Friday, February 26, 2010

Taking Settings to the Next Level

Author Lena Nelson Dooley will begin teaching "Taking Settings to the Next Level" on Monday, March 1. Deadline to register for this awesome course is TODAY.

Is your novel peopled with living, breathing characters in interesting situations that are played out on a bare stage? Learn the finesse of adding setting details that are not overwhelming, but enhance the story almost like another character. We'll deal with what kind of details to add and how and where to add them so they don't slow down the book, but give it more layers of texture.

Instructor: Lena Nelson Dooley

Course Dates: March 1, 2010 - March 26, 2010 (4 weeks)

Cost: $100

Deadline to register is TODAY, Friday. Register here.

Check out our latest schedule for all of the WIES Workshops.

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Editing Tip # 23: Flashbacks (part one)

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.

~ FLASHBACKS (part one) ~

It’s easy to do flashbacks badly, which is a backhanded way of saying that doing them well can be a difficult task. But scenes of past events can be used effectively if you know how to do them right.

First, you must decide if a flashback scene is vital to the story. If the same information can be presented in dialogue or woven in little bits and pieces throughout the narrative, always take that route instead. It keeps the reader in the present action, which is what you want most of the time. A flashback scene must be truly worth stopping the forward motion of the story for.

You especially want to avoid flashbacks during the first thirty to fifty pages of your book, when you’re trying to get your readers involved in the action, conflict, and suspense. Resist the urge to explain the background of your characters, thinking readers need to know all that in order to understand what’s going on. Instead, show things happening, and save the explanations for later, when you can weave them into the story in tiny bits and pieces that don’t detract from the action.

If you do decide that a flashback scene is necessary and appropriate, you’ll want to take the reader so smoothly and seamlessly from current action to memories of the past and back again that he barely even realizes what’s happened. You can do this by following certain specific steps.

  1. Build up to a flashback by foreshadowing it ahead of time. During previous pages, weave things into the dialogue and/or narrative that allude to something in the character’s past.
  2. Make the reader curious about the details. Then, when your reader is dying to know what really happened, you can reveal the backstory in an appropriately placed flashback.Make sure you are in the point of view of the character who is having the flashback, as a person’s thoughts cannot be observed by someone else (unless that someone else is a mind reader!)
  3. Put your character in a position where his mind would naturally wander. If he’s in the middle of a car chase, a fist fight, or a heated argument, he probably won’t stand around for several moments thinking about something in his past. (That would be a good way to get shot or clobbered!) If he’s sitting in a car waiting for a redhead to come out of a house, or in a hospital room awaiting the results of his wife’s surgery, or wandering through the attic of the house he grew up in, he is more likely to lapse into long, detailed memories.
Have something specific trigger the particular memory you want to show. Was your character in that same hospital waiting room when he was told his mother died? Does he find a photo album in the attic that sends him reminiscing? Here’s an example of a specific memory trigger: “Bill took a bite of his donut, and a glob of jelly fell into his lap. He tried to wipe it off his trousers with a napkin, but a small red stain remained. Bill stared at the spot, thinking how much it looked like blood. Steve’s blood.”

More on this topic next week!


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 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 full 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 ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

White Balance


Last week I talked about how to get the right exposure when photographing a white object. This week I am taking it one step further and discussing white balance. White balance is what makes an object look white and not yellow or red or blue. That is called color casting, and it does have its place in photography, but most of the time a photographer wants the whites to BE white.

The need for white balance comes as the result of the color temperature in the light. Different types of light (incandescent, florescent, tungsten, daylight) lean more towards yellow or blue hues. Unlike your eyes, which can adapt well to these changes, cameras usually do not. Now, it is not necessary that you know what the color temperature of the light in the room is, but it is important that you know how to adjust your camera's settings to accommodate the type of light.

In the example below, these saltwater mushroom corals are under florescent lighting in our aquarium. My particular camera has three symbols for florescent lighting. You can see that the range of color changes from yellow to blue.

P2175321 P2175322

Most often I judge the correct white balance viewing the whites in the scene. Simply put, I look through the lens and see if, based on the camera settings, they look white. If there are no directly white objects, I observe how the lighting actually appears and what colors are shown. It was definitely not the blue of the last photograph. I then select the white balance setting appropriate to the scene.

Most cameras show these settings as symbols: sun, cloud, light bulb, etc. If I am outdoors, I choose either daylight or shade. Shade white balance tends to be warmer (or more yellow). If I am indoors, I choose the symbol for that particular type of lighting. Some cameras even have a manual white balance option. I encourage all photographers to know what their camera's options are, especially where white balance is concerned.

