Congratulations to Dina Sleiman for winning the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award in the Young Adult category for Dauntless!

Congratulations to Cheryl B. for winning a copy of The Rails to Love Collection!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Travel Log: Monterey California

by Anita Mae Draper

It's hard to believe that yesterday I awoke in beautiful Monterey, California, and today I'm back on the prairies and haven't seen a sailboat, sea otter, or a flash of brilliant blue water all day. I was down in Monterey for the Books & Such Literary Management Retreat and this time, my husband, Nelson joined me on my wonderful working vacation based in the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa overlooking Monterey Bay, California.

View of Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa from kayak on kelp bed. Photo credit: Nelson Draper, Oct 2016

The view from our room was breathtaking and we spent many minutes taking photos of the plethora of boats, sunrises, and wildlife. Nelson was especially thrilled with the binoculars left in our room for our viewing pleasure. 

View from our room in the Monterey Plaza Hotel. Photo credit: Anita Mae Draper

The Monterey Plaza Hotel is on Cannery Row which used to be lined with canneries. Some of these canneries are still standing and contain shops and boutiques. Next door to the hotel is one of these old canneries. It appears in many of my photos where it is adorned with gulls, pigeons, and cormorants. This next photo shows the hotel and next-door cannery with the Coast Guard Pier in the background. This beach was below our window and we could hear the surf pounding against the beach and brick throughout the day and night.

Beach below the Monterey Plaza Hotel and next door cannery, Monterey, CA. Photo credit: Anita Mae Draper

From our window, we watched the incredible sun rise while gulls and cormorants greeted the day and seals "porpoised" in Monterey Bay. Here's a video showing seals and birds minutes before the sun appeared with its golden glow. My camera recorded it fine when the seals were slicing through the water, but went out of focus when they dived under water. I couldn't be annoyed however, when the sounds of gulls and barking sea lions carried on throughout this short video I've entitled, Monterey Bay Wildlife at Dawn.

And then the sun rose, washing the bay in light and exposing a thick layer of dew on every standing surface. 

Sunrise over Monterey Bay, California. Photo credit: Anita Mae Draper

While I was busy with the agency sessions on the first day, Nelson spent his time exploring the area around the Monterey Plaza Hotel which included the infamous Cannery Row. On the second day, I was in session when I received a text message from Nelson which said, "Out here in kayak." Gawk! I slipped out with my camera and this is what greeted me. My camera proved its worth as I zeroed in on Nelson in a red kayak way out there, in the centre of this pic.

Nelson Draper (middle of image) kayaking in Monterey Bay, Oct 2016. Photo credit: Anita Mae Draper

Here's a close up of one of the dozen or so I took of him through my Nikon P520 CoolPix camera...

Nelson Draper and friend, Monterey Bay, California, Oct 2016. Photo credit: Anita Mae Draper

Nelson said he'd often heard wings flapping and water splashing while he was out there, but whatever had made the noise was gone by the time he turned around. This photo was a fun surprise for him, however, as he hadn't realized anything was there until I showed him the evidence. 

He took some astounding photos from the kayak including the one at the top of this post showing the kelp and hotel, and this one of the wildlife taking advantage of the sunny rocks on Coast Guard Pier which forms part of the Monterey Harbour.

Coast Guard Pier, Monterey, California, Oct 2016. Photo credit: Nelson Draper

And after three full days in California, it was time to depart. I'll give you one last photo Nelson took while getting up close and personal with the wildlife while kayaking in the bay.

Goodbye from Monterey Bay, October 2016. Photo credit: Nelson Draper
I really enjoyed this second trip to Monterey, and a big part of that was that I was able to share the trip with Nelson and can now share the memory of it with him. Between the photos we took this year, and those I took of my 2014 Books & Such Monterey Retreat, we have many images of birds and animals which we'll be showing on Pinterest, Facebook, and our Draper's Acres blog in weeks to come. I hope you'll keep in touch as we share our journey.


Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are woven under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details. Her Christian faith is reflected in her stories of forgiveness and redemption as her characters struggle to find their way to that place in their heart we call home. Anita loves to correspond with readers through her contact page, or any of the social media links found at
Readers can enrich their reading experience by checking out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories at

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Books and Such Retreat, 2016

Anita Mae Draper is flying home from the Books and Such Literary Retreat in gorgeous Monterey, California. She will post pictures and share a report tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are a few photos of Monterey to whet your appetite!
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Fisherman's Wharf
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Yep. It really is this stunning.
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View of the Aquarium

Monday, October 17, 2016

Not Politics...Pumpkins!

To take a break from all the negativity I'm seeing on social media about the upcoming political election in America, I thought I'd focus today on something that we all can agree on.

Pumpkins are neat-o.
| October | "Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere." ~ Charles M. Schulz, The Great Pumpkin, Charle brown:
They're chock full of healthy Vitamin A. Delicious in desserts, coffees, and soups. Fun to decorate.

You may not like to eat pumpkin products, but it's fair to say that pumpkins are trigger-quick reminders of the season, which can take us straight back to childhood.

Like, say, pumpkin pies on the holiday table. Or carving a jack o'lantern, and the feel of pumpkin guts slimy in your hands, and the smell of a candle burning too hot inside of it and scorching the flesh.

There are some pretty cool things that people who are much more creative than I are doing with pumpkins. Here are some I found on Pinterest (links beneath):

Jane Austen pumpkin:
We LOVE Austen! (And Austen in Austin, Volume I and Volume II!)
pumpkin and pink floral arrangments:
Pumpkins make great vases, soup tureens, etc. Isn't this pretty? I love the roses.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Overnight Oats - forget Starbucks and satisfy your PSL craving with a healthy breakfast recipe. | | gluten free:
I am totally trying this.
Pumpkin patch bownie treats - perfect a Halloween party treat, fall bake sale, or fun fall dessert!:
Ok, it's not a pumpkin, per se, but come on, that is cute, and I have a bake sale coming up...
Kitty Cat Pumpkin Craft...these are the BEST Carved & Decorated Pumpkin Ideas for Halloween!:
Some of the Inkies might try this. (You know who you are.)
10 EASY fall and halloween decorating ideas.  Painted pumpkins turned into cats for the front porch!:
This would take me forever but it's cool!

38 Halloween Pumpkin Carving Ideas & How To Carve |
If my son had seen this during the first ten years of his life, I would have been doomed to try it...and I would have failed.
The only Pumpkin Pi/pie I approve of. :P:
Math humor

These adorable deviled eggs are sure to be a crowd pleaser for your fall get-togethers!:
Another recipe that doesn't have pumpkin in it, but seriously? Those are cute.

Are you inspired to get crafty or get busy in the kitchen? Yeah, me neither, but looking at these has given me a fun autumn break and the desire to come back to these later (I am definitely making that oatmeal, and wishing I had that skill to carve that Jane Austen jack o'lantern).

But for now, I'm off to have a cup of pumpkin spice coffee.

Susanne Dietze is the author of a dozen new and upcoming novels and novellas. Right now she is sipping her pumpkin spice coffee, avoiding political social media posts, and typing madly away on a deadline. Learn about her and her books on

Friday, October 14, 2016

Austen in Austin: Blogmates Watch a Dream Come True

by Dina Sleiman

Back in 2009, when I was first learning the writing industry and seriously seeking publication, God joined me with a group of ladies to help me along my quest. I was invited to join Inkwell Inspirations, a new writers blog comprised mostly of writers who had won writing contests (I had just won the Touched by Love contest) but were still unpublished. Over the next years, we would become not only blogmates, but also close friends, prayer partners, and in many ways a writing team. So it's not surprising that we decided to band together on a writing project, and Austen in Austin was born.
It was a labor of love, as the published ladies sought to help the unpublished ladies achieve that esteemed goal, although at this point each of the Inkies has several published works to their names. Several more years passed before the dream became a published reality, but I'm happy to share it with you today. 

As you can see, these eight fun Texas-set novellas are based on Jane Austen's novels. The Ladies of Inkwell Inspirations had such a great time working together inventing these stories with their overlapping settings and characters and their Austenian plot lines, and I just know that you'll enjoy them too! They're written by some great established names in Christian fiction like Lisa Richardson, Gina Welborn, and yours truly, as well as some Inky authors who you might not have read yet, but will soon become favorites. I highly recommend reading the stories in order for the full experience of the overlapping characters and settings. The ebooks are a great deal at only $3.99 each for a volume of four delightful stories!

