CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Jenny LM who won Susanne Dietze's My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho Prize pack!



Friday, January 29, 2016

The Finest Hours


by C.J. Chase

Disney's The Finest Hours opens in theaters today (Friday, January 29th), but the Chases got to cross an item off our "bucket list" Wednesday when husband and wife (yours truly) left the kids at home and attended their first ever advance movie screening. Navy Federal Credit Union (in conjunction with Visa) has periodically sent us invitations to apply for tickets to such screenings, but we'd never responded quickly enough to get seats -- until last week.
Not your typical ticket

C.J.'s new poster
A couple words about the advance screening first: it turned out we got much more than just free movie tickets. When we arrived at the theater, Visa gifted us with stadium blankets, posters, and vouchers for free popcorn and drinks. Pretty cool, huh?

Set in 1952, The Finest Hours is based on a real story of a United States Coast Guard rescue operation. (You can read the full story on the USCG's website here.) I'll never understand how the Disney corp can be so consistently lucky. Had they released this movie last Friday, the Northeastern part of the country would have missed opening weekend because of winter storm Jonas. Instead, this movie about a monster winter storm hitting the Northeast opened...one week later. How do they do that?

The movie's gentle beginning of 1950's era music and romance only lasts for a couple scenes, and then the drama begins. On February 18, 1952, a nor'easter with 60 foot seas and 70 knot (80 mph) winds hit the Cape Cod coast. The first distress call came from the Fort Mercer, an oil tanker that had split in two.

Meanwhile, the oil tanker Pendleton fell victim to the same storm, and it too split in half. Yes, two tankers broke apart in the same violent storm. The Pendelton's bow (front of the ship), containing the captain and the radio room, foundered immediately. The stern (rear), containing the ship's engines, began taking on water faster than the pumps could drain it. How could the remaining men survive on a sinking half of a ship with no captain and no radio?

With most of the local Coast Guardsmen and the best boat having already gone to assist in the Fort Mercer rescue, it was up to soon-to-be-married Boatswain's Mate First Class Bernie Webber (played by Chris Pine) and three volunteers to get their tiny boat "over the bar" (the shifting sandbars that are close enough to the sea's surface they can ground a boat) and race against time to rescue the Pendleton's remaining crew. The local fishermen tell Webber it's a suicide mission and he should "get lost," that is, ride around near the coast for a little bit and then return to the Chatham Lifeboat Station rather than make the attempt to take his boat into the open sea. Should he choose duty or love?


Okay, let me start with my major complaint: the characterization could have been stronger. Several statements hinted at a backstory for both Bernie and his fiancee, but we never got enough details to find out what (in anything) had happened. And then there were a couple things at the very, very end (after the exciting climax) that were forgivable, but a little too Hollywoodish to be believable.

What did I like? There are really two heroes in this movie, both quiet men who rise to the challenge of being leaders during a life-threatening crisis. These are ordinary guys who could be your neighbor or brother but who are propelled to larger-than-life status by the sheer heroism of their actions. The action scenes (which comprise most of the movie) are top notch without being over the top.

The audience at our local theater seemed to really enjoy the show -- probably not surprising since this is a Navy town and the screening was hosted by Navy Federal Credit Union. And while this isn't a particularly funny movie, my husband got a laugh from me when the Pendleton's chief engineer said, "The captain doesn't listen to me anyway" and my husband (who works for the Navy) whispered, "I know that captain."

The Finest Hours is rated PG-13 for intense scenes of people in peril. There is some swearing and a lewd statement from one of the sailors.

I'd say it rates about four lifeboats.


P.S. Every time the seamen spoke about going "over the bar" I kept thinking of this Tennyson poem which uses the image as a metaphor for death. This is published at the end of all collections of his work:

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
  And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
  When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
  Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
  Turns again home!

Twilight and evening bell,
  And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell
  When I embark;

For though from out our bourn of Time and Place
  The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
  When I have crost the bar.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Peacock Throne Release Party

Today has been a very long time in coming. Namely, this is the day that The Peacock Throne release in the United States. Squee!

What you may ask is the fuss with this Peacock Throne? Well, to begin with, the Peacock Throne of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan is the most valuable single treasure made in the last millennia. Fashioned from 1150 kg of gold and 230 kg of precious stones, in 2015 the throne would be valued at $1,143,000,000. You read that right. If it still existed as it was created, it would be worth more than one billion, one hundred million dollars. It’s mind boggling when one actually tries to comprehend that. In fact when it was created, it cost twice as much as it took to construct the Taj Mahal which was commissioned by the same emperor.

Anthony Douglas, Lord Danbury
Far more importantly, The Peacock Throne was the first novel I ever wrote and its time has finally come! And we are celebrating! I’m giving away three copies of The Peacock Throne this week so make sure to leave a comment with your e-mail.

Marcus Harting
In the meantime, we’re partying here at the Inkwell. We’re starting with a full English breakfast including rashers of bacon, sausages, eggs, toast and we even have the beans. And we’ve added a few other touches for those carb lovers out there. (Me! Me!) These include scones and buttery, flaky croissant. Mm. This is buffest style, there was no persuading Marcus that he ought to be waiting on our guests. Simply not done even by the youngest son of a Marquess. Anthony, might not have stood on ceremony, but as an Earl, we could hardly ask him to act as wait staff and not Marcus. Luckily, Lydia offered the solution of the buffet. I kind of got the feeling that she has grown used to problem solving with those two around.