Here is one important thing to note. If you are inclined to always set your camera to AUTO, then you must know that AUTO white balance settings will not always be correct. Sometimes the camera creates a color cast that is not desired. This happens a lot indoors underneath lamps or overhead lights. For this reason, it is most important to understand white balance and how to correct it. One should never strictly rely on after photo editing to correct color casting.

This brings me back to the subject of color casting. Sometimes I will use color casting to achieve a certain effect. I might want the scene to seem warmer or to feel colder. I can do this by shifting the color temperature more yellow or more blue. For instance, I use the Shade white balance setting (typically a cloud symbol) a lot when in full sun. I like the warmer colors much better.

In this photo, there is no white in the scene. However, white balance still comes into effect making the mushrooms appear to be a sunnier brown color.

Mushroom Colony
Mushroom Colony

With the water lily blossom below I used color casting through white balance to avoid the flower looking white because though it was pale, it wasn't a white flower.

Water Lily with Green Wasp
Water Lily With Green Wasp

Here is another water lily. This flower wasn't white either, but had tints of blue and purple in it. If I had warmed the white balance up too much, then the flower would have lost its true color. I also had to take into account the color of the lily in the background. The white balance I chose was going to affect both flowers.

Contrasts, Water Lilies
Contrasts, Water Lilies

White balance is something that constantly needs to be adjusted as a photographer moves from photo to photo, but it doesn't need to be complicated or confusing. When I am in any doubt as to what I want my final photograph to look like, I simply take several with different white balance adjustments. It is by constant observation and practice that every photographer can learn what works best and achieve great results.

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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, February 24, 2010

Novel Writing Step by Step

Looking for an Idea for a Novel
Many writers aspire to writing a novel but find the concept overwhelming. This week we start a new series that will look at some of the aspects of writing a full length book. When broken down into manageable chunks, it’s not as intimidating as it seems.

Where do I Start
The storyline is important as without this there is no basis on which to build. For a novel to capture a reader’s attention, the story should contain a combination of drama and conflict as well as a meaningful message.

Where can I Find Story Ideas
Ideas are all around us. Look in newspapers, watch people, read novels, make notes about unusual happenings and eventually a story will begin to take shape. It may be a process of months or years but if you feed your desire to write, the inspiration will come.

Summarize the Story
Try and capture the essence of the storyline in one sentence. Then expand it to a paragraph and then a page. Then write a synopsis. Doing this helps to focus the story you are planning to tell through the novel.

These are simple steps but they are a good place to start. Bear in mind that a story often changes as you write, however, and be open to rewriting summaries. Once you have the basic story idea, you can move onto the next phase.

Next week we will look at how to develop the characters.

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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Monday, February 22, 2010

Grandaddy was a Thief

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

All Things Hidden
By Tricia Goyer

Do you have a heritage you’re proud of – or one you’re not proud of? Do you wonder if the things your grandparents and great-grandparents did have anything to do with you?

In All Things Hidden, Charlotte Stephenson ponders these questions when her Women’s Group decides to clean out the church basement. They find a newspaper article about her great-grandfather who was convicted of stealing money from the church. She doesn’t think he did it and decides to find the truth about the incident.

At the same time, two of Charlotte’s grandchildren, whom she is raising, face typical teenage issues. At first the three stories don’t seem to be related. The book reads a bit like a slice of life in Charlotte’s family. But when Charlotte reads her great-grandmother’s journal, she discovers a Godly woman who faces heartache with spiritual strength. Charlotte wishes she could tell her that what she did mattered. Her thoughts then turn to her grandchildren and she sees how the generations are connected. God’s blessings do extend through the generations.

On its surface, All Things Hidden seems like a light, easy to read book. But it introduces some deep themes and some very likeable characters. They make mistakes, and don’t always trust each other, but their love prevails. Even the three, seemingly unconnected story lines, are just different views of a loving family. In the end, Goyer ties the three stories together to give the reader a heartwarming ending.

You’ll spend a happy afternoon reading this one. It’s short and sweet.

Pros: Easy style that introduces a loving family who matter to each other.

Cons: The style is simple and barely above young adult level.

About the book:

The past is brought to light...

Charlotte is cleaning out the basement of Bedford Community Church when she comes across a tattered and yellowed newspaper article. The clipping, published more than a century ago, implicates her great-great-grandfather in the loss of funds intended to help finish building the church. Charlotte has heard stories about the incident through the years, but now it seems the past has come back to haunt her. Is it just her imagination or are people treating her differently now that they think she's descended from a crook? Will Charlotte be able to clear her family's name once and for all?

