CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Alison (agboss) who won Susanne Dietze's The Reluctant Guardian!


Congratulations to Elise Jehan who won a copy of The Secret Admirer Romance Collection!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Welcome to The Colorado Christian Writers Conference

by Dina Sleiman

Over the years we've featured a number of writers conferences on this blog, particularly American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. But there are many smaller writers conferences that meet all over the country. Some of these are hidden jewels. So today I'd like to share with you about my experience at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

Accommodations

Yep, it really looks like this!
The Colorado Christian Writers Conference shares a director and the "Write His Answer" theme with the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. While there are many similarities, the main difference is in the gorgeous Colorado Rocky setting. This conference is held at the Estes Park YMCA campus. The lodging is lovely and comfortable with a number of gracious amenities. The food is pretty decent for cafeteria style dining. And the entire complex is surrounded by a ring of awe-inspiring mountains, many of which are still snow-capped in May.

This conference itself costs about $350. The housing options vary significantly depending on your choice of lodge and number of roommates, and meals are included with most options. Total, expect to pay between $500 and $800.

Two issues to keep in mind with this conference. First, there is a decent bit of walking up and down hills involved. For many, this is a pro, but for those with mobility issues, it could be a con. And this can be further complicated by the high altitude. Second, the complex is about 90 minutes from the Denver airport. Although the cost is far less than many other conferences, be sure to include the shuttle fee to the Estes Park YMCA or car rental fee. You might want to stick around the final night for the hayride and cookout which I've heard displays the campus at its best, but be aware that this also costs an extra fee.

Conference Specialty


Make new friends in Colorado!
As I mentioned, Marlene Bagnull runs both the Colorado and Philadelphia conferences, and both reflect her unique spirit. If you like a casual, family style feel, these conferences were tailor made for you. Want to meet with that editor in jeans or shorts, no problem! They might just be wearing the same. Marlene has been running these conferences for several decades, and if you get a chance to meet her, you will be sure to get a wonderful dose of motherly love. Even if not, her warmth and sweet spirit permeate all of the general sessions. It might not feel as sharp and professional as some of the big conferences, but it makes up for that in other ways.

Perhaps the stand out quality of this conference is the attention to the spiritual side of both writing and living. While there is much writerly inspiration offered during the general sessions, attention is also given to building you as an individual and to important issues of our time. So you kind of get a writers conference/spiritual retreat two-for-one. I've also noticed that many of the workshops have a spiritual tone. Of course there are plenty of craft and business classes to choose from, but if you'd rather focus on hearing from God, on the heart, and on ministry, those options are available as well.

Staff

This conference covers a number of genres including fiction, nonfiction, journalism, devotions, etc... It even offers a Saturday tract for teenage writers. While the staff is divided between genres, this year's fiction staff was still top notch.

Allen Arnold - developed the fiction line for Thomas Nelson, received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, and now works for Ransomed Hearts Ministry. This year he gave a keynote address and taught a continuing session on The Heart of a Storyteller (which was my personal highlight).
Tracie Peterson - author of 100 Christian novels, best-seller, and winner of many awards. Tracie offered a fiction practicum. You can't really beat that.
Not to mention: Tim Shoemaker, Tiffany Amber Stockton, Kimberly Woodhouse, Kim Vogel Sawyer, N. Paul Williams, Susan Baganz, Nancy Lohr, Nick Harrison, and yours truly, Dina Sleiman

You might not find as many editors and agents that represent fiction at this conference as you would at say ACFW. However, since the conference is only about a third of the size, you might actually increase your chances of meeting with the people that you want to talk to.

And of course, the variety of genres is great for an author with multiple interests or a new writer who hasn't yet found their niche.

Final Thoughts

So if you are looking for a conference well covered in concrete with obligatory elevator rides, climate control, gourmet meals, and three piece suits, this one is not for you. LOL. Of course the next conference is a year away, and you will want to consider the staff, agents, and editors who will be there. But, if you love nature and spirit and want your heart awakened, be sure to put this conference on your radar. For many attendees it is a yearly tradition not to be missed!

