Monday, August 31, 2009

City Girl in a Small Town

by Phee Paradise

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Gone To Green

Abingdon Press (August 2009)


Judy Christie

With a title like Gone to Green, I was surprised to read that Green is a town, not an environmental movement. The book is a warm story about the people of a small town in Louisiana and their response to the stranger who takes over their newspaper. Its description of life in Green moves at the pace of a hot southern afternoon, but in spite of the slow start, I finished the book with a warm, fuzzy feeling. At first it read like a human interest story and I wondered if there was actually a plot, but the author gets around to it eventually and puts in some unexpected twists for good measure. When Lois, the newcomer, is faced with a decision, I found I felt strongly about what she should do. But like her new neighbors, I liked her and was willing to forgive her if she didn’t do what seemed right. I cheered for her successes and worried about her problems.

Christie nailed small town life in her descriptions of places, people and activities. As I read, I pictured the town where I lived for twenty-five years; its people, politics and events. She also captures the warmth and centrality of the Christian faith in Southern culture, from frequent hugs to Wednesday night prayer.

Pros: The characters are likeable and evoke warm feelings. It has enough plot twists to keep you reading and has a very satisfying ending.

Cons: The book starts slowly and the plot doesn’t show up until a third of the way into the book. In the beginning it’s also hard to keep track of all the characters.

When you need to brighten your day, pick up this book. It is truly a feel good story.


Judy Pace Christie, after working as a journalist for twenty-five years, left the daily news business to open a consulting firm that works with individuals, businesses, and churches on strategies for meaningful life and work, including goal-setting, living fully, and balancing personal and professional lives. She is the author of Hurry Less, Worry Less; Hurry Less, Worry Less at Christmastime; and co-author of Awesome Altars. Judy and her husband live in northwest Louisiana.


Lois goes from being a corporate journalist at a large paper in the Midwest to the owner of The Green News-Item, a small twice-weekly newspaper in rural North Louisiana. The paper was an unexpected inheritance from a close colleague, and Lois must keep it for at least a year, bringing a host of challenges, lessons, and blessings into her life.

When Lois pulls into Green on New Year’s Day, she expects a charming little town full of smiling people. She quickly realizes her mistake. After settling into a loaned house out on Route 2, she finds herself battling town prejudices and inner doubts and making friends with the most surprising people: troubled teenager Katy, good-looking catfish farmer Chris, wise and feisty Aunt Helen, and a female African-American physician named Kevin.

Whether fighting a greedy, deceitful politician or rescuing a dog she fears, Lois notices the headlines in her life have definitely improved. She learns how to provide small-town news in a big-hearted way and realizes that life is full of newsworthy moments. When she encounters racial prejudice and financial corruption, Lois also discovers more about the goodness of real people and the importance of being part of a community.

While secretly preparing the paper for a sale, Lois begins to realize that God might indeed have a plan for her life and that perhaps the allure of city life and career ambition are not what she wants after all.

To read the first chapter of Gone To Green, click HERE

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Writing Prompt #12: Do You Have Good Taste?

So far in our sensory prompts, we've covered noise and touch. This week, let's explore TASTE.

Write a scene where your main character shares a meal with someone (or a bunch of someones.) Incorporate the sensory detail of TASTE as you write the scene. Remember to stay in POV.

P.S. I am currently creating a contest that will put some of these prompts to use, so be sure to save them! Contest will be announced in October.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Editing Tip #10: Cutting the Fat from Your Manuscript - Part Two

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.

~ Cutting the Fat, Part Two ~

Following on the heels of last week’s column, here are more ways you can tighten your manuscript.

Cut out unnecessary words. For example:
She nodded her head (what else would she nod? of course it’s her head)
I thought to myself (who else can you think to?)
whether or not
each and every
He paced back and forth (ever seen anyone pace up and down?)
twelve o’clock noon (or midnight)
exactly the same
“She got out of her bed” (unless she got out of someone else’s bed)
“He looked at his image in the mirror”
“There are four procedures that must be followed”
“It was Pastor Chuck Swindoll who said . . .”

Cut out “relative structures” whenever possible. For example:
The child who was disabled ... (The disabled child ...)
The system that is most efficient ... (The most efficient system ...)
The movie, which is titled Star Wars, takes place ... (The movie Star Wars takes place ...)

Cut out words that don’t add anything to the sentence. Examples: just, quite, that, very, well
If a word can be eliminated without altering the meaning of the sentence, delete it.

Cut out redundant modifiers

Eliminate adverbs and adjectives that don’t add anything new. For example:
whispered softly
shouted loudly
terrible tragedy
reconsider again
future prospects
past history
completely finished
true facts
unexpected surprise

Cut out excessive modifiers

Don’t use too many adjectives or adverbs, especially all at once. Readers don’t need to know that the couch was a six-foot-long wing-backed-style sofa with a black-and-yellow-checked 1950s-pattern cut from coarse Kentucky linen. If all of those details are important, spread them out. Show the character sitting on the six-foot-long sofa and running her hands over the black-and-yellow-checked upholstery. Reveal memories of her childhood, back in the 1950s when her parents first bought the couch, how the coarse Kentucky linen scratched her little legs. Back then she’d felt dwarfed by the huge wing-backed monstrosity. Now she’s resting her head comfortably on the high back.

