Friday, November 19, 2010

Part of the Journey

After I made the announcement on Monday about Pix-N-Pens, I went into an unexpected time of sadness - I finally realized I was grieving horribly over saying good-bye. Several of my friends have been praying for me, and one sent a note that reminded me that God moves us into and out of things for a reason. So, even though I'm still sad at saying good-bye, I'm now excited to see what's going to happen next. Aren't you?

Words fail me as I think of what I want to say to our team of writers here at Pix-N-Pens.

Debbie, Suzanne, Phee, Kathy - you've all been such a blessing to me. I've watched each one of you grow in so many ways, and I'm so very proud to have experienced that. Your talents amaze me as they inspire, encourage, teach, and minister to all of us. THANK YOU from the depths of my being for sharing yourselves with us, for your compassion, for your dreams, for your beauty, for your dedication, for your faithfulness, for the many struggles you've gone through to make you who you are. THANK YOU most of all for your friendship. You have blessed me beyond measure, and I will always be grateful.

I leave you with words of a Psalm that speak tenderly this morning:

Sing to the Lord a new song;
      sing to the Lord, all the earth
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
      proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
      his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
                                 Psalm 96:1-3 NIV

A new song. I like that.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blessings

I too am sad that Pix-N-Pens has reached the end of its life, but am grateful for the opportunity to be part of it. This blog has opened up two worlds for me – Christian fiction and Christian writing. When I retired a few years ago, I finally had time to pursue my love of writing, which I had shelved for far too long. When I ventured into the Christian publishing marketplace, I discovered a whole new world of e-books, publishing on demand, and blogs.

As a writer, the Pix-N-Pens posts on writing and editing have been invaluable to me. Both Debbie and Kathy have taught me how to hone my skills. Writing book reviews has taught me other skills. I’ve learned to write for a deadline and how to organize my thoughts and convey them to you clearly and concisely. But maybe the most important thing I’ve learned is to care about my fellow writers. Before writing each book review, I’ve had to ask the Lord to help me be honest and compassionate. I wanted my readers to know what to expect, while being as helpful to the writer as possible. I didn’t like every book I read, but I wanted to be as encouraging as I could. I’ve learned that writing is not just about my words; it’s about the Word speaking through me to challenge and encourage – even when I’m writing about fiction.

As a reader, I’ve enjoyed so many books I would have never read. I hope that my short journey through the Christian market has helped you find some treasures too. I would list my favorites, but there are too many. I never dreamed that my fellow Christian writers had so much creativity and talent.

Thank you, Tracy, for opening the door for me. I know you’ve done that for many other people and I pray God’s blessings on you.



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Endings

Well, all good things eventually come to an end. As you are already aware, Pix-N-Pens, which is a very good thing, has reached that point, and I am sad about its passing. But an ending means the fulfillment of something. It means that object has done its job. It also marks a new beginning. When a flower fades and sets to seed, it has accomplished its purpose. Each seed is a promise of of the future generation. In its way, that analogy is so fitting for my time here at Pix-N-Pens.

Seeds

I value this site most for the experience it has given me. I learned through my time here to write efficiently. I learned what ideas work and what does not. It is harder than you'd think to continually come up with new and interesting material. I also learned to write with a speedy turnaround. With one article done, I knew there were only seven days until another was due. Pix-N-Pens kept me on my toes. Then there is the process of putting it all into readable words. So many times have I been pleasantly surprised when something I wrote became a "hit" with readers. I know now to embrace even the smallest ideas.

Timeless, Magnolia Blossom

I learned here as well something about myself. I found out how much I really love photography. It feels as natural to me as breathing. It is the fullest expression of my inward thoughts and dreams. How fulfilling it is now to write it all down! Repeatedly discussing the same subjects again and again has engrained them into my thinking. It has expanded my horizons beyond one blog to other websites, such as Steve's Digicams where I now write frequently. Without my time here, I would not have achieved that.

"Whodathunkit," that day when Tracy Ruckman approached me, sight unseen, to write about photography, that I would come this far? I mean, she didn't know me from "Adam's housecat" and yet, here I am. Thanks, Tracy. You have become a precious and dear friend and outstanding mentor. You have poured into my life a freedom through writing that I would never have found on my own. I am so grateful.

Fading, Mexican Sunflowers

I have gained so much from my time here, knowledge, good friends, and people willing to take time out of their day to read what I've written and view my work. That is where my biggest thanks goes - to you, the readers. Thank you so much.

If you'd like to continue reading my latest articles, you will find me at my blog (you can subscribe via email), hanging out on Facebook or at Twitter. Also, remember to look for me at Steve's Digicams.


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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, November 17, 2010

The End of a Season

Change is always hard - and yet it is an integral part of life. We grow by changing ... we develop by changing ... and we become stronger by changing. As Pix-N-Pens draws to a close, I believe it is the start of a new season, not only for myself, but for the others involved as well. It will require change - saying goodbye to old routines and then incorporating new ones as opportunities come along.

Tracy has done a fantastic job with Pix-N-Pens and I'm grateful that I've had a chance to be part of her team. I've learnt a tremendous amount through writing my column every week and it's helped me capture in words what I do with my writing. Thanks to all of you who've read my words and commented over the past couple of years. You've been a real encouragement.

I'd love to stay in touch so please look me up on Facebook or follow me on Twitter or my blog. If there's one thing I've learned in my years of writing, it is this - you cannot function alone. You need like-minded people to stand with you, inspire you and tell you when a piece of writing needs serious attention!

Until next time, this is my prayer for you:


The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26







Monday, November 15, 2010

A Bittersweet Announcement

Greetings, Pixels.

