Connie Saunders won Susanne's For A Song/The Cowboy's Bride Prize package! Congratulations!

Linda Edwards won Dressed for Death from Julianna Deering's Release party.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Where the Light May Lead -- Stories of Women Living Their Faith in Extraordinary Circumstances

Get ready to expand your reading palate!

Six authors, six genres, six bite-sized stories of women living out their faith in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. When the heart is willing to follow, where does the light lead? 

Sample Old West justice. Watch a romance unfold over light years. Laugh as an introvert finagles her way out of a bridal shower. Agonize with an FBI agent as she negotiates for a child's life. Imagine a shape-shifting cat who tracks down a kidnapper. And peek behind the scenes as a guardian angel argues with a double-talking auto mechanic. Learn again that the light of faith can lead you anywhere.

That's How She Rolls by C.L. Wells 
Tessa, a self-conscious introvert, attempts to avoid a party and everything goes wrong. When a handsome stranger offers to lend a helping hand, she isn’t sure things will ever be right again. 

Leopard's Find by Kimberly A. Rogers 
Ever wonder what your favorite characters were doing before you read about them for the first time? Sparks fly whenever Raina and Baran from The Therian Way are together. But what exactly was she doing before she met him? 

Whatever Raina’s up to, it’s never boring. 

Upsie-Daisy by Jane Lebak 
Did you know guardian angels have a sharp sense of humor? It’s a requirement for the job, otherwise they’d run screaming instead of dealing with us. If you’re new to the Lee and Bucky stories, welcome to the world of sarcastic mechanics and pun-slinging angels. This story takes place about four months before any of the full-length novels, that way you can dive right in. 

Circular Horizon by Bokerah Brumley 
As a speculative fiction writer, I’m forever intrigued with the ‘what if.’ For instance, what if there was real-world science fiction featuring a God-fearing astronaut? This brain-wandering led to a story, and I briefly explore this idea with Mae McNair in Circular Horizon. 

'Tis So Sweet by Faith Blum 
Eleanor Miller has always loved her younger brother, even through all the bad things he has done. But when he almost kills a man, she needs to let him go and trust God to draw him to Himself. Will she find out how sweet it is to trust Jesus in everything, no matter what happens? 

The Quinn Case by Julie C. Gilbert 
Law enforcement’s a tough career to make it in both physically and emotionally. The Quinn Case takes place several years before the events in Heartfelt Cases Book 1: The Collins Case. Herein, you’ll meet a young FBI Special Agent named Ann Davidson who must find a missing child even as she struggles to put another case behind her. 

Immerse yourself in six clean, sweet, Christian novelettes in this awesome multi-author anthology fiction box set....and maybe encounter your next favorite author!

What is your story and genre?
Faith Blum: My story is titled “’Tis So Sweet” and is a Christian Western about Old West justice.
Bokerah Brumley: My contribution to the anthology is called Circular Horizon. It’s science fiction romance ¾ a second chance, romance through letters story.

Julie C. Gilbert: The Quinn Case is a Christian mystery prequel to the Heartfelt Cases series.

Jane Lebak: Upsie-Daisy is Christian chick-lit with an angel. Think: “romantic comedy with a side of angels and a whole lot of wordplay.”

Kimberly A. Rogers: My story is Leopard’s Find, which is an urban fantasy and is a prequel to my prequel for my current urban fantasy series.

C.L. Wells: That’s How She Rolls. It’s a Christian romantic-comedy.

Why did you write this story?
Faith Blum: I had toyed with the idea of writing a backstory of one of my villains, but had never done it. When this opportunity came up, I thought it would work.

Bokerah Brumley: I love the idea of an overtly Christian astronaut, not that Mae evangelizes NASA, but everyone understands that she is a believer. She operates through this worldview.

Julie C. Gilbert: I wanted to write something that would introduce readers to Special Agent Ann Davidson. I enjoy delving into the emotions. Working for the FBI probably has plenty of opportunities to deal with stress, so I wanted to explore the notion of carrying on even after a case goes bad.

Jane Lebak: The Styrofoam heads. Someone saw my knitted hat modeled on a Styrofoam head and told me about someone she knew who did exactly what Dr. Myron does with the Styrofoam heads. I just multiplied them a bit and had twenty-four of them facing Lee out of the back of an Audi trunk.

Kimberly A. Rogers: For this anthology we had a lot of wiggle room regarding theme and I had several stories niggling at me that I wanted to explore. Raina’s voice was loudest and the fun in figuring out just what she was up to before she arrives on the scene in my series was very appealing.

C.L. Wells: Well, I’m drawn to issue-driven fiction. I published my first book last year and now I’m working on the sequel. While there are plenty of funny moments in my stories, they tackle serious topics. I thought this anthology would be a great way to try my hand at something a bit lighter.