Don’t use more than two adjectives or adverbs together. Example: “The cold, gray, sterile, hard concrete walls closed in on Jack, making him feel lost, hopeless, helpless, buried, lonely, alone, and abandoned.” Too many modifiers will make the reader think you couldn’t decide on the right word so you just threw in a bunch. Instead, choose one or two of the most important ones.

Don’t use two words that mean basically the same thing.
For example, instead of “She struggled with deep, intense feelings and emotions of anger and wrath,” choose deep OR intense, feelings OR emotions, anger OR wrath.

Cut out anything that states the obvious.
Don’t tell your readers what they already know, don’t need to know, or can infer on their own.

Don’t tell your readers things that are obvious to the general public (or would be common knowledge to people in your target audience). Watch for sentences that start with phrases like, “As we all know . . .” If we all know, you don’t need to point it out.


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 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

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Using Longer Shutter Speeds


The two most obvious reasons for using a longer shutter speed (This means your camera's shutter stays open longer giving the light more time to reach the lens.) are low light and falling or running water.

In either case you will need a stable shooting surface for your camera. Most commonly, this would be a tripod. However, any non-moving surface will work. It is also best to remotely trigger your camera, instead of depressing the button. Even this slight action can cause camera shake, resulting in a blurry image.

Here's a good tip. If your camera does not have a remote shutter release, use the timed shutter. Most cameras have the option for 2 seconds or 10 seconds. Simply set the timer and step back.

Night Fountain, Port Orleans Hotel, Riverside, Orlando, Florida
Night Fountain, Port Orleans, Riverside

To photograph running water during daylight hours you will need a Neutral Density filter. Depending on your type of camera, these come in rectangular format or circular. They also come in different densities. I prefer to use either a 4x or an 8x. Neutral Density filters can be very expensive. However, a lot of the less expensive models will work just as well. I purchased a used Soligar 8x circular ND filter from a local camera store for only $10.

Often the use of a polarizing filter in combination with a Neutral Density filter is a good idea. Polarizing filters cut glare from water surfaces. This is especially helpful when photographing running water as it will remove distracting surface reflections.

Remember though that the darker the filters the less light that will reach your lens and the longer you'll need to make your shutter speed!


The length of your shutter speed will greatly depend on what you are photographing. For running water, I have found closer shots require longer shutter times than distant waterfalls. In general, the larger the waterfall, the faster the shutter speed you can get away with. Shooting digital is great for this type of photography because you can take several images with different shutter speeds and compare the effects later.

Surprisingly, the best type of light for photographing running water is diffused light. Gray, cloudy days work best. Sunny days often cause too much shadow casting which can confuse the camera's metering system. However, this is not always the case. In the photograph below, there was quite a bit of light and I used its intensity to my advantage. I also selected a slightly faster speed than I would normally use to achieve the effect of water hitting off the rocks. My camera was resting on the ledge of a fountain at the time.

Splish and Splash
Splish and Splash

There are so many uses for longer exposures. The photo below was taken well after dark on a moonless night. A one minute shutter speed allowed the distant lightning storm to brighten the sky as if it were daytime.

Distant Lighting Storm, 1 minute exposure
Distant Lightning Storm, 1 minute exposure

I am continually surprised by some of the photographs I create when I practice using longer shutter speeds. I think that is part of what keeps me coming back. It is an easy enough choice to forget and yet such a simple thing to do with often such great results!

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, August 26, 2009

How to Compose a Writer’s Prayer

How to Compose a Writer’s Prayer

As Christian writers we can and should pray about our writing on a regular basis. The ability to write is a wonderful gift and as we dedicate our skills to Him, He is able to open more and more doors of opportunity.

Why should I Pray about Writing
Prayer is simply the act of communicating with God. Our lives should be focused on the Lord and we should be talking to Him all the time. He is vitally interested in what we do and if we approach Him with concerns and requests about our writing, He will respond.

It’s about Relationship
Praying about our writing is not a formula for success. Rather, it is an outflow of our relationship with God. Romans 10:17 (NAS) says, “So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Repetition has an effect – either positive or negative. Praying a writer’s prayer is a positive repetition that can help deepen our relationship with God.

Write out a Prayer
I’ve found it helpful to write out a prayer from time to time. I then print it and keep it where I can read it and pray it frequently – at least once a day. I generally do this for a month and the results are amazing. Every time I do it, I see growth in my personal life and improvement in my writing. The repetition reinforces the prayer and the thoughts become real to me as God begins to work.

What should I Include in my Prayer
Start off by thanking God for the gifts He’s given you. Then ask Him to help you increase in skill and mention any areas you need help with. Include a couple of scriptures and close off by thanking God again.

