Monday, August 30, 2010

Tissue Alert

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Choosing to See
By Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaughn

Warning: open a new box of tissues before you pick up Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman. It’s the heart rending story of the loss of her youngest daughter. Chapman tells the story with honesty, openly sharing her grief, love and even joy. You’ll start crying on the second page, where she describes her daughter’s death, but the story is not only about loss and you’ll laugh with her as well.

Mary Beth Chapman is the wife of well known Christian musical artist, Steven Curtis Chapman. The pain and loss that their family has experienced is probably well known among his fans, but Mary Beth tells it in a very personal way, bringing her reader into her circle of friends and family. After opening the book with a brief, but heart wrenching account of little Maria’s death, the author goes back to the beginning of the Chapman story. She tells us how she met Steven, how they struggled as he tried to break into the Christian music market, and how their family grew. She brings each member of the family, including their six children, to life so that the readers feels like we really know them.

This prepares us for the devastating loss of Maria, their youngest. When Steven had achieved success in his career and their three natural children were no longer babies, the Chapmans decided to adopt a child from China. This led to more adoptions, helping friends adopt and creating several adoption ministries. Maria was their third Chinese daughter. At age five, the Lord took her home under devastating circumstances. After describing her loss again and the family’s overwhelming grief, Chapman goes on to tell us how God helped them begin to heal. The book is a story of triumph, as well as grief, but even the healing will make you cry. Only two years since her loss, the author’s emotions are still raw, and the healing has only begun. But Chapman brings you alongside her, as if sharing herself with a close friend. It’s a wonderful gift.

After you have cried with Mary Beth, I know you will pray for her and you will also thank God for her amazing testimony.

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

About the book
From the beginning, Mary Beth Chapman's life was not how she planned. All she wanted was a calm, peaceful life of stability and control. Instead, God gave her an award-winning singer/songwriter husband, crazy schedules, and a houseful of creatively rambunctious children. Most difficult of all, God's plans for her also included tragedy.

In Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth unveils her struggle to allow God to write the story of her life, both the happy chapters and the tragic ones. And as the story unfolds, she's been forced to wrestle with some of life's biggest questions: Where is God when things fall apart? Why does God allow terrible things to happen? How can I survive hard times?

No matter where you find yourself in your own life story, you will treasure the way Mary Beth shows that even in the hard times, there is hope if you choose to SEE.

About the authors
Mary Beth Chapman is the wife of Grammy and Dove Award winning recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman. Together they began Show Hope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for the world's most vulnerable children by providing financial assistance to families wishing to adopt, as well as increasing awareness of the orphan crisis and funneling resources to orphans domestically and internationally. Mary Beth serves as president of Show Hope and is a speaker for Women of Faith 2010 with her husband. She is also coauthor with Steven of the Shaoey and Dot series of children's picture books. Mary Beth and Steven have six children: Emily, Caleb, Will Franklin, and adopted daughters Shaohannah Hope, Stevey Joy, and Maria Sue, who is now with Jesus. The Chapmans live in Tennessee.

Ellen Vaughn is a bestselling author and inspirational speaker. Her recent books include It's All About Him with Denise Jackson (wife of Alan Jackson), which debuted at #1 on the New York Times nonfiction list. She is also coauthor with Chuck Colson of Being the Body. In addition to her nonfiction work, Vaughn is an award-winning novelist. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, Lee.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Editing Tip #43: Permissions (part three)

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.

(part three)

There are a couple of things you may want to use in your manuscript that require special attention from a permissions standpoint.

Songs and Poems

Titles of songs and poems may be used freely, as titles are not copyrightable. However, reprinting lyrics (even just a few words) requires written and signed permission from the copyright holder (unless it is in public domain). A few words of a song or poem constitutes a far greater percentage of the whole piece than a few words quoted from a book.

The responsibility for determining whether a song is in public domain, and obtaining permission if it is not, rests solely on the author’s shoulders. This is not the duty of the publisher. However, both you and the publisher could be held liable for copyright infringement if you quote lyrics without permission.

The Bible

The King James Version is in public domain, so you may quote from it to your heart’s content as long as you acknowledge it in the front matter of your book.

All other versions and translations of the Bible are protected by copyright. Different versions have different stipulations for the number of verses you can quote under “blanket permission.” Check the copyright page of the Bible you wish to quote from and contact the publisher for details.

All Bible versions quoted in a manuscript require a Scripture copyright notice in the front matter. If you have quoted from a single Bible version throughout, start this notice with, for example, “Scripture quotations in this publication are from the New King James Version.” If you have used one version predominantly, preface the notice with the phrase “Unless otherwise noted.” All other versions are identified starting with, for example, “Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from…”

The sole or predominant version is not identified in the text. Alternate versions are identified in parentheses (in ALL CAPS) with the verse’s reference.


