Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mystery in an Old Mansion

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Refuge on Crescent Hill
By Melanie Dobson

If you like mysteries you’ll want to read Refuge on Crescent Hill. It’s actually several mysteries that eventually converge. There’s a mansion haunted with mysterious footsteps and crashing glass; a hidden treasure; a missing birth certificate; a crumbling tunnel and even a runaway slave. And it all takes place in modern day Ohio and South Carolina.

Just when Camden Bristow reaches the end of her resources, she learns that her grandmother has left her the two hundred year old family home on Crescent Hill. It’s a beautiful house that needs a lot of work but there is no money to restore it. Camden stays in the house while she looks for a buyer and it doesn’t take her long to hear the noises and realize someone is invading her home. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, Stephanie Ellison begins researching her family’s history and learns about a slave that ran away with some valuable jewels. One of his stops on the Underground Railroad might have been Crescent Hill.

The two mysteries converge on Crescent Hill, but there are a lot of other plot threads that feed into the main ones. A man who works for the town sees an opportunity when Camden decides to sell Crescent Hill. An unsavory character keeps popping up and Camden may not be safe. Then there is her half-sister who wants to fight their grandmother’s will. There’s even a potential romance. It’s complicated, as a good mystery should be, but I felt there were too many point of view shifts. I would have enjoyed the story more if I had known only what Camden and Stephanie knew, and learned the rest as they did. I think that would have created more suspense.

In spite of that, Refuge on Crescent Hill is well written and carefully plotted. I am happy to recommend it.

Pros: Complicated mystery with enough twists to keep you guessing. The story is well written and moves quickly and you’ll like the characters.

Cons: The author reveals the motivations of too many characters with frequent point of view and location changes.

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Refuge on Crescent Hill


Kregel Publications (March 11, 2010)


by


Melanie Dobson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good.



Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.



ABOUT THE BOOK

THE HOMECOMING WASN’T WHAT SHE EXPECTED…

Jobless, homeless, and broke, Camden Bristow decides to visit the grandmother she hasn’t seen in years. But when Camden arrives in Etherton, Ohio, she discovers that her grandmother has passed away, leaving her the 150-year-old mansion on Crescent Hill. The site of her happiest summers as a child, the run-down mansion is now her only refuge.

When Camden finds evidence that she may not be the mansion’s only occupant, memories of Grandma Rosalie’s bedtime stories about secret passageways and runaway slaves fuel her imagination. What really happened at Crescent Hill? Who can she turn to for answers in this town full of strangers? And what motivates the handsome local Alex Yates to offer his help? As she works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored in her home, Camdem uncovers deep family secrets within the mansion’s walls that could change her life─and the entire town─forever.

To read the first chapter of Refuge on Crescent Hill, click HERE.


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Skills Required to be a Good Journalist

Defining Journalism by Debbie Roome
Journalism is a specific type of writing that is often associated with newspapers. Journalists are commonly referred to as reporters and they deal with facts not fiction. Their writing is structured in a manner that presents the important details first and their style is easy to understand.

Would I make a Good Journalist
Although many writers are gifted at writing fiction there are those that have a natural affinity to journalism and prefer to work with facts. Here are some of the characteristics that are seen in good reporters:
· Good English and grammar skills
· Loves to read
· Ability to ask pertinent questions
· Knowing when to ask the questions
· Able to listen carefully to anyone of any age
· Able to report facts without coloring them with personal opinion
· Able to report a story accurately
· Able to report facts in a concise manner
· Natural curiosity about life and people
· Patience and perseverance
· A good sense of humor

Skills can be Focused in Certain Areas
Journalism is a wide field and writers may focus on certain areas such as news, entertainment, sport, or travel and tourism. They often write about what interests them and may become extremely knowledgeable in this area.

What Training do I Need to Become a Journalist
Most newspapers will only employ writers who have a relevant qualification – normally a degree in journalism or communication. Smaller publications may accept those with some kind of diploma in journalism. Freelance journalists may be judged on the basis of their work rather than their qualifications.

Journalism is a popular career choice for writers and can be a fulfilling way to make a living. The important thing is to have a passion for what you are doing and enjoy the variety of stories and people that pass through your life.


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.










Monday, June 28, 2010

Register Now for Introduction to Writing Christian Novels

One of our most popular courses returns next month at WIES Workshops - Introduction to Writing Christian Novels. And because I'm still having problems with my other Web site, you'll need to register from this page. Please help us spread the word about this powerful course!

This six-week course addresses the fundamentals of novel writing for the Christian market, and then builds on basic skills to take writers a step beyond -- everything you need to help you craft a compelling story from concept to completion! Topics covered will include: Great Beginnings, Characterization, Mastering Point of View, Writing Techniques, the DOs and DON’Ts of Dialogue, and Spit and Polish Revisions.


Instructor: Virginia Smith

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted fourteen novels and published numerous articles and short stories.

She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom, Stuck in the Middle, and her newest releases, Age before Beauty and Scent of Murder.

In March of 2008 she was named "Writer of the Year" at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Ginny has taught writing skills at conferences such as American Christian Fiction Writers, Florida Christian Writers Conference, and Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. She also serves as a judge in ACFW’s Genesis contest, and provides detailed feedback to aspiring writers through a variety of critique venues. An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God's truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, "Biblical Truths in Star Trek."
Visit Virginia Smith's Web site.

