CONGRATULATIONS

Congratulations to Jennifer AlLee! Jen's novel Last Family Standing is a finalist in American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol contest. Well done, Jen! We will be rooting for you on September 19.

It's Party Time!

It's Party Time!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Happy 6th Blog-o-versary To Us!



It's been 6 years since Gina Welborn realized a dream of bringing a group of female inspirational writers together for the purpose of friendship and support by way of the Inkwell Inspirations blog. Read Gina's inaugural blogpost where she introduced us to the world.

A mere couple of weeks later in September 2009, several of us met for the first time at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in Denver, Colorado. The conference is now our annual destination for get-togethers - a time for tears and laughter as we share our rejections, accomplishments, and bloopers - a physical embodiment of Gina's dream.

Inktropolis has never been stagnant. As time passed, opportunities arose, and priorities changed. Some initial members moved on, and others took their place. And some of us have been there from the start.

ACFW Dallas 2012: (L to R) Lisa Richardson, Jennifer AlLee, Gina Welborn, Anita Mae Draper, and Dina Sleiman (in front)

Just because some Inkies can't make it to conference, doesn't mean they are forgotten.

ACFW Indianapolis 2013: The whole Inkwell Inspirations crew in flesh and spirit after Friday night's Genre Dinner. (Standing L to R) Jennifer AlLee holding photo of Dina Sleiman, Barb Early, Lisa Karon Richardson holding photo of Niki Turner, Anita Mae Draper, Gina Welborn, Susan Johnson holding photo of DeAnna Dodson. (Sitting L to R) Susanne Dietze, Debra E Marvin holding photo of C.J. Chase

Whether it's news of an award nomination or result, or the offer of a contract, we've prayed for each other and offered tears of comfort and congratulations regardless of the results.

And speaking of contracts, we have news to share. Three years ago, eight Inkies decided to create a novella series we called, Austen in Austin, where we took 8 Jane Austen heroines and transplanted them in late 19th century Texas. This past June, WhiteFire Publishing contracted all eight of our novellas and Inky joy flowed.

Thanks WhiteFire Publishing! And thank you to Roseanna White for designing our fabulous book covers and promotional aids.




Volume 1 contains novellas by Susanne Dietze, Anita Mae Draper, Debra E. Marvin, and Gina Welborn, and releases January 2016!

But best of all, the paperback version of Volume One is available for pre-order on Amazon right now!

Volume Two will follow along in September 2016 with novellas by Suzie Johnson, Lisa Karon Richardson, Dina Sleiman, and Niki Turner. And coming soon are the complete volumes, as well as individual novellas in ebook format.

As for the Inkies as a group, publication of the Austen in Austin series means every Inky has now reached publication status! Yay!!!

We want you to share our success! Leave a comment on this blogpost before midnight tomorrow Sept 1st, 2015, and we'll draw one name for each $25 Amazon gift card.




Yes, that's 2 winners!


The Inkies will be giving away Austen in Austen Volume One postcards while at the ACFW conference in Dallas, TX this September. If you see us there, just ask and it's yours.




Don't forget to leave a comment with a way of contacting you and we'll put your name in the draw for one of the $25 Amazon gift cards.


Friday, August 28, 2015

The Dark Shadows Effect

Well, there was Dark Shadows, the tv show, and there were authors Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt. If you see a connection, you might just be a fan of gothics and romantic suspense.  
On my recent visit to the rocky shores of New England, I sat mesmerized by surf crashing on the black rocks below me. Then. Whoosh. A flashback to the opening of the old cult hit, Dark Shadows, and its eerie music.     



I've read every Phyllis Whitney book published. For me, she was the queen of romantic suspense, and even her contemporary stories had a historical feel to them. The storylines were formulaic, but I gobbled them up anyway. 

Now I read Anne Perry. No surprise. 

So far, I’ve never added vampires to my fiction, but visiting New England’s coastline reinforced my love for gothic settings. When Inkwell's Jennifer AlLee posted a Barnabas Collins photo (the actor Jonathan Frid from Dark Shadows) on her facebook page I recalled the allure that kept me glued to my tv screen at 4:00pm weekdays. If you don’t recall, it might be your age!  If you instead think of Johnny Depp, I’ll just shake my head.