I approach this post with a mixture of reluctance and excitement. But I keep reminding myself that life is full of seasons, and as the Bible tells us, there is indeed a time for everything.

This week will be our last week here at Pix-N-Pens. I've asked our writers, my precious friends, to pen their final thoughts in their columns this week, and then on Friday, I'll say a final goodbye.

Since Pix-N-Pens started in 2007, we've become acquainted with so many special people, and we've been honored to share books, knowledge, photos, and tiny snippets of our lives with you, our readers. We're grateful for the time, and want you to know how very much we appreciate you.

So why are we ending our run here? Hopefully without sounding flippant, my only answer is, "It's time." Our lives have all changed drastically since we began, and as always with change, new things come into our lives, while old things must be let go.

You'll still see us around - we're all on Facebook - so please, say hello when you can.

I'll be back Friday for some closing thoughts, but please join us all week to celebrate and reminisce.

THANK YOU.




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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Facing Trials with Humility

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Almost Heaven
By Chris Fabry

Why do bad things happen to innocent people? In Almost Heaven, Chris Fabry asks this question. I’m not it can be answered to anyone’s complete satisfaction, but in asking the question, Fabry tells a fascinating story. Billy Allman is a bit of a recluse who has a radio station in his home. His hope is that the bluegrass music he plays and the devotionals he shares will help the people of his community face their troubles. The radio station is important to Billy, but the book is about how he became a recluse who loves God.

Billy’s life was not easy, but he tells his readers about it with humility and without bitterness. A flood destroyed his home and nearly killed him when he was a child. After that his family lived in poverty and each of his parents died tragically. In spite of these disasters he dreamed of being a musician, but the dream died too. The radio station came later – a means of sharing the faith he had clung to throughout the calamities of his life.

Fabry adds an interesting component to this narrative, in the voice of Billy’s guardian angel. Interspersed between Billy’s narratives of events in his life, we hear some of them from the angel. He not only describes the events, but muses on their meaning and God’s plan for Billy. It’s interesting that Billy never doubts God and His love, but the angel does admit to some doubts.

If you were to ask Billy why bad things had happened to him, I don’t think he would have an answer. Instead, he would tell you that God loves him and has taken care of him in the midst of the problems. But there was one period in his life when the angel was called away to battle to the Satanic forces. Billy jumped over that time in his narrative and the reader realizes that something important happened that has influenced Billy more than anything else. Eventually, he has to face what happened. He deals with it with the same humility he has approached all of life, but it doesn’t really answer the central question of the book.

Almost Heaven is a gripping story about a man who doesn’t appear to live up to the potential God has gifted him with. He is a failure in all the ways the world counts success. But he has a strong faith and lives humbly before his God. Perhaps Billy’s life is the answer to the question of suffering. God allows his tragedies so his faith can shine. I sure hope my faith shines like that in the hard places in my life.

Pros: Well told story with some mystery and suspense. The characters are ordinary, yet have qualities that make them stand out.

Cons: The angel’s musings seem a little strange. The author might have found a way to weave the philosophy into the story without this device.

About the book:

Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose. Things always seem to go wrong for him.
However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy’s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home. Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy. Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.


About the author:

Chris Fabry is a 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University. He is heard on Chris Fabry Live! each weekday on Moody Radio, the Love Worth Finding broadcast, and other radio programs. You may have also heard Chris cohosting programs for Focus on the Family radio. He and his wife, Andrea, live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris's first novel for adults, Dogwood, received the 2009 Christy Award in the Contemporary Standalone category. His latest novel, June Bug, was released in July 2009. He has published more than 65 other books, including many novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and the Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM is his latest series for kids and explores the exciting world of NASCAR. Visit his Web site at www.chrisfabry.com.






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Helping Children Create Books

Creating Books with Children by Debbie Roome
It is possible to nurture a love of reading in young children from an early age. This can be done by encouraging them to participate in fun activities that involve creating books.

Teaching Children to Create Books
It is simple to help your child create his own book. It takes time and effort but the results will be enjoyed for months and years afterwards:
· Give you child sheets of coloured construction paper and ask him to cut out pictures and stick them on to form a story. Pet magazines are a good source of animal pictures, and junk mail and store catalogues can provide endless inspiration
· If your child is a little older and likes drawing, give him some sheets of firm white paper to draw a series of pictures that tell a story. Offer stickers and embellishments as additions
· If the child is old enough, allow her to write the story on each page. Otherwise they can dictate the words to for an adult to write down
· Show him or her the inside of a book with the publisher’s details and copyright and help them add similar information to their book
· Add a title page and the child’s name as the author
· Add a blurb to the back cover describing what the book is about and who authored it
· Bind the book by running strips of glue down the edge of the pages and staple on a cover. The pages can be laminated first for protection but don’t attempt this if there are stickers or embellishments on a page
· Another method of producing a book is to scan the pages at a high resolution and print them on good quality paper

Young children have a natural interest in books and creating their own can bring them hours of pleasure and encourage a love of reading. If the first book is a success, promise to make another one with them in a few months time.


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, Associated Content and Faithwriters.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Editing Tip #51: Proposal Tips

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

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

~ PROPOSAL TIPS ~

Every book proposal should include the following elements:

Title page: A cover sheet with the book’s working title and your name (as you’d like it to appear on the book) centered in the middle of the page, “Book Proposal” typed in the upper-left corner, and your name (not a pseudonym), address, phone number and e-mail in the bottom-right corner.

Specifications: Estimated word length, number of chapters, types of illustrations or photos, etc.

Author’s Bio: A brief biography of yourself, listing your educational background, writing credentials (books and articles published), qualifications to write credibly about your book’s topic, plus any previous media experience you may have.