Course Dates: July 12 - August 20, 2010


Cost: $125
Registration Now Open. Deadline to register is Tuesday, July 7th.

To Register: Click on the button below and submit your registration fees. Your payment is your registration. A few days prior to the beginning of your course, you will be added to the course e-mail group. If you wish to use a different address than the one submitted with Paypal, please add a note to your payment, or send Tracy an e-mail when you send payment.








  
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Does Faith Evolve?

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Evolving in Monkey Town
By Rachel Held Evans

I have no doubt that growing up in the town where the Scopes Monkey Trial was held had some impact on Rachel Held Evans’ outlook on life. But growing up in a Christian fundamentalist environment seems to have been what really shaped her views about life – or her worldview as she puts it. Evolving in Monkey Town is her story about faith, doubt and resolution.

It may be that I don’t have the right to judge someone else’s faith journey, but I can’t review this book without commenting on Evans’ judgments of the Christian world she grew up in. She is very critical of this world and her cynicism pervades the narrative. In the first part of the book she makes sweeping statements about evangelical apologetics, a Christian worldview, defense of the faith and Christian political action. She also criticizes children’s programs, youth group activities and Christian colleges.

Her arguments didn’t have any validity for me until she got around to describing her personal crisis of faith. It began when she saw a news story of the execution of a Muslim woman in Afghanistan. She began to struggle with the unfairness of a woman who suffered on earth going to Hell without an opportunity to hear the gospel. She calls it the Cosmic Lottery. According to her understanding of fundamental Christianity, Christians go to heaven because they happen to be born in a time and place where they can hear the gospel. Others go to Hell because they don’t have the same opportunity. In other words, it’s the luck of the draw.

The rest of the book is the story of her journey, as she describes it, from one lily pad to another. She made small leaps from one thing she could accept about God to another, resting on each until it made sense. She started by reading the gospels to understand who Jesus is and what He came to do. From there she came to understand salvation, good works and the Bible.

However, throughout the book, she maintains a cynical and critical attitude toward Evangelicalism – one which focuses on doctrine. She concludes that Jesus didn’t teach doctrine, just love. When she was taught to defend her faith, she was being taught answers to questions that aren’t being asked. Instead she should have been taught to love her neighbor. Her view of the Bible made me especially uncomfortable. After discovering other Christian traditions, she came to believe that no one has an exclusive interpretation of scripture, which is a valid point, but she completely dismisses orthodoxy. She never recognizes that there are some fundamentals that all Christian traditions agree on.

To return to the title, one of the childhood teachings she abandoned was young earth creationism. Instead she has embraced scientific and social evolution and she believes that faith must evolve as well. She argues that Christians in every time and culture have blind spots and their beliefs must evolve to correct them. However, I believe that she uses the term "evolve" incorrectly. Correcting wrong thinking is a return to truth, not an evolution of the truth. After reading about her life, I would say that her faith didn’t evolve either, it grew up. Many of her criticisms are based on her childish understanding, and after her crisis she learned to think about Jesus like an adult instead of a kid.

She concludes that she doesn't have the answer to most of her questions, but she is learning to love the questions. She says that doubt is her way of having a conversation with God.

This book was a hard one for me to read because of the critical attitudes of the author. But she is an excellent writer and makes her points clearly. Her voice is easy to follow and she tells a lot of stories. I think young adults who grew up in Evangelical churches will relate to much of what she says. Older adults will either be frustrated with her, as I was, or will not quite know what she’s talking about. I can’t really recommend it, but I can’t say it’s not worth reading, either.


Pros: A well written story of one woman’s crisis of faith and why she’s still a Christian.

Cons: The author is quite young and lacks a depth of understanding about Christianity, in spite of her extensive knowledge and obvious intelligence.

About the book:

Having grown up in a town famous for its commitment to conservative fundamentalism, Rachel Held Evans nearly loses her faith when rehearsed answers to tough questions aren’t enough to satisfy her growing doubts about Christianity. Evolving in Monkey Town is a story of spiritual survival that challenges readers to reassess their approach to Christianity in the context of a postmodern environment, where knowing all the answers isn’t as important as truly asking the questions.

About the author:

Rachel Held Evans is an award-winning writer whose articles have appeared in local and national publications. She lives in Dayton, Tennessee, with her husband, Dan. Find out more at rachelheldevans.com




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Friday, June 25, 2010

Coming of Age

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Chasing Lilacs
By Carla Stewart

I wrote the following review following my usual pattern. I like to tell you my strong impressions of a book along with what I thought were its strengths and weaknesses. But what I really wanted to do with Chasing Lilacs is rave about how much I loved it and just urge you all to read it too.

Chasing Lilacs is promoted as a coming of age novel, but it is so much more than that. Sammie Tucker faces the typical problems of a twelve year old girl, brought on by the onset of adolescence. She’s entering junior high, her body is changing, her best friend is changing, and a boy is interested in her. But her real problems supersede these issues. When her mother commits suicide, an aunt she doesn’t know or like comes to live with her and her father.

Everyone says Aunt Vadine is out to marry Sammie’s father and become her new mother. Sammie wonders if her mother loved her, but she does know she doesn’t want her aunt around. While she grieves, Aunt Vadine strips away each piece of her mother Sammie has left.