A Sample Prayer
Father God, Loving Savior and King of All. Creator of the world and all that is in it. Thank you for placing a measure of Your creativity in my heart. May it grow and increase as I use it to spread your message. Help me to improve in areas where I’m weak and bring people alongside me to teach me about grammar and plot structure. Let me only write words that are helpful and constructive, words that reveal a glimpse of who You are. Colossians 4:6 (NAS) says, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt.” I ask for opportunities to share my words this month, whether it be in a get well card, a church bulletin or an online article. Thank You for Your immense love God. I place my gifts in Your hands and ask You to use them in everu way possible.

I’ve written out a new prayer and I’ll be praying it regularly over the next month. I encourage you to do the same and come back and leave a comment about the exciting things that are happening with your writing.

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

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Photo Assignment #11: Textures

Photographing noise must have been too complicated for all of us (although I admit I didn't have time to try.) Did you try? Was it too difficult?

This week's assignment promises to be easier.


Photograph textures, then post your best over at our Pix-N-Pens photo album. (Use the password inspired to access the album for viewing or posting.)

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Why I Don't Like Book Reviews

Today's book review is written by Tracy - with a heavy heart as I write.

Heavy because, although the story is great, the writing is excellent, I just can't recommend that you read it.

Steven James' latest thriller The Knight is so gory, so filled with evil, I kept asking myself why a Christian writer would feel compelled to write it. I'm a firm believer in showing good versus evil, but as Christians, aren't we given a responsibility to show hope, too? The Knight does not give hope. It's a satisifying read, but left me with a hovering darkness that evil prevailed.

The story itself is well-written, with plenty of plot twists and turns. The characters are real and three-dimensional.

As I prepared to write this review, I read many others, to see if I was off-base or if my opinion was vastly different than others. I read reviews that said the book is definitely not for the squeamish, and one even said, "little Christian content." I'm not a squeamish person, but The Knight was still too much for me - too much for any decent person to have to, or want to, absorb.

Since this is the first Steven James book I've read, and since this book is one of a series, I can only hope that the following books lead the reader to hope. But because of the gore and evil in this book alone, I won't read others to find out.

I'm truly sorry, Mr. James. You are indeed a great storyteller and writer. I just don't understand your purpose for putting such horror into our imaginations - Christian or not. (Phil. 4:8)

Readers - I'd love your take on this subject. Am I too harsh? Do you have a problem with overly graphic novels? Is there a line that we, as Christian writers, should not cross?

From a press release:

Steven James is one of the nation’s most innovative storytellers—with a Master of Arts in Storytelling degree to prove it. For the past decade, he has been crafting compelling and evocative stories that pull readers into the thick of his brilliant, mind-bending plots, and his latest creative endeavor is no different: The Knight, the third installment in his bestselling series of thrillers, is full of the chilling twists and adrenaline-laced action that readers have come to expect from James.

The Knight picks up in The Bowers Files series, starring FBI criminologist Patrick Bowers, who is assigned to tracking the country’s most dangerous killers. But when he is called to his most disturbing crime scene yet, Bowers begins to realize that this criminal mastermind has actually been tracking him.

To get to the bottom of this cold-blooded case, Bowers uses his cutting-edge investigative techniques to decipher the evidence and discovers that the murderer has been using an ancient manuscript as a blueprint for his crimes. This sends Bowers on a race against time to stop the killer before he takes his next victim in another grisly crime.

But even as he is working to crack the clues of this bloody trail, Bowers finds himself stumped by another matter: An old murder case haunts him, causing him to question himself and wonder which is more important—truth or justice. The answer might set a killer free or change Bowers into a criminal himself.

Keeping readers guessing until the very end, James has earned rave reviews from the likes of Publishers Weekly, which called his thrillers “a wild ride with a shocking conclusion.” The Knight offers readers more of the same, as the satisfying follow-up to his previous bestselling psychological thrillers in The Bowers Files series, The Pawn and The Rook.

Available August 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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Writing Prompt #11: It's all in the Touch

Last week, we started a prompt series on the senses, because sensory details add depth to your story.

This week, let's explore the sense of TOUCH. I'm one of those people who buy clothes because of the way the FEEL. If I touch a garment and it doesn't feel good to me, I won't even bother to try it on. If I'm exploring, I like to touch things (I'll have to ask my mom if she had to tell me not to touch) to learn about them. By touching something, I feel I know it a bit more than I did before I touched it. Textures, temperatures, shapes, sizes, even reaction to your touch.

Write a scene incorporating the sense of TOUCH.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Editing Tip #9: Cutting the Fat in Your Manuscript

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.

~ Cutting the Fat in Your Manuscript ~

To tighten your manuscript, do what I call a Scissor Edit. Cut out everything that doesn’t absolutely need to be in the manuscript. The tighter the writing, the more publishers—and readers—will like it. Here are a few ways to cut. Look for more next week!

Change multi-word phrases to single words. For example:

at this point in time (now)
due to the fact that (because)
have an expectation (expect)
in the near future (soon)
it is clear that (clearly)
make an arrangement (arrange)
with regard to (about)
made the decision (decided)
in spite of the fact that (although)
has a tendency (tends)
poured down rain outside (rained)

Change multi-word verb phrases to single descriptive verbs.