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

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

The World of Flowers


Water Drop

Have you ever stopped and watched a flower? Seriously, really watched it?

Each flower holds in its petals a tiny world. I am forever amazed by what I see there. Tiny creatures scramble and scurry across its face, all of them in a hurry to feed on something, whether nectar or some other creature that visits the flower.

Mexican Sunflower

I think it is the interaction I like the most. It is never boring. One day they are aflutter with butterflies, large or small. The next evening they sparkle after the rain. Sometimes a spider draws my eye. I am not really a fan of spiders. But if you take the time to observe them, they are in their own way fascinating.

Lynx Spider

So many times, we just walk around the flowers. We comment on their color or their scent. We admire their form, their contrasts with each other. We delight in spectacular butterflies, drawn to their blossoms. I do the same.

Yet, for me, more wonderful are the tiniest of creatures - bees, wasps, miniscule iridescent flies. Each one aware of its place in the world. Each one going about its life in hum with everything else.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Somehow there is peace in that - the cycle of life and death, constantly moving and changing, all of it circulating around the existence of a flower - a flower I planted there. How wonderful is that?

Unknown Skipper Butterfly

If you'd like to see more of these images, visit my Webshots.

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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, August 25, 2010

Write a Psalm to God

Personal Expressions of Praise by Debbie Roome
I recently entered a competition where the theme was to write a psalm. The first thing I realised was that much of what I write is for other people. I had to go the book of Psalms to see how they were structured and how the psalmists directed their words to God. A number of things became evident to me as I browsed through one psalm after another.

Psalms are Written from the Heart
Psalms are emotional and expressive. Many of them speak of despair and sorrow, joy and exaltation.

Many Psalms are Written in the First Person
The psalmists often wrote about me, myself and I, relating how God had helped them and strengthened them in difficult times. They were written as personal expressions of appreciation and adoration.

Psalms often Compare God to Something Natural
God is referred to as a strong tower, a rock, and a shepherd and these are just a few of the word pictures used.

Remember how God helped you in Difficult Times
Many psalms reflect on how God sustained and helped during times of great despair and sorrow.

Praise Him for Prayers Answered
These reflections are often followed by exuberant declaration of praise.

Express hope for the future
After praising God, some of the psalmists go on to express hope for His continued favour and support

A psalm is something personal and meaningful – something to read out to the Lord. Why not write one just for Him this week. No one else need ever see it but it will bring a new depth to your relationship with your Father.

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.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wisdom from the Amish

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Amish Proverbs
By Suzanne Woods Fisher

Amish Proverbs is an attractive little coffee table book. It’s full of pictures of the Amish lifestyle alternating with short words of wisdom they live by. Fisher has divided it into topical chapters like Time, Work Ethic and Community. At the beginning of each chapter she has written a brief introduction about Amish thinking on that aspect of life. For readers who are interested in the role of proverbs in any community, there is a fairly informative introduction to the book.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction to the chapter on money:

“As the work, so the pay,” goes the saying.
It’s not that the Amish aren’t money savvy; they are. But their goal in life isn’t to accumulate wealth. Money is a tool, not a goal. They want only to support their family in an environment that best reflects their values.

Here are some of my favorites from the book:

Do more of less.

Generosity leaves a much better taste than stinginess.

Raising boys is as easy as digesting iron.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

If I’ve piqued your interest and you have a place on your coffee table, I have good news. The publisher has given us a copy of the book to give to one of you. We’ll hold a drawing of interested readers on August 31, so you have until then to enter. All you have to do is post a comment on this post with the answer to this question:

Tell us your favorite proverb and how it has influenced your life.

It doesn’t have to come from the Biblical book of Proverbs. For instance, when I was young, I dropped a pitcher of milk that I was carrying to the dinner table. I started crying because I was afraid of being punished. Before cleaning up the mess, my mother gave me a hug and said, “Don’t cry over spilt milk.” That may seem a little trite, but I have always known that I am loved, and my mistakes do not change that.

I look forward to reading about your favorite proverbs.

Suzanne is also sponsoring a contest to give a way a Kindle. Read the note at the bottom of this post for more information.

About the book:

Spend enough time with the Amish, as author Suzanne Woods Fisher has, and you’ll hear them repeat a catchy turn of phrase or short words of wisdom, like “Good character like good soup is usually homemade,” or “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.” Suspended in these phrases are age-old lessons about how to live wisely and please God. Reiterated day after day, the proverbs are learned by heart and help guide the lives of the Amish, reminding them of what’s truly important.