Meanwhile, Sam is spending time with a new girl in town-and is keeping secrets from his grandparents about where they go. Christopher is trying to get an article published in the local paper, and Emily reluctantly partners with a foreign exchange student on a class project and eventually comes to see that they're not that different after all. As old secrets are brought to light, the whole family is reminded that the truth is often more complicated than it seems.

Come home to Heather Creek. Get to know Charlotte Stevenson, who is raising her grandchildren on the family farm after a tragic accident changes all of their lives forever. With the help of her husband Bob and a close-knit circle of friends, she will do whatever it takes to keep this fragile family together. See how God, who makes the sun rise and the crops grow, watches over our lives too.

About Home to Heather Creek:

Charlotte Stevenson's world is turned upside down when her daughter, Denise, dies in a tragic car accident. She ran away at eighteen and Charlotte has never forgiven herself. Now, Denise's children, abandoned by their father, are coming from California to live on Heather Creek Farm in Bedford, Nebraska.


Tricia's first book in the Home to Heather Creek series was Sweet September (book two) followed by Every Sunrise (book seven) last spring and Sunflower Serenade this summer. All Things Hidden is book eighteen in the continuing story of the Stephensen family!

About the author:

Tricia Goyer is the author of several books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Montana. To find out more visit her website:

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Not Dr. Doolittle, but...

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Life Lessons from a Horse Whisperer
by Dr. Lew Sterrett with Bob Smietana

You don’t have to like horses to enjoy Life Lessons from a Horse Whisperer, but by the time you finish the book you’ll appreciate their beauty and you’ll understand how exceptional each horse is. You’ll also learn something from them.

Dr. Sterrett is a skilled horse trainer. He performs with his horses at events called Sermon on the Mount. He works with an untrained horse in front of an audience, and within a few hours he teaches it to accept a saddle and rider, or do some fancy footwork. Sterrett talks to the audience while he works with the horse, telling them what the horse is learning. He draws a parallel to the lives of people and teaches them a lesson as well.

In the book, Sterrett also teaches lessons drawn from his work with horses. In between the horse stories he tells his own story; from his first pony to 4-H drill team to horse training in college to running a Christian horse camp for kids. He intersperses it all with the lessons. They are encouraging and instructional and feel a little like your grandfather trying to give you some advice. But the book is mostly about the horses and Sterrett’s love for them.

I enjoyed the horse stories, but found the book a little disorganized. The author jumped around in time a bit and sometimes stopped in the middle of one story to tell the reader something else, as if he had just thought of it. In spite of this, the book is a refreshing change from the typical devotional or memoir. Horse lover or not, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Pros: Interesting stories about horses and people and how God works in their lives.

Cons: It’s a little disorganized and you might lose the thread if you don’t read it carefully.

About the book

A champion trainer and true horse whisperer, Dr. Lew Sterrett has used patience and a firm but gentle hand to earn the trust of more than 3,500 horses. In this book, Lew tells the stories of his work with these horses and the lessons each one has taught him. Sometimes heartbreaking and often uplifting, Lew has condensed his lifetime of learning into messages for the Christian life. Today, Lew shares these messages with more than 50,000 people each year through horse training presentations at Miracle Mountain Ranch and nationally through his Sermon on the Mount Ministry.

The author's engaging style and adroit mixture of well-tested anecdotes and thoughtful instruction make this a winning read-and not just for horse lovers.

About the author

A champion trainer and true horse whisperer, Dr. Lew Sterrett has used patience and a firm but gentle hand to earn the trust of more than 3,500 horses. Dr. Lew Sterrett (Ph. D) had little idea that his boyhood interest in horses would open doors internationally for speaking and training. During his years in 4-H, he savored many opportunities to train and show horses and earn national recognition. As a student leader at Penn State University he benefited from many mentoring relationships from which he received valuable training, experience and honors. This foundation provided a basis for an extensive horse career with a unique emphasis on training youth and community leaders.

Lew has served as the Executive Director of Miracle Mountain Ranch Missions, Inc. (MMRM) since 1977. MMRM, located in northwestern Pennsylvania, is home for a summer youth camp, and a leadership training center for youth, adult, and family groups. He has also promoted safety in public riding programs, serving as President of the Certified Horse Association for 7 years. A licensed pastor, certified Youth, Marriage and Family Counselor, he earned his PhD from North Tennessee Seminary in 2007.

Find out more about Dr. Lew Sterrett on his website:

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Editing Tip # 22: Five Common Nonfiction Flaws

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.


Following are five problems I often see in nonfiction manuscripts:

1. Rambling Introductions

Most new authors spend too much time talking about themselves (their background, credentials, or personal experiences) and/or explaining why or how they wrote this book. Your reader will lose interest if you don't get to the "real" information as soon as possible.