Sammie tells her story in a first person narrative that draws her readers into her life. As I read Sammie’s story, I remembered my adolescence and responded as if I were her best friend. I felt her pain and confusion; I became angry at the injustice she faced and I urged her to take control and do something about it.

Although the book is about a young teen, it’s not adolescent lit. And although it reveals her inner life, there is enough happening in her small town to keep the story moving. One of the things I loved about the book is the setting. Sammie says that Graham Camp isn’t even a dot on the map. But it’s a microcosm of America in the 1950s, where people go to church, gossip about their neighbors, enjoy community picnics, and support each other when they have problems. They also have some outdated attitudes and hide some unpleasant secrets.

The beauty of Chasing Lilacs is that the story had to happen when it did. But one thing it reveals is that people in the ‘50s weren’t so different from people today. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Chasing Lilacs
FaithWords (June 17, 2010)
by


Carla Stewart






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Carla Stewart’s writing reflects her passion for times gone by. She believed in Jesus, the power of the written word, and a good cup of coffee. She's a country girl living now in a mid-sized city with her engineering husband who just happens to be her best friend and biggest fan.She and her husband have four adult sons and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren.



FROM CARLA:



I grew up in the Texas Panhandle with two younger sisters and loving parents. Small town school. Great neighbors. Today, those small-town, fundamental things resonate within me -- the twang in people's voices, the art of being neighborly and just being a decent human being.



Growing up, I preferred the company of books over TV and playing outdoors. I imagined myself in many different careers, but given my down-to-earth raising, I settled on nursing. I didn't faint at the sight of blood and did well in science, so it seemed a natural choice.



I worked as a registered nurse off and on through the years, but primarily I stayed home with my four rambunctious boys and dreamed of the day when I could write the novels I loved to read. When our youngest son was in high school, I quit my job as a nursing instructor and settled in to pen my first novel. It's been quite a journey. One I wouldn't trade for anything.



I'm committed to writing the stories of my heart and am truly thankful to Jesus, my Savior, for allowing me this freedom. May all the glory be His.



Chasing Lilacs is her first book!





ABOUT THE BOOK



It is the summer of 1958, and life in the small Texas community of Graham Camp should be simple and carefree. But not for twelve-year-old Sammie Tucker. Sammie has plenty of questions about her mother's "nerve" problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her.



When her mother commits suicide and a not-so-favorite aunt arrives, Sammie has to choose who to trust with her deepest fears: Her best friend who has an opinion about everything, the mysterious kid from California whose own troubles plague him, or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on. Then there's the elderly widower who seems nice but has his own dark past.



Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie has ever done.



To read the first chapter of Chasing Lilacs, click HERE.

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Editing Tip # 35: Writing Your Memoir

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 ~

A memoir is different from an autobiography. Autobiographies are written about “celebrities” (people the general public has heard of and is interested in discovering details about), often telling the subject’s full life history (the most interesting parts, at least). Memoirs, on the other hand, are snippets of a person’s life that are all related to a specific theme. Memoirs are much more popular than autobiographies if the author is someone readers have never heard of.

Here are the first two steps to creating a memoir readers can’t put down. Additional steps will be covered in subsequent columns.

Step 1: Plan

A. Choose a specific theme for your memoir (for example, recovering from an eating disorder, dealing with an abusive spouse, handling the death of a loved one, or living with a chronic illness). What one portion of your life do you wish to write about? (If you come up with multiple themes, you may have enough material for more than one book. Start with just one.)

B. Identify your intended audience. Who will want to read this story? Will it be of interest to anyone other than your family and friends? If you think it will, determine your main target reader (age range, gender, marital status, religious background and beliefs, etc.). What about your story will appeal to that particular person or group of people?

C. Determine the best voice for your memoir: conversational, informal, reserved, distant? (You may need to write a significant portion of your manuscript before you discover the best voice. After finding the right one, you can go back and revise the material to fit.)

D. Consider the most appropriate overall tone for your memoir: humorous, dire, cynical, optimistic, serious, sentimental, comic?

E. Think about your publication plans. If your story will appeal predominantly to family and friends, you may wish to self-publish the book. With this option, the writing level is less important than if you hope to attract the attention of a commercial, royalty-paying publishing house. If you have a way of selling multiple copies of the book yourself, through speaking engagements or online marketing, you may choose to subsidy publish, but the writing will need to be more polished than if your target market is merely family and friends.

F. Outline the order of the events you wish to include. Memoirs may be told chronologically (in the order they occurred) or in whatever order heightens the impact of the story. Just make sure the story flows smoothly, without too much jumping around, which can confuse the reader.


Step 2: Write

A. Write the first draft of your memoir from the heart, using the creative side of your brain. Don’t worry about editing (a left-brain activity) at this point.

B. Write in first person, past tense. Tell about what happened solely from your point of view.

C. Follow your outline, but allow yourself to digress from it as seems appropriate as you go along. Revise your outline as needed.


**********

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

**********

AUTHOR BIO:
Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Network (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, please visit www.KathyIde.com.


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

What I Learned From A Mockingbird

BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS

Northern Mockingbird

There is a pair of northern mockingbirds resident in my yard. They usually disappear for a time in the fall and winter months, only to reappear in the spring to nest. Now, I have watched other songbird parents raise young to great success, but this pair of birds seem to have it harder than others. I've never cheered birds on, or mourned for them, quite as much. But it set me to thinking that there is a lesson to be learned. The biggest one of which is the power of persistence.