Fisher has spent a great deal of time with the Amish and has collected more than 200 proverbs that uncover the rich heritage, folklore, faith, values, history, and essence of the Plain People, which she shares in her new book
Amish Proverbs.

These proverbs cover all aspects of life, from finances to faith to family, as well as overcoming life’s frustrations. Serving as teaching tools and maxims for practical living, they're not just for the Amish. Proverbs help point us all toward wisdom, toward good judgment, toward God’s teachings. They're for anyone who seeks God's wisdom and truth for everyday circumstances.

Some of the proverbs that readers will find in Amish Proverbs include:
"It is better to give others a piece of your heart than a piece of your mind."
"You are only poor when you want more than you have."
"A child can read a parent’s character before he can read the alphabet."
"Bibles that are coming apart usually belong to people who are not."
"Those who fear the future are likely to fumble the present."
"Kissing wears out, cooking don’t."
"If you sense your faith is unraveling, go back to where you dropped the thread of obedience."
"You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough."
"A smile is a curve that can straighten out a lot of things."

Ranging from the simple to the profound, from the serious to the humorous, these sayings will stick with readers through life's joys and sorrows and bring some of the Amish wisdom to everyday life.

With beautiful full-color photos throughout, Amish Proverbs is the perfect gift for any occasion.

About the author:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the CBA bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, Amish Peace, and Amish Proverbs. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of a radio show called Amish Wisdom and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California.

Kindle Contest

Suzanne's Amish Proverbs just hit the shelves. To celebrate she's giving away a KINDLE and throwing a party! Let the fun begin. See below for info and links.

Find out more about the book, Suzanne and the blog tour here.

Enter Suzanne Woods Fisher's Simple Wisdom KINDLE Giveaway!

Simple Wisdom giveaway=

One Grand Prize winner will receive a Kindle preloaded with Suzanne Woods Fisher titles. The Prize Pack (valued at over $205.00) includes:

* A brand new KINDLE, Free 3G, 6", Latest Generation

* Amish Peace by Suzanne Woods Fisher

* The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form, then tell 5 or more friends about the contest.

Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on September 1st.

Sweet Kindle Giveaway
Join Suzanne for a Wrap-up Party on September 1st!

She’ll be announcing the winner of the Simple Wisdom KINDLE Giveaway, chatting with readers, and giving away copies of Amish Proverbs and The Choice! Be sure to join us on Wednesday , September 1st at 8PM EST at Suzanne’s Author Page

Be sure to check out the blog tour here or purchase a copy of Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life!

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New Ministry Launches Today

Author and speaker, Kimberlee Mendoza had been a Christian for almost thirty-three years, and was active in ministry for almost all of it. She went to church regularly and tried to live a godly life, and yet, she still struggled with the same sins over and over and never seemed to be any closer to God than before.

Then she was given a book called, The Cross and the Switchblade. The book is a true story about a man named David Wilkerson, who set out save the gangs of New York City, and eventually spurned a worldwide organization (Teen Challenge) that saves thousands of lives each year to this day.

How did he do it? The answer was simple—time. He made a decision one day to turn off the TV and just spend time with God in prayer. And from that birthed this enormous ministry.

Kimberlee was intrigued by the idea, and decided to take the “Wilkerson Challenge” herself. She turned off her TV and tuned out the Internet for two weeks. And revival began to happen in her life. Instantly, she saw a change in her walk with God, in her family, and in her marriage. She is now a certified minister with a passion to give back what she had learned—to show other Christians how to get fired up in their faith. is a ministry that was created for one purpose, to get Christians excited about their faith again. (Torrid, meaning hot and burning, and faith, our walk with God.) On this website is a challenge to every believer to take the “Wilkerson Challenge.” There will also be daily verses of encouragement, blogs, sermons, skits, a place for prayer requests, and more.

Ms. Mendoza believes that revival starts one life at a time. “If you want to see growth in your life, then you have to start in the most basic place—time with God,” she said. “Becoming too busy for regular devotion time is a common pitfall for modern Christians. But even in our busiest times we managed to find time to eat, because we know that if we don’t eat that our bodies will eventually grow weak and die. The same is true of the spiritual self. If we don’t feed our spiritual body, it will eventually grow weak and die.”

Hebrews 11:6b “He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”

So check out this new website, which launches August 23, and watch your faith ignite!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Editing Tip #42: Permissions (part two)

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.