2. Explaining "Why" but not "How"

If you write about the importance of doing something without explaining how to do it, you’ll leave your reader thinking, "Okay, you've convinced me, but now what?"

3. Not Asking the Right Questions

Even experienced writers can fall short of a reader's expectations by failing to ask (and answer) the right questions—specifically, the questions a reader is most likely to ask about the subject you've chosen to write about. Often, this is due to the writer's closeness to the subject. It's easy to forget what it was like when you didn't know anything about this topic. Find someone who knows less about the subject than you do, and ask that person what he or she would want to learn about your subject.

4. Lack of Organization

Present material in a logical order. Don’t simply jot down ideas and information as they come to you.

Break each main topic into subtopics and use headings. Then look at each paragraph or idea and determine where it belongs—or whether it belongs at all. You'll probably find material that doesn't fit into your logical structure. If so, you must take this material out.

Put some of your material into lists, such as "Five Ways to..." or "Ten Steps toward...." If your material isn't "how-to," it might be organized chronologically, in order of occurrence, or some other logical sequence.

5. No Conclusion

Too often, when an author runs out of information, the manuscript simply stops, leaving the reader to wonder what happened to the rest of the material. Endings bring closure, wrap up loose ends, and help the reader make sense of what has gone before.

Always provide a conclusion to your material, even if it's just a couple of sentences. One way to conclude is to briefly summarize what you've said. Another is to refer back to the beginning. If you opened with an anecdote or analogy, consider closing with a related anecdote or analogy. If you asked a question in the introduction, recap the answer in the conclusion. If you described a process that will benefit the reader, recap those benefits.

Each chapter needs its own ending as well.


While these five flaws aren't the only problems possible in a nonfiction book, they provide a good checklist to keep in mind as you’re editing your manuscript.


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 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 full 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 ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Photographing White Objects


Photographing a white object, be it birds, flowers, snow, sand, or clothing, can be one of the most difficult things to do well. The biggest key to achieving the proper exposure is by learning to see what your camera is seeing. Two weeks ago, I talked a bit about black and white photography and its effect on color photography. I'd like to pick up again on that train of thought.

You must first know that standard cameras "see" images in black and white and create color using something called RGB color space. Simply put, this means that each photo has some red, some blue, and some green in it. Looking back at my previous examples, the apple itself is red. But in each of the black and white versions, I altered either the amount of red, green, or blue to achieve a different effect.

P2035213-1600 P2035213-BW1
P2035213-BW2 P2035213-BW3

Let's look at another example. Here we see the color version of this photograph and a grayscale version. The grayscale (black and white) version is more how the camera saw this image. Notice especially that the yellow on the bird's bill looks almost white and the green grass looks to be what I will call a mid-range gray.

Snowy Egret egret-BW

Half the battle in photographing whites is in understanding metering. Metering determines what the camera sees as white, black, or gray. With all three of the most common types of metering, spot, center-weighted (average), and matrix (often also called ESP or Evaluative), the camera uses a certain formula to determine, based on the lighting in the scene, what color will be mid-range gray. Once it has chosen this shade of gray, then all the other tones are made lighter or darker than that.

Small Waterfall, Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia

This brings me to the two common mistakes in photographing whites: either the whites look too gray or they appear to be "a white blob". In either case, this was the result of incorrect metering. In the first case, the camera thought the white object was the mid-range gray object and so it eliminated the whites entirely. In the second case, the camera turned the darkest area, what should have been your blacks, into mid-range gray. This placed too much white to the scene and left no black.

Both problems can be avoided by knowing what objects in the scene should be mid-range gray. By pointing my camera at what is supposed to be gray, I can capture the proper amount of white and the proper amount of black. If afterward I can see the whites are still too bright or too dark, I can then use EV, typically shown as a + or - sign, to lower or raise the highlights in increments.

Dogwood Blossom

Photographing whites does not have to be difficult. It is again, as I have said so many times, a matter of having the right knowledge you need to make the best decisions. With this knowledge you will achieve more consistent results and in the end enjoy photography so much more.

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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, February 17, 2010

When it's all about the Best Man

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Swinging on a Star
By Janice Thompson

I like books about regular Christians living to please the Lord. If you do too, you’ll enjoy Swinging on a Star. It doesn’t have any big drama or mystery and the characters aren’t struggling with the sins of the flesh or the pride of life. But there’s plenty of action and humor. The Rossi family loves the Lord, but they are a bit quirky and some of their acquaintances make them look normal. Their exploits will keep you entertained to the end.