Synopsis (for fiction): One or two pages that describe what your story is about, written in present tense. (“She does this and he does that.”) Make the synopsis as exciting as your story.

Chapter-by-Chapter Outline (for nonfiction): List your chapter titles and briefly describe the content of each chapter.

Two or Three Sample Chapters: For fiction, these must be the first chapters. For nonfiction, should be the first chapter plus one or two others from anywhere in the book.

Below are the questions publishers ask about every manuscript they receive to decide whether or not to vote on accepting it. Be sure to address at least most of these questions in your proposal.

  • Who is the main target audience (male or female, age range, life situation)? What is the estimated size of your target audience? (Use statistics if applicable.)
  • How does this book differ from others in the market? List books that would compete, directly or indirectly, with your book. Include the title, author’s name, publisher’s name, year of publication, number of pages, price and format (hardcover, trade paperback, mass-market paperback editions). Describe each book briefly, then tell how your book is different.
  • What is the take-away value? How do you anticipate readers being changed or helped?
  • How can the author help promote it? Can you speak at seminars, professional associations, or civic clubs? Do you have a Web site, blog, or e-newsletter where you can highlight the book?
  • How can it be used? (e.g., Sunday school elective, textbook, organization giveaway)

For more suggestions on writing a proposal, visit these websites:

Steve Laube, agent: www.stevelaube.com/guidelines.htm

Taming the Book Proposal: The Basics by Jill Nagle, www.writergazette.com/articles/article469.shtml

How to Write a Synopsis by Marg Gilks: www.writing-world.com/publish/synopsis.shtml

Michael Hyatt, chairman & CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers: www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/Downloads/WritingABookProposal.pdf

How Do I Write a Book Synopsis? http://il.essortment.com/synopsiswriteb_rqmx.htm (Scroll down the page for the article.)

Alive Commumications Literary Agency has a sample fiction proposal on their Web site:
www.alivecom.com/main.asp?a=SampleProposal

Proposal for Oxygen (by John Olson and Randy Ingermanson): www.rsingermanson.com/ html/on_writing.html (Scroll about halfway down this page to find a link to the proposal.)

Preparing a Killer Fiction Proposal, a 29-page article with samples by Karen Wiesner (www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/proposalarticle.pdf).

Writing a Winning Book Proposal, by Michael Hyatt, chairman & CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers (http://michaelhyatt.com/products/ebook-writing-a-winning-book-proposal)


Recommended Books:

Book Proposals that Sell by W. Terry Whalin

Your Novel Proposal: From Creation to Contract: The Complete Guide to Writing Query Letters, Synopses and Proposals for Agents and Editors (Hardcover)


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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.

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AUTHOR BIO:
Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. 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, November 4, 2010

Tips to Landscape Photography

Landscape photography would seem like an easy thing to do. I mean, how hard is it to pick up a camera? Yet you know how it goes. It's like the oft-depicted scene where someone forces his friends to sit through his entire long, boring vacation slide show. Pretty soon the "friends" are nodding off to sleep, bored to tears.

The question is how to prevent this from occurring. What makes your landscape (wide-angle) photographs stand out from the ordinary?Here are a few key points that I believe will help you.

Beside Still Waters, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

Light

A good photographer knows how to use the light he has been given. Most times, especially if you are on vacation, you are where you are when you are there. I always laugh at articles that suggest scouting out a location and returning at dawn the next day to catch the best light. Yes, that's a great idea, but seriously how many of us have the time? This is especially true if you are a parent with three kids in tow. "Mommy, why are we here AGAIN?"

If you happen to be somewhere in the light of noon, look for scenes that work for that lighting. Use the heavier shadows to your advantage. Perhaps create a silohuette. Frame a brighter scene with a darker one. Shadows work great for highlighting shapes and textures. Late in the day, the twilight hours lend themselves to more monochrome-style images. In lower light, white balance becomes key. Heavy color or the lack thereof makes for fascinating photography.

Myriad Reflections, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida.

Lines

Landscape images naturally lend themselves to lines. The usage of lines is one of the first elements of composition photographers must learn. But remember lines don't have to necessarily be straight. Curves are also lines. The point of any line is how it draws the viewers eye into the photograph. Where does it take you?

Lines are also a negative. When done incorrectly, you have the old "line through the head" faux pas. So pay attention to foreground and background objects!

Sand Curves, Lake Ariana, Auburndale, Florida

Weather

Weather is often key to certain locations. What would a visit to the British Isles be without rain? Take photographs that place a location's weather in the forefront. Always be careful to protect your electronics, but don't let the weather keep you indoors. Low-hanging fog or heavy rain clouds make for interesting photographs.

Try a polarizing filter both to remove unwanted glare and to increase color saturation. After all, who doesn't like turquoise-blue ocean water? Polarizing filters are a great way to include a sunny location's weather in a photograph. Drifting clouds and blue skies make for beautiful photography.

Storm Clouds at Sunset, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

In landscape photography, always pay attention to your depth of field. I prefer to use an aperture of F8 or smaller to capture more detail and achieve greater depth of field. Greater depth of field also comes from being "square" with your scenery. Looking straight at a scene prevents distracting pincushioning and barreling. Try a telephoto lens and crop out unwanted objects. Not every "landscape" image has to be at your widest angle.

Most of all, take lots of photos from many angles and remember to have fun. That is, above all, the most important thing.

Note to readers: I will not be posting next Thursday. Look for me on November 18th.

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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, November 3, 2010

Triumph of Faith

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Red Ink
By Kathi Macias

When you read Red Ink, you get two completely unrelated stories – almost. Yeng Zhen Li is a Chinese Christian who is incarcerated for her faith during the Cultural Revolution. Julia is a widow living in a retirement home in California who is compelled to pray for China, and especially for one woman whose name she doesn’t know. Except for the prayer connection, and a theme of Christian faithfulness, the two stories are completely unrelated.