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




Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Check out her novels Dance from Deep Within, Dance of the Dandelion, and Love in Three-Quarter time. And please join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks






 
    I don't see very many movies lately. Most of them just don't appeal to my "increasingly disenchanted with pop culture" self, but Saving Mr. Banks is one I looked forward to from the moment I first saw the trailer.
    Saving Mr. Banks is the based-on-a-true-story story of how P. L. Travers' children's books came to the big screen. Walt Disney's daughters begged him to make their beloved Mary Poppins into a movie. He promised he would, and after twenty tumultuous years of trying, he finally got the uncooperative Travers to at least come talk to him about it.
    Tom Hanks' Disney is just as warm and appealing as I remember him being when he hosted The Wonderful World of Disney on TV when I was a very little girl. And Emma Thompson is a wonder as Travers. You don't know whether to pity her, laugh at her or strangle her, though as an author, I can sympathize with her wanting to keep her characters true to her vision of them. (I don't think, though, should I ever have the opportunity of having a movie made from one of my books, that I would insist the color red not be used anywhere in it.)
    Her sessions with the Sherman brothers, the ones who wrote the delightful music for the film, were great. In real life, she insisted on having them recorded, and it's interesting to listen to some of the original Travers recordings played during the closing credits of the film. It's really a miracle that they got anything done at all. But the brothers somehow take their nemesis with a good grace and even persuade her to dance to one of the songs.
    But, sadly, she draws the line at the penguins. She doesn't mind that they dance (though she does wonder how one teaches live penguins to do so), but when she realizes they will be animated, that's the last straw. She absolutely refuses to have any animation in her film. None. So back she goes to England, refusing to give up the rights to her story and characters.
    But Walt, determined to keep his promise to his daughters and because, I suspect, he has seen that this truly is important to Mrs. Travers, too, follows her across the Atlantic. He tells her of his own less-than-ideal childhood, and assures her that he understands what her story is about.  Not about saving the children, but about saving Mr. Banks.
    "George Banks will be honored," he assures her in a scene that reduced me to tears. "George Banks will be redeemed. George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again."
    Those lines really resonated with me. As a writer who has often made her own life bearable by restoring order with imagination, I couldn't help but be touched. And I cried when, after finally giving Disney permission to do the film, Mrs. Travers eventually attended the premier of Mary Poppins, animated dancing penguins and all.  And I cried with her when she saw Mr. Banks and his wife and children go kite flying, a happy family at last.
    Mr. Banks (and P. L. Travers' and Walt Disney's fathers to boot) saved.
    Order restored.




Have you seen Saving Mr. Banks? What did you think of it? What's the best movie you've seen lately?





DeAnna Julie Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. She is the author of In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, a trilogy of medieval romances, as well as Letters in the Attic, The Key in the Attic, The Diary in the Attic and The Legacy in the Attic, contemporary mysteries. Her new series of Drew Farthering Mysteries debuted in the Summer of 2013 with Rules of Murder, to be followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado in 2014 from Bethany House. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats

Friday, May 23, 2014

Moms' Night Out





by C.J. Chase
I’d originally planned to write about the upcoming National Memorial Day Concert that will be broadcast on Monday throughout the U.S. This will be the 25th such annual concert, and at the risk of letting my age be known, yours truly was at the very first one. I don’t know where we learned about it—probably the radio—but I’m sure the main attraction to young, poor newlyweds living in one of the East Coast’s most expensive cities was the “free” price tag. In fact, we attended most of the first dozen or so, except in those years when sick kids kept us from venturing out in the Memorial Day rain. (For some reason, it rains a lot on Memorial Day in DC. One year while we were waiting for concert to begin, the tech guys played an entire montage of previous years’ concert footage where famous performers sang and danced in the pouring rain. I sat there and said, “Oh, yeah, I remember that year. And that one. And that one…”)

But then a Moms Night Out with a friend turned into a night at Moms’ Night Out (the movie), and I thought a Friday movie review might be in order. I guess that makes this post a review and a preview.