Bella Rossi has just taken over her parents’ wedding facility and has begun producing theme weddings. Her biggest challenge is a medieval wedding in a week and a half. To get it done she has to contend with her quirky family, the weather, and most of all the best man. He’s a Hollywood superstar and has to be hidden for a week so the paparazzi won’t spoil the wedding. Hiding him provides enough humorous situations to give Bella gray hair. Add to that a trio of Southern busy bodies and some bad weather, and Bella’s big event looks like it’s doomed.

The story is humorous and lighthearted, but the relationships are genuine and so is the characters’ faith. Through the circumstances of the story, each character grows in important ways. Bella is stable and grounded, but she also recognizes her faults and works to correct them. She appreciates her family and the love that surrounds her.

I think you’ll like the Rossis, so set aside some time to enjoy their escapades.

Pros: Warm characters and funny situations written in a relaxed voice.

Cons: Many of the situations seemed contrived, which made them less funny. Instead of laughing, I sometimes found myself criticizing the characters for doing stupid things.

Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About the book:

In this latest release from Thompson, Bella Rossi's life is nearing perfection. She's got the perfect guy, she's running
a successful business, and she's about to plan her most ambitious wedding yet, a Renaissance-themed fairy tale come true, complete with period costumes and foods, horse-drawn carriages, and even a castle. There's just one hitch. The best man just happens to be Brock Benson, Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor. Oh, and did we mention he's staying at the Rossi house to avoid the paparazzi?

With all the pressure surrounding this wedding, Bella's not sure she's going to make it through. Add her starstruck sister, her feuding aunt and uncle, and a trio of large, sequined church ladies with even bigger personalities, and you've got a recipe for disaster—and a lot of laughs. This hilarious romantic comedy is sure to delight both fans and new readers alike.

About the author:

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and native Texan. An experienced wedding coordinator herself, Thompson
brings alive in her books the everyday drama and humor of getting married. She is the author of Fools Rush In and lives in Texas.

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Using Numbers when Writing Articles

How to Catch People’s Attention

People generally read articles to gain information. They need to know how to do something or a title catches their attention. In our rushed society an article that is short and simple to read is preferable to long involved directions. This is especially true when searching for help on the internet.

Using Numbers in Titles
I have found that using numbers is effective in catching readers’ attention. In fact some of my most-read articles have a number in the title. Here is one I named 20 Facts about Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s averaging 1000 reads per week. Other top performers include 10 Types of Teenagers and 10 Tips for Long Haul Flights.

Numbers Simplify Articles
When people see an article that refers to 10 tips or 12 ideas, they assume it will be laid out in a simple manner with brief, easy-to-understand points. This idea can be used with virtually any topic and will help divide it into manageable sections.

When to use Numbers
Numbered articles are particularly good for using in the following situations:
· How to articles – 5 Easy Steps to Unblocking a Drain
· Basic facts articles – 7 Little Known Facts about Labradors
· Light-hearted articles – 8 Gross Thoughts about Digestion
· Diagnostic articles – 10 Signs of Heart Disease
· Self help articles – 6 Steps for Getting out of Debt

Article Categories Overlap
In many cases, an article may fit into more than one grouping and this is to be expected. Some websites permit an article to be placed in more than one category and this will allow for wider exposure.

Number the Points
Divide the article into short paragraphs that stand alone. Then number these and make sure they follow on in a logical sequence. The number of paragraphs will give you the number of points for the title. Be sure to include an introduction and conclusion and then sit back and wait for the reads to come rolling in.

Whether an article is for a church magazine, a secular magazine or the internet, it adds appeal to use numbers in the title. Readers expect it will be concise and simple to read and will often choose to look at it on this basis.

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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Monday, February 15, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon

Summerside Press (January 1, 2010)

Miralee Ferrell


In October 2007 Kregel Publications published The Other Daughter with excellent reviews. The Romantic Times Review magazine gave it Four out of Four and a half stars, with a very strong review. Two different major motion picture studios are currently considering the book as a possible family movie, and my second book in the series (Past Shadows) is on my publishers desk being reviewed for a possible contract offer now.

In February of 2009, Love Finds You in Last Chance, California was published by Summerside Press

And Finding Jeena will release in April 2010 from Kregel Publications.

Miralee Ferrell lives in Washington with Allen, her husband of more than 37 years, ans has two grown children. She serves on staff at her local church ans is actively involved in ministry to women.


Against a backdrop of thievery and murder in Bridal Veil Falls, Oregon, a historic logging community, a schoolteacher is torn between the memories of a distant love and the man who could be her future.

