one.

Thanks for participating, and thanks for reading along.

Go get a copy of The Renewal, or The Restoration, or any of Terri's other books!!! More great summertime reading!




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Ghostwriter - An Awesome Summer Read

If you like fast-paced drama, bizarre twists, total suspense - you'll love Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher as much as I did! I could not put it down - I had to know what was going to happen next.

The format/layout of the book was a bit confusing/distracting at first, and even noticeable all the way through, but I didn't have time to figure it out, I just had to keep reading!

This book is not for the squeamish or faint-hearted. I probably could not watch this book if it were a movie - some parts are just a bit gory for my tastes. But I handled the book just fine. Read it!



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Ghostwriter

FaithWords (May 28, 2009)

by

Travis Thrasher


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

It was during third grade after a teacher encouraged him in his writing and as he read through The Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis that Travis decided he wanted to be a writer. The dream never left him, and allowed him to fulfill that dream of writing fulltime in 2007.

Travis Thrasher is the author of numerous works of fiction, including his most personal and perhaps his deepest work, Sky Blue, that was published in summer of 2007. This year he has to novels published, Out of the Devil’s Mouth, and a supernatural thriller, Isolation.

Travis is married to Sharon and they are the proud parents of Kylie, born in November, 2006, and Hailey, a Shih-Tzu that looks like an Ewok. They live in suburban Chicago.

Stop by and visit Travis at his Blog where you can sign up to follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Also check out the radio interview with Travis on Monday June 8th at BlogTalkRadio/FaithWords


ABOUT THE BOOK:

For years Dennis Shore has thrilled readers with his spooky bestselling novels. Now a widower, Dennis is finally alone in his house, his daughter attending college out of state. When he's stricken by a paralyzing case of writer's block and a looming deadline, Dennis becomes desperate. Against better judgment, he claims someone else's writing as his own, accepting undeserved accolades for the stolen work. He thinks he's gotten away with it . . . until he's greeted by a young man named Cillian Reed--the true author of the stolen manuscript.

What begins as a minor case of harassment quickly spirals out of control. As Cillian's threats escalate, Dennis finds himself on the brink of losing his career, his sanity, and even his life. The horror he's spent years writing about has arrived on his doorstep, and Dennis has nowhere to run.

To read the first chapter of Ghostwriter, click HERE.




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Friday, June 5, 2009

PUGS Pointers #27: Was or Were?

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

Vertical Lists after Introductory Phrases

If a list completes a sentence that begins with an introductory phrase, don’t use a colon after the introductory phrase. If any of the phrases or sentences in the list have internal punctuation, semicolons may be used at the end of each item. Each item begins with a lowercase letter. A period should follow the final item.

Here’s an example:

You can reduce redundancy in your writing by
avoiding repetition;
stating what you mean in the fewest words possible;
omitting unnecessary adverbs and adjectives;
eliminating weak words like actually, basically, definitely, extremely, so, and very.

See The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) #6.129 and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style p. 288.


USAGE TIP

council/counsel
council (noun): an assembly/meeting or an advisory or legislative group
“city council”

counsel (noun): advice, or a lawyer or consultant
“Tracie gave me good counsel when she suggested I hire legal counsel.”
counsel (verb): to advise or consult
“June counseled with her agent before signing the book contract.”


GRAMMAR TIP

was vs. were
The subjunctive mood (were) is used to express the following:

1. A condition contrary to fact
“Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener.”
(Of course, I’m not. But that jingle will be stuck in your head all day now, won’t it?)

2. A supposition
“Suppose Marci were to arrive right now.”

3. An improbable condition
“Carrie drank the Pepsi as if there were no tomorrow. (Highly unlikely)

4. Uncertainty or doubt
“If I were to marry you, how would you support me?” Irene asked.
(There’s uncertainty/doubt about whether she will marry him.)

5. Necessity
“If it were absolutely necessary, I could rewrite my manuscript,” David said.

6. A desire
“Joan wishes she were going to the prom with Brandon.”


SPELLING TIP

insofar as



For more PUGS Pointers, or to purchase her book Polishing the PUGS, see Kathy Ide’s Web site.

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

For books (and most mainstream magazines):
The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition, © 2003)
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, © 2003)
Christian publishers also use The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style (© 2004)

For newspaper articles (and journalistic magazines):
The Associated Press Stylebook (© 2004)
Webster’s New World College Dictionary (© 2002)

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


AUTHOR BIO:

Kathy Ide has been writing for publication since 1988. She has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. She is a full-time freelance editor, offering a full range of editorial services for aspiring writers, established authors, commercial book publishers, subsidy publishers, magazines, and CLASServices. 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, visit Kathy's Web site.