Volume 1 includes:
If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma
A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.

Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility
A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.

One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice
A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.

Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey
A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions.

Volume 2 includes:
Simply Lila by Suzie Johnson, based on Lady Susan 
Yearning to find a real-life hero, a wallflower must learn to live outside the pages of an Austen novel. 

Fully Persuaded by Niki Turner, based on Persuasion 
A brokenhearted artist struggles with the shame of her family s bankruptcy and the return of her first love whose proposal she d spurned because he was poor. 

Mansford Ranch by Dina L. Sleiman, based on Mansfield Park 
An aspiring novelist with a keen eye for character must determine who is worthy of playing her own leading man. 

Sense and Nonsense by Lisa Karon Richardson, based on Sense and Sensibility 
A would-be missionary is determined to make it to Ceylon, but when her funds disappear, she has to accept help from the man she most wants to avoid. 

Here's what people are saying about Austen in Austin: 

"They had me at the title! What's not to love about a collection of novellas patterned after Jane Austen's classic novels and set in the historic capital city of Austin, Texas? The result is as delightful as the premise." ~ Mocha with Linda

"Austen in Austin is one of the most well executed novellas I’ve read...All of the novellas are interrelated, so where one author leaves off another picks up months or years later, with a new lead character and a familiar cast. I enjoyed the continuity as well as the familiarity which this team of authors developed. If I Loved You Less probably held the closest to Austen’s works. In contrast, Alarmingly Charming struck me as an improvement on the original (because truthfully, I did not enjoy reading Northanger Abbey). All in all, these stories are irresistibly sweet romances with subtle elements of faith." ~ Shelf-Esteem

And in case you're wondering, yes, you can purchase the novellas individually in ebook format, but at $2.99 each, it's a much better deal to buy a set of four for $3.99. 

        Be sure to check out these fun novellas and share them with your friends!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Living in history

By Niki Turner

I'll admit to a lifelong fascination with history. I spent entire weeks of my childhood pretending I was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Nellie Bly was the first biography that inspired me to pursue journalism. When I started homeschooling my children, that interest in history was revived (to the point that my plea to visit the wagon ruts that remain from the pioneers in southwestern Wyoming is now a family joke). 

So last month I became the owner/publisher of a 132-year-old newspaper and moved into a 104-year-old house. I'm now literally immersed in history, and I love it.

The house we leased was built in 1912. It was owned by the same family that built it for most of the last century, and I think only one owner (our current landlady, a fellow history lover) since then. I talked to the grand-niece of the original owner at a historical society meeting today. We're going to get together. Some things have been updated, of course, but much of the house is in original condition. 

The original home builder married a schoolteacher who became the town's first librarian. (The irony!!!) He was a store manager in the same building our newspaper office is in. It's entirely possible my walk to work is the same walk he took. Their daughter became a schoolteacher, and their son was a journalist, historian, and author. How cool is that? It's no wonder this house feels good to me, despite it's quirks (it's seriously tilted to one side, among other old house oddities). 

Anyway, I wanted to share some photos, as my Inky sisters asked for updates once we got moved in. There's a lot of work to do... (I dropped one of those cedar balls you put in drawers in the upstairs hall and it disappeared... literally). I'm not terribly superstitious, and if any of the home's former residents are visiting in spirit form, they don't seem upset by the profusion of books and antiques we've hauled in here. Later than afternoon I noticed a gap between the baseboard and the floor just wide enough for that cedar ball, and who knows what else, to disappear between the two floors. Who knows what else is trapped in there in no man's land. Sounds like fodder for a good mystery, doesn't it?

Anyway, I'm on multiple deadlines, so this has to be brief. I'm hoping my new role as editor-in-chief will settle down soon (this weekend we moved our offices across the hall... pictures of that to come), and I'll be able to get back to my fiction and blogging! Here are a few pics of the house (click for details)! 