Avoid overuse of adverbs, especially –ly words (like especially). Search your manuscript for words ending in “-ly.” You’ll probably find a lot of them, most of which can be deleted.
Examples: basically, definitely, exactly, highly, really, simply, truly, utterly

A good, strong verb is always preferred over a weak verb with an adjective. Replace verb phrases with single action verbs wherever possible. For example, what single verb could you use to replace “walked slowly”? (stalked, straggled, ambled, strolled, wandered, lumbered, padded, plodded, trudged) How about “walked quickly”? (barreled, bustled, darted, hurried, jogged, raced, ran, scurried, sprinted) Each word carries a slightly different connotation.

Cut Out the Boring Stuff

Look for personal anecdotes that may be interesting to you and your family members, but wouldn’t necessarily hold the interest of someone who doesn’t know you. Especially avoid personal anecdotes that are nothing more than your own diatribes against people or situations that have made you angry or upset. If a story doesn’t apply to the majority of members in your target audience, take it out.

Cut Out Repetition

If you’ve said something once, don’t say it again. Look for sentences that begin with “As stated previously,” “As you will recall,” “The point I’m trying to make.” Give your readers the benefit of the doubt that they understood you the first time. If they didn’t, they can always go back.

Keep an eye out for words or phrases you’ve used repeatedly in the manuscript, especially if they come within close proximity (besides invisible words like the and said).

Cut out “action delays.”

a. Rather than say someone “began to” do something, just show them doing it.
b. Instead of telling the possible (“He could sense that nobody believed him”), show the actual (“He sensed nobody believed him”).
c. Instead of “He decided to go,” just write “He went” . . . unless he decided to go and then didn’t.

Cut out weak beginnings to sentences.

Eliminate phrases like “As a matter of fact,” “As far as I’m concerned,” “For the most part,” “It is interesting to note,” etc. If what you’re about to say isn’t interesting to note, it shouldn’t be there.


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 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

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Is Your Passion?

"Photography is only a tool, a vehicle, for expressing or transmitting a passion in something else." - David Hum, On Being A Photographer
I read the above quote in an issue of Outdoor Photographer several years ago and it immediately stuck with me. In reflection, I could see myself in those words. It is as much capturing something I find captivating as it is the thrill of seeing the results that motivates me. In effect, my photographic subjects are my passion.

Words are fascinating. I once heard them defined as visual containers. Each word builds within our minds a picture of what it contains. If I say "dog", you get one mental image. If I say, "enormous smelly black dog", you get another. Well, the word "passion" implies desire, fervor, and zeal, amongst other things. My desire, the things I am most fervent about, show up in my images.

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly
Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

But desire just by itself is not enough. You must have knowledge as well. Knowledge by itself is not enough either. There has to be desire. Knowledge alone is boring. If a young child is sent to do a chore, they often go grumbling. They know how to do the chore, but they don't want to do it. But take that same chore and give them the desire to do it, whether that is to see the parent pleased or just to satisfy themselves as to their ability, and the chore is done quicker and better.

Each of us is different in thought. That is part of what makes life more interesting. Any plans that would attempt to make us all the same, do not get my vote. Whereas I choose to photograph dragonflies or butterflies or even spiders, you might choose architecture, or news photography, or cultural images. I can appreciate people who make wedding photographs. But frankly, the thought of doing that myself "gives me the willies". Wedding photography is definitely not my passion.


So stop now and ask yourself, "What is my passion? What do I really want to photograph?" then go out and capture it! And if your passion for one thing suddenly seems to wane, don't be afraid to find a new one. There is nothing wrong with switching gears. A couple of years ago, I made a lot of landscape images. I still love beautiful landscapes, but because I don't get out quite as often, I have found new desire in the objects around me in my garden. In part, I created this passion by planting the flowers which enticed the insects, and then by spending hours of my time in observation. My photographs reflect my efforts to further my passion.

Ultimately, my job is to make great photographs of what I am the most fervid about and to share them in a creative way with you. That is photography. And that is what I am most passionate about.

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

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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, August 19, 2009

Family Secrets

The Things Left Unspoken are Jo-Lynn’s family secrets, but they are also her own struggles to find herself. Author Eva Marie Everson has woven themes of past and present; married love and love of children; right and wrong, into a powerfully complex story. When Jo-Lynn returns to her family home to renovate it, she thinks she is responding to her husband’s mid-life crisis. Surrounded by loving family, she gradually realizes that she is also experiencing a mid-life crisis. She can’t help comparing her marriage to the loving couples of all ages that she sees around her. These godly men and women are also loving parents and children, and Jo-Lynn has to face her feelings about being childless. But the story is as much about Jo-Lynn’s great-aunt who faced marriage and children problems decades earlier. Her wisdom helps Jo-Lynn eventually resolve her own crisis. The stories develop gradually, and the book is so well written that I hung on every word. As a writer, I marveled at how Everson effortlessly followed all the rules I have learned and struggled to apply. But as a reader, I couldn’t put the book down. I cared about Jo-Lynn, although I thought she was extremely self-centered. I saw some of myself in her and maybe that is why I liked her. I loved Aunt Stella, her husband, her father and the rest of the family. I was surprised by the family secrets and worried that they would reveal flaws in the people I cared about. I watched them all anxiously, hoping they would do the right thing.My only disappointment in the book was that the ending felt rushed. It felt like, after revealing the big secret, Everson brought all the threads together and tied them in a quick knot, instead of the beautiful bow I was expecting. Perhaps she was reflecting life itself, but I felt cheated. But there is a very touching scene at the very end that partly alleviated my disappointment, and the rest of the book is worth the ending.

