Friday, October 29, 2010

Editing Tip #50: Pronouns & Antecedents

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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, October 28, 2010

Monochromatic Outside the Box

Twilight Reflections, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

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

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

Florida Sunrise

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

Pine Needles

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

Really Red, Water Lily

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

Morning Awakens, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

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

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Friendship, Faith and Little League

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

A Season of Miracles
By Rusty Whitener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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Getting Rid of Clichés

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

Examples of Common Clichés

  • She was fat as a cat

  • He was dead as a doornail

  • The house had gone to wrack and ruin

  • The teacher had the eyes of a hawk

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

  • She was as chubby as a cub

  • He was as deceased as an entranceway spike

  • The home had gone to debris and shambles

  • The instructor had the perceptiveness of a bird of prey

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

  • Her skin stretched unevenly across bulges and rolls of fat

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

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

  • The teacher searched the room with radar eyes

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

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

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

Editing Tip #49: Point of View Options

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

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


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

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

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

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

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

Implementing Your POV Choice

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

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

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

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

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


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


Kathy 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, October 21, 2010

Making An Impression

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


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

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

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

Peregrine Falcon

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

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


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

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

Fading, Mexican Sunflowers

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

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

Pine Needles

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Murder in a Monastery

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

A Very Private Grave
By Donna Fletcher Crow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Watch the book video:

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Medieval Love

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Healer’s Apprentice
By Melanie Dickerson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the book:

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

About the author:

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

Author Website:

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ideas For Composition: Multiples


This is the final article in this series. To read the other articles: (1) Framing, (2) Diagonals (3) Negative Space
(4) Backgrounds.

A single flower is beautiful, but three flowers aligned with each other is yet more beautiful. There are patterns all around us. There are naturally occurring patterns, a line of dew drops, a row of trees, and there are man-made patterns, like fence posts . Repetition in an image can make for a fascinating photograph.

Indian Corn, Burt's Farm, Georgia

A photographer can create repetitive patterns through his composition of an image. By adjusting the camera's angle, certain objects can be included or excluded from the scene. This gives the viewer the impression of multiples.

The simplest multiples are in twos and threes: two flowers, three rain drops - but there are larger multiples - rows of crosses, a line of birds. In each case it is usually the linear nature of the formation that makes the visual impact. For instance, you can photograph a field of flowers, and in actuality, there ARE multiple objects in the photo. Yet, the effect changes when those flowers are in evenly spaced rows, such as a garden of tulips or a field of sunflowers.


"Attention" is what makes ordinary scenes into extraordinary photographs. The photographer who takes the time to look around before snapping the shutter will most likely see the pattern that the other photographers have missed. Great photographs ARE sometimes made at that single, amazing moment of chance, but more often, they are the result of the time the photographer spent there looking around.

Panama Pacific

Curly Q

As with any other area of photography, photographs of "multiples" become easier through practice. In other words, the more you concentrate on them, the more of them you'll see. And they will become yet another useful tool to creating successful, interesting images.

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Amish Love Story

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Waiting
By Suzanne Woods Fisher

One of the things I loved about The Waiting was reading about people who love being Amish. In most of the books I’ve read about Plain people, at least one of the main characters struggles with being Amish and usually include interactions with the English as a large part of the plot. The Waiting is about being Amish, not about having to choose between two lifestyles.

Jorie King has a full life, helping her grandfather raise horses, teaching in the community’s one room school and participating in church activities. She’s also waiting for Ben Zook to return from Vietnam where he’s serving as a conscientious objector. But a series of tragedies that link the King and Zook families, bring Jorie close to Ben’s older brother, Cal. Eventually Jorie finds she must choose between the charming, but troubled, Ben and the mature and kind Cal.

Set in the middle of the Vietnam war, we see that the Amish community is affected by world events, but responds to them differently than their neighbors. Two of the Zook brothers are drafted, but serve in medical facilities. There is also an underlying theme of prejudice, directed against the Amish because they are different, but also because Jorie is friendly with a black veterinarian who moves into town. But the Amish mostly have a friendly relationship with their English neighbors and serve as an example to them of Godly living. Jorie’s commitment to God is inseparable from her commitment to being Plain. She prays over her dilemma and relies on the tradition of her people’s way to know what to do.