If you aren’t a news junkie like (ahem) some here, you may not know about the controversy surrounding this movie. Moms’ Night Out is part of the “Christian film” genre. Like Christian fiction (such as that written by the lovely ladies of Inkwell), Christian films have come a long way from those of my childhood. Of course, general market movies have come a long way from the gentle G offerings of my childhood—and not necessarily for the better. (Even most cartoons are now rated PG. What’s up with that?) As the culture has coarsened, talented Christian artists have had to work harder to find roles that don’t conflict with their beliefs. Modern Christian films have been the beneficiaries, drawing in some of Hollywood’s top talent. These movies often star actors best known for secular roles and may even reach blockbuster success in the general market (see The Chronicles of Narnia productions for Exhibit A).

Mom’s Night Out features actors Patricia Heaton (Debra on Everybody Loves Raymond), Sarah Drew (Dr. April Kepner on Grey’s Anatomy), Sean Astin (the Lord of the Rings trilogy’s Samwise Gamgee) and country music legend Trace Atkins. It has a family-friendly PG rating. What could be so controversial about that?

The critics hated it and the viewers loved it. No, let me rephrase that. The critics really, really hated it, and the audiences have really, really loved it.

On the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, the composite critic reviews give it a 17% favorable rating (with the unflattering front-page comment of “Cheap-looking, unfunny, and kind of sexist to boot, Moms' Night Out is a disappointment from start to finish.”), but the composite audience reviews give it a whopping 91% rating. I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as having low-brow tastes, but I know that a majority of movie critics tend to hold a worldview that doesn’t always square with mine. As a writer who has garnered a few one- and two-star reviews on the same books that others rate at four or five, I knew I had to see this movie to judge for myself.

Let’s start with the trailer, shall we?




So what is my opinion? I must be cheap, unfunny and sexist because I laughed through the entire production. Hey, how could I not love a movie that opens with the line “I’m a mommy blogger”? Yikes! Is that my life or what? And then there was this memorable aside, spoken by the main character during a book club meeting, “Reading books is something I aspire to, but I have three kids, so…I don’t read books.”

Moms’ Night Out employs exaggerated, over-the-top humor, but it’s never mean or bitter. While most of us will never have a night gone so wrong we end up in jail with a tasered preacher’s wife (and if you do, we want to hear all about it), I think all parents have moments when they feel totally overwhelmed by life. Parents at all stages will appreciate the stresses that come with an inconvenient positive pregnancy test, a toddler artist practicing on the walls, or a rebellious teenager. And all women can identify with the main characters’ determination to put on a show of outward perfection.

My verdict is that if you have children or have ever thought about having children, ignore the critics and go. Hire a sitter or leave the kids with dad, find some friends, and release some endorphins. Be certain to stay all the way to the very, very end because the line right above the copyright date is hilarious. In this instance, I have to agree with the majority. And bah humbug to the critics.


Oh, and if you are a U.S. reader, watch the National Memorial Day Concert on your PBS station Monday night. It’s almost as good as being there. (But not quite.) And if you ever get to DC over the Memorial Day weekend, make time in your schedule to attend. Just be certain to take your umbrella.


After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her current release, The Reluctant Earl, is now available  in online bookstores. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at www.cjchasebooks.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Little Baby Sasquatch

Sweet Mountain Music
by Suzie Johnson

The year is 1896, in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Ben is a scientist on an expedition he's dreamed of ever since his father sent him a newspaper clipping that ignited not only his imagination, but also his standing in the scientific community.

Though Sweet Mountain Music is fiction novel, the newspaper clipping mentioned in the book was really published in a British Columbia newspaper. But was the article fact, or fiction? You be the judge.