I highly recommend Things Left Unspoken. You can read more about the book and the author here.

Eve Marie Everson, just started teaching a class on dialogue. Find out more about it here.

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Writing with Emotion Series – Part Two

How to Weave Emotion into Fiction

Emotion is important in fiction but there is always a danger of overdoing it. I’ve read some books where every page is a drama and the main character is always in a state of heightened emotion. I discard these books after a few chapters as the feelings are too much to be enjoyable.

Show not Tell
This is one of the cornerstones of writing and is especially applicable to emotion. Try writing an emotional paragraph and then take out any emotions mentioned by name – such as joy, hatred, anger, hope – and see if the meaning is retained by the rest of the content. Have a look at these sentences to see the difference between showing and telling.

· Jenny was jealous when she saw Lydia in the dress she wanted.
· Jenny’s insides curdled as she saw Lydia in the dress she wanted.

Use Body Language to Portray Emotion
Instead of saying the character was ecstatic or sorrowful, use body language to portray the meaning. Here are some examples to demonstrate the power of this method:

· Liam was disgusted by the awful stench.
· Liam wrinkled his nose and took a step backwards as the stench hit him.
· Jessica felt betrayed when she saw Simon with another girl.
· When Jessica saw Simon with another girl, it felt as though trust and faith were leaking from her heart.

Don’t Overstate Emotion
Melodramas are the only place for overdone emotion. Don’t use terms such as very excited or extremely irritated. If the emotion is strong, let the character demonstrate it by flinging a plate or cart-wheeling across the room.

Write in the First Person
An emotional piece often works well when written from the first person point of view – in other words, from the “I” point of view. The impact is generally greater as you can portray the feelings from the inside, as opposed to looking on.

Imagine Yourself in the Middle of the Scene
If writing an emotional scene, close your eyes and picture it unfolding it in front of you. What do you see? What expressions are on the characters' faces? What is their tone of voice? What are they doing? What is the main emotion? Are they restraining themselves or letting it all hang out? Once you can see it, write it.

Practise Writing Emotional Phrases
Take clichéd expressions and rewrite them into fresh language. Here are a few examples.

· He broke her heart.
· He took a scalpel and sliced her heart into two halves.
· She jumped with joy.
· Exuberance lifted her into the air

The Rise and Fall of Emotion
Make sure that emotions rise and fall throughout your book or story. This is how life unfolds and the story needs to be believable. Introduce enough emotion to keep the reader’s interest but not so much that it becomes tiring. Emotion should increase in intensity throughout the book until the final scene where all the threads are drawn together into a satisfying conclusion

Recommended Reading
Karen Kingsbury puts plenty of feeling into her books and tells stories of relationships and hope. Nicholas Sparks writes heartrending love stories, many of which have sad endings. He is a master at writing emotion. Richard Paul Evans is another gifted writer whose books have strong emotional appeal. If you want to improve your writing, take some of their books out of the library and read them carefully, analyzing the way they write.

If you prefer short stories, you can have a look at one of mine that placed first in the Faithwriter’s Weekly Challenge in November last year. It’s full of emotion but tender and not overdone.

If you have a piece of “emotional” writing you’d like me to look at, feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

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

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Do You Have a Marketing Plan?

Most of us writers don't have a clue about marketing when writing our books. But once that contract is signed, we realize how much of the marketing actually falls upon our shoulders. So what should be done first?

Take the time to create a marketing plan. It will help you stay focused, and if your brain works anything like mine, it will keep you from getting side-tracked into useless, time-wasting, or budget-busting options.

So what's in a marketing plan?

First, define your book. What is its primary focus? (Even with fiction, you'll still have a focus - whether it be a spiritual theme, an issue or agenda, or purely for entertainment purposes.) Consider this the "mission statement" for your book. You can do this for one book, for a series, or for your writing business as a whole.

Next, look at your book or business from "the big picture." What are its benefits to readers?

Then, identify those readers. Who, specifically, is your target market? As I've shared with some of my editing clients - imagine a customer looking at your book. One reader only. Is that reader in a bookstore? Which one? Where? Is that customer male or female? What age? Married or single? Occupation? Religious beliefs? Political beliefs? Children? You want to pinpoint that reader as specifically as possible, because it will be that reader you target in your marketing.

Yes, you'll pick up many other readers that don't fit the profile at all - but you want to match your original marketing as close to that one reader as you can possibly get.