(part two)

Permission to use copyrighted materials must be obtained in writing from the individual or company that holds the copyright. When writing to request permission, you must include the following information in the letter:
  • title of the original work from which you are borrowing
  • name of author/compiler/editor of that work
  • edition of the work (if other than the first)
  • copyright date of the work
  • exact identification of what is to be reprinted. (Page numbers of textual citations must be included; for illustrative materials, include photocopies of the material or the table/figure number.) Your letter should also indicate what percentage of your book the material constitutes.
  • information about your book (title/author, binding [hardbound or paperback], number of printed pages, publisher, date of publication, press run, and list price). Most of this information will be supplied by the publisher after the manuscript is complete and under contract.
  • type of rights requested. Your editor will give you guidance on this matter.

Send two copies of the letter to the copyright holder. Ask the copyright holder to sign and return one copy, noting any fee or special provisions required. The other copy is retained by the copyright holder.

When Do You Obtain Permissions?

Permissions need to be sought at the earliest possible date. This is particularly true in the case of anthologies or heavily illustrated books. Obtaining permissions may take months. In addition, permission may be refused, or the fee may be too high. A book cannot be finalized until all permissions have been received.

It is essential that all permissions be obtained in writing. Photocopies of these documents should be sent to the publisher, who will file them and honor any special provisions contained in them.

At the very latest, you should begin to seek permissions as soon as the manuscript has been accepted for publication and the publisher has supplied the necessary information about your book. You may wish to begin inquiring about permissions prior to manuscript acceptance so you can know in advance who holds the copyright and how much you will have to pay. These considerations may cause you to decide to rewrite certain sections.

Acknowledgements Are Required

Acknowledgment of the source of reprinted material can be made in an internal text reference, a footnote, a table source note, a credit line in an illustration, or on the copyright page. In the case of multiple credits, a special acknowledgments section may be included in the front matter or back matter of the published book. The copyright holder often provides specific guidelines concerning the placement and phrasing of the credit line.


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

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

There's Always Photographs


Whitetail Doe and Fawn

When nothing else works in my life, there's always photographs. They are constants. They remove my mind from whatever is bothering me and focus it instead on something else.

Through them, I go places I am not. I stroll a sandy beach. I walk through a forested park. With a photograph, I can climb towering mountain heights and swim amazing ocean depths. With photographs, it can be fall, or winter, summer, or spring on any day of the year.

Frosty, Crepe Myrtle Seed Pods

They don't require anything of me. I don't have to explain myself to them, and I don't have to apply. They don't need answers.

Rather, without qualification, they do the talking. They describe to me multitudes of color and sound. Suddenly, I am enveloped in the rush of a waterfall or surrounded by the orange glow of sunrise. Photographs bring chattering birds, lowing cattle, and whispering wind, that much closer to me. They radiate themselves through shades of blue, green, yellow, or red.

A Red Autumn

Photographs are my voice, and I, in return, am theirs. Old friends, hand-in-hand, we spell out the magnificence - of distances, of vistas, of abundance and beauty.

Conduits, they tell of places and times I have or haven't been. They are forever reminders of the cycle of life. Through them I am small again, my problems miles away.

Yes, for me there's always photographs, no matter my environment, my station, or my place.

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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, August 18, 2010

Decoding Enemy Messages

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Crimson Cipher
By Susan Page Davis

I’m enjoying the trend of novels set in the early half of the twentieth century. That period of history is close enough to be familiar, but far enough to capture the sense of “once upon a time.” The Crimson Cipher is one of those books. Set in 1915, when the U.S. is on the brink of war, in many ways it feels like it could be happening now. After all, we are familiar with war. But there are little details that remind us it isn’t now. The characters call each other Mr. or Miss, unless given permission to use first names. They light kerosene lamps when they enter rooms. And telephones are located down the hall, not in their pockets.

But the characters could be our neighbors and I would be proud to know them. Emma Shuster is a cryptologist for the Navy’s Signal Corps. She is one of an elite group of people who decipher coded messages from Germany. Her love interest is John Patterson who acts on the messages if they threaten the security of the U.S. The story flows smoothly through the circumstances of Emma’s recruitment, the risks John takes and some danger Emma faces because of her job and background.

I can’t say it was an intense story of espionage and intrigue, but it kept my interest throughout because of the characters and setting. Davis has crafted a wonderful story that balances mystery, danger and romance. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Pros: Likeable characters in an accessible setting with a well developed plot.

Cons: I don’t see anything to caution you about. It’s a great story.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Crimson Cipher
Summerside Press (July 1, 2010)

Susan Page Davis


From Susan: I've always loved reading, history, and horses. These things come together in several of my historical books. My young adult novel, Sarah's Long Ride, also spotlights horses and the rugged sport of endurance riding, as does the contemporary romance Trail to Justice. I took a vocational course in horseshoeing after earning a bachelor's degree in history. I don't shoe horses anymore, but the experience has come in handy in writing my books.