Zhen Li was taken from her husband and young son because she told the children of her village about Jesus, which was illegal. She continues to share her faith in prison, even though it results in beatings. Her story revolves around her cellmate, Mei, who spies on her, and an evil guard who enjoys torturing her and is determined to break her. Meanwhile, her husband, his sister, and her mother must all confront the God that Zhen Li is so devoted to.

Julia moved to a small retirement home after her husband died and is learning to serve God in new ways as her body ages. She spends a lot of time in prayer with a friend in the home, but struggles with her dislike of another resident. The more she prays, the more urgent her concerns for China become. But she also has prayer concerns closer to home. The Lord lays Maggie, the granddaughter of her nemesis, on Julia’s heart. Maggie is taking drugs and is drawn into a dangerous world she doesn’t understand.

I’ve never been able to read more than one book at a time. I like becoming absorbed in one fictional world at a time. So Red Ink was hard for me to read. It keeps jumping from China to California and it really felt like I was reading two books. This was exacerbated by short, multiple point of view changes, which occur on nearly every page. In China, we get the story from all the involved characters, including Zhen Li’s family, her cellmate and even the guard who torments her. In California, we not only see Julia’s point of view, but that of Maggie and some of the people in her drug-hazed world. All of this made it hard for me to become involved with any of the people in the book, even Zhen Li and Julia, who are heroes of the faith. In fact, Maggie’s story was the one I found most absorbing.

Having said that, I need to point out the strengths of the book as well. Both settings are described well, especially the bleak world of Red China. The lack of hope and purpose in the people who don’t know Jesus is heartbreaking. Knowing that a whole nation is in that condition makes you want to join Julia in prayer. That same lack of hope is portrayed in the retirement home in California as well, but in both places, the love of God and faithfulness of His children overcome it. Both stories are about the triumph of faith and faithfulness.

Pros: Strong stories about how God answers prayers for protection and about the faithfulness of His people. Realistic descriptions of an awful time in the history of China and the people who lived it.

Cons: Too many changes in the stories and too many points of view.


About the book

A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Li—raised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine—falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Li’s family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized. When she becomes pregnant for the second time and refuses to have an abortion, the persecution begins in earnest. Zhen-Li’s parents, under pressure from the government, pay to have Zhen-Li kidnapped and the baby aborted.

It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name—"Truth"—and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu ("Lord Jesus") and to distribute Christian literature every chance she gets.

Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards.

About the author

Kathi is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.

Interview with the author

Red Ink is the third book in your four-book Extreme Devotion series. Each book is set in a different country, with the theme of first devotion and commitment to Christ above all else running through all four. How is Red Ink different, and who/what inspired you to write this book?

Red Ink is the only one of the four books that actually deals with someone being arrested and suffering specifically for her faith in Christ. The story is loosely based on my own personal heroine, Li Ying, who is currently serving a ten-year sentence in China for printing/distributing Christian materials, particularly to children. I pray for Li Ying daily, and I remind myself how very blessed I am to have the freedom to do what she did—without paying the price she now pays.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of this story?

A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Li—raised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine—falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Li’s family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized. When she becomes pregnant for the second time and refuses to have an abortion, the persecution begins in earnest. Zhen-Li’s parents, under pressure from the government, pay to have Zhen-Li kidnapped and the baby aborted.

It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name—"Truth"—and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu ("Lord Jesus") and to distribute Christian literature every chance she gets. Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards, leading to a surprising conclusion that will both stun and challenge readers.

How did you get into writing? Has it always been your passion, or is it something you came to later in life?

I’ve always wanted to write, for as long as I can remember. I was an avid reader even before I started kindergarten. I wrote a short story in third grade that the teacher liked so much she showed it to the principal, and they decided to turn it into a play for the entire PTA. I was hooked! One day when I was about 13, I was walking home from school with my then boyfriend (now husband), Al, and I told him I’d be a writer some day. He often reminds me how blessed I am to have been able to do what I dreamed of all my life.

I understand you’re running a special contest that has to do with this book. Can you tell us about it?

Actually, I’m running the same contest twice—two chances to win a free Kindle! To be eligible, follow these three steps:

* You have to read Red Ink and post reviews on Amazon, CBD, etc., and/or your personal blog;
* You must also be a follower of my Easy Writer blog (address below); and,
* Let me know via my website contact email: mailto:ezyrtr@ca.rr.com that you have met the requirements and want to be entered.

The first winner will be announced in early November; the second in mid-December, just in time for a last-minute Christmas gift.

In addition to writing, you are a popular speaker at women’s event, writers’ conferences, and various venues around the country. How can people find out more about you, your writing and speaking, sign up for your weekly devotional newsletter (in English or Spanish), and/or just view your many book videos, etc.?

They can find me at my website (http://www.kathimacias.com) or blog (http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com). There is a “contact” button on my website if they’d like to send me a message. I always respond to all my emails!



A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by New Hope Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.


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How to Write a Captivating Speech

The principles for writing effective speeches are the same, whether for a personal speech at a wedding or a high-powered presentation by a politician or celebrity.


The Purposes of Speech Writing
A speech serves three main purposes:
· To inform
· To entertain
· To persuade
When writing out a speech, focus on one of these areas while including the others.

The Three Parts of a Speech
Like most written material, a speech consists of an introduction, a body and a conclusion. To begin with, it is helpful to write the three parts in note form.