This year I observed as 1-2-3-4 times these birds built a nest, laid eggs, and attempted to raise young. It seems there are a lot of enemies to a mockingbird. I'd never thought about that before. On every side there are black snakes or huge, cawing crows, just ready to rob the nest. This is what happened to nests one through three.

I cannot imagine living so "exposed" all the time. Their nests are well built enough. In fact, they are amazing to look at. But no matter how high or how hidden they attempt to place them, something always scopes it out. Yet the mockingbirds are undeterred. They simply relocate and try again.

Northern Mockingbird Eggs

In nests one through three the eggs disappeared, only one ever hatched and then the chick disappeared. Nest four had several youngsters, which we watched grow. Here is where comes in lesson number two - protect what is yours. Mockingbirds are known for being defensive. Male mockingbirds will fight to the death over a female. They are no different as parents. In fact, they have a certain reputation.

Female Northern Mockingbird

It must be exhausting to be a parent mockingbird. Every minute of every day they are watchful for anything that might approach the nesting area. We saw many an aerial battle, Papa bird squawking and pecking at other passing birds, especially those crows, or flying in the face of visiting squirrels. The size of the creature didn't seem to matter. He defended what was his, no matter what.

And in the face of it all is lesson number three - their inherent cheerfulness. Now, I don't propose to speak mockingbird, but every morning rain or shine there they'd sit singing away. We sat and listened to hours-worth of their beautiful trill. Now and again, one would perch atop our chimney and the song would echo through the house. It was nature's music at its most marvelous.

Nest four appears to have finally been successful. I am glad for that. Despite life's circumstances, these birds never quit and never gave up. They kept at it, and they reaped the reward. They did what God created them to do, and they were most determined in the trying. I think we can all learn something from that.

Northern Mockingbird

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Writing Salty Words

Adding Salt to our Writing by Debbie Roome
There are wonderful word pictures in the Bible and I love this verse from Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (NIV)

Although this refers to our spoken conversation, I believe it also applies to our written words. I’ve been thinking about salt this week and did some searching to find out some facts about it:

· Salt is a preservative and is used when drying fish and meat
· Salt cleanses and can be used wash out wounds and prevent infection
· Salt can be used to remove stains and dirt
· Salt adds flavour to food

So why would God compare our words to salt? Looking at the above points I can see some interesting parallels for our daily life:

· Do our words preserve righteousness? Do we write about topics that encourage people to live Godly lives or do people have to read our bio before they realise we are a Christian
· Have you ever been happy engaging in an activity until someone pointed out what was wrong with it? Our words can bring cleansing by teaching the truth of God’s word
· How do our words influence or affect others? By writing about God’s love and grace and mercy, we can help people to the place where they accept God and his forgiveness
· Salt adds flavour to food. Do our words bring out the best in other people and encourage them to live for God

Salt is a simple everyday substance that so many of us take for granted. If we are willing to learn about it, we will find it has many useful properties. In some situations we may need a slight shake of salt and other times a heaped tablespoon. Give it some thought this week and ask God to use your words – written and spoken – to add salt to the lives of those around you.

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



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer

One of my main characters in a novel currently in progress is a reformed exotic dancer, so when I read the promo for the book, Scars and Stilettos, I knew I had to read it, and I'm so glad I did. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to work with young women in ministry, or for anyone who has loved ones involved in the sex-trade industry.

We're giving away a copy of the book, too. But you must follow the rules to qualify:

To enter the contest: Visit the Scars and Stilettos web site - http://www.scarsandstilettos.com/. Click on the tab Get Involved, and then choose one of those links to read about. Come back here and leave a comment sharing one thing you could do to get involved. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so we can notify you if you are chosen as winner. We'll read through the entries, and pick a winner, who will receive a copy of Scars and Stilettos. You must leave a comment by Monday, June 28th. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 29th. Entries that do not leave a relevant comment will be disqualified.

The facts shared at the end of Scars and Stilettos are horrifying enough to share, and something for each one of us to consider as a ministry and prayer concern. Some stats listed:

  • More women are employed by the sex industry than at any other time in history.
  • Between 66 and 90 percent of women in the sex industry were sexually abused as children.
  • The women in this industry face many issues that affect their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. They are a largely unreached population, and many feel desperately isolated and alone. Even those who would contemplate going to church wonder if there truly is a place for them there. Will they find the restoration they are seeking in the house of God?
  • Harmony's ministry, Treasures, is the first and only organization of its kind in the Los Angeles area.

Thank you, Harmony, for sharing your story. Your courage and transparency are inspiring. May God bless your ministry in a mighty way.


Fear of being abandoned keeps 19-year-old Harmony Dust trapped in an abusive relationship. Tens of thousands of dollars in debt and struggling to get by, someone tells her how much money she can make as an exotic dancer. For the next 3 years, Harmony lives a double life as Monique, a dancer in a strip club.

"Scars and Stilettos" is Harmony's stark, honest, & ultimately hopeful story of how God found her in that dark, noisy place & led her back out. She has since completed an MA in Social Welfare & now leads Treasures, an organization helping women in the sex trade discover their true worth & value. For more information about Harmony or her book please visit her website: http://www.scarsandstilettos.com.

"You will want to get a copy for every person you know... Once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be encouraged, you will fall in love with God all over again."