Another longtime hobby of mine is genealogy, which has led me down many fascinating paths. I'm proud to be a DAR member! Some of Jim's and my quirkier ancestors have inspired fictional characters.

For many years I worked for the Central Maine Morning Sentinel as a freelancer, covering local government, school board meetings, business news, fires, auto accidents, and other local events, including a murder trial. I've also written many profiles and features for the newspaper and its special sections. This experience was a great help in developing fictional characters and writing realistic scenes. I also published nonfiction articles in several magazines and had several short stories appear in Woman's World, Grit, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.

My husband, Jim, and I moved to his birth state, Oregon, for a while after we were married, but decided to move back to Maine and be near my family. We're so glad we did. It allowed our six children to grow up feeling close to their cousins and grandparents, and some of Jim's family have even moved to Maine!

Our children are all home-schooled. The two youngest are still learning at home. Jim recently retired from his vocation as an editor at a daily newspaper, and we’ve moved from Maine to Kentucky.



A female Navy cryptographer seeks to save lives...and uncover her father’s killers.

In 1915, German sympathizers escalated acts of sabotage in the United States to keep the nation from joining in the war. With enemies lurking at every turn, whom can Emma trust? Is romance the true motive behind her tow suitors advances? Or could one-or both of them-have traitorous intentions in mind?

Following the mysterious murder of Emma Shuster’s father, Lt. John Patterson invites Emma to become a Navy cryptographer because of the expertise she gained in helping her father develop a cipher system.

Emma races to discover the nefarious plans of her country's foes and unmask their leader before others are killed. She finds new strength in her faith as she strives to outwit her adversary, known only as Kobold - German for goblin.

And yet, her greatest challenge may be deciphering the cryptic messages her heart sends whenever she encounters a certain navy lieutenant... Can Emma and John find love in the midst of turmoil as America plunges toward war?

To read the first chapter of The Crimson Cipher, click HERE.

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Social Networking and Writing

Is Everyone into Social Networking by Debbie Roome
Social networking is here to stay. Every day I notice another company has a page on Facebook or is inviting people to follow them on Twitter. If large corporations are seeing the value in this phenomenon, how can it not benefit us as writers?

What is Social Networking
I asked Google to define social networking and the answers that popped up had these factors in common:
· Using internet network groups such as Facebook and Twitter to network and communicate between consumers and businesses
· A means of communicating and sharing information between two or more individuals who are part of an online community
· The practice by which internet users build relationships and bookmark important sites with like-minded people
· Social networking websites allow users to be part of a virtual community
· Most services are primarily web-based and provide a collection of various ways for users to interact, such as chat, messaging, email, video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging and discussion groups

How can this Benefit Writers
If you have any kind of content online, this can be promoted through a host of sites. Some people struggle with this concept– but if we write, we need someone to read our words. Posting links to our writing is a wonderful way of finding readers and informing friends that something new is online. Whether you blog occasionally or are a prolific article writer, there are a number of ways to promote your writing.

Which Sites can I use to Promote my Writing
There are dozens of sites out there with more appearing all the time. The most common ones include Facebook, Twitter and Stumbleupon but there are others that can also produce great results. If you look beneath this article, you’ll see a “share” button. It lists nearly 300 links to social networking sites. While it would be impossible to be involved in all of these, it is worthwhile to sift through them and find the ones that will work best with what interests you.

Does it Work
A couple of the article sites I write for automatically post links to my work on Facebook and Twitter. On others I have to do it manually. I sometimes go back to an older article that hasn’t had many reads and post a link to that too. The next day the number of reads is normally higher. It definitely does help.

I would encourage you to share your work and send your words out for others to read. There is an immense online community out there who are waiting to be blessed, uplifted and inspired by what you write.

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.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another Global Conspiracy

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Malacca Conspiracy
By Don Brown

The problem with global conspiracy novels is that they are, well, global. They usually have a complicated plot, a lot of settings and a lot of characters. I sometimes like reading a book in this genre because it is a challenge to follow all the threads and keep all the pieces together, but I need the author to help with it.

The Malacca Conspiracy is one of these books. A group of Islamists plot to make Indonesia the first Islamic superpower and use it as a base to take over the world in the name of Islam. The United States is its primary target. The plot is centered around the Malacca Straits between Indonesia and Malaya, which is a critical sea lane through which most of the world’s oil is shipped. It’s a fascinating and complicated plot, even though it seems the author has jumped on the Muslims-as-terrorists bandwagon.