Introducing a Speech
The introduction of a speech is crucial for gaining and keeping the attention of the audience. Here are some creative ways to write an interesting introduction:
· Tell a brief personal story that is related to the topic of the speech
· Use relevant statistics that will capture the audience’s attention
· Start with a thought-provoking or amusing quotation
· Pose a rhetorical question that will get the audience thinking

Writing the Body of a Speech
There are a variety of methods for putting together the body of a speech. All help to arrange the material into a logical easy-to-understand sequence:
· Chronological outline – the speech follows a time line
· Spatial outline – the speech is divided into geographical locations
· Problem- solution. A problem is explained or pointed out and a solution presented


Concluding a Speech
The conclusion of a speech should be written in such a way as to serve two purposes:
· Signal the end of the speech
· Summarize what has been said


A good conclusion will bring a satisfying end to a speech and leave thoughts in the minds of the audience. This can be done by linking the conclusion back to the introduction, issuing a challenge, or ending with a powerfully relevant quotation.


Once a speech is written, practise saying it out loud and underline sentences that need emphasis. Divide it into easy-to-see paragraphs and used coloured pens to highlight key areas. The best speech-makers often follow a written script closely, but make it sound as though they are talking from the heart.

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, Associated Content and Faithwriters.



Friday, October 29, 2010

Editing Tip #50: Pronouns & Antecedents

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

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

~ PRONOUNS & ANTECEDENTS ~

A pronoun (I, me, mine, myself, he, she, him, her, his, hers, himself, herself, we, us, our, ours, ourselves, who, whose, etc.) refers to something earlier in the text. The word for which the pronoun stands is called its antecedent. The antecedent may occur in the same sentence or in a previous sentence. For example: “The boy threw the football. He threw it over the fence.” Boy is the antecedent for he, and football is the antecedent for it.

1. A pronoun must agree in number—singular/plural—with the thing to which it refers.

2. Avoid ambiguity. If you write, “They say caffeine is bad for you,” make sure you have identified, immediately prior to this sentence, who “they” and “you” are.

3. Don’t allow too much space between the pronoun and its antecedent. If you refer to Joe in the first sentence of a paragraph, and use him to refer to Joe throughout that paragraph, and Joe is the only male in that paragraph, there should be no problem. But if there are two males in the paragraph, or if you’ve written several sentences since you used Joe’s name, find a good place to use the noun again.

4. The indefinite pronouns anyone, anybody, everyone, everybody, someone, somebody, no one, and nobody are singular. The same is true of either and neither.

5. Their is a plural pronoun. Don’t use it to refer to a singular noun. For example: “Someone left their gym bag on the floor” should be “Someone left his gym bag on the floor.” (Exception: If you are writing dialogue, fictional or true characters may speak with improper grammar.)

6. The need for pronoun-antecedent agreement can sometimes create gender problems. If you write, “A student must see his counselor before the end of the semester,” female students may feel left out. Using “his or her” in multiple instances can get wordy. An alternative is to pluralize. For example: “Students must see their counselors before the end of the semester.” (Note: Unless all students will see only one counselor, pluralize counselor.)

7. When you compound a pronoun with another person’s name, following proper rules of grammar may create something that “doesn’t sound good.” For example, “This food is for Fred and I” may sound right, but it’s not. You wouldn’t say, “This food is for I.” When in doubt about which pronoun to use, take out the other person’s name and the and.

8. Usage of the pronouns whose and who’s can be confusing. Who’s looks like a possessive but is really the contraction for who is.
Who’s that over there?
Whose scarf is this?

9. Except in dialogue, avoid using it without an antecedent. Examples: “It’s warm out today.” “It’s common knowledge . . .” “It’ll be a cold day in Africa before I . . .”

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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 written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. 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, October 28, 2010

Monochromatic Outside the Box

Twilight Reflections, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

A monochromatic image contains shades of only one color. There are two ways to photograph in monochrome. One involves changing a full color image into shades of sepia. I want to focus, however, on images deliberately captured in the camera in full color yet they appear as monochrome. Each of the image examples in this post have had no color editing.

A monochrome image can be created by using the light to your advantage. In the twilight photograph above, late evening light and heavy clouds turned the surrounding sky blue. The sunrise image below is dominated by the orange of early morning light. Both are the result of the available light at that particular time of day.

Florida Sunrise

Another method of creating full-color monochrome images is through the use of shallow depth of field. I used this next image in last week's article, but it applies here as well. When I took this photo, I wanted a picture that gave you the feel for the texture of pine needles. My use of a shallow depth of field softened the predominant greens and removed any other distracting colors or textures.

Pine Needles

Another method of creating a monochrome image is through compositional framing. This red water lily was in a sea of flowers in many other colors. By closely framing the image, I excluded those colors leaving only the shades of red.

Really Red, Water Lily

Even "black and white" images can be created in full color. The extreme fog in this next photograph obscured so much light that any available colors were muted.

Morning Awakens, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

Photography should never be boring. As soon as I realize what I am doing has become too mundane, I set out to find a way to change it. I like creating monochrome photographs this way. For me, it is the challenge of doing something outside of the normal procedure and yet getting fantastic results that makes photography so much fun.

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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, October 27, 2010

Friendship, Faith and Little League

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

A Season of Miracles
By Rusty Whitener

It seems appropriate to review a book about baseball on the opening day of the World Series. But the Little League games in A Season of Miracles aren’t as momentous as the Fall Classic. On the other hand, the story is about much more important things than playing a game. As Zack, the main character says, it’s about “something else.”

Zack is twelve and it’s his last year in Little League. His team, the Robins, finished in third place last year, but he has a feeling this is their year. His feeling grows stronger when he meets Rafer, a strange kid who can hit the ball out of the park. Zack and Donnie make sure Rafer is drafted by the Robins. It’s pretty easy to do, because Rafer is “touched” and doesn’t respond to people, so no other team wants him. But he loves to hit and lets Zack show him how to field and other details of the game.