Detemine a marketing budget. Your budget may be $5, $50, $100, or $10,000. Put it down on paper, and stick to it. You can use it for reference with your next book - so you'll know whether to increase or decrease the budget, and keep track of what worked and what didn't.

Next, you'll want to make a list of marketing goals. You need to figure out how to get your book in front of readers. Think of a variety of ways - and be creative in your approach. Book signings, speaking engagements, blog tours, media interviews, online and print advertising, your own Web site and blog, writing magazine articles about the subject of your book (or subjects mentioned in your book), etc. As you create your original list, write down as many as you can think of - you may not use them all, but you may generate other ideas from that original list.

After you've created a list, break it down. Determine the cost of each goal, how you'll accomplish item on the list.

Then set a timetable. All of your marketing efforts probably won't be very effective if everything is done on one single day. Spread out your marketing. You'll want to start the "marketing buzz" before the book is even published, but you don't want the groundswell to happen until the book is available for purchase - where readers can immediately get their hands on a copy. And to keep people talking about your book, spread the marketing out over several weeks or months.

Putting your marketing plan down on paper helps you stay focused, but just remember, it isn't set in cement. Be flexible, creative, and enjoy the process. It's not nearly as bad as you think it is!

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Photo Assignment #10: Can You Capture Noise with your Camera?

Our writing prompts over the next few weeks are focusing on sensory details, so I'd like to see if we can do the same thing with our cameras.

Your challenge this week, if it's possible to do:

Can you capture noise with a still camera? Can a photo express noise?

Give it your best shot - try to take some pictures of NOISE (no videos/audios allowed). Share your best with us over at the Pix-N-Pens Photo Album. Use the password inspired to view or post to the album.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Montana Rose

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Montana Rose

Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2009)


Mary Connealy

Montana Rose is a love story. But it’s love on more than one level. It’s about newlyweds learning to know each other and growing in love. Look a little deeper and it’s a story about God’s love and Christian community. There’s even a story about the failure of love. Connealy skillfully weaves several threads together to create a complex and suspenseful story. While the young couple struggles with misunderstanding, self-doubt and her past, a very real threat emerges and keeps intruding into their life together.

I was drawn into the story from the first sentence and enjoyed watching the complex characters develop as the story progressed, with one exception. I couldn’t help thinking the young husband was too good to be true. At 23 he is already close to the ideal Godly man. His only fault is a temper that he controls rigidly with prayer. A bigger problem for me was that the dialogue was often drawn out, especially when the characters talked about the Lord. In fact, the last half of the book felt preachy. I don’t know any Christians who talk quite like that. But it did lead to a good ending. I anticipated the way the conflict was resolved as a possible solution, but I loved the way it was done. With God’s help, Christians do overcome. The only thing that left me unsatisfied was the resolution to one of the minor threads. I feel there is another book there waiting to be written. Overall, if you like western Christian romances, you’ll enjoy this one.


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

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

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

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

Mary has signed an exclusive contract with Barbour that will have her writing eighteen (18) books for them over the next four years! This book is the first in the Montana Marriage Series. The second book will be the Husband Tree, and the third will be Wildflower Bride


Fire up your love of romance with Montana Rose.

When surrounded by a mob of ill-bred, foul-smelling, women-hungry men, the newly widowed and seemingly spoiled Cassie “China Doll” Griffin has no choice. Marrying handyman Red Dawson seems the only alternative to Cassie’s being hitched to a brutal rancher. But can this “China doll” bear exchanging smooth silk for coarse calico? Red was reluctant to be yoked to an unbeliever, but sometimes a man has no choice. Will Red change Cassie’s heart by changing her name? Wade Sawyer is obsessed with saving Cassie from a marriage of convenience. How far will he go to make her his own?

To read the first chapter of Montana Rose, click HERE.

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Writing Prompt #10: Noise

Sensory details add richness and depth to any manuscript. So for the next few weeks, our prompts will focus on the senses.

Your character is in a fast food restaurant. What does he/she hear?

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Ransome's Honor

by Phee Paradise

Hello, Pixels. I'm excited to review Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus. It’s been a while since I read a book I couldn’t put down. It doesn’t have high adventure or deep themes, but I had to keep reading to see what would happen next. I kept telling myself I would read just one more page, one more section, one more chapter.

It is essentially a romance, but the love story unfolds gradually and the main characters act with integrity. Not so the villain. He is truly despicable, but part of the genius of the book is that some of it is told from his point of view and we get a glimpse into his character. In fact, the book moves easily between three characters’ points of view without any disruption to the story. It is set in early nineteenth century British society, which Dacus has clearly researched in depth, and the Royal Navy is almost another character. The plot hinges on a cultural convention that, as a modern American woman, I don’t get and made me want to shake the heroine, but it made sense within the story. In spite of this, she is smart, capable and has a strong faith. Most of the characters rely on God for guidance and comfort, but it is such a natural part of their lives that there is no sense that the author is teaching a lesson.

The book ends delightfully with a little humor and a nod to Jane Austen. I can’t wait for the next two books, but I hope they don’t come out too soon because I need to get some work done.