Holly Wagner, Author and Founder of GodChicks


"Harmony’s story is compelling evidence of how far the love of God reaches to heal broken lives and restore all that has been stolen. Scars and Stilettos is a must read for anyone who lives in despair and believes there is no way out. Harmony, as the founder of Treasures Ministries, has been a guest at Mercy Ministries to share her story with our residents, and the impact was great. Her life is now devoted to reaching out to those who are still living in the circumstances that she came out of, literally loving them to Christ. Harmony is living proof that in Christ, old things are passed away and all things are new."

Nancy Alcorn, Founder of Mercy Ministries

"The thing that blows me away about Harmony's story is that she showed back up. How easy would it be to never step foot in a strip club ever again. The pain, the memories, the past was all right there but she decided that this was not about her but the hundreds of women that remained in the clubs."

Craig Gross, Founder of XXX Church



Check out Harmony's Press Page for magazine articles and videos about her work with women in the sex-trade industry.





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Monday, June 21, 2010

Blog Tour: Maid to Match

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Maid to Match
By Deeanne Gist

Tillie Reese faces the dilemma of many modern women. Career or family? Rewarding work or love? Serving God outside the home or spending her days with children? But Tillie is not a modern woman. It’s 1898 and she’s a maid at the Biltmore, the mansion home of the Vanderbilts.

In Maid to Match, Gist tells a timeless story about people who face the same issues as we do today, and sets it in a fascinating world none of us have ever experienced. Her research is apparent in the detailed descriptions of the life of the servants, as well as the house and its owners. But it is far from tedious. The setting serves as a background to a love story that develops as two sympathetic characters struggle with different goals.

Tillie’s mother has groomed her from childhood to be a lady’s maid. She gets her chance after serving as head parlormaid when Mrs. Vanderbilt’s maid returns to France. She works to prove herself worthy of the position, to the exclusion of everything else, even the handsome new useful man who is clearly interested in her. Mack, on the other hand, has different goals. He is working at the Biltmore in order to save enough money to support his orphan siblings. But he falls in love with Tillie and believes she will give up her dreams to marry him.

Although the romance is at the forefront of the plot, the themes supersede it. Both Tillie and Mack want to serve God and struggle with where and how He wants them to do that. They interact with good people, selfish people and evil people. They see a lot of suffering, but seek different ways to alleviate it. Tillie struggles with materialism, while Mack struggles with his temper.

I loved this story, especially the world of the Biltmore servants. While I haven’t been to the Biltmore, I have visited other homes of the wealthy from that period. I was able to picture the life of the servants, and by extension that of the Vanderbilt’s. It’s a fascinating world, almost a separate society and culture from the people in the town.

But what I did not enjoy about the book was the romance. Apparently, these staid Victorians played a lot of parlor games that include quite a bit of kissing – all in fun. Tillie and Mack participate in the games, which afford them an opportunity to begin a physical relationship. Although they never go beyond kissing, Gist’s descriptions were graphic enough to make me uncomfortable. After the first few encounters, I skipped the descriptions. It wasn’t the kiss itself that disturbed me, but Tillie’s – or Mack’s – physical and emotional response to it. I prefer milder love scenes.

Overall, though, I recommend the book for lovers of romance, history, inspiration and just good story telling.

Pros: Excellent historical descriptions with sympathetic characters who find ways to serve God and do good in a difficult world. Nice love story with a good ending.

Cons: Physical descriptions of love scenes are a little bit more graphic than you might expect in a Christian novel.


This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Maid to Match
Bethany House (June 1, 2010)


by
Deeanne Gist






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.



Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.



After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.



Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.



Her 2010 books, Beguiled and Maid To Match are now available for order.



Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-seven years and their two border collies. They have four grown children. Visit her blog to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.







ABOUT THE BOOK



Falling in love could cost her everything.



From the day she arrived at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled, by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid, After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.



But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangles in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations...their hearts.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Maid to Match, go HERE.





Join this SPECIAL GETAWAY (Click on the Button):












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Friday, June 18, 2010

Biological Warfare

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Influenza Bomb
By Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore, MD

Imagine a flu virus so virulent that half the people exposed die from it. Now imagine that it was engineered by the Nazis. An imagine that a terrorist group has released it. If you read The Influenza Bomb you won’t have to imagine those things. They are essential components of the scenario created by the authors. They also throw in bureaucratic inefficiency, conspiracy theorists and a little romance. With all these things going on, you’ll keep reading just to make sure it all works out. Otherwise you’ll start wearing a surgical mask and avoiding everyone who coughs.

Because the story is about a global event there are several groups of people you will have to get to know. TSI is a group of scientists who find solutions to present day pandemics by researching historical ones. It includes Mark and Nora who have a potential, but complicated, romantic relationship. There is also a female doctor who works for the World Health Organization and an Interpol detective. On the other side are several people who are somehow involved with the terrorist group. As if that weren’t complicated enough, periodic chapters take us back in time to the original virus. It’s complex, but well done and you will find you need all the information provided to follow the story.

This book is a “what if” that is realistic enough to be scary. It makes the avian flu and H1N1 viruses look benign. It’s a large story, but the main characters are sympathetic and likeable. I liked them and wanted them to not only save the world, but also succeed in their personal lives. If you’re in the mood for a global action/mystery/crime story, give it a try.

Pros: Intriguing premise with good characters with pure motives. It provides some history in the midst of a present day international crime drama.