Zack and his friend, Donnie, are amazing kids. They take Rafer under their wings, even outside of the game. They take him swimming and stick up for him at school. Zack even visits him at home, even though his father is pretty scary. Donnie’s father is a pastor and Donnie’s love of God makes his motivation obvious, but Zack is just a good kid who wants to do the right thing. That desire eventually arouses his curiosity about God and he goes to church with Donnie. But his own dad, who is a good man and loving father, is angry with God and Zack is torn about his growing interest in spiritual things.

Baseball is the heart of the book and there are a lot of exciting descriptions of games. It’s easy to catch the intensity of a group of twelve year olds who believe winning or losing defines them. But there are much deeper themes that Whitener skillfully weaves into the stories of the games and the boys’ friendships. The book is also about fathers and sons. Most of the fathers are excellent role models and the boys strive to please them. Finding God is another theme, but although Zack has some fairly long conversations with Donnie and his father about salvation, his search for the truth about God is so intertwined with the story of baseball and friendship that it doesn’t come across as preachy.

Even if you don’t love baseball, I think you’ll find these boys are worth getting to know and you’ll gladly root for them and hurt with them. The events of their last Little League season matter on a universal scale, not just in the small world of boys.

Pros: A great ensemble of characters, exemplifying the best of life in small town America. Deep themes are woven throughout the story, with multiple plots and subplots that raise it above the baseball theme.

Cons: If you don’t like baseball, you might find the many detailed accounts of games tedious. There is probably a bit too much time spent on the salvation message. It occasionally pauses the story, instead of complementing it.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Season of Miracles
Kregel Publications; Reprint edition (August 3, 2010)
by
Rusty Whitener


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rusty Whitener is a novelist, screenwriter, and actor. His first screenplay, Touched, won second place at the 2009 Kairos Prize at the Los Angeles Movieguide Awards and first place at the Gideon film festival. That screenplay soon became A Season of Miracles. The movie version of this book is now in production with Elevating Entertainment. Find out more at www.rustywhitener.com and www.aseasonofmiraclesmovie.com. Videos and book club discussion questions are also available at www.aseasonofmiraclesbook.com.


Endorsements:

“A Season of Miracles is a must read for anyone who has ever played youth baseball. I read the book, and was reacquainted with my childhood. In the midst of an enjoyable read that took me down memory lane was a touching, challenging and beautiful story about how God can use the unlikeliest among us to draw us to Him.”—Matt Diaz, outfielder, Atlanta Braves
“Baseball, inspiration and childhood memories—a great combination. I couldn’t put it down!”—Richard Sterban, bass singer for The Oak Ridge Boys
“Rusty Whitener weaves a deft tale of young friendship and the curve balls of faith, the whole story seasoned with sunshine and the leathery scent of baseball gloves!”—Ray Blackston, author of Flabbergasted
A Season of Miracles is a heartwarming all American story of small town boys and Little League baseball. You’ll be cheering this captivating bunch of characters all the way home both in their game of baseball and the bigger game of life.”—Ann Gabhart, award-winning author of The Outsider


ABOUT THE BOOK

Looking back on the 1971 Little League season, Zack Ross relives the summer that changed his life…

Gunning for the championship is all that matters until twelve-year-old Zack meets Rafer, a boy whose differences make him an outcast but whose abilities on the baseball field make him the key to victory.

Admired for his contribution to the team, Rafer turns everyone’s expectations upside down, bestowing a gift to Zack and his teammates that forces them to think—is there more to life than winning or losing? And what is this thing called grace?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Season of Miracles, go HERE.







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Getting Rid of Clichés

Editors and readers alike are looking for fresh new work with exciting word pictures. A cliché is defined as an expression that has been used so much that the original power has been drained from it.

Examples of Common Clichés

  • She was fat as a cat

  • He was dead as a doornail

  • The house had gone to wrack and ruin

  • The teacher had the eyes of a hawk


Use a Thesaurus
A thesaurus can be very useful if stuck on a word or expression. Look up the options and play around with substitutions. They may come over as nonsensical, hilarious or stupid but will undoubtedly stir up ideas. Here are a couple of examples using the clichés above.

  • She was as chubby as a cub

  • He was as deceased as an entranceway spike

  • The home had gone to debris and shambles

  • The instructor had the perceptiveness of a bird of prey

Think of Original Expressions
There are endless possibilities in the English language for creating new descriptions. The above clichés could be rephrased as follows:

  • Her skin stretched unevenly across bulges and rolls of fat

  • All signs of life had long since drained from his body

  • The house had collapsed on itself, a distorted shell of its former shape

  • The teacher searched the room with radar eyes


Look for the Unusual
A writer should always be looking for ideas and inspiration is everywhere. Carry a notebook and jot down ideas as they come. Even a ride on public transport or a walk on the beach can produce some different phrases. Consider these examples: The bus absorbed passengers at one stop and disgorged them at the next. The sand whipped her ankles like a thousand angry flea bites.

With a bit of effort, it is possible to transform writing styles by cutting out clichés. Make a decision to sift out all tired expressions and overdone phrases and search continually for new and fresh ideas.

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, Associated Content and Faithwriters.



Friday, October 22, 2010

Editing Tip #49: Point of View Options

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

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

~ POINT OF VIEW OPTIONS ~

One point-of-view option you’ll find in many older novels is the omniscient POV. A few modern-day authors use it too. But many readers find it confusing when the author “head hops” from one character’s viewpoint to another within a scene.