My mother and I watched  the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir multiple times. I’m a sucker for old houses, rocky shorelines, fog and mystery, and tales of the sea. During my stay on Cape Ann, I called the Emerson Inn by the Sea home. My friend and I agreed it was just right for the setting of a Murder, She Wrote episode. 




What settings do you enjoy in your fiction? 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Skiing Suitor Book Launch Party!!

With fall on our proverbial doorsteps it's time to turn our attention to all things down-filled and cozy. And I have the perfect way to do that. Today we're celebrating the release of our own Niki Turner's The Skiing Suitor! 

For Ruby St. John, skiing is both a passion and a practicality. Doctor Warren Kelly disapproves of Ruby’s unconventional ways, but needs her help with his busy new office. Ruby likes the handsome new physician, but he’s a little too staid for her tastes, even if she’s impressed with his medical talents and inspired by his faith. When Ruby has to come to Warren’s rescue, will he change his mind about her skiing ways?

Set in Steamboat Springs Colorado. Niki's story is a bracing breath of fresh air. Of course, for the residents of Steamboat winter means a bit more than a few flurries and a cuddly sweater.

  • In the 1920s, average snowfall in Steamboat was around 14 feet per year
  • Skiing in all its forms have been part of the Steamboat lifestyle since its inception, but until 1913 it was primarily for practical purposes only
  • Rumor has it that local sportswoman Marjorie Perry invited Norwegian ski jumper Carl Howelson to Steamboat in 1913
  • To this day, the annual Winter Carnival and Howelson Hill Ski Area are still actively operating

I don't know about you, but that makes me want to cuddle up with some hot chocolate and a slice of apple pie. How about a warming bowl of soup? Our hero, Warren, has a can of “oxtail soup” in the story. Apparently, Campbell’s Soup really did produce oxtail soup. Oxtail was one of the 5 original varieties, which also included tomato, vegetable, consomm√©, and chicken. All of which are on our buffet today. No offense to Warren, but I think I'm going to stick with chicken noodle.
This story will give readers some very pleasant chills and could even make a sultry summer day a bit more bearable. Besides all the wintery wonderful atmosphere there is a tingly romance and a powerful take away message about prejudices and first impressions that is sure to warm the heart as much as a bowl of oxtail soup.

 Best of all Niki's doing a giveaway! If you're interested, please place a comment with your e-mail address, (separated by spaces to foil address bots).

Even if you don't win you can get the story here.

Or for some more cool tidbits that helped inspire the story you can go to Niki's Pinterest page here.

Oh, I forgot to mention, Warren is modeled on Gregory Peck. Seriously! What's not to love!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Kent State University Museum

by C.J. Chase

Last month, Debra Marvin wrote a piece for Inkwell titled Too Busy Researching to Write. But, but, but…research is the fun part. In fact, it was what led to my interest in historical fiction/historical romance in the first place. Reading allows a person to travel to far away places and times. Chances of my traveling to the nineteenth century in the next month? Zero. Chances of my traveling to England in the next month? I suppose technically it isn’t zero, but it might as well be. However, the chances of my mind traveling to nineteenth century England in a novel in the next month? Oh, that’s almost a sure thing.

I recently thought I should like to do some research on historical clothing, so I researched fashion museums. (Yep, I had to research my research.) The articles I found (such as this one) mostly listed museums in Paris and Milan and London and New York – you know, other places, with a zero percent chance of my visiting them on the next family vacation. But this CNN article about top fashion museums had a surprising addition: Kent State University Museum.

Kent State is in northeastern Ohio, and as I was headed to northwestern Pennsylvania this summer to visit the in-laws, I told the family we were going to make a detour one day. The museum is very reasonably priced: $5 for an adult admission. While there are a few pieces from the eighteenth century, most of the clothing dates from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and I’d say 80-90% of the displays (in the area where I focused, anyway) are women’s gowns. Many of the exhibits are arranged in such a way that you can see all sides of the dresses. And a cool feature is that most of the garments are not behind glass, so you can really see the fabrics without the glare and distortion of glass. (You still can’t touch though.)