Cons: There are a lot of important characters to follow and the book jumps from present to past a lot. Can be a bit disjointed.

About the book

Masses of people are dying from a mysterious flu. While the TSI team searches for a cure, a notorious eco-terrorist group,Return to Earth, uses an influenza bomb to poison the water. It’s a race against time—with the outcome impacting the entire world.

By the time the team discovers that the terrorists are using the water supply to infect people, the sickness is spreading worldwide and no one has a cure. When Return to Earth makes off with a mysterious device called the influenza bomb with the intent to destroy all of mankind, Dr. Hutchinson must stop the contamination from being spread before it’s too late.

About the authors

Paul McCusker is the Peabody Award–winning writer and director of the audio drama Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom and of the multiple award-winning audio dramatizations of The Chronicles of Narnia, Les Miserables, A Christmas Carol, Little Women, and his original series The Luke Reports (just nominated for the Audie Awards’ Best Audio Drama) and The Father Gilbert Mysteries (also nominated for the Audie Awards’ best production award).

He is also a writer and director for the long-running children’s program Adventures in Odyssey, writing not only over 250 audio episodes, but also scripting two of the animated video series and eighteen spin-off novels. For adults, McCusker has written the Gold Medallion–nominated Epiphany, The Mill House, and A Season of Shadows. His plays and musicals have been performed in community theatres across the country—one, A Time for Christmas, was a Dove Award nominee. McCusker currently has over thirty books in print, including the TSI series he is co-authoring with Walt Larimore, MD. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Walter L. Larimore, MD, has been called one of "America's best-known family physicians" and listed in “Distinguished Physicians of America,” “The Best Doctors in America,” and “Who’s Who in America.” As an award-winning writer, he was awarded the 2004 Christianity Today Book Award for co-writing Going Public with Your Faith: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work. He has been a Gold Medallion Book Award finalist three times—for the Going Public book and small-group video series, as well as his book The Highly Healthy Child. He also authored the popular Bryson City Tales books and co-authored the TSI series with Paul McCusker. He lives in Monument, Colorado.




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Editing Tip #34: 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.

~ Making Every Scene Count ~

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.


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

**********

AUTHOR BIO:
Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Network (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, please visit www.KathyIde.com.



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Thursday, June 17, 2010

White Balance

BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS

Southern Magnolia
Southern Magnolia

White balance is typically shown on a camera as a series of symbols: a full sun, a cloud, an incandescent light bulb, and a series of fluorescent light bulbs. Those symbols are the extent of the knowledge most people have about what it is and what it does. White balance does exactly what its name suggests. It establishes the balance of colors in an image based on the whites in the image. Simply put, a white bird or a white flower should look white.

The truth is that all light has a color cast. If you take the same photograph using each of the white balance settings you will see this. The scene in your lens will change from blue shades to oranges and reds. In effect, white balance is adjusting that scene to correct for the type of light. This is where a photographer's choice is key.

Cleansing the Soul, Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia
Cleansing the Soul, Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia

I have said it before, but each photograph taken is the result of decisions. White balance is one these decisions, and it is a decision made through the photographer's knowledge of the available light. Is the light indoors under incandescent bulbs? Or is it outdoors in the shade? These seem like simple observations, and they are. However, I am always surprised when people don't think about them before they snap a shot. You cannot always rely on a camera's automatic settings to choose for you because often it will make the incorrect choice.

Even in a scene without whites in it, white balance makes a difference. The waterlily flower below was not white; it was pale yellow. But I had to choose the correct white balance in order for it to be its correct color and not green or white. Often the best way to judge white balance is to compare your photograph to the scene before you. Does it look like what you see? If it doesn't, then make an adjustment and retake the image.

Lemonade
Lemonade

Here is another item to think about. Most whites are not truly white. Go to a paint store and ask an associate for a can of white paint. They will look at you funny and then show you a rack of white paint samples that range from yellow to blue tints. In photography, choosing how you want your whites to appear is very subjective and very dependent upon the lighting. If it is midday in full sun, you would make certain choices. If it was midday in the shade, you'd change those choices.

Mute Swan
Mute Swan

Understanding white balance is essential to the final result of every photograph. But more than understanding it, is the ability of the photographer to stop and think about his or her choice before releasing the shutter. In the end, it is another important tool to creating visually appealing photographs.

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Writing and the Valley of Dry Bones

Asking God to Breathe Life by Debbie Roome

The story of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 has always fascinated me. I think it’s the concept of taking something dry and dead and seeing God breathe life upon it. I don’t know about you, but I sometime produce a piece of writing that seems dry and void of life. There can be many reasons for this but an important one is a lack of fellowship with God.

4 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.' "

The bones of our writing are the skeleton that supports it: the framework of introduction, body and conclusion. These give writing its structure and form and the other elements are built around them.

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

If I neglect to spend time with God, praying, reading His word and seeking His will, I find myself becoming dry and uninspired. Our motivation for writing and everything else we do should be to honor God and display our love for Him. As we give ourselves to Him, He breathes life into us and our work.

9 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.' " 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

I love this picture of life and ask God regularly to breathe life and inspiration into everything I do – including my writing. The results are amazing. If you’re feeling dry and uninspired this week, I encourage you to read through Ezekiel 37 and spend some time with God. Soak in His love and presence and then let it spill over into your writing and everything else you put your hand to.