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Thursday, June 4, 2009

The 2 Most Important Factors, Part 1

Taking a good photograph is not a reflection of what camera equipment you use. Many times people find out that I do not use a DSLR and are surprised. My decision to continue with a "point-and-shoot" digital camera (a term I do not particularly like as many upper end digital cameras have as many manual settings now as automatic ones) involves both the cost of the more expensive DSLRs and the weight toting more gear would bring to any photographic event. With that said, I believe there are 2 primary factors towards making a visually appealing photograph: light and composition.



LIGHT

It is so important for a photographer to learn the basic elements of photography. An understanding of the relationship of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is the only way you will be able to make definite, concrete decisions on the correct exposure for a scene. And exposure is all about light. The photographer must know how to use the provided light at that particular moment in time. Further, knowing how your particular camera will render that scene based on the chosen aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, is fundamental. Every camera is slightly different. You must be able to make the correct choice for what your camera, and by default its lens, will or will not do.

In the following photograph, I wanted to capture the rays of light. By switching over to spot metering and choosing one of the brighter points in the scene, I knew I could achieve better contrast between the rays of light and the surrounding diffused light. Spot metering causes the camera to only see the light at a certain point in the picture. It also helped me to keep the detail of the oak tree and not plunge it into everlasting darkness.

Morning Sunlight In The Oak Hammock
1-21-2006

Morning Sunlight In The Oak Hammock


In this next photograph, I faced a similar choice. I did not want to lose either the detail of the fading mountains or the green of the trees. But instead of using spot metering, I opted for a graduated neutral density filter. This type of filter is essentially dark on one half and clear on the other. It's purpose is to allow less light into one portion of the scene. In this case, I placed the darker portion over the background mountains, but my metering remained at average, the camera seeing all the light in the scene.

Amazing View, Top of Clingman's Dome, Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Amazing View, Top of Clingman's Dome, Great Smoky Mountain National Park


Darker scenes require more manual adjustments. You essentially have 3 choices. You can up your ISO. This makes your camera more sensitive to what light is available. You can choose a larger aperture. The larger the aperture, the more light allowed into the lens. Or you can use a slower shutter speed, thus extending the period of time the light can reach the camera. Each of these 3 methods has their place.

In this scene, the forest around me was relatively dark. I wanted to feature the bromeliad flower in the center of the scene, so I metered for the flower and not the surrounding forest. This caused the background portion of the image to darken and be less distracting. I also upped my ISO to allow more light to reach the scene and thus eliminate too long of a shutter speed for a hand-held photograph.

A Silent Place, Gatorland, Orlando, Florida

A Silent Place, Gatorland, Orlando, Florida


Having the correct exposure, just the right amount of light, in each image is something that comes as a result of learning to make the right choices when you are on the scene. The more you practice at it, the more time you spend thinking about what settings your camera needs, the easier and quicker it will become. It is a fact that in any sport you are only as good as you are dedicated to time spent in practice and to learning the rules of the game.

Next week, I will cover the 2nd key factor: composition.


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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, June 3, 2009

You Gotta SCREAM!

I've not yet finished this book, but I'm definitely hooked - the suspense is GREAT!! I loved Mike's first book, The Hunted, and I think this one may even be better. Excellent!



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Scream

Realms (March 3, 2009)

by

Mike Dellosso




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Mike now lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jen, and their three daughters. He writes a monthly column for Writer . . .Interrupted.

He was a newspaper correspondent/columnist for over three years and has published several articles for The Candle of Prayer inspirational booklets. Mike also has edited and contributed to numerous Christian-themed Web sites and e-newsletters.

Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer's Network, and International Thriller Writers. He received his BA degree in sports exercise and medicine from Messiah College and his MBS degree in theology from Master's Graduate School of Divinity.


ABOUT THE BOOK:


Otherworldly Screams...

A Madman on the Loose...

This Time the Stakes Are Higher Than Ever

While talking to his friend on the phone, Mark Stone is startled by a cacophony of otherworldly screams. Seconds later, a tragic accident claims his friend's life. When this happens several more times--screams followed by an untimely death--he is compelled to act. Battling his failure as a husband and struggling with his own damaged faith, Mark embarks on a mission to find the meaning behind the screams and hopefully stop death from calling on its next victim. When his estranged wife is kidnapped and he again hears the screams as she calls from her cell phone, his search becomes much more personal and much more urgent.




To read the first chapter of Scream, click HERE.





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