The problem for me is in the presentation. Brown presents the story in short snippets, jumping from one character to another, one place to another. He doles out the terrorists’ plans in little pieces and presents the American response in between. In doing so, he introduces a myriad of characters and tries to make us care with snapshots of their personal lives. The Americans were fairly believable and I would have enjoyed getting to know some of them better. I think that would have been better done by telling the story from the viewpoint of one or two of them and letting the reader discover the plot as the characters did. Instead, he also presents the terrorists and their motivations, giving us an insight into an unfamiliar world.

This world of radical Islam did not ring true to me. The Islamists are motivated by their desire to see the Great Faith supreme in the world. But they are no different from any man with a great deal of power and wealth. They talk and act like Americans or Europeans. They smoke, drink alcohol and have mistresses. It seems a contradiction for men who are willing to die for a legalistic religion to ignore the rules of that religion. I realize that this may have been Brown’s point, but it interrupted the story for me.

Another problem lies in the technical nature of the book. Geography, military terminology and world of finance are all important players. Brown recognizes that his readers might not be familiar with them and solves this problem by adding frequent explanations. For example, when he uses a Navy acronym, he adds something like this: “… a term used by the Navy to mean …” The effect is that I often felt like I was reading a lecture or documentary.

If you like global conspiracy stories, the conspiracy might make it worth your while to read. Otherwise, I’d pass on this one.

Pros: Complicated and well thought out plot that will scare any conspiracy theorist. The author also weaves both Christianity and Islam into the story naturally.

Cons: Too many characters and a style that breaks up the story and makes it hard to follow.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Malacca Conspiracy
Zondervan (June 4, 2010)

Don Brown


DON BROWN, a former U.S. Navy JAG Officer, is the author of Zondervan’s riveting NAVY JUSTICE SERIES. a dynamic storyline chronicling the life and adventures of JAG officer ZACK BREWER. In 2003, Don began writing Treason, his first novel in the NAVY JUSTICE SERIES.

Paying no homage to political correctness, DON BROWN’S writing style is described as “gripping,” casting an entertaining and educational spin on a wide-range of current issues, from radical Islamic infiltration of the military, to the explosive issue of gays in the military, to the modern day issues of presidential politics in the early 21st Century.

In November of 2009, four years after it was released, and in the wake of Fort Hood, TREASON rocketed to the top-selling in the nation on the bestseller list for fiction, and remained there for over a week. On Thanksgiving Day of 2009, all four of Don’s novels were ranked in the top 5 on the Amazon bestseller list for fiction!

DON BROWN graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1982, and after finishing law school, continued his post-graduate studies through the Naval War College, earning the Navy’s nonresident certificate in International Law.

During his five years on active duty in the Navy, Don served in the Pentagon, was published in the Naval Law Review, and was also a recipient of the Navy Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.


A rogue Indonesian general and his army of terrorists attack oil tankers in the Strait of Malacca in order to profit from oil futures and buy nuclear weapons to establish an Islamic superpower.

Navy JAG officers Zack Brewer and Diane Colcernian race against the odds and a 24-hour deadline before nuclear attacks hit the United States. Departing from the sea of books barely better than soap opera romance and using the frantic pacing of suspense fiction, Brown glides flawlessly among global hotspots of terrorism--including the United States--and the book's principal settings in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

The President of the United States orders ships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet towards the Malacca Straits to reassert control over the sea lanes, but with time quickly ticking away, will they arrive in time for Zack and Diane to survive this dangerous and final high-stakes drama of life and death?

Sign up for the contest above! And if you would like to read the first chapter of Malacca Conspiracy, go HERE.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Editing Tip #41: Permissions

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.


When you as an author sign a contract with a publisher, you are guaranteeing that your work is original and that you have properly credited any sources used.

What Do You Need Permissions For?

Permission is required for using anything that is under copyright and that does not fall into the category of "fair use." This includes more than text or words. Illustrative materials such as tables, charts, and photographs are also protected by law.

The federal copyright law protects all published and unpublished "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated." This protection lasts during the life of the author and for another fifty years thereafter.

The "fair use" of copyrighted material allows you to copy short portions of other work (usually under 100 words) for certain purposes. By definition of law "the fair use of a copyrighted work . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, . . . scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." Specific factors to be considered in determining whether use is "fair" include: (1) the purpose and character of the use, (2) the nature of the copyrighted work, (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used relative to the copyrighted work as a whole, and (4) the effect of the use on the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

Basically, quoting a short section (100 words or less) of someone else’s work in order to comment on or critique it is considered fair use.