Sixteen-year-old Margaret Garvey had given her heart to Nathaniel Cooper the night he disappeared from town. Four years later, just as she's giving love a second chance with Andrew, a handsome logger, Nathaniel suddenly returns. He steams back into Bridal Veil on a riverboat to work at the nearby sawmill to town with a devastating secret.

While grappling with the betrayal of those she trusted most, Margaret risks her reputation and position by harboring two troubled runaways who might be involved in the murder of a local man.

When disaster strikes the town and threatens the welfare of its citizens, Margaret will be faced with the most important choice of her life.

To read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon, click HERE

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Girl PI in Training

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Double Trouble

By Susan May Warren

A good mystery always draws me in. It doesn’t matter if I don’t like the characters, setting or the writer’s style, I have to see how it turns out. It was the mystery in Double Trouble that kept me reading, and I’m glad I did, because I grew to like PJ Sugar. At first PJ and the men who fought over her seemed so “high school,” even though those days were ten years behind them. PJ is impulsive, persistent, and badly wants to be a PI. Her boss and her boyfriend want to protect her from herself. She weakly lets them tell her what to do, but she refuses to give up her PI dreams.

At the beginning, her dreams get her into trouble with her family and boyfriend, and when she’s given an assignment to house sit for a client, her problems escalate. Jeremy, her boss, doesn’t seem to be there for her and Boone, her boyfriend, just wants her to leave it all and be a nice little girl. But she meets some new - and quirky - friends who stand behind her and she begins to discover who she really is and what she really wants. The real mystery is how PJ is going to find herself.

PJ’s faith was a bit of a surprise to me because it appeared fairly deep into the book. Several times she wrestled with God over her problems and called on Him for help, but the rest of the time she seemed to be managing on her own. Even when she finally discovered herself, her awareness of God’s role in it felt like an add on.

One reason for you to read this book is that it has one of the best closing lines I’ve read in a long time. But don’t skip to the end or you’ll spoil the best part of the book.

Pros: Lighthearted mystery with a creative plot and distinctive characters. The action keeps the story moving and there are lots of surprises.

Cons: The characters act younger than their ages.

About the book:

With one solved case under her belt, PJ Sugar is ready to dive into her career as a private investigator. Or at least a PI's assistant until she can prove herself to Jeremy Kane, her new boss. Suddenly PJ's seeing crime everywhere. But is it just in her head, or can she trust her instincts? When she takes on her first official case-house-sitting for a witness in protective custody-Jeremy assures her there's no danger involved. But it soon becomes clear that there is someone after the witness . . . and now they're after PJ, too.

About the author:

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of twenty-four novels with Tyndale, Barbour and Steeple Hill. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she's also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Book of the Year. Her larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women's events and retreats speaker, she's a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer's workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you! She is also the founder of, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!) A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at:


Be sure to enter the Double Trouble Prize Package Giveaway by clicking on the ‘Double the Sass” button !

Susan’s giving away an iPod prize package that is anything but troubling! Check it out!

Prize Details

Double Trouble, the brand new PJ Sugar novel by Susan May Warren, is in stores now! To celebrate the release, we’re running a HUMDINGER of a contest!!

One Grand Prize winner will receive a $150 SUPER SLEUTH prize package that includes:

* A $10 iTunes gift card (we recommend the ALIAS soundtrack)

* A brand new iPod Shuffle (perfect for those all-night stakeouts)

* A $10 Amazon gift card (why yes, they do sell spy pens)

* A $10 Starbucks gift card (for fuel, obviously)

* A pair of designer sunglasses (be stealthy AND super chic)

* A gorgeous scarf from World Market (can also be used as a blindfold, and/or for tying up bad guys)

* AND signed copies of both Nothing But Trouble & Double Trouble. (romance! danger! intrigue! sooo much better than Surveillance for Dummies!)

We’ll announce our super sleuth winner on March 1st.

Editing Tip # 21: Making Every Scene Count

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.


Each scene in a novel should move the plot forward by providing one or more of the following:
pertinent, new information about the characters
aspects of setting that affect the characters or plot
events that advance the storyline.

A scene that does not accomplish at least one of these purposes should be deleted. A scene that accomplishes all three is ideal.

1. Information

Actions and reactions to information or situations provide important insight into the characters. The opening interaction between two characters sets the stage for the development of a relationship as the individuals strive toward their goals. Though back story is often important for understanding characters, don’t just “dump” information on the reader. If the back story affects the characters in a way that is vital to the story, show how it affects them as the story develops.

2. Setting

Some novels depend on a particular setting to create suspense or danger. Scenes that depict descriptive details of a location prepare the reader for a future incident or situation that applies to that setting. For example, a deserted mountain cabin, miles away from the nearest neighbor, would be vital to a story about someone trapped by a killer, snowbound by a blizzard, or injured and in need of rescue. Weave enough detail into each scene so the reader can visualize where the action is taking place, but not so much that the reader is distracted from the storyline.