I had brought my camera in the hopes of taking pictures. And then I discovered that photography requires advance approval. Oops! But my husband gamely asked the student at the admissions desk. Since the only pieces on display during our visit belong to Kent State, she told me I could take non-flash pictures. 

You can see this late-19th century gown from all angles.


The special exhibit running right now, “Inside Out: Revealing Clothes Hidden Secrets,” shows the insides of historical clothing. I hadn’t planned on a seamstress heroine, but I just might have to consider that for a future book. And I finally got an answer to an eternal debate on the Regency-era research (oh, look, that word again!) loop I belong to: yes, some men’s breeches of that time period did indeed have pockets.

I’d have happily stayed longer, but as the mother of an eight-year-old boy, I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time. The museum is primarily targeted to people in the fashion industry, but I’d recommend it to historical authors who need a little inspiration. Just be certain to check about the photograph situation before you go.

If you can't get to northeast Ohio, check out the hundreds of photographs from the Kent State collection on the museum's Facebook page.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Historic Restoration - The Sharon Temple

by Anita Mae Draper


Probably the most fascinating museum I visited during my recent trip to Ontario was the Sharon Temple National Historic Site & Museum located in East Gwillimbury Township, in the Village of Sharon. Created by the Children of Peace, a Quaker break-away group who were led by former American, David Willson, the Sharon Temple exemplified the pioneering spirit, ethics, faith, and ingenuity of the people who settled Upper Canada (now known as Ontario).


Sharon Temple National Historic Site & Museum, Sharon, Ontario, Canada

Part 1 - Before

Since it was hard to show everything about the Sharon Temple in one post, I used my day (Aug 5th), on the Heroes, Heroines and History blog to cover Part 1 in this series, Hope in Upper Canada, The Sharon Temple which includes a glass lantern slide, a stereoview, and historic drawings, etc to show how David Willson handed plans for his vision of the temple to master carpenter Ebenezer Doan, another loyalist who had fled to Upper Canada at the beginning of the 19th century.

Part 2 - After

Today's Inkwell post will show how the temple and buildings look today after restoration. But before I present a series of photographs, I'll let you see this brief video of the temple interior as I walked through the east-facing door shown above. https://youtu.be/Btgk8zE3wTk




So based on the video it looks like a high-ceiling room with pillars, right? But it's so much more, since David Willson designed it based on both the Old and New Testaments, as fully explained in part 1.

For instance, the staircase that's right in the front of the video camera is called the Jacob's Ladder and it's main purpose was to provide a method of getting the musicians and choir members up to the loft, called the Musicians Gallery. But instead of just any staircase, David Willson designed a narrow curving ladder based on his interpretation of Genesis 28:12 where it is written of Jacob: "And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it."


Jacob's Ladder leading to the Musicians Gallery

And lest you think the musicians and singers came down backwards, I have to say that I've heard it was quite the event to see them march in the door, around the room, and up the stairs, and then march back down facing the door when the service was over. Honestly, I would have had trouble going up those steps never mind coming down - facing any direction.

Along the left side of the temple in the video is the oldest barrel organ in Canada, built in 1820 by Richard Coates as the first of 3 commissioned by the Children of Peace. This 2-barrel organ will be discussed further along with the other temple organs in Part 3 of this series.


Two-Barrel Organ built by Richard Coates in 1820 for the Children of Peace
and now Canada's oldest barrel organ of this size.

Beside the organ is a wooden carrier that I assumed was to carry the Ark - the temple's altar which was fashioned after the biblical Ark. I later found out that the carrier is actually the method of carrying coffins in and out during funeral processions.


Wooden carrier used to transport coffins during funerals

The Ark sits in the centre of the temple, surrounded by pillars. Each of the 12 outer pillars has a plaque with an apostle's name, and each of the inner pillars has a plaque with either Hope, Love, Peace, or Charity written on it.

The Sharon Temple Ark surrounded by the 12 posts of the Apostles,
and 4  posts of  Faith, Hope, Love, and Charity, 

Looking up immediately above the ark, you can see up past the railing of the musicians' gallery, and higher to the uppermost ceiling.