Here’s the story blurb:
When Miss Lydia Garrett's guardian is murdered, and the authorities refuse to investigate the odd circumstances, she vows to catch the culprit. The same night the Earl of Danbury is murdered in his bed. Against all odds it appears that the murders are related―and Anthony Douglas, the new Lord Danbury, is bent on revenge.

The clues point to the former earl’s first naval command. In 1758 the earl spirited away and hid the magnificent Peacock Throne at the behest of the Indian royal family. To draw out the murderer, Anthony and Lydia agree that they must locate the throne.
They are not the only ones interested in the Peacock Throne, however. Marcus Wiltshire, a British intelligence, has received hints that Bonaparte intends to return the throne to India and leverage its mystical significance to foment rebellion and cut England off from her most important trading partner.

When the amateur sleuths join forces with the professional agent, the quest for the throne leads them around the globe on an adventure steeped in danger, treachery, and romance.


Don't forget to add a comment with your e-mail addy (make it internet safe) so that I can get you entered in the drawing! I'll be pulling names on Sunday!




Monday, January 25, 2016

How to Overcome Self-Doubt




Self-Doubt: (noun) lack of confidence in oneself and one's abilities.

I don't know a writer who hasn't struggled at times with self-doubt. Lately, I've been wondering if we’re too quick to blame ourselves for our stinkin’ thinkin’.

Spirits (both angelic and demonic) have personalities and specific functions. I think what we call "self-doubt" is a demonic spirit speaking lies in our minds and hearts, yet Self-Doubt does it sooooo well that we think the thoughts are our own.

In his book Waking the Dead, John Eldredge writes tells a story that came from the life of Catherine of Sienna. See, Catherine was in the midst of prayer when her mind/ears/heart were assaulted by blasphemous words. She cried out to God for help. At this point many (okay, all) of us could say, "Been there, done that."

God revealed to Catherine that those words didn't come from her heart because her heart was good (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Likewise, if you have been redeemed in Christ, your heart is good. God equips us for the things He has for us to do.

Well, Catherine knew that God was greater than the demonic spirit attacking her so she called out to God to take it away. But God said no. Huh? Yep, God said, "No, do it yourself." That's when God opened Catherine's eyes to the spiritual authority she had because of the blood of Christ covering her, because Jesus said all authority He had He has given to us.

Did Catherine command it to leave and it left?

No. It took months of taking authority and commanding it to permanently leave. Eventually she was free of the harassment.

Consider this: Maybe you, me, we are plagued with self-doubt because we've never taken authority over the demonic spirit named "Self-Doubt" and commanded it to leave.

Can't we do all things through Christ who strengthens us?


ABOUT GINA

Gina Welborn worked for a news radio station until she fell in love with writing romances. She's the author of eight inspirational romances, including the 2014 Selah finalist "Mercy Mild" in ECPA-bestselling Mistletoe Memories. She serves on the ACFW Foundation Board by helping raise funds for scholarships. She is also the webmaster for the Southwest Oklahoma Corvette Club. Gina lives with her pastor husband, their five Okie-Hokie children, two rabbits, three guinea pigs, and a dog that doesn't realize rabbits and pigs are edible.


Austen in Austin: Volume 1  
featuring If I Loved You Less

The first novella in the Austen in Austin collection, based on Jane Austen’s Emma Hotel heiress Emmeline Travis knows true love. After all, thanks to her, her former governess is now happily married to the livery owner who works next to her father’s hotel. Austin banker Noah Whitley knows Emmeline. He has no qualms with insisting that his best friend’s matchmaking skills are more coincidence than reality. While Emmeline is determined to prove him wrong by matching her lovelorn protg with someone besides the local beet farmer, Noah realizes telling her to do something is one thing. Stopping her is another. When Emmeline’s schemes implode and her own heart is broken, Noah knows confiding the depth of his feelings to her would be far easier . . . if he loved her less.


Available at Amazon in print and digital format.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Austen in Austin Character Appearances

by Anita Mae Draper

In conjunction with last week's release of the Austen in Austin Volume 1 compilation came the individual release of the first four of eight novellas.

My novella, Romantic Refinements, stands second in the order of stories. This wasn't something I planned, but came about because that's where things in my story fit into the overall timeline.

For example, when we first came up with the concept of taking the characters from Jane Austin's novels and transferring them to Texas, we each decided what year(s) during the last two decades of the 19th century we wanted to use. In 2012, the result came out looking like this:


Gina Welborn - If I Loved You Less - 1881/2
Anita Mae Draper - Romantic Refinements - 1882
Susanne Dietze - One Word From You -1883/4
Debra E. Marvin - Alarmingly Charming -1886
Susan Diane Johnson - Simply Lila - 1893
Niki Turner - Fully Persuaded - 1894/5
Dina Sleiman - Mansford Ranch - 1897
Lisa Karon Richardson - Sense and Nonesense - 1899


However, we weren't just satisfied with writing eight novellas . . . we wanted