Quotes from the New International Version of the Bible

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.









Monday, June 14, 2010

Gentle Romance

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Homecoming
By Dan Walsh

A young, beautiful woman is hired by a grieving widower as a nanny for his son. I’ve read more than one book with a similar storyline, but it’s unusual for a man to write that kind of book. I think his perspective gives the male protagonist more credence. The Homecoming is unusual in several other ways as well. It’s set during World War II and the romance develops in the background. There are several more prominent threads that weave through the plot, creating a setting for the romance that develops slowly.

Shawn Collins is a committed fighter pilot in the war, but his true concern is for his son, Patrick, who has just lost his mother in a car accident. While worrying about Patrick, Shawn is grieving for his wife. He has also recently reconciled with his father and needs to rebuild that relationship. In spite of these personal problems, the Army sends him on assignments that don’t let him see either of them often. So he hires Katherine Townsend to be Patrick’s nanny. She’s single and attractive, so he makes it clear they have to keep their relationship professional for the sake of propriety.

The bond that holds all the characters together is Patrick. He is an appealing seven year old whose love of life can’t be suppressed, even by all the trials he faces. He knows he’s loved and loves all the adults in his life unconditionally. Although Walsh never shows us his point of view, he is the central character in the story. I found this approach refreshing and engaging. I knew that all the issues in the relationships would work out because Patrick believed that God would work them out. He was able to accept even the huge losses in his life because he knew he was loved and cared for. His prayers nudged his father, his grandfather and his nanny to consider God more seriously.

The Homecoming is a gentle book, with a sweet ending. It presents serious themes like grief and loneliness quietly, yet powerfully. I don’t think you’ll spend a lot of time pondering these deep issues. Instead you’ll read the book like many people approach life, accepting the difficulties and rejoicing over the blessings.

Pros: Likeable characters who accept the life they are given with grace. Interesting historical setting with a plot that moves the characters forward without a lot of drama, but with a satisfying romance.

Cons: There isn’t a lot action or excitement in the plot.

About the book
A reluctant war hero returns home and encounters a new chance at love.

No sooner has Shawn Collins returned home from the fighting in Europe than he is called upon to serve his country in another way--as a speaker on the war bond tour. While other men might jump at the chance to travel around the country with attractive Hollywood starlets, Shawn just wants to stay home with his son Patrick and his aging father, and grieve the loss of his wife in private. When Shawn asks Katherine Townsend to be Patrick's nanny while he's on the road, he has no idea how this decision will impact his life. Could it be the key to his future happiness and the mending of his heart? Or will the war once again threaten his chances for a new start?

About the author
Dan Walsh is the author of The Unfinished Gift and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. He is a pastor and lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Editing Tip # 33: Book Publishing Options (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.

~ Book Publishing Options (part three) ~

Last week I briefly discussed the option of having a manuscript published by a subsidy publisher. But that’s not the only alternative to commercial publication. Here are three more.

Self-publishing
You can take full control and responsibility for the entire process of publication, putting every aspect of the process out for bid rather than accepting a preset package of services from a subsidy publisher. Publishing-related services include:
  1. Writing coach/mentor (or ghostwriter/collaborator)
  2. Editing and proofreading
  3. Cover design
  4. Obtaining an ISBN/barcode
  5. Typesetting (interior design)
  6. Book printing
  7. Getting your book set up with a distributor
  8. Marketing/publicity (PR company, speaking engagements, press releases, book reviews, online promotion, social media networking, book videos/trailers, etc.)

Self-publishing can be more cost effective than subsidy publishing and may result in a higher-quality product (or at least something that is more appealing to you).

The completed books are the author’s sole property, and you keep 100 percent of sales proceeds.


Electronic Publishing
Maybe you simply want to get out the message God has given you, and you don’t care whether it gets into printed form.

Many authors publish their writings on their own Web sites, e-newsletters, and/or blogs.

An e-book publisher will take a Word or WordPerfect file, design an electronic cover for it, format it to look like a book on screen, and send it back to you in PDF format, which can be read by anyone with a computer. Once the e-book publisher has formatted your book, you can send it to anyone you want by e-mail or on disk.

Alternately, you could convert your manuscript into PDF format yourself. (Several Web sites and word-processing programs offer free conversion. For a more professional-looking product, consider hiring a typesetter. Let me know if you’d like a referral for this service.)


Do-it-Yourself Printing
Most copy shops and many office supply stores offer various book-binding services. Alternately, you could purchase binders or report covers at an office supply store and fill them with three-hole-punched sheets of paper. If clear-front covers are used, you can design an attractive cover page using either a color printer or specialty paper.


Whether you plan to self-publish, e-publish, or DIY, I strongly encourage you to get a professional edit/proofread to make sure your writing flows smoothly, doesn’t contain anything that could potentially be misread or found offensive, and is free of typos, inconsistencies, or errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling.


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

**********

AUTHOR BIO:
Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Network (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, please visit www.KathyIde.com.


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Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Cloning

BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS

The goal of every photograph should always be to "make it right" from the camera. But there are going to be times when your end result is just not what you desired. Perhaps you were with a group and did not have the time to compose as you wished, or maybe an object fell into the frame unknowingly. In these cases, the clone tool can often be helpful to remove or correct the scene.