What is It? That was the headline of the July 4, 1884 edition of the The Daily British Colonist.

The article proceeds to tell the story of a young Sasquatch, originally referred to as a British Columbian Gorilla, captured after he was spotted sleeping next to the railroad near a tunnel above Yale, British Columbia. When the engineer blew the whistle and brought the train to a stop, the half-man half-beast stood straight up and scaled the side of the bluff. The rail crew gave chase and the 4' 7", 127 pound creature, later nicknamed Jacko, was captured.

Jacko had long black hair and was said to resemble a human being, although his body was covered with short silky hair. He was also said to have super-human strength. This strength was supposedly exhibited when he broke sticks and branches by twisting them.

And then there was his manner of communication. Jacko didn't speak, but would occasionally emit a growl-bark combination.

Sadly, Jacko was transported across Canada by rail, in a cage, in order to be put on display. It is said he died in transit.

Just as has continued to happen since the first reported sighting of a bigfoot-like creature in 1784 in Canada, speculation abounded as to Jacko's true species, and even whether or not there was actually a creature captured by the rail crew.

There was even a young Sasquatch sighted and featured on a recent Survivorman special on the Discovery Channel.

If you happened to see the Survivorman Bigfoot Special, what did you think of the baby Sasquatch peering out from the bushes?

True or false, we can all have a little fun with the legend.
I will be giving away one copy of Sweet Mountain Music, to one person who leaves a comment either on this, or my May 19, 2014 post, by midnight, Friday, May 23, 2014.

SuzieJohnson’s third novel and first historical, Sweet Mountain Music, is now available from WhiteFire Publishing. Suzie is also the author of two contemporary inspirational novels, True North, and No Substitute. Both books are written under the name Susan Diane Johnson and published by The Pelican Book Group. Suzie and her husband are the parents of a wonderful son, and they live on an island in the Pacific Northwest with their naughty little cat. Suzie believes her island is the perfect spot for writing romantic fiction. You can visit her website at: www.susandianejohnson.com.


Chloe Williston will make a name for herself... no matter what beast she must track to achieve it.

Chloe Williston has two goals in life: to make her father proud, and to do it by making a name for herself as a journalist. It seems she has been waiting for years for the perfect opportunity...and when it arrives in her Washington State town in the form of a handsome naturalist in search of the legendary Great North American Ape, she isn’t about to let him go off on an adventure without her.

Ben Kearny has to admit he’s intrigued by the undauntable Miss Chloe Williston...until he learns she’s a journalist. The last thing he needs is a reporter sticking her nose however pretty it may be in his expedition. He has to find the Sasquatch. It’s his only chance at restoring his reputation, and he can’t let anything, even Chloe, get in his way.

But as the expedition sets off with Chloe and her brother in tow, Ben finds the obstacles stacked against him. He not only has to find the illusive beast, he also has to keep Chloe out of the trouble she seems determined to find...all while protecting his heart.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Girl Named Pink


by Suzie Johnson

When we started Inkwell Inspirations a few years ago, we had this fun theme week where we all did a post on women we admire. I chose Nellie Bly. Since Nellie Bly is a role model for Chloe Williston, the heroine of my new historical novel Sweet Mountain Music, I thought it would be fun to repost my Inkspot on Nellie Bly. I will be giving away a copy of my novel to one person who leaves a comment by midnight, Friday, May 23, 2014.

What words come to mind when you hear the name Nellie Bly? Adventurer? Reporter? Women’s Rights Activist? They would all be correct, but how did a woman born in 1864 come by the courage and spirit to delve into places no men dared to go?

Life wasn’t easy for little Elizabeth Cochrane. Born to a well-respected judge and his wife, and almost immediately nicknamed Pink, Elizabeth’s life should have been one of comfort and bliss. But her father died when she was six-years-old. Since he didn’t leave a will, and it was 1864, her mother had no rights to his property. Wanting to provide the best home she could for her children, she remarried and Pink’s life changed dramatically. Instead of a loving daddy, Pink ended up with an abusive step-father.