I loved this book because it has everything I look for in a good story. Jorie is the kind of person I want for a friend, and her family and friends are the kind of community I care about. Just like real life, the story has unexpected twists and is full of joy, grief, trouble and mundane life. Fisher’s Amish aren’t so different from English Christians, and I would be happy to have them for my neighbors.

Pros: Ordinary Christians living out their faith in a turbulent time, with the added interest of the Amish lifestyle. The writing is smooth, the characters are real and the plot is well developed.

Cons: The book is the second in a series, so there are some assumptions based on the previous book.

About the book:

She was waiting for love--and found it in the most unexpected place.

Jorie King's life is on hold. She has been waiting for Ben Zook to return to Lancaster County. Waiting for him to settle down and join the church. Waiting to marry him.

But when news arrives that Ben has been killed, Jorie is devastated. She finds unlikely comfort in the friendship of his brother Caleb. Friendship ripens into love, and two broken hearts plan for a life filled with the promise of a fresh beginning--until their worlds are turned upside down.

With her realistic characters whose weaknesses develop into strengthes, Suzanne Woods Fisher offers a reading experience that rises above the others. You will love growing in spirit with these complex people living the simple life as The Waiting transports you into a world where things aren't as simple as they seem.

About the author:
Suzanne Woods Fisher lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has one husband, four children, one son-in-law, a brand new grandbaby, and two dogs.

Suzanne graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, and was a free-lancer writer for magazines while her children were growing up. A former contributing editor to Christian Parenting Today, Suzanne's work has appeared in many magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman, Worldwide Challenge, and Marriage Partnership.

Her first novel, Copper Star, a World War II love story, was published by a small press (Vintage Reflections) and received three literary awards. It opened the door to a literary agent, Joyce Hart. The agent knew of Suzanne’s connection to the Plain People—her grandfather was raised Plain—and introduced her to an editor at Revell, a division of Baker Books.

Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World was Suzanne’s first book release with Revell. It’s a non-fiction book of true stories about the Old Order Amish and was a finalist for the 2010 ECPA Book of the Year Awards. It was chosen as a book selection by Doubleday, Crossings, and Book of the Month 2 Clubs.

The Choice, a novel about a young Amish woman, is the first in a three-book ‘Lancaster County Secrets’ series and released in January 2010. It is a CBA, ECPA, and CBD bestseller. Wal-Mart chose The Choice for its January Inspirational Book Shelf, and it was the Main Selection for Crossings Book Club, as well as Doubleday, BookSpan, and Literary Guild.

In August 2010, Suzanne released another non-fiction book, Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom for a Simple Life. In October 2010, The Waiting will release; it is the second in the ‘Lancaster County Secrets’ series and is already a CBD bestseller. Six other books—both fiction and non-fiction—will follow into 2012.

Another new venture for Suzanne is Amish Wisdom, a weekly radio program in which she interviews all kinds of interesting guests who have connections to the Amish. Drop by and listen to a show at your convenience. It's on-line at

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of The Waiting, book two in The Lancaster Secrets Collection. In The Waiting Jorie finds herself caught be two loves and two lives in this compelling page turner about complex people living the simple life.

The Waiting is the next stand alone story in The Lancaster Secrets Collection and follows in the footsteps of the best-selling, The Choice. The Waiting is in stores now and to celebrate Suzanne is hosting The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway.

One Grand Prize winner will receive a Kindle preloaded with Suzanne Woods Fisher titles and a gift certificate! The Prize Pack (valued at over $185.00) includes:

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

* The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

* The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

* A $15 dollar Gift Certificate

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 October 28th at Suzanne's Lancaster Secrets Book Club Party.