From the Ark, looking up at the top of the 3 storied Sharon Temple 

The day I explored the Sharon Temple, it was set up for a wedding, hence the white hydrangeas lining the aisle from the west door to the altar. Don't you think there's something serene about the bride and groom signing their marriage certificate while sitting at the lace-covered table in front of the almost 200-year old ark?


The Sharon Temple interior in readiness for a wedding, June 2015

Like the temple itself, the altar is square signifying the Children of Peace's need of "dealing square with all people". Four doors open into the altar, corresponding to the 4 doors of the temple. Inside, the Bible always lies open to the Ten Commandments.

One note of interest concerning the ark is that sometime during the restoration process, the workers discovered a false floor under which was hidden thousands of David Willson's papers including his music and writings, a priceless treasure which is now preserved in the Archives of Ontario.



The Sharon Temple Ark with the Bible open to the Ten Commandments

As can be seen in the above photos, the chairs are reproductions of the original hand-hewn ones as shown in the image with the barrel organ. Unfortunately, many ended up in the hands of antique dealers after being sold to Winn’s Theatre of Aurora in 1915 before the museum society bought the temple and began restoration. A program is now in place to locate the original temple and meeting house chairs and return them to the temple. If you're interested in a description of what they look like, check out the Sharon Temple Museum Society website which includes a downloadable Temple Chair Form.


A Sharon Temple reproduction chair

Join me for Part 3 on the Heroes, Heroines and History blog on Sept 5th for a historic look at David Willson's music, the temple organs, the renowned temple band, and a view of the gallery where the musicians sent out their music to reverberate in the wonderful acoustics of the Sharon Temple.

While I was on the Sharon Temple Museum site, I noticed one of their ways of raising money was the 'Adopt an Artifact' page. I haven't seen this anywhere else and thought it quite interesting. There is a list of artifacts and the cost to adopt them for one year. Of course, the bigger and more important the artifact, the higher the cost to adopt it.

Have you ever heard of this way to raise funds? If you have, care to share who else does it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, published in A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Volume 4, Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Present, Guideposts Books, October 2014, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at www.anitamaedraper.com

Monday, August 17, 2015

What Your e-Laugh Says About You


by Susanne Dietze

Ever wonder how hip you are? How with-it? If you have teenagers, like I do, you are probably schooled on a regular schedule on how young you no longer are.

But like me, you try to stay in touch with cultural shifts. You're not a dinosaur.

Well, Facebook put it to the test for me recently when they analyzed the ways users "e-laugh"--you know, show amusement in virtual settings like Facebook comments.



How do you e-laugh? Let's take a one-question Quiz:

When you respond to something funny, either in a text or on Facebook, how do you respond? Choose one that most reflects you:
  1. Type out a full response to indicate you are amused ("you're hilarious!")
  2. Type "LOL"
  3. Type "haha"
  4. Type "hehe"
  5. Use an emoji of a laughing face
(Cue Jeopardy theme.)

Ready with your answer?

I was. I didn't take this quiz, mind you, or any variant of it. I saw the results and thought, Huh. Because I chose "LOL" and/or emojis. (The kids text "haha" and I admit, I read it as flat sounding, sarcastic. I do not hear someone rolling on the floor laughing out loud.)

Ok, here's what Facebook found.

Half of all users type "haha" in their responses. Emojis (which means "picture word" in Japanese) are the second most popular way to e-laugh, coming in at 35%.

And LOL? Well, apparently, only 5% of those studied used it. And those who use it...are over 30.

(Well, yes. I am. I am sure this does not come as a shock to you.)

The Cool Kids (ie young adults) use "ha" or "he" in various combinations, sometimes repetitively. Hahahahahaha, they say when they read this blog post. As in hahahaha our parents would be soooo lost without us XP

(XP being, of course, a good response as an e-laugh.)
Face With Stuck-Out Tongue And Tightly-Closed Eyes

Women use emojis more than men, which makes perfect sense in my experience. My husband does not enjoy scrolling through little pictures of cute animals, and he'd rather type out his feelings than express them with a little yellow circle face. (Teen boys, however, do use emojis in my personal experience. Maybe having a mortgage lessens a male's interest in emojis.)
Hamburger
Yes, I DO understand this emoji, thank you very much.
So to stay young, on Facebook at least, I need to scrap "LOL" and move onto emojis. But what emojis? Sure, I use them. I send this one to my Hubs a lot:

Smiling Face With Heart-Shaped Eyes

But other emojis? The non-yellow face variety? I feel ancient admitting this, but I can't figure some of them out.