Imagine if you will, a lonely little girl who watched her mother go from a life of happiness to one where she and her children endured years of abuse. At age fourteen, Pink had to testify about the abuse at her mother’s divorce trial. After that, they moved to Pittsburgh where her mother took in boarders in order to feed her children.

It was during this time that Pink took notice of the young girls who worked in the factories and canneries under the most atrocious of conditions. Pink was at a loss to understand why they couldn’t get jobs similar to their male counterparts. When she was eighteen, she read a newspaper column that basically said women were useless outside of marriage. Fueled by years of abuse followed by years of watching her mother slave away and seeing how young women in Pittsburgh were treated in their workplace, Pink fired off a letter to the editor in response to the article and signed it Lonely Orphan Girl.

She made an impression.

Pink’s letter wasn’t published, but she was invited to meet with the editor and he hired her to write for the paper. Her first articles were about the lack of women in the business world, bad marriages, and divorce—everything she’d experienced as a young girl. Lonely Orphan Girl dared to question whether a bad marriage was better than no marriage at all.

When her editor decided she needed a proper byline, he chose the name of a popular song by Stephen Foster: Nelly Bly. But because of a printing error on her first byline, Nelly became Nellie.

She made a difference.

Nellie wasn’t interested in society balls and who wore the latest fashions. She wanted to cover politics and crime just like the male reporters. She wanted to make people aware of cruel treatment of women and children in the factories. The only way she could do this was to go undercover as a factory worker. It wasn’t long before she was able to bring their issues to light.

Eventually Nellie convinced her editor to send her to Mexico as a foreign correspondent. She reported about poverty and violence, and the homelessness of some of the people. Because of her outspokenness, it wasn’t long before Nellie began receiving threats and eventually had to leave Mexico.

Her next stop was New York City. With her reputation as an undercover reporter and foreign correspondent, surely she’d have no trouble getting a job in the big city. Right? Wrong. In New York, she was a nobody. It took four long months before she convinced Joseph Pulitzer to hire her. But it was well worth the wait because it led to one of her most famous exposés.

Illustrious Nellie managed to get herself committed to an insane asylum known as Blackwell’s Island. She checked herself into a boarding house under the name Nellie Brown, and soon began drawing negative attention to herself by acting crazy. When she emerged ten days later, her series of articles created a sensation. No other reporter had ever dared such a thing.

That she was brave is without question. But her purpose was noble. She wrote, “I answered the summons with pleasure because I longed to help those of God’s most unfortunate children whom I had left prisoners behind me.”

Nellie’s bravery changed lives.

She continued working undercover to expose corruption and help women in precarious situations. And of course, she had her adventures. She once jumped off a ferry to see if the rescue crew knew how to do their job. She rode in a hot air balloon, and danced in a chorus line. But her biggest adventure had to be when she traveled around the world to see if she could beat the record set by Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s novel: Around the World in Eighty Days. She did it in seventy-two days.

But that was Nellie, always determined.

Many people associate her with a dare-devil spirit. An adventuress. They overlook the part of her that longed to make the world a better place for the less fortunate. Even after her biggest adventure, she continued looking out for others with her writing and in 1914, she became the first woman war correspondent.

Without a doubt her unhappy childhood influenced her desire to make things better for others. I think it was that childhood, and the things she saw as a young woman that gave her the courage to delve into the world of undercover reporting, in spite of being told it couldn't be done.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Nellie. I’ve always been fascinated by her and the life she led, more so after reading her own words. In fact, in one of my historical novels, my heroine longs to be a reporter and make a difference like Nellie Bly. And like my heroine, Nellie's story inspires me to dig a little deeper, to try a little harder, and to pray even more: Dear Heavenly Father, help me be aware of those around me. Help me try to make a difference in someone's life today.