3. Events

Scenes that move a story forward present events that change the main characters in a positive or negative way. The scene can introduce a new conflict, add an additional stumbling block, introduce growth or understanding, foreshadow a coming event, or advance a relationship. Such scenes must deepen the conflict and add new insight into the plight of the main character.

Evaluating Scenes

To test the usefulness of a scene, ask yourself, “How does this move the plot forward?” If the scene only shows the passing of time, cut it or summarize it. For example, a scene where two characters get to know each other as they enjoy a picnic lunch has no value if it does not provide new information pertinent to the storyline.

A scene is only as compelling as the elements that cause the story to progress toward a fulfilling ending. Make your novel a page-turner by making every scene count.


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 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 full 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 ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Faith and Photography

Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter. ~ Ansel Adams
I heard a song the other day whose words begin, "I stand in wonder. I stand amazed." * So many times I have expressed a similar sentiment when I realize God has placed me in the "right place" at the "right time" to capture something incredible. For me, photography is much more than a hobby. It is inherently tied to my faith in God. From the smallest of creatures to the grandest of vistas, I see God there. He is truly omnipresent, all around me.

I have used the photograph below as an example in a previous article. However, it continues to be the first image that comes into my mind when thinking along these lines. That particular day, I was just in my yard photographing what I could find. I had taken many other pictures, none of which were memorable. Yet, what I thought would be just another photograph of a lady bug turned out to be a glimpse into a whole other world. Had God not placed me there at that moment in time, I would have missed it entirely.

The World of Bugs
The World of Bugs

On another day, I came across a pair of crab spiders. I have seen this species many times before and the flower they are perched on is considered a common weed here, yet never before (and not since) have I come across a pair of them together in this manner.

Male and Female Crab Spiders
Male and Female Crab Spiders

God directed me there in both of these instances. I only took the picture. His leading me, His placing me there, these times, and so many others, continues to astound me. If my family had not visited the park, we would have missed the full beauty of an autumn maple. If I had not gone out, despite the weather, I would have missed the glory of the sunset highlighting the clouds. I have so many similar stories.

But it is more than that. It is His putting everything else into place just for me. How marvelous that thought is! I am not anyone special. In fact, my life is rather ordinary. Yet God organized that event just for me.
Autumn Bench, Cherokee Lake
Autumn Bench, Part 2, Cherokee Lake, Murphy, North Carolina

Storm Clouds at Sunset
Storm Clouds at Sunset, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida
Everyone of us has a calling, a gift. Mine are photography and writing. Your gift might be music or drawing or preaching or any number of other things. God can use your gift, just like He has used mine. But know first, it is only with His input in my life that causes anything I do to make sense. I am but a tool in His hand, a tool to capture my world in pictures and to share the love of God through words.

*"In Wonder" The Waiting Kind

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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, February 10, 2010

Writing and Everyday Activities Series Part 3

Sewing and Writing

Sewing is an essential part of life. Without it we wouldn’t have most of the clothing in our wardrobe. Having said that, there are many facets to sewing – just as there are to writing. Have a look at these thoughts to see the parallels.

Using a Pattern
All garments are cut from a pattern and all stories and articles have an outline. A pattern is a template that has been tried and tested and found to be suitable. Our writing needs to follow a basic pattern of introduction, middle and conclusion as well as following the rules of grammar and spelling.

Using Different Materials
Different materials are used for different garments. Thick wools are used for winter jackets and fine silks for underwear. Our choice of words and writing style can convey warmth, humor, sadness and many more feelings.

Using Different Threads
A garment is useless without the thread that binds the pieces together. In our writing, the thread is the message that we weave with our words. It is the underlying strength of a story and the inspirational element that draws it together.

A well-cut, well-sewn garment made from appropriate fabric is a pleasure to behold. In the same way, a piece of writing that follows prescribed writing rules and has a strong message can be a delight to read.

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, February 9, 2010

Submissions Sought for New Ministry Book

Ministry Book in the Making
By Katherine Swarts

Writers are a notoriously emotional lot, so we should particularly appreciate 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (New International Version): “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

When someone is wrestling with chronic depression or discouragement, one thing that’s not comforting is to hear, “Snap out of it. Count your blessings. It’s sinful to be unhappy when God has given you so much.” Many on the receiving end of such talk have already tried (and prayed) to the point of near despair for “straightening out” of a mind and heart that seem determined to remain perpetually miserable.