The first book in the exciting Ransome Trilogy is set in 1814 England. Julia Witherington must marry to receive a large dowry. The one man she despises is the only man her father approves of - Captain William Ransome. When the two enter a fake one-year marriage, the real adventure begins.

Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. Pursuing her passion for writing, she earned a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She is a former Vice President and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is also a founding member of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and writes contemporary and historical romances. To find out more about Kaye and her books, please visit her online at Kaye Dacus.

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Editing Tip #8: Fair Use

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.


Copyright law is written to encourage the growth of knowledge while at the same time protecting those who further the growth of knowledge. You use a book to gain knowledge; an author publishes a book to earn money. You would not purchase a book if you could not use the information in the book, but an author could not publish a book if he could not earn money for his time and effort. "Fair Use" is the concept within the copyright law that weighs the delicate balance between use and protection.

Fair Use is based on the following criteria:
Purpose of the use (commercial or private)
Nature of the work
Amount and substantiality of the portion used compared to the copyrighted work as a whole
Effect of the use on the potential market for, or value of, the original.

Determination of Fair Use is weighed by looking at how the work is used, how much of the work is used, and how the use affects the value and potential sales of the original work. Fair Use frequently comes into question when determining what portion of a book might be quoted or used for reviews, criticism, education, and research.

Other than private in-home listening and playing, Fair Use of music is extremely limited.


All requests for permission to reprint should be sent to the copyright holder in writing and in duplicate. The request should contain the following information:
· title of the original work, including page number(s) of the material to be reprinted
· information about the publication in which the author wishes to reproduce the material: title, approximate number of printed pages, formal publication (clothbound book, paperback book, journal, etc.), publisher, probable date of publication, approximate print run, and list price (if available).

The copyright holder will either sign and return to the author one copy of the request or will send the author the copyright owner's standard form. In either case the person responding to the request should state clearly what fee is demanded for the proposed use and what special conditions apply. The second copy of the permission form will be retained in the copyright owner's files. The requesting author should give the original to the publisher and keep the third copy for his or her reference.


Whether or not the use of others' material requires permission, an author must provide the source of such material. Whenever you quote or paraphrase the idea of another person, you must provide a proper citation for the source in a bibliography or footnote to (a) give credit to the author or creator and (b) enable a reader to locate the source you cited. Providing references for authoritative sources lends credibility to your work. If you do not give credit to the work of others, you are committing plagiarism.

The Chicago Manual of Style states that commonly known facts, available in numerous sources, do not need to be enclosed quotation marks or given a source citation unless the wording is taken directly from another work. For example, "Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865" does not need a footnote.


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 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

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is Writing Dialogue Difficult for You?

Do you struggle with dialogue in your manuscript? Is it boring, dull, lifeless, or senseless? Do you know how to use dialogue to progress your story?

Eva Marie Everson's online writing course Dynamics of Dialogue will help make your dialogue sing!

What are today's readers (and editors!) looking for when they thumb through you book? White space. Simply put, white space is dialogue. Formatted properly, it shows the reader with one glance that this will be a quick, easy, entertaining read. And this is exactly what they are looking for. But dialogue is an area of writing both fiction and nonfiction that screams, "Amateur!" faster than anything else. Editors today are amazed at how little potential writers know about writing dialogue properly and in such a way as to pull a reader into a scene rather than making him want to scream as he runs away!

In this four-week course, allow Eva Marie Everson to show you the dynamics of writing dialogue. From tag lines to staggering tags, from adding action and voice inflection, you will learn it all in a fun, hands-on workshop. By the end of four weeks, writing dialogue will come to you as naturally as ... well ... speaking!

Eva Marie Everson is the award-winning author of The Potluck Club series, The Potluck Catering Club series (both Revell), The Shadow Series (Barbour), and a new line of Southern Fiction beginning with Things Left Unspoken (2009). She will see two novels published in 2009, two in 2010, and is already contracted out for the next three years with Southern Fiction for Revell.

Dynamics of Dialogue starts Monday, August 17, so reserve your spot now. The cost of the course is $100. Class size is small - usually 5-10 students - so instruction is personalized and one-on-one to help you grow as a writer.

Schedule of other online courses offered by WIES Workshops.

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Random Thoughts


Sometimes I sit down to write this blog and I have a definite direction I want to take. Other times an event in my life is prominent in my thinking and that forms my thoughts. But tonight as I relax on my couch, a bowl of raspberry sherbet slowly melting beside me, I have only randomness. It's like my thoughts are as this dandelion, drifting in the wind. Try as I might, I just cannot seem to organize my thinking.

Drifting Away, Dandelion
Drifting Away, Dandelion

Writing this blog has become an inspiration in my life, and it's something I really enjoy. I have been stretched mentally to use skills I didn't know I had, and the end results are always so rewarding. I like sharing my knowledge. I like gleaning from the knowledge of others. I like learning and growing.

But sometimes I must return to where I began, as a photographer. Photographs don't require words. They don't require organized thought or mental recall. I don't have to remember anything to enjoy them. No, I need only to relax and "sponge" them in. Each line and curve, each touch of the light, soaking into my brain.