Note: My bibliography sources are all pictured above by bookcover. These books (and the Stephen Foster Songbook) can all be purchased through amazon, barnes and noble, or overstock. However, the two books by Nellie Bly herself can also be read for free by clicking these links:
Around the World in Seventy-Two Days by Nellie Bly

SuzieJohnson’s third novel and first historical, Sweet Mountain Music, is now available from WhiteFire Publishing. Suzie is also the author of two contemporary inspirational novels, True North, and No Substitute. Both books are written under the name Susan Diane Johnson and published by The Pelican Book Group. Suzie and her husband are the parents of a wonderful son, and they live on an island in the Pacific Northwest with their naughty little cat. Suzie believes her island is the perfect spot for writing romantic fiction. You can visit her website at: www.susandianejohnson.com.


Chloe Williston will make a name for herself... no matter what beast she must track to achieve it.

Chloe Williston has two goals in life: to make her father proud, and to do it by making a name for herself as a journalist. It seems she has been waiting for years for the perfect opportunity...and when it arrives in her Washington State town in the form of a handsome naturalist in search of the legendary Great North American Ape, she isn’t about to let him go off on an adventure without her.

Ben Kearny has to admit he’s intrigued by the undauntable Miss Chloe Williston...until he learns she’s a journalist. The last thing he needs is a reporter sticking her nose however pretty it may be in his expedition. He has to find the Sasquatch. It’s his only chance at restoring his reputation, and he can’t let anything, even Chloe, get in his way.

But as the expedition sets off with Chloe and her brother in tow, Ben finds the obstacles stacked against him. He not only has to find the illusive beast, he also has to keep Chloe out of the trouble she seems determined to find...all while protecting his heart.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Unsolved Mysteries: Which Ones Stir YOUR Imagination?


Suzie Johnson's newest release, "Sweet Mountain Music" tackles a journalist's desire to prove (or debunk) one of the mysteries of the ages, one that remains unsolved more than a hundred years later—the existence of the Sasquatch.

As a part-time journalist, I understand heroine Chloe's hunger to bring out the truth and expose the lie, and the frustration that comes with a challenging assignment.

The unsolved mystery (anyone remember the Leonard Nimoy "In Search Of" series?) of the Sasquatch, aka Bigfoot, has been circulating for more than a century. Making it one of the "newer" mysteries of unknown beasties in the world. Rumors and legends of terrifying creatures on land and sea have been a part of folklore for as long as people have been telling each other stories, transcending cultures and continents.

wikipedia.org
Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, enjoyed a surge in popularity in the late '60s and early '70s, with the greatest number of sightings in Washington, Oregon, and California.

My own experience with the Sasquatch took place on the shore of a mountain lake in Colorado. We'd been sailing, and anchored along shore to camp for the night. My parents encouraged me to get out of the boat (yes, I needed to be encouraged) to explore the tiny bay.

Imagine my shock and surprise when I came across giant footprints... human-looking, but larger than any normal human. With my overactive imagination it didn't take long to fly into a panic... I knew about Bigfoot, thanks to Mr. Spock's docu-dramas. Eventually my folks 'fessed up... they'd made the footprints in the silty lake's edge for entertainment purposes, and I was the evening's entertainment.

With that behind me, I still don't discount the possibility of the existence of a Sasquatch, or any of the other freaky critters people swear they've seen around the world: Nessie, Chupacabra, Abominable Snowman (Bigfoot's Asian cousin), the Giant Squid, and so on. Who knows... dragons, mermaids, and unicorns sprang forth from somewhere, quite possibly a kernel of truth at some point and place in mankind's lengthy history.

How can I wrap my faith around such implausible ideas? Because I believe in a God whose Son walked on water, raised the dead, turned water into wine, and healed the sick. A God who has the power to create and to destroy. A God who is much, much bigger than my wee little brain can comprehend. Who am I to limit the possibilities of His creation to that which I've seen with my own two eyes? I haven't seen Paris with my own eyes yet, but I still believe it exists!
"'Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.' Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book." John 20:29-31 NIV
Hey, I haven't seen heaven yet, either... 
Just a thought.