What is your favorite moment (from your own story and/or the anthology whole)?
Faith Blum: My favorite moment in my story is when Patrick O’Toole shows up. He’s a hilarious Irish descendant and I thoroughly enjoyed writing his accent.

Bokerah Brumley: My favorite moment from my story? Where Mae finds out about Penelope and teases Michael about his secret girlfriend. I’m a mom and that is something I would probably do to my boys. Also, I dedicated Circular Horizon to the Challenger Crew and mention each of their last names in the story at least once.

Julie C. Gilbert: There’s a “little twist” as one reviewer put it, that completely took me by surprise as well but it made perfect sense. I love that feeling of a story coming together.
As to the anthology as a whole, it’s been an honor and privilege to read each of the stories in the beta reading stage. Getting to share it with the world now is pretty cool too.

Jane Lebak: In my own story, I love the moment when Lee meets the submarine and introduces herself to it before admiring every little bit of it. Lee has this skewed view of the world, and she’s got a problem with telling the truth, but her core is genuine goodness and in that one moment, she’s absolutely true. There’s no guile in her and no calculation in the way she admires it. For once she’s shed her self-consciousness and she’s fully alive.
Over the whole anthology, I’d have to say the moment in “Circular Horizon” when Mae is sitting in the observation chamber looking out into space’s infinity and singing a hymn. I really liked the way Bokerak juxtaposed isolation and intimacy, infinity and insignificance, in only a few paragraphs.

Kimberly A. Rogers: There are two moments in my story that are particular favorites but one is VERY spoiler-y, so I’ll just mention one. There is a moment in the beginning where a blue jay dive-bombs Raina and just won’t leave her alone. I admit this was inspired by watching the blue jays in my yard pester the neighborhood cat and the squirrels plus I loved being able to put Raina in a situation that usually winds up happening to Baran in the main series.
For the whole anthology, oh it’s hard to pick just one scene because I enjoyed reading all the other stories for a myriad of reasons.

C.L. Wells: This is going to sound insane, but I have an odd sense of humor anyway. In my story, I do a simple ‘word play/pun’ on the word creeper. I always laugh at that part when I re-read. I’ve no idea if anyone else found it remotely funny.
My favorite as a whole is hard to answer, but when I first read Kimberly’s story, I remember my brain was trying to guess at what the main character was. I can’t say too much or I might spoil it for someone. But, I loved how the tidbits of information led to the revelation.

Will we see more of your characters? Where?
Faith Blum: My short story is based on the villain in my novel, “Lilly of the Valley”, and his sister. The sister will also show up in an upcoming novel in my next series.

Bokerah Brumley: I haven’t decided yet. If so, I might turn Circular Horizon into a longer novella. Or maybe I’ll tell Michael and Penelope’s story. Michael does get to go back to Mars. That could be fun.

Julie C. Gilbert: The Collins Case is officially Book 1 in the Heartfelt Cases Series. It takes place several years after the events in The Quinn Case. Ann and Patrick then return to deal with The Kiverson Case and The Davidson Case. There’s also an unpublished novel called The Keres Case that’s in the beta reading stage. People interested in the series are welcome to sign up to be on the beta reading list.

Jane Lebak: Lee and Bucky are stars of The Adventures of Lee and Bucky, but I bet you could have figured that out without my explanation. The first book in the series is Honest And For True, and it takes place about four months after Upsie-Daisy. The series also has Forever And For Keeps, and if I ever finish writing it, Please Pretty Please.

Kimberly A. Rogers: Raina is one of my main characters in The Therian Way series, so she is definitely staying around. There are currently three books out (with the latest book launching today) and five more slated for the main series plus whatever side stories Raina decides needs to be told…or she just invites herself to join.

C.L. Wells: Possibly. I’ve been told by a few people that they wanted more of Tessa. We’ll see.

What has been the most challenging part of writing a multi-author anthology? What has been the most exciting part?
Faith Blum: Most challenging: Getting everything worked out to fit everyone’s schedules, meet the deadlines, and then get it published. That and getting Amazon to pricematch for us.
The most exciting part was getting to know all these lovely authors and work with them to put together an anthology.

Bokerah Brumley: The most challenging thing? Linking the wide variety of genres to one another in a logical way. The most exciting part? Meeting amazing new authors and reading their work.

Julie C. Gilbert: It’s been exciting to see the multi-genre aspect of this anthology actually work. I was a little unsure how it would pan out because of the wide range of genres. Working with other people has been great but it’s challenging to move things forward quickly when you need to gather six consenting opinions for major changes first.

Jane Lebak: Most exciting: Learning from everyone else. Publishing is in many respects like the wild west, so collaboration helped all of us leverage our varied skills. I loved learning from the other writer’s perspectives and experiences.