Writing blogs may now be what I do, and it feels like I do it a lot. And words are marvelous things that allow me to create and become and share. But photography is who I am. So for tonight I'll just allow all the hard stuff, the group emails, the newsletters, the leftovers from work, to melt away. And I'll indulge myself with a few photographs. I'll daydream and let my thinking just flow away...

The Power of Water, Dry Falls, North Carolina
The Power of Water, Dry Falls, North Carolina

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Suzanne Williams Photography
To Read 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, August 12, 2009

Hardboiled Detective Goes Soft

by Phee Paradise

Hello Pixels. I'm happy that I can gladly recommend the first book I'm reviewing for you. If you like hardboiled detective novels, you’ll enjoy The Night Watchman. That is, if you don’t mind a bitter, crippled cop on forced medical retirement.

At first, I didn’t like him at all. But as he investigated the case of a dead minister, I was drawn in, not only by the mystery, but by the emotions in the story. I watched the detective develop a soft spot and, although he didn’t know it, it was clear that God was wooing him. He gradually and naturally lost some of his bitterness and even started caring about other people. The book has a good mystery with lots of twists and I didn’t anticipate the outcome. It also has some great characters.

I recommend The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Night Watchman

Multnomah Books (May 5, 2009)


Mark Mynheir


Mark Mynheir was born and raised on the east coast of Central Florida. Like most boys growing up, Mark enjoyed sports, mainly football and martial arts.

In 1983, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and went through basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. After serving four years in the Marines, Mark changed gears and pursued a career in law enforcement.

During his career as a police officer, Mark has worked as a narcotics agent, a S.W.A.T. team member, and a homicide detective.

Over sixteen years ago, during a health crisis involving his oldest son, Mark gave his life to Jesus Christ. Shortly after his conversion, he felt God leading him in a new direction: writing. Now he balances dual careers as a police officer and novelist.

He has authored Rolling Thunder (The Truth Chasers Book One), From the Belly of the Dragon (The Truth Chasers Book Two), and The Void (The Truth Chasers Book Three).

Mark is married to the love of his life and has three fantastic children, and they all currently reside in Central Florida.


When everything is ripped away...

Eleven months ago, Ray Quinn was a tough, quick-witted Orlando homicide detective at the top of his game-until a barrage of bullets ended his career and his partner's life.

Now medically retired with a painful handicap, Ray battles the haunting guilt for his partner's death. Numbing the pain with alcohol and attitude, Ray takes a job as a night watchman at a swanky Orlando condo community.

But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, Ray can no longer linger in the shadows. The victim’s sister is convinced her brother was framed and begs Ray to take on an impossible case─to challenge the evidence and clear her brother’s name.

Ray reluctantly pulls the thread of this supposedly dead-end case only to unravel a murder investigation so deep that it threatens to turn the Orlando political landscape upside down and transform old friends into new enemies. As Ray chases down leads and interrogates suspects, someone is watching his every move, someone determined to keep him from ever finding out the truth─at any cost.

To read the first chapter of Night Watchman, click here.

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Writing with Emotion Series – Part One

Does Emotion have a Place in Fiction

Writing emotion has always come naturally to me – it’s something that has been commented on repeatedly during my writing career. My family think it’s a strange paradox as I come across as an emotional introvert. I don’t shout and cheer at sports matches, I don’t cry during sad movies, I don’t feel the need to outwardly express emotion like others do ... and yet I am still an emotional being, I still feel things deeply and can express this through writing.

Emotion makes sense as we know that God is emotional and we are made in His image. The Bible speaks of God rejoicing over us, (Zephaniah 3:17), the Lord having compassion, (Judges 2:18) Jesus weeping, (John 11:35) and Jesus chasing the money changers from temple.(John 2:13-16)

Fiction must Contain Emotion
Emotion is the spark in a story – the thread that binds the writer to the reader. In order to capture people’s attention we need to introduce feelings and form heart connections. People read for entertainment. They also read because they want to become part of a story where they can feel love, joy, passion and hope, and work through pain, heartbreak and grief with the characters.

People Identify with Emotion
Have you ever bought a book because you identify with the main character? Maybe it tells the story of the close relationship between a child and her grandmother – or the betrayal of a father - or the birth of a disabled child. People are looking for stories that resonate with their own experiences.

Good Emotional Writing Comes from the Heart
In order to write emotion, you must be able to feel it deep inside. Superficial or academic-type writing will not form an emotional connection. Emotion is part of life and because we have lived through various experiences, we can identify with assorted emotions. Being able to distil this into words is the secret of writing from the heart.

Emotion Works in all Genres
Romance novels need love and tender hearts, thrillers need fear and excitement, teen novels need teenage angst and all novels need conflict. A book without emotion is like looking at a two dimensional picture – the depth and reality is missing.

Emotion is often looked down on or disregarded but it is a vital part of our humanity. It can be used to great effect in fiction by using a number of writing techniques. Come back next Wednesday when we’ll look at how to use emotion effectively in fiction.

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