Congratulations to our dear Suzie!


QUESTIONS:

Which of the aforementioned creatures  of legend do you think might actually exist, if any?

Has your faith in God ever tripped up your natural senses/knowledge and changed what you believed about something?



Niki Turner is a novelist, journalist, and blogger. Her first completed manuscript earned second place in the Touched By Love 2009 contemporary category romance contest. She writes for local newspapers, and won second place for best agriculture story at the 2013 Colorado Press Association annual convention. She also blogs at www.nikiturner.net and is a co-blogger at www.inkwellinspirations.com. Niki is an active member and volunteer for American Christian Fiction Writers and is involved in establishing an ACFW chapter on Colorado's Western Slope, where she resides. Her debut novelette, “Santiago Sunsets,” will be published as part of White Rose Publishing's Passport to Romance series. Niki's fiction blends the good news of God's love with come-as-you-are characters in stories that encourage and inspire. 





Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Release Party - Sweet Mountain Music by Suzie Johnson

 
 You never know who you are going to see in the wilds of the great Cascade Mountains!  Do you believe in the Great North American Ape?  Might one of them be lurking on the edge of the forest hoping to catch sight of Suzie Johnson at our release party?

 Congratulations Suzie!  Don't you all love this cover from WhiteFire Publishing

SWEET MOUNTAIN MUSIC




Chloe Williston isn't going to let a chance like this pass her by. Will the legend of the man-like, hairy beast of the great northwest be the story that seals her place as a journalist?  



Chloe longs to be like her hero, journalist Nellie Bly!
Sweet Mountain Music is set in the incredible Cascade Mountains
 The year is 1896 - Pull up your coach or wagon and join us inside the meeting hall for some mighty fine grub. There'll be some singing too, if we can get a certain gentleman to favor us with his voice!

We think we hear a lovely male voice amid all those lady songbirds!
Chloe Williston has a newshound's ear for the biggest story to come her way in a long time.  With her brother Caleb tagging along, it's going to be difficult to keep her cover. No serious naturalist wants a journalist around when he's about to become famous! I don't think Ben Kearny has a chance!

Ben Kearny has a voice like an angel, but his efforts to keep the nosey Chloe Williston from accompanying his expedition are decidedly sour.
BLURB for SWEET MOUNTAIN MUSIC!
Chloe Williston will make a name for herself... no matter what beast she must track to achieve it.

Chloe Williston has two goals in life: to make her father proud, and to do it by making a name for herself as a journalist. It seems she has been waiting for years for the perfect opportunity...and when it arrives in her Washington State town in the form of a handsome naturalist in search of the legendary Great North American Ape, she isn’t about to let him go off on an adventure without her.
Ben Kearny has to admit he’s intrigued by the undauntable Miss Chloe Williston...until he learns she’s a journalist. The last thing he needs is a reporter sticking her nose however pretty it may be in his expedition. He has to find the Sasquatch. It’s his only chance at restoring his reputation, and he can’t let anything, even Chloe, get in his way.
But as the expedition sets off with Chloe and her brother in tow, Ben find the obstacles stacked against him. He not only has to find the illusive beast, he also has to keep Chloe out of the trouble she seems determined to find...all while protecting his heart.

Come in and say hello and help us celebrate the release of Sweet Mountain Music.

Chloe's brother Caleb just went out for some ice, but while you wait, grab a plate of our best potluck fixings!


Visit:
Suzie's website

Suzie's Pinterest Page for Sweet Mountain Music

Purchase:
on Amazon

Thanks for stopping in!

 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Janet Kitz Brought History Alive




Last night I happened to catch the 2003 TV movie, Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion which is based on the 1917 explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax Harbour, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I had missed this movie the first time it came around, and caught an hour of it another time. Last night I was determined to watch it in its entirety.