Kimberly A. Rogers: I think the most challenging aspect was our grand quest in getting Amazon to price match. Oh and finding the connecting theme between our wildly different stories.  The most exciting aspect has definitely been working together and getting to know these lovely ladies so we were all able to bring our own skills to the table and just meld them together so we could tackle the unique challenges of a multi-genre anthology and win the day.

C.L. Wells: This hasn’t been nearly as challenging as I thought it would be, though I must admit, I’ve had it easy. What has been the most exicting part? Having a group of people who are excited about the exact same thing you are at the same time is just plain fun.

Can we expect more anthologies in the future?
Faith Blum: I hope so!

Bokerah Brumley: There has been some discussion about “the next one,” so maybe so.

Julie C. Gilbert: I’m game.
Jane Lebak: Abolsutely! I’m up for it if everyone else is!
Kimberly A. Rogers: We are currently in talks about future anthology entries so hopefully that’s a yes and I am looking forward to working with everyone again.

C.L. Wells: It’s on the table. We’ll have to see.

Between the six of us, we have 31 years of publishing and 43 books published.

Faith Blum is a historical fiction author who also loves to do pretty much any right-brained activity, especially if it involves crafting. She lives with her family on a small family farm in Wisconsin.
Bokerah Brumley is a speculative fiction writer making stuff up on a trampoline in West Texas. She lives on ten acres with five home-educated children, four peacocks, three dogs, two cats, and one husband. In her imaginary spare time, she also serves as the blue-haired Publicity Officer for the Cisco Writers Club.
Julie C. Gilbert writes in several genres including Christian Mystery, YA Science Fiction, and Mystery/Thriller. Regardless of category, she writes about people who face hardship and right wrongs because they have an innate need to do so. In other news, she is obsessed with Star Wars and has a day job teaching high school Chemistry in New Jersey.

Kimberly A. Rogers writes urban fantasy with a Christian twist. She lives in Virginia where the Blue Ridge Mountains add inspiration to an overactive imagination originally fueled by fantasy classics such as the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.  

C.L. Wells is a JANE-OF-ALL-TRADES, with a passion for writing and animals. She lives in Kansas with her family, which includes a fat doggie who is not named Toto and a cat who moonlights as an escape artist. Feel free to ask her about the ‘escape artist.’ She plans to write about it someday. She would love hearing from you.

Links to Anthology:

Monday, May 2, 2016

In Recovery (from Malice Domestic)

Please excuse Barbara Early for not writing a full blog post today. She just returned from a full weekend of conferencing at Malice Domestic, and is having difficulty putting words together this morning. Please do enjoy some pictures from the conference.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Take A Load Off: Resting the Brain has big Rewards!

Debra E. Marvin (who really has a hard time with this...)

If you don't believe me, and your doctor, and your body, Scientific American has the proof. Taking a mental health holiday, whether it's two or three hours, or a month away, is good for you. Not only will your body rejoice, but your brain and those all-important creative juices will reward you for it.

While prolonged idleness (I'll let you determine what prolonged means to you) may be frowned upon, down time is essential to your health. Duh, you're saying.

"Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life."

"Eventually this mysterious and complex circuit that stirred to life when people were daydreaming became known as the  default mode network."

I love knowing that even the non-essential parts of my brain have a default. Sure, the brain never rests (we're talking life vs. death for one thing...) and even sleeping doesn't significantly reduce its need for energy, but giving it a conscious break from our 'normal' work, allows the brain to toss ideas around. 

I imagine we've all had the 'answer to a question' come after we've ignored it for awhile. Often, great ideas come to us when we do manual, labor, idle nothings, or activities with little conscious thought: gardening, doing the dishes, taking a shower.  Bam. We're a stinking genius, just because we let the old brain off the leash.

Scientific American suggests that the default mode network is more active in very creative people who use daydreaming to solve problems.  "Epiphanies may seem to come out of nowhere, but they are often the product of unconscious mental activity during downtime." For the full article from author Ferris Jabr, see:

Personally, napping would be a dreamy way to replenish my brain, but it's more likely I'd use the "one hour of TV" or the "Pinterest Pinning zone-out" method. For optimal results...I find that making things with my hands is the best way I replenish my writer brain!

What about you? How do you refuel?

Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She’d like to live just a wee bit closer to her grandchildren, but is thankful that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor.

Other than writing light-hearted romances and gritty gothics, she has pretty normal obsessions: fabric, peanut butter, vacations, British dramas and whatever mystery series she’s currently reading. Visit her at, @debraemarvin on twitter and Debra E Marvin on Facebook and Pinterest, but not her house because she usually has dirty dishes.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Too Busy Writing NOT to Read

by Susanne Dietze

Ever hear of a book by Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray?