The Chicago Manual of Style (4.45-47 in the 15th edition) offers several guidelines on "fair use." Basically, you may cite other works to illustrate or support your points, as long as you quote these works accurately and properly credit your sources. You must not take another author's words out of context or quote them excessively. (Use of anything in its entirety—a poem, essay, or chapter of a book—is rarely acceptable.)

No permission is necessary to use works in the public domain (those whose copyrights are expired or which were never copyrighted). Anything published in the United States prior to 1906 can be assumed to be in the public domain (CMS-15 4.4, 4.42). Examples of works in this category include hymns, popular poems, and classic texts. Many works published more recently are also in the public domain. (Of course, acknowledgment of sources is still appropriate.)


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

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Want to Learn How to Blog?

Blogging is more than a web journal, it encompasses everything from marketing to ministry and so much more. If you're thinking about blogging but don't know where to start, are intimidated or frustrated by the details of setting up a blog, Clearing the Blog Fog will get you going.

In this six-week online course, you'll learn the benefits and the basics of blogging, and how to set up a blog from start to the final tweaks. When you're done, you'll have a blog that's ready to roll.

This course will cover:

  • Benefits of blogging

  • Setting up your blog

  • Posting

  • Basics of blogging

  • Pictures Plus!

  • Ready-made layouts

  • Personalize your blog – Decorate!

  • Sensible and super sidebars

  • Personalize that header

  • Pages and Nav Bar basics

  • Create siggys, separators, buttons, and banners

  • Feedburner and Facebook

Instructor: Patty Wysong

Course Dates: August 23, 2010 - October 1, 2010 (6 weeks)

Cost $125

Register here today to reserve your space.

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Appreciating the Under-appreciated


Polistes, Paper Wasp
Red Wasp

I was stung by a wasp today. Now, not the wasp in the above picture, that wasp wasn't threatening me at all, but another that I never saw. There I was doing some simple gardening when, "Ouch!" And it set me to thinking.

Wasps are one of those creatures, which are very under-appreciated. In fact, in the list of "under-appreciated" creatures, they are up there pretty high with snakes, grasshoppers, and even spiders. The fact is, each of these serves a purpose in the "circle of life". They are predators, prey, or food source for something.

Grasshopper on Zinnia
Grasshopper on Zinnia

I think much of the fear associated with these creatures comes from a great misunderstanding of animal or insect behavior. For instance, I have been following the online blog of a group studying black bears. It turns out that bears are not the evil, angry mammals we have been taught. Instead, much of their behavior thought to be threatening is simply the bear's manner of protecting its territory from other bears. Frequently, the staff of the study group visits a wild mother bear and her cub, changing out GPS units, checking the mother's health, all very hands on, and without any tranquilizers. It has become part of the highlight of my day to read the stories and watch the videos.

Rat Snakes
Rat Snakes

And I hate to hear stories of someone who has killed a snake. I distinctly remember the last time I witnessed the killing of one, and I have truthfully regretted it ever since. There was really no reason. It wasn't venomous. All I had to do to avoid it was go indoors. Really, when I studied it closer, this snake was a beautiful reptile. There it was just living its life to the best of its ability, only concerned with food and shelter. When I took the time to throw out my preconceived prejudices, I found them instead to be fascinating creatures.

I even have to extend my vision now to spiders, and I really don't like spiders. But the more I observe them, the more interesting they become. Of course, I may never get over my dislike for having them ON me, but there is something to be said for their purpose on God's earth. What amazing predatory instincts they have!

Lynx Spider
Lynx Spider

I think it all boils down to balance - balance between human life, animal life, and insect life - and knowledge. We should all be willing to stop, think, and observe the things around us a bit more, no matter how fearsome they appear to be. Knowledge, after all, is power. And besides, you might learn something along the way. You might even change your opinion.

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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, August 11, 2010

Series on Freelance Article Writing – Part 4

Marketing your Articles by Debbie Roome
The aim of writing an article is to find a home for it in a publication. This often requires some effort – especially in the early days of working as a freelance writer. Ideally, find a few publications that suit your interests and writing style and concentrate on them to begin with. As time goes on, you can diversify and add other markets.

Believing in Yourself
Article writing can be tough to get into and the rejections often outnumber the acceptances. The important thing is to keep believing in yourself. Keep copies of work that has been published to show prospective employers and work on continually improving your skills.

Learn by Mistakes
Sometimes editors give a reason for rejecting an article. If they do, take note and be sure to work on that area of weakness. If they do not give a reason, see if you can improve it anyway and then submit it to another publication. Keep going until you have exhausted all your prospects and then file it away for future use or revision.