Halifax pre-explosion with Dartmouth on right across the channel. (wikipedia)

Twelve hours later, I’m still reeling from the death and devastation I witnessed on my wide-screen TV which cannot compare in any fashion with what actually happened on Dec 6, 1917 when a munitions ship carrying 2,300 tons of wet and dry picric acid, 200 tons of TNT, 10 tons of gun cotton and 35 tons of benzol exploded. It has been labeled as one of the biggest man-made explosions in history – second only the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW2.

Taken 15-20 secs after the explosion. (wikipedia)

The facts on what the munitions ship was carrying is real. The facts on what happened after are staggering – almost 2,000 dead, 9,000 injured, 6,000 homeless, and every building within 2.6 kilometres (1.6 miles) was destroyed or badly damaged.


Halifax after the explosion, looking across channel to Dartmouth. (wikipedia)

If you read the Wikipedia commentary on the movie, you basically see all the faults of the movie and how it wasn’t historically accurate due to the addition of a subplot and other liberalities used to make the production more of an entertainment vehicle. However, I’m not here to judge the movie, but to bring attention to the author of the book who inspired the movie in the first place.


Janet Kitz, a 1980 anthropology student of Saint Mary's University, chose the event as the topic of a paper. At the time, the horrific explosion was a mere tragic event in Halifax’s past without much publicity attached to it. Kitz’s research led her to a basement where small woven sacks of 1917 unclaimed personal effects called “mortuary bags” had sat undisturbed for decades. Intrigued, she delved into the research of eye-witness accounts, records, and artifacts wherever she could find them including the Halifax Relief Commission, Halifax Museum, Nova Scotia Provincial Archives, and second-hand stores. Personal stories were garnered from survivors – mere children in 1917.

Kitz brought all the materials and interviews together into book form under the title, Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion and the Road to Recovery. Published in 1989, it sparked a new interest in the Halifax Explosion which led to the production of the TV movie.

The Halifax Explosion is an in-depth website with photo and media galleries as well as a teacher’s resource section.

It just goes to show you how research into one historic event can bring to light the stories of people who have been lost and forgotten, and whose stories need to be told by someone just curious enough to seek them out.


Writers: Do events like this incite you to write? 
Readers: Do you like reading about true events mingled with fiction?


Friday, May 9, 2014

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner


Back cover copy:
A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?


Taryn and Clara live in two different time periods, but their lives intersect because of one simple item. I love the way Susan Meissner interweaves two stories from two different time periods, and yet manages to fully immerse the reader in both worlds. She did it in The Shape of Mercy, and she did it again, in Lady in Waiting. A Fall of Marigolds equals both of these books in heart, in quality, and in the way it captures the essence of both women’s lives.

Both Clara and Taryn have issues to work through. Each feeling guilt, they need to find the strength to move forward.

Susan Meissner crafts two beautiful, mesmerizing stories into one book that fully drew me in and captured my emotions. She’s a master storyteller, and I had no trouble at all picturing the activity on Ellis Island as the immigrants stepped off the boats – many of them swallowed by grief over having lost a loved one to disease as they crossed the ocean, only to find themselves thrust into quarantine. And though fresh with remembered pain, Susan Meissner manages to gently draw the reader into the place none of us want to go – the memories of September 11, 2001.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story with impact. This is women’s fiction, not necessarily romance; a journey two women take to find their way back into life after two New York tragedies separated by decades but with some eerie similarities. Haunting, yet captivating, A Fall of Marigolds is beautifully written.



Suzie Johnson’s third novel and first historical, Sweet Mountain Music, will be released in May from WhiteFire Publishing. Suzie is also the author of two contemporary inspirational novels, True North, and No Substitute. Both books are written under the name Susan Diane Johnson and published by The Pelican Book Group. Suzie and her husband are the parents of a wonderful son, and they live on an island in the Pacific Northwest with their naughty little cat. Suzie believes her island is the perfect spot for writing romantic fiction. You can visit her website at: www.susandianejohnson.com.