Join Suzanne for the Lancaster Secrets Book Club Party on October 28th! She’ll be announcing the winner of the The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway, hosting a book club discussion of The Waiting and The Choice, and giving away copies of both books and HEAPs of readerly prizes! Be sure to join us on Thursday, October 28th at 5:00 PM PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST & 8 EST) at Suzanne’s Author Page.

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The Value of Writer’s Conferences

The Faithwriter’s Conference in Sydney 2010 by Debbie Roome
I have just come home after spending four days in Sydney, Australia. My main reason for going there was to be part of the Faithwriter’s Conference. I’d been invited to speak on freelance writing but found the whole day to be a great blessing.

What is the Purpose of Writers Gathering Together
A writing conference offers opportunities for writers to link in with each other, learn new skills and be encouraged. Writing can be an isolated profession and the support of like-minded people is vital.

What can you Learn at a Writer’s Conference
Every writing conference has a slightly different focus and will attract those that work in the relevant areas. Generally speakers will share their personal experience of the writing world and offer advice and tips on how to succeed in your chosen field. Topics covered at the Faithwriter’s Conference included editors’ pet hates, self-publishing a book, the basics of writing, Australian publishing and the shift from traditional print books to e-books.

Are Writing Conferences worth the Cost
A conference is a place where you can concentrate on nothing but writing for a whole day or two. You are surrounded by people who share your passion and you can ask the questions that have puzzled you about writing, editing and grammar. Apart from that, there may be opportunities to speak to publishers and have a one-on-one chat with the speakers.

I have attended many writing conferences and gatherings over the years and have always come away enriched by them. The stimulation of being with other writers and discussing the rules of writing is always inspirational. I’m a firm believer in the value of conferences and will continue to attend them as I have the opportunity.

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

Friday, October 8, 2010

Editing Tip #48: Point of View Options

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

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


Though third-person point of view is the most common for novels, and the easiest to write well, some authors like to try other alternatives.

First Person

The story is told by a narrator using first-person statements ("I said this,” “We did that"). All events are observed through the narrator's perspective and must be consistent with what he/she thinks, knows, and believes. Detective novels are often in first person, with the narrative written in the voice of the main character.

People who write autobiographical fiction tend to lean toward this option. Unfortunately, this usually makes it difficult for the author to break out of what "really happened" and include only what should happen to make the story interesting.

In certain circumstances, first-person POV can create a natural, conversational style. It may also make a story more personal and seem more real. However, it carries some definite challenges and limitations:

• The reader only gets to know one character directly (unless you include some third-person POV characters as well).
• The narrator must be present, awake, and conscious in all scenes.
• It is difficult to attribute negative aspects to a narrator's personality. Since people do not typically see their own faults, narrators often end up appearing temperate, friendly, kind, helpful, thoughtful, considerate—and just plain boring.
• You can't conceal information from the reader that the narrator knows.
• First-person narration, especially in a long novel, can become monotonous.
• Excessive repetition of “I” can distract the reader from the story.
• A narrator relates events that have already happened. Therefore, dangers to the narrator do not concern the readers, because they know that if anything really bad happened to him, he wouldn't have lived to talk about it.

Seasoned authors can sometimes make first-person narration work. (See Francine Rivers's The Last Sin Eater for an excellent example.) However, it is not recommended for new writers.


In this alternative, the story is addressed to a third party or an anonymous character referred to as "you." This style is often seen in romantic poetry ("I love you more than life itself"). Second-person POV can scold, inform, inquire, argue, or reassure. It is most commonly used when describing a process, giving instructions or advice, or in personal correspondence. In fiction, it usually comes across as intrusive and irritating, so it is not generally an acceptable option.


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, October 7, 2010

Book Review: Science For The Curious Photographer


Science For The Curious Photographer
by Charles S. Johnson, Jr.


I like the overall look of this book. The use of a two-column format worked well for me, though as a digital book, it required more scrolling up-and-down which might be annoying to some. It is full of illustrations and diagrams to illustrate the author's point, all of which are very helpful.

I appreciated his use of "further reading" references at the end of each chapter, as well as his included quotes at the beginning of each chapter.