(PS, yes, all that long hair I spent the last four years growing out has gone away again!)

Niki Turner is a novelist, journalist, blogger, and the owner and editor of the Rio Blanco Herald Times weekly newspaper, one of the oldest continuously operating newspapers in Colorado.She is a co-blogger at, and president of her local ACFW chapterNiki is a Colorado native who grew up in Glenwood Springs—home of the world’s largest hot springs pool. She married her high school sweetheart 26 years ago. They have four children, four grandchildren, and two West Highland White Terriers who are kind enough to take them for long walks.You can find all her new releases at under BOOKS.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Toying with a new series!

It's never easy starting over.  But being a writer can mean having to redefine yourself, often. It's not a vocation for the fainthearted or for the inflexible.

When I first starting writing the Bridal Bouquet Shop mysteries, I was still basking in the warm glow of my fist big break. True confession here: the working title of the first book was Friends and Anemones. It sounds kind of silly now, but I wanted the next book to have a "B" flower in it, and so on. Yeah, some small part of me was just cocky enough to daydream of becoming the floral Sue Grafton.

By the time the third book was released, the market had completely changed, and my publisher was taken over by another one and they decided they had way too many cozies already in production, and they stopped renewing almost all of their existing series.

Back to square one? Pretty much.

The writing game is a little like Chutes and Ladders. You make your move--you learn your stuff and you write the best book possible--and then you send it out there hoping for the best. Maybe the market likes it, and you get a big advance and go up the ladder. At other times, you find yourself sliding back down to pretty much where you started.

But new beginnings are where the possibilities are.

Death of a Toy Soldier releases October 11th. (But a little bird told me the hardcovers are already shipping from Amazon).

Liz McCall grew up in a playful winter wonderland but it was never her dream to manage her father’s vintage toyshop. However, after he sank his entire police pension into the business, someone needed to help him turn his dreams into reality—and keep him from sneaking off to patrol the not-so-mean streets of East Aurora, NY.

The mood goes from nice to naughty when a nervous man, who was trying to have his antique toys appraised, is found in the shop with a lawn dart through his chest. Suddenly, Liz’s business plan is plunged into deep freeze, while she and her father find themselves toying with a cold-blooded killer who’s playing for keeps.

Now, it looks like Christmas might be cancelled for the neighborhood kids if Liz can't wrap up the case in Barbara Early's delightful debut Death of a Toy Soldier.

And since Liz McCall is a board game junkie, how about a game to celebrate:

Liz McCall hosts community game night at the vintage toyshop in the book, and one of them is dedicated to Monopoly, so for this game, choose one Monopoly property, including utilities and railroads. (Try to pick one that nobody else has chosen!) On Wednesday morning, I'll choose one Monopoly property at random and the person who picked that property will receive this handcrafted Monopoly coaster set and a Scrabble tile necklace.

Friday, September 23, 2016

O Christmas Town

"All across America are quaint towns with nostalgic Christmas names. In this collection, visit six such towns full of romance and Christmas spirit as couples find the true meaning of the holidays and love. Grab your favorite blanket, a hot cup of cocoa, and curl up with romance of a by-gone era"

O Christmas Town Boxed Set - Six Sweet Novellas set in Holiday Towns across the U.S.A. from Forget Me Not Romances. USE THIS LINK: 99cents on Kindle or free with Kindle Unlimited!

Last December I released my first novella, Desert Duet. Now it's part of this great collection, with five other Christmas novellas. 
O' Little Town of Christmas. 99cents for the boxed set!

One of these days, that fireplace is going to look so cozy, and you'll love this song as much as I do!

I'll be giving away one digital copy of the boxed set to one random commenter who'd like to be in the drawing. It ends 9/26 at midnight EDT. Leave your email safely--SallySnowflake (at) yahoo (.com) for example... so we know you're interested.  
And a second boxed set to someone who'd like to review! Let me know!