The omniscient point of view is not written from one character's perspective at a time. Instead the author oversees his story from a distance, occasionally revealing the perceptions of his characters when he deems it necessary or helpful.

The omniscient voice distances readers from the protagonist because it cannot convey a deep sense of a character's growth through the course of the story. Characterization is revealed by telling the reader what the characters are like, rather than showing. This puts the readers at arm's length, never close enough to any character to become emotionally involved in his/her life.

Another reason it's difficult to make omniscient viewpoint work is that it is so different from the reader's personal experience. In real life, you can't see what's going on in the next room. You can't know what will happen ten years from now, or even tomorrow. When a novel is written in omniscient POV, the readers will have more difficulty believing that the story is possible.

Writing in the omniscient point of view is tricky. Therefore this option is discouraged for all but the most gifted and experienced authors.

Implementing Your POV Choice

Once you've chosen the point of view option you will use for your novel, be consistent throughout the manuscript. For example, if you are writing in third-person point of view, beware of second-person statements in the narrative.

Incorrect: When they asked for directions, the answer was so confusing that you could never find your way.

Correct: When they asked for directions, the answer was so confusing that they could never find their way.

Determining which POV technique will work best for your story is one of the most critical determinations you will make. So choose with care. Look for good examples of each POV choice in your favorite novels. Then take a look at the POV in your work.


If you feel constrained by the limitations of the point-of-view option you have chosen, try a different one and see if you like it better. If you’re not sure what POV to go with, try one and see how it works. You can always change it later.

**********

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 written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. 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, October 21, 2010

Making An Impression

This is really such a simple concept and one which applies to your task no matter what that may be - photography or writing. But what impression are you making? How do other people see your work product? Are you that "wow" factor and they can't wait to see what you've posted? My "impression" in the eyes of others, their image of who I am, is formed both by my work AND my behavior as a person.

WORK

Where your work is concerned, display only your best. I repeat this phrase often and yet still I visit forums where people post photographs that are poorly composed, not properly exposed, or blurry.

Impressions can be either positive, negative, or what I will dub "meh" (those are the ones you can most easily pass over). Positive impressions, those that linger in the memory of the viewer, are formed by consistency. My favorite photographers ARE my favorites because they continually turn out excellent work. You'd think that would be a given, except that it isn't.

What makes for "excellent" work? Again, this comes down to uniformity of work product and also to staging. How do you stage yourself? The photo below is ONE of many I took as a pair of Peregrine Falcons circled in the air over my yard. It is the ONLY success of the dozens I took that afternoon. It is important to notice that I have not posted the failures.

Peregrine Falcon

This becomes hard for some people when they don't really have a successful shot. (For the purpose of this article, a "successful shot" is one in which all the elements - sharpness, exposure, and composition - are present.) So you have a photo of a rare bird, but it is dark, there is a branch across the bird's eye, and since he was moving and your shutter speed was too slow, it isn't completely sharp, probably you shouldn't display it. (People say, "Once in a while, doesn't hurt." But I have noticed eventually once-in-a-while becomes every day!) All photographers take some "half-baked" photographs. By consistently displaying only those that are my best, I form a better impression.

Always remember that impressions can be negative as well. The more you share "poor" shots with me, the more likely I am to begin to skip your work and eventually what you have to say about photography.

BEHAVIOR

The term "netiquette" was formed as it became apparent more and more that there were certain behaviors on the internet that are just not acceptable. The famous "reply all" email snafu comes to mind. It is especially important to watch your online behavior. Always remember that most of the people you will meet online (a) don't know you and (b) can't see you. If I am being completely truthful, which is the only way I know how to be, I have met people online who I really didn't like. And their bad impression formed in my mind when something of their behavior set me off in a negative direction. (This despite having never met them in person.)

I am really not the most forthright person. I much prefer to never say anything (which I know is hard to believe when I write so much) and I hate being pushy. There is something to be said for being kind and also for developing a thick skin. Stay aware that, though you don't know that person, they are nevertheless still a person, and people have feelings. If someone asks me for an honest critique, even then I temper it with as many positives as negatives. If there aren't any positives, then I say nothing at all. I once had a pastor who would say, "If you can't say anything nice, tell them they have nice teeth." I have always remember that statement and it has stood me in good stead.

Fading, Mexican Sunflowers

Take the time to read the rules of whatever forum you are visiting. Pay attention to any "unspoken" rules that might turn others against you. If you find it just isn't the place for you, then by all means leave, but do so SILENTLY. Your absence will speak more volumes than any "hissy fit" you pitch on the way out. That will instead leave a negative impression that you definitely don't want.

I have met some of the greatest people via the web. This column itself is a direct result of that. I have also met with some real turkeys. I have meet people with "meh" work who are just so very nice, and people with outstanding work who, again, fall into the turkey category. In order to make a good and lasting impression, we must present both our work AND our behavior in the greatest amount of light. Hold back some of the photos that aren't top notch and hold back some of the words you shouldn't say. You never know who is there watching and listening. It might get you a sale or even lose you one.

Pine Needles

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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, October 20, 2010

Murder in a Monastery

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

A Very Private Grave
By Donna Fletcher Crow

Think about a medieval murder mystery with monks, saints, relics and treasure. Now set in modern day England and you have a fascinating combination of history, religion and crime. In A Very Private Grave, a monk is brutally murdered upon his return from a pilgrimage to the sites where St. Cuthbert lived. A modern American woman studying at the college attached to his monastery and the priest who teaches history become the prime suspects. In order to clear their names and find the murderer, they retrace the victim’s journey.