I was a little baffled by the included "appendixes" at the end of the book, as they seemed to be as long as some of the chapters themselves.


My first observation is, "What is NOT covered in this book?" I admit I hesitated at first to read it because I am notorious for being "technically challenged". Even the title was intimidating to me. In the end, this book really reinforced that quality in me, and I left off feeling a bit "dumb".

In essence, the author takes a camera and dissects it from stem to stern. He discusses both the history of photography itself and historical aspects of all the elements needed to create a photograph. He scientifically describes light, types of cameras, and the creation of camera lenses. Also covered are how camera filters work (neutral density, polarizing, and color filters) with a lengthy section on optics.

This brings me to my second observation - this book is extremely detailed. Every subject is approached from a scientific point of view. Even the chapter on art, which includes a discussion on compositional rules, comes across in that manner. Often the words used are out of the vocabulary of an amateur photographer. Eventually, they are defined, but only after wading through a lot of formulas first to locate them.

A constant reference is made to other chapters. This is both positive and negative for me. It provides a good way for people to move about in the book. However, it also becomes tedious.

Another positive is that the author is careful to include the workings of digital cameras in his explanations. He talks considerably about digital topics - pixels, sensor sizes, etc. - as well as film.


If you are of a scientific mind, then this book is for you. I can think of a couple photographers who will enjoy it. Absolutely every topic involves math equations of some sort. (This is where the diagrams are very helpful.) He covers any topic you'd ever need to know about in the design and creation of cameras and lenses. (I'm not sure how this will help you take better photographs, however.)

I liked the author's explanation on the shape of various lenses and how this affects the aberrations in a photograph.

There is a good description on the best equipment to use for macro photography. (However, if you "cut out" all the math, in the end this section seems short.)

The author also makes a valid point (which I totally agree with) about the danger of over-processing in the use of HDR photography.


If you are like myself, non-technical, then you will dislike this book (a fact the author himself acknowledges at the beginning). At times, I felt like I was swimming in too much information. The author is obviously very smart. It is not a book for the beginner. A lot of knowledge is needed to even begin reading.

Portions of the book could have been greatly simplified to appeal more to the amateur photographer. For this reason, this book only fits in with a very limited selection of people.

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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.

Ideas For Composition: Backgrounds

*This is the fourth in a series on "Ideas For Composition". (1) Framing (2) Diagonals (3) Negative Space (5) Multiples.

To Sunbathe With The Flowers

Often, the objects in the background of a photograph either enhance or destroy a photograph. In the image above, I deliberately placed the waterfall from the nearby fountain in the background. I also adjusted my shutter speed longer to give the water a softer feel.

The first step in effectively using your background is to PAY ATTENTION to it in the first place. Rather than randomly snapping the image, look at what is there. The second step is as easy as moving your feet. When the background is either too distracting, or if there is an object I want to include in the image, I can adjust for either circumstance by walk left or right, standing up taller, or squatting down lower. In the following image of a mute swan, I put myself at her eye level, this raised the city buildings to be directly behind. This eliminated there being too much sky.

Mute Swan

"Too much" is a common reason for creating a better background in a photograph. Previously, we talked about negative space, and negative space can be used well. However, there are times when "too much" is just "too much" and it harms the photo instead. We do this all the time with landscape images through the use of telephoto lenses. This next image is a small section of a larger scene that included telephone poles, wires, and a gas station. In effect, I "zoomed in" and eliminated all of that as it would have definitely detracted from an otherwise beautiful scene.

Rural America

The final decision towards having an attractive background involves a question. Do I want more or less detail? There are times when more detail, through the use of a smaller aperture, is needed. At other times, as in the water lily image above, the suggestion of an object is enough. I can choose the effect by adjusting my aperture. Always remember, the larger the aperture the less depth of field and therefore the more blurred areas there will be.

Fall Maple


When you think about it, your background is always there. So use it to move your photograph from an ordinary, "blah" scene into one that is much more appealing to the viewer.

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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.