A Christmas Stamp by Cynthia Hickey
visit Cynthia's Website
Lilly Tipton has her first job as a telephonist in the picturesque town of Noel, Missouri. When she is injured riding her bicycle home from her job, she finds herself thrust into judging a contest to find a postmark that represents her little town. Not a difficult task other than the fact she must work with the very man who almost ran her over...the handsome mail carrier, Calvin Monroe.
After the death of his father and brother, and an injury obtained during his short time as a college football player, Calvin has no other plans than to work at his job and care for his mourning mother. When he literally runs into the lovely new telephonist, he knows all his future plans are changed. What he thought important turns out not to be.
As the town prepares for notoriety with its postmark contest, Lilly and Calvin must set aside their plans and let God take the reins of their future.

The Substitute Bride by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Visit Carrie's Website
A Christmas Carol meets It’s A Wonderful Life...
A letter for Sonja’s deceased friend arrives at the post office in Shepherd, Michigan, and with it a proposal. With her father threatening to kick her out of his home, Sonja impulsively responds, offering to travel west to be a substitute bride. At the same time, Louis’s railroad promotion sends him back to Michigan, the one place on earth he’d hoped to never return—where Christmas past was full of pain. A mysterious stranger leaves him marked copies of “A Christmas Carol” as he considers romancing Sonja in Christmas present. Will Louis discern the best choices for Christmas future? Does it include the Poor House, again? Even so—will God bring healing and love to him this year? 

Letters from Santa by Becca Whitham
Visit Becca's Pinterest page for Letters from Santa
Army intelligence officer Alex Stevens has been trying to prove his father didn’t desert during WWII so his mother can receive survivor benefits. He’s followed every lead until it ran dry. Then Violet Poplovich, the daughter of another soldier who deserted at the same time as Alex’s father, walks into his office with a check she thinks came from the army. But the army doesn’t issue checks from the First National Bank of North Pole, Alaska. All Alex wants is the truth, and he wants Violet to help him find it.
Violet doesn’t want to believe her father’s a deserter, and she certainly doesn’t want to believe he’s been sending cashier’s checks for fifteen years without ever trying to contact her. Except maybe he has...disguised as Santa. When she receives some mysterious gifts, Violet is forced to consider that her father may be alive.
Both of them are looking for the same man, and the only person who can help is Santa.

An Angel for Mistletoe by Teresa Ives Lilly
Find out more about Teresa's Fiction
When Angelica Cartwright heads to Kentucky to begin her teaching career, she never dreams she will be waylaid in Mistletoe Kentucky with a broken foot and cared for by a handsome wood carver and his daughter. However, she soon finds that Luke Tanner is also carving himself onto her heart. 
Desert Duet by Debra E. Marvin
See my Pinterest page for Desert Duet
Merry Christmas from Humbug, Arizona. Wish You Were Here! 
It’s 1933 in the good old US of A. In the midst of drought, the Depression, and gangsters on the lam, America finds solace in Hollywood's Golden Age. 
Ex-pilot Eugene Tanner, determined to pen the lyrics for the movie industry's first "Best Song" award, books a rushed December stay at the remote Humbug Creek Guest Ranch (A Gold Mine of a Getaway!) Where better to find inspiration for an epic Western, than amid all that trail dust and burnt coffee? 
Thea Knight gives up her short holiday break from the studio’s costume department to play cowgirl hostess at her family’s struggling guest ranch. But instead of helping their witty and handsome guest, she becomes his biggest distraction. Old flames and past regrets take a backseat when the pair become embroiled in a ghost town mystery marring Humbug, Arizona’s rustic Christmas. Thankfully, the cowgirl is as fast with her Winchester as she is with her comebacks.

Searching for Joy by Linda Baten Johnson
When young widow Ingrid Larkin opens the door of her tenement on a cold December night, trouble enters. Living in the shadow of the meat packing plant, death often comes calling, but the injured worker brought to her door is a stranger.
Caleb Finsson’s dangerous assignments never threaten anyone but himself, until he lists a fictitious address on a work card that matches the residence of a beautiful woman.
Separate goals lead Ingrid and Caleb to Joy, Illinois, a little town whose very name promises hope and happiness, but both must resolve past issues before searching for a joy-filled future. 

Okay - there you have it. Now, tell me, how early do you start decorating for Christmas? 
(and don't forget to comment if you'd like to be in the drawing for this cheery boxed set!)