I mean, what is this one? Someone teenaged in my house who will remain nameless received this emoji in response to something funny she said, rather than a haha or hehe
1f481-information-desk-person-apple-new-2015-final

Naturally, like all out-of-it people, I asked "What does that mean?" The kids said "it's a positive thing" and "you just have to intuit emojis" blah blah, which means I headed to Google. And I'm still confused.

Apparently it's called Information Desk Person. It can be used to communicate:
  • You're sassy.
  • You're sarcastic.
  • You are carrying an invisible tray. (Not really. But using my intuition, I'd say that is precisely what the girl is doing.)

Let's go with You're Sassy.
1f64e-person-with-pouting-face-apple-new-2015-final
This is a Pouting Face Person. I do not get it. She doesn't look unhappy. She looks...well, never mind. Nobody asked me. The point is, I need to keep up. So fine, she's pouting.

Why does this matter? Well, authors are supposed to keep up a bit with social media. We tweet. We Facebook. And I suppose it doesn't matter that much, but I'm nevertheless going to say goodbye to the Ol' Faithful of LOL and embrace something new.
Face With Tears Of Joy
Because if you can't laugh at yourself....
Although by the time you read this, I'm sure the "laugh so hard I'm crying" emoji face will be way, way extinct. 

But what the Cool Kids don't know?

It's also called the "LOL" Emoji.

***

Susanne Dietze likes to LOL. She also writes historical romance, with no emojis used at all. You can visit her website at www.susannedietze.com.

Emoji pics from www.emojipedia.org

Friday, August 14, 2015

Know Fear


by Dina Sleiman


One of our teens sporting his "Know Fear" shirt
This summer I went on a short term mission trip with my church to a poor, rural part of West Virginia. While there, we were all challenged (including the middle school kids) to have an hour long quiet time, and it ended up being a big hit. Part of the reason it worked out so well was that we were given a devotional guide (which was actually more like an in depth Bible study) titled “Know Fear.” And we followed our quiet time with small group discussion about what the Lord was showing us.

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The mission organization was new to our church, and I was concerned that the “Know Fear” topic might be something judgmental and religious, trying to slap us upside the head with the fear of God. Instead, it was a very balanced and deep-probing analysis of fear: both the good and bad sides of the subject.

First we learned that fear is an important window into the soul. We shouldn’t just ignore, deny, or repress our fears, because our fears tell us a lot about what is really going on inside of us. Fear reveals certain needs and cravings that we have. And at the bottom of those needs and cravings are idolatry that we probably never even suspected. One fear in my heart that God revealed to me was certainly a new one. I had a fear of discomfort and pain, which I think comes from some of the middle-aged health challenges I’ve been facing for the last few years. Certainly not any exciting or impressive sin, and yet something that could pull me away from God’s best plans for my life it I let it.

Over the next two days we really took an in depth look at the fear of man and the fear of the unknown. Two areas that hold many Christians back from God’s best for their lives. And at the end of the day, both sinful responses that we need to overcome. I didn’t personally relate a lot to the fear of man, but it revealed a different fear. I long to be free and unique, and so I fear any sort of outward control on my life. Even on this trip, I had opportunities to challenge myself and face that fear.

It wasn’t until I got home that I finally got to read the author, Lauren Wright’s, perspective on the fear of God. And it was perfect. When we are not in right relationship with God, we have every reason to fear Him. But as we grow in relationship, that fear morphs into reverence, devotion, trust, and eventually pure worship.


This probably wasn’t a subject I would have ever thought to study on my own, but I feel like now I “Know Fear” much better than I ever have before, and I’m thankful for the revelations God gave me on this subject.


What fears have you struggled with? What fears have you overcome?