It's been around for a while. It observes that when we're in a season of intense busyness, we tend to focus on the task at hand and let everything else go. The housework. Cooking. And yes, even praying.

Hybels suggests the busier we are, the more we need to pray. It's contrary to our natures, but it makes sense. When we trust God to handle all the details, He proves His ability, care, and grace. When we hoard our fears, stresses and details (and perhaps even idolize our busyness), we get less done in more time, at greater cost.

Lately I've been under several writing deadlines -- awesome! But I've had the attitude that other things need to go on hold so I can meet these deadlines. While it's ok to serve simple crockpot meals and put off a teeth cleaning, however, it's not wise to cut prayer from my life.

Or maybe even reading.

Although, I admit, I was tempted. Before some deadline opportunities came up, I said I'd judge the ACFW Carols. Then I received some writing opportunities...and a lovely stack of books that require careful reading and thoughtful evaluation, all at the same time. I admit, once I got busy with deadlines, I didn't want to read the books. At least, not at the moment. Later, sure. But that's not how it works with contests.

These authors worked for months, sometimes years, on these novels. Their literal blood, sweat and tears went into them, along with their hopes. As a judge, I owe their novels the attention and consideration such efforts deserved.

So I started reading.
Books, Read, Book Pages, Literature, Learn, Relax
Curl up with an afghan and read!
Turned out reading these books has been a blessing to me. More than I can imagine. Here's why:

  1. Reading makes me a better writer. I love it when I'm stuck on something in my story, and then I see how another author handles those challenges. Weaving scenery into action, or making a character likable, or...the list goes on. Reading teaches us out to write. 
  2. Reading recently-released novels teaches me what publishers are buying and helps me follow trends. This helps mold my ideas for future stories and shows me what's popular.
  3. Reading fellow authors and reviewing helps me give back to the writing community which has helped me so greatly in my journey. I wouldn't be where I am without about a hundred people. Probably more. The other bloggers here at Inkwell, critique partners, fellow authors on the loops I belong to, nameless contest judges, my agent, my editors...all of them have given to me to help make me a better writer. I need and want to give back, too. One of the many ways to do this is to read and promote others' fiction!
  4. Reading introduces me to new authors. They may become favorites. They may become friends. When I'm not so busy, I can read more of their books.
  5. Perhaps one of the biggest blessings...Reading takes me out of the Universe of my story and gives me escape into another universe where I am not responsible for the characters; I do not plot, I do not plan. I just enjoy. This is important for my mental health. It relaxes my brain and my body.
So there are five reasons why I'm pausing to read, even when I feel too busy to do so. True, there are times when we enter what I call "Crisis mode" and we have to set aside any and every extraneous activity, like reading. Those weeks, I type every minute of the day that I can. But these should be seasons--preferably short ones--because it isn't good to live in high stress.

What are you reading right now?


Susanne Dietze is the author of over half-dozen new and coming historical romances. Her most recent is the novella For a Song in EPCA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller The Cowboy's Bride Collection. Visit her on her website,

Friday, April 15, 2016

Reasons to Celebrate April 15

So, it’s April 15, and it’s my turn to blog. Tax Day. Is there any more hated day on the calendar than Tax Day?

For our non-US readers, a quick explanation might be in order. April 15 (Tax Day) is the last possible day to pay your income taxes from the prior year without incurring a penalty. As one might imagine, it’s not an a day most Americans look forward to. Which goes to show, tax collectors haven't gained any popularity since Jesus' day.

I thought it might be fun to look at other ways to remember April 15, so I compiled a list of real, but mostly nonsensical, April 15 "holidays" this year.

For Americans, today you can also celebrate:

National Glazed Spiral Ham Day

Rubber Eraser Day

McDonalds Day (First McDonalds franchise opened in 1955)

Jackie Robinson Day (Jackie Robinson started in his first MLB game for the Dodgers in 1947)

National Take a Wild Guess Day (Hot tip: don’t do this with your taxes)

If that list seems too limited, we can take a trip around the world to celebrate:

World Art Day

World Day of Culture

New Years (Laos, Cambodia and Thailand)

Day of Love (Georgia – the country, not the state)

Lover’s Day (Kazakhstan)

And finally, we have an anomaly. This year, April 15 is Emancipation Day (Observed). Emancipation Day, a local holiday in Washington DC, is actually April 16, but since April 16 is a Saturday, DC government offices will close today. But wait! There’s a catch. If April 15 falls on a weekend or a Federal or DC holiday, the income tax due date moves to the next business day—which is Monday, April 18 this year.

Which means, Tax Day is actually Monday, April 18. Procrastinators, you get an extra weekend.

Sounds like we have another reason to celebrate April 15 this year.