I know personally how it feels, having been there more times and over more years than I want to remember. Since starting my devotional/poetry blog, New Songs from the Heart, in 2007, I’ve used it not infrequently for self-therapy. Although I hope it also encourages others with chronic-unhappiness problems, lately I’ve wanted to do something more specific: a printed collection of the poems that most encourage when discouragement seems unbeatable, that most emphasize that God understands the worst of our weaknesses, that most lift eyes to look at Him rather than at lower-level worries. A “devotions for the depressed” project that could be placed directly into the hands of those who need it most—not so much those who have suffered crushing tragedies everyone sympathizes with, as those who seem always to feel bad and aren’t sure why. (And often feel surrounded by people who are constantly judging them or making the problem worse with every attempt to “fix” it).

I’d like to request the help of fellow Christian writers in preparing this project. If you are interested, please visit and study the New Songs from the Heart blog, and then e-mail me, Katherine Swarts with:

-- Your opinion on which poems from the blog would best encourage chronically sad hearts.
-- Suggested titles for the final book.
-- Samples or descriptions of any poems you would personally like to submit. (Selections will run up to 32 lines and fall into three categories: When the World Seems Hopeless; When You Feel You’re Hopeless; Looking at God. All contributors will receive an author bio and one free copy of the book.)
-- Names and contact information for ministries to the chronically depressed, the mildly autistic, and others who might find the book beneficial.

Responses are due on or before February 26. Thanks and blessings to you all!

Katherine Swarts is a full-time writer from Houston, Texas, whose credits include over 100 published articles and four textbooks. She also does freelance corporate writing, specializing in blogs and other articles for nonprofits, green developers, and wellness businesses. Her business Web site is Spread the Word Commercial Writing.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

How to Keep a Family Secret

Reviewed by Phee Paradise
Hunter’s Moon
By Don Hoesel

The members of the Baxter family are proud of their two hundred year history in America, but they’ve never been able to achieve the notoriety of other old families. In fact, their only well known member is CJ, an acclaimed writer. He claims his books are not autobiographical, but everyone knows better, and no one is flattered. When CJ’s grandfather dies, he returns to the family home after 15 years of not speaking with the rest of the family. He stays indefinitely, for reasons he’s not sure he can articulate, even to himself.

The Baxters are not nice people, and CJ appears to be like the rest of them, full of anger and spite. But as he learns more about his own motives, and reveals to the reader the childhood events that shaped him, it becomes apparent he isn’t like most of the others. Fairly deep into the book, I was surprised to learn that he had been born again about a month before his return home. But after that revelation, I could see that his struggle with the burden he had carried all his life was also a struggle to learn what it means to live as a Christian. I particularly appreciated the people who gathered around to mentor him. None of them fit the typical Christian stereotype.

But don’t think the book is just a psychological and spiritual drama. The story has several layers and a lot of action. CJ’s brother, Graham, is running for senate and needs the family to support him. But CJ has been hurt by the skeleton in the closet and thinks about writing an article that will expose Graham, who will stop at nothing to keep his secrets and win the election. By the end of the book, the action takes over and some secrets are revealed while CJ is literally on the run. I had expected part of the outcome, but not all of it, and was pleased that Hoesel had saved a few surprises for the end.

Hunter’s Moon is one of those books you love to savor after you’ve finished, so save some time to ponder the characters, motivations and the plot.

Pros: Complicated family relationships. It’s full of secrets and the characters are complex. Sometimes you’ll wonder who’s wearing the white hat and who’s wearing the black hat. The portrayal of small town life is delightful.

Cons: The attempts to show the powerful political arena comes off as “small town” and the actions of the antagonists may seem a bit extreme and thus, not quite believable.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Hunter's Moon

Bethany House (February 1, 2010)


Don Hoesel


Don Hoesel was born and raised in Buffalo, NY but calls Spring Hill, TN home. He works as a Communications Department supervisor for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal.

Don and hopes to one day sell enough books to just say that he's a writer. You can help with that by buying whatever his newest novel happens to be.

He lives in Spring Hill with his wife and two children.


Every family has secrets. Few will go as far as the Baxters to keep them. Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. Still there's one story from his past he's never told. One secret that's remained buried for decades. Now, seventeen years after swearing he'd never return, CJ is headed back to Adelia, NY. His life in Tennessee has fallen to pieces, his grandfather is dying, and CJ can no longer run from the past. With Graham Baxter, CJ's brother, running for Senate, a black sheep digging up old family secrets is the last thing the family and campaign can afford. CJ soon discovers that blood may be thicker than water, but it's no match for power and money. There are wounds even time cannot heal.

To read the first chapter of Hunter's Moon, click HERE

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