I am for doing as little post editing on photographs as possible. I always hesitate to crop an image and if it must be done, do so minimally. Too much post processing in my opinion is a bit like cheating, unless your goal is for something more of an art form.

The clone tool is perhaps the most misused photo editing tool in our box of tricks. Whenever I see an obvious area of cloning in an image, I always cringe. Correctly done, cloning should always, ALWAYS be invisible. The viewer should NOT be able to tell it was done, and there are a few keys to getting it right.

Patience


Good cloning takes time. If you are in a rush or trying to work too fast, you will mostly likely do a sloppier job than if you slow down and take your time. If you do not have the time at present to tackle a large area of cloning, then stop and do it later!

Use a large image

The fact is that the larger the image is, the more pixels you will have to work with. To reiterate the old cliché, in this case, "bigger is better". A larger image, whether it is taken with a digital camera or scanned into the computer, will give you a better collection of source points to choose from.

Zoom in!


Trying to clone while you are zoomed out in a photograph is doing so blindly. You cannot possible see all the detail that needs correcting, and you will definitely miss artifacts that you should have removed. But be sure to zoom out occasionally to see the overall effect of what you are doing. You can "get lost" in the photo otherwise.

Direction is important


Look closely at your image and notice the direction of the objects in the picture. If you are cloning areas of a building and your source point is a vertical line, for instance the corner of a building, or a horizontal line, like a window frame, then clone in that direction. Go left to right if the picture at that point is flowing left to right. Go up and down if the source goes up and down in the photograph. This will prevent your having areas that seem to move in a different direction. Trust me, people like myself notice.

Choose the right brush and alter your source point

These two keys go hand-in-hand. Don’t use a large brush for a small area. To misuse another infamous phrase, "less is more". A smaller brush will prevent you from disturbing objects in the image that need to be left alone. And by frequently altering your source point, you will prevent what I have dubbed "over-cloning". Over-cloning happens when you repeat the same artifact way too many times. Even a small spot, can become obvious to a critical viewer.

A couple of other points, I’d like to include are the use of transparency and Photoshop’s Healing Brush. I have found that cloning works better with the use of the Healing Brush. The Healing Brush will smooth out the edges and blend the new cloned area into the image. Especially when working with areas in a photo where the light changes, you need to assure that shadows remain as shadows and some strange light doesn’t appear where it should not be. If your software does not have a Healing Brush, the use of transparency, can achieve the same result. Lower the opacity to 50% and work the edges, constantly altering your source point. Then work them again at 25%.

By following these few rules and "practice, practice, practice", the clone tool can become a very helpful tool and a great way to enhance an image. Always be willing to admit you did some cloning. After all, the best compliment a viewer can pay is when they say they can’t see you altered it at all.

Examples

This example is a photo I took while on vacation in the Appalachian Mountains. There was just no way to take the picture without the telephone wires in it. So I instead got the exposure and composition I liked and removed the wires later. Left is before, Right is after.

DSCF0069-COMP

Restoring old photographs is a great place to really work on your cloning skills. This image belonged to my grandmother. Left is before, Right is after.

unknownmenincarcomp


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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Humbled

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Finding Jeena
By Miralee Ferrell

Finding Jeena is about humbling - the kind that is referred to in the phrase, “How the mighty have fallen.” The book begins with Jeena Gregory at the top of her career, making a lot of money and spending it on the material things that will flaunt it. She’s supremely confident, arrogant and self-centered. But she has a few things going for her. She has a grandmother and a friend who care about her spiritual condition. And God loves her enough to let her fall.

The first part of the book lets us get to know Jeena as I’ve just described her. But, as a result of an unfortunate job decision and some poor choices, Jeena’s security is stripped away. As she loses all the things she values, she has to face her prejudices, her past and her fears. And eventually she has to face God.

In Jeena, Ferrell has created a character who is forced into circumstances that create growth. As she is humbled, she gradually recognizes her pride and begins to learn humility. In spite of this, I have to admit I didn’t like Jeena. I can’t relate to either of the worlds she lived in and I found myself criticizing all of her responses to them both. Her shallow selfishness is something I don’t encounter in many of the people I know. Although the theme of humility was clearly developed, it seemed like the author had purposely created an obnoxious character, then forced the circumstances to turn her into someone likeable.

However, one of the things Ferrell did well, was to develop several sub-themes that created empathy for women in difficult circumstances. The ones Jeena meets in a women’s shelter are diverse and authentic. I liked them all, even the one that Jeena didn’t like. And their tentative faith helped Jeena listen when God came knocking.

Pros: Sympathetic depictions of women with serious problems and the people who show them God’s love. Also, a thorough treatment of the road from pride to humility.

Cons: A main character that is not very sympathetic, and whose choices may not seem completely authentic.



This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Finding Jeena
Kregel Publications (March 8, 2010)


by


Miralee Ferrell



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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 released in March 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.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Jeena Gregory thought she’d made it. She has everything a woman could ask for and a budding career promises more. But when rumors around town cast her boss in a shady light, Jeena starts to question her employer’s integrity. Was she wrong to trust this man and this job?



When the boss disappears, salaries go unpaid, and Jeena overhears several hush-hush phone calls, she realizes her carefully crafted world is crumbling. Shaken to the core at the threat of losing everything, Jeena is suddenly confronted with her prejudices─and with a God she had long forgotten.

To read an excerpt of Finding Jeena, click HERE.


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