Promoting Online Articles
It is easier to get articles published on the internet than in print and this is often a good starting place for beginners. Once you have signed up with an article site such as Suite101 or Associated Content, submit work to them regularly. Then promote it by posting it on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon and many others. I have had articles jump to 2000 reads a week through being passed on through these mediums so it really does work.

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here
Read Part 3 here

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or browse through her blog. Some of her work can be found at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Editing Tip #40: Writing Your Memoir (part five)

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.

~ Writing Your Memoir (part five) ~

The last few weeks I’ve been discussing some steps to creating a good memoir. I hope you’ve learned some things, even if you’re writing something other than a memoir, since many of the suggestions relate to any type of manuscript. Here are the last three steps.

Step 8: Hire a Professional

Once your manuscript is as polished as you can get it, hire an established, professional editor. If you think you might like to have me edit your memoir, contact me for a quote. If you’d like to consider other options, you could go to the Christian Editor Network ( and fill out the online form for Authors Seeking Editors. That form will come directly to me, and I will personally match your request with editors who fit your specific requirements. You may then contact those editors, check out their Web sites, and communicate with them to determine which is the best choice for you. (The Christian Editor Network also has professional collaborators/ghostwriters.)

Step 9: Rewrite

Now comes the most difficult part: Throw out everything you’ve written except the truly compelling parts, and start again from scratch. Build your story on the new, more solid foundation.

Follow the earlier steps with your revised version.

Step 10: Don’t Give Up

At this point, you’re probably feeling discouraged by how much work is involved in writing your life story. But take heart! If God has called you to write, He will be with you, helping you, every step of the way. And He has people He knows will need to read what He has called you to write. He knows how long it will take for you to get your manuscript as polished as it needs to be, and get it published in whatever way He knows is best, so that those people can have it at the precise moment when they will need it. Trust in His timing and His guidance. And pray every step of the way!


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

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Depth of Field


Depth of field is the amount of subject matter in a photograph that is in focus. It can be greater, where much of the scene is in focus, or shallow, where very little of the scene is in focus. The amount of depth of field changes because of a number of factors - the type of lens, the angle of your camera, and the distance to the objects in the scene. It is also greatly dependent on aperture.

Remember, aperture is the size of the opening in the camera's lens. A small aperture is expressed by a larger number - F16 or F25, for instance. Therefore, a large aperture is expressed with a smaller number - F2.8 or F4. (It helps to think of apertures as fractions. In a fraction, the larger the denominator the smaller the fraction.)

Where depth of field is concerned, a large aperture will give less depth of field, and a small aperture will give greater depth of field. With this knowledge, a photographer can control the look and feel of his photograph. In other words, he or she can take the same photo and achieve extremely different results.

Look at my first example. In these two photographs, we have the same flower, same camera angle, and same lighting. However, the aperture in the photo on the left was smaller than the photo on the right. This causes the photo to retain more of the texture of the grass. However, in the image on the right the grass appears softer and less in focus. The shallower depth of field better directs the viewer's eye to the flower.

depth of field

There are times when a larger depth of field is more desirable. The biggest example would be in wide-angle, or landscape, photography. In these instances, it is best for much of the scene to be in focus. In landscape scenes, you have many objects, all at differing distances from your camera lens. Greater depth of field, therefore, through the use of a smaller aperture, causes these objects to be in focus together.

(The use of smaller aperture also resulted in the "star" effect in this image.)


Another reason to have a greater depth of field can be seen in the photograph below. In this photograph, I wanted more detail in the surrounding butterflies and hanging chrysalis. Because each was at a slightly different distance from my lens and because I was taking a macro (or close-up) photograph, my general depth of field was shallow. By choosing F22 as the aperture, I was able to create greater depth of field than I would normally have had.

(Always remember when dealing with apertures that the smaller the aperture the longer your shutter speed.)

New Monarch Butterflies

Something must be said now about depth of field as it relates to macro (or close-up) photography. Generally speaking, the closer you are to the object you are photographing, the shallower your depth of field will be. With extremely shallow depths of field, time and care must be taken to achieve proper focus.

In the photograph below, this dragonfly was perhaps 2" in length. Because of its small size, my close distance to the object, and also because the object was not complete horizontal to my lens, several areas of the dragonfly's body appear out of focus. My greatest concern in creating this image was, therefore, the eyes of the insect. With careful attention to the eyes remaining on focus, I was still able to obtain a clean, sharp picture.

Female Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly

Depth of field is another of those areas of photography that it is essential to understand. With knowledge of how to create and therefore, control depth of field, a photographer can achieve the exact results he or she desires.

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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.