Before his death, the victim gave his journal with cryptic notes about St. Cuthbert to Felicity, the female protagonist. She and Father Antony realize it is important, but don’t understand the message. As they travel, Antony tells Cuthbert’s story to Felicity. When they arrive at Lindisfarne, the Holy Island where Cuthbert was bishop, things start to get more interesting. Several attempts on their lives warn them that they are getting close to the mystery, but they don’t know what they know.

One of the fascinating things about this book is the intertwining of modern day monastic life and ancient history of the English church, with a mystery to complicate the story. Felicity is studying for the Anglican priesthood so she can change the ills of the world. Antony is running from something in his past. Father Dominic, the murder victim, was gentle and kind. And everyone else is a suspect. And somehow, St. Cuthbert’s life matters.

This is one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a while. The plot is complicated, the characters are complex, the mystery is hidden and the setting is fascinating. I wasn’t able to finish this book before I had to post my review, but I am completely immersed in it and I can’t wait to get back to it. I wish I could send it to you when I’m done, but don’t wait to get your own copy.

Pros: Natural descriptions of monastic life, both in history and in modern times, with complex characters and a puzzling murder mystery. Historical information is cleverly interwoven into the plot.

Cons: If you don’t like history or can’t relate to religious ritual, some of it may be a bit tedious.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Very Private Grave
Monarch Books (August 1, 2010)
by
Donna Fletcher Crow





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Donna Fletcher Crow is author of more than thirty-five novels. She has twice won first place in the Historical Fiction category from the National Association of Press Women, and has also been a finalist for "Best Inspirational Novel" from the Romance Writers of America. She is a member of The Arts Centre Group and Sisters in Crime. Find out more at www.donnafletchercrow.com.



Endorsements:

"History and mystery and murders most foul keep the pages turning ... A fascinating read." –Liz Curtis Higgs, bestelling author of Thorn in My Heart
“A Knickerbocker Glory of a thriller, a sweeping, page-turning quest served up with dollops of Church history and lashings of romance. Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries.” – Kate Charles, author of Deep Waters
“As in Glastonbury, Donna Fletcher Crow’s descriptions of the English and Scottish settings in her new mystery are drawn with real artistry. Lovers of British history and church history will be impressed by her grasp of both.”—Sally Wright, Edgar Award finalist and author of the Ben Reese Mysteries






ABOUT THE BOOK



Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood.



Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. Antony—who is wanted for questioning by the police—flee the monastery to seek more information about Fr. Dominic and end up in the holy island of Lindisfarne, former home of Saint Cuthbert.



Their quest leads them into a dark puzzle...and considerable danger.



If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of A Very Private Grave, go HERE.



Watch the book video:



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Monday, October 18, 2010

Medieval Love

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Healer’s Apprentice
By Melanie Dickerson

Masquerading as a medieval romance, The Healer’s Apprentice is really a fairly recognizable fairy tale. A wicked sorcerer threatens the daughter of a duke because he has been slighted. So the duke hides his infant daughter after betrothing her to the son of another duke. The son’s job is to find and destroy the sorcerer and then rescue his betrothed. On the other hand, that is only the basic framework of the story; the real plot makes it a romance after all.

Rose is the beautiful daughter of a woodcutter who has been given a chance to raise her lot in life by becoming apprentice to the town healer. She lives in the castle of the duke and is noticed by the duke’s two sons. Both fall in love with her, but the older one is betrothed and, although she finds him extremely attractive, she responds to the attentions of the younger. About half of the book is devoted to Rose’s relationship to Lord Rupert, the younger son. However, her mentor, the healer, does not approve and Rose has her own doubts because of Lord Rupert’s reputation as a philanderer. Even as he presses his court, she wishes it were his older brother doing so, even though she knows it’s wrong to even think of him. In the meantime, Lord Hamlin, the older son, spends his time looking for the sorcerer, even though he wishes he could marry Rose instead of a woman he has never met.

I like historical books, and The Healer’s Apprentice provides a window into life in fourteenth century Germany. Medieval life is woven into the story well, except for a few points that seem wrong. For example, Lord Rupert’s goal in life is to be appointed bishop by his father so he can become rich. I know that the church in those times was corrupt and that kings (or dukes) appointed clerical leaders, but there is never any suggestion that Lord Rupert must become a priest. He just wants to be bishop.

But my real disappointment in the book is Rose and Lord Rupert’s relationship. It dominates the first half of the book and seems to me to be more of a seduction than a courtship. Although Rose is chaste by our standards, she allows Lord Rupert to take liberties that she knows are not proper for a maiden. They meet him in hidden places, he kisses her hands, occasionally holds her to his chest and kisses lips briefly. Even though that is the extent of their physical relationship, Dickerson’s descriptions leave no doubt that Rose is being seduced and enjoying it. I suppose that may be the point of the story – that as a believer, Rose faced temptation and overcame it before she allowed it to overcome her. But I was looking for more action in the story.

The action eventually develops and the story has a satisfying ending. If you enjoy romance, you will probably enjoy the book. I think it is intended for adolescent girls, but it is better written than many adult inspirational romances I’ve read and I can recommend it to fans of that genre.

Pros: Well written historical romance with a bit of a mystery. The characters are developed well and the protagonists love God and want to please Him with their lives.

Cons: The first half of the book is mainly descriptions of the characters’ feelings for one another and the real plot doesn’t start until halfway through the book.

About the book:

In this book by author Melanie Dickerson, the story of Sleeping Beauty is retold through the life of Rose, the young daughter of a woodcutter, who has fallen in love with the perfect man for her, only to be kept away from him due to a curse.





About the author:

Melanie Dickerson is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Her novel has been a finalist seven times in RWA-sponsored contests, including winning the 2007 Fiction from the Heartland Contest over all categories. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

Author Website:
http://www.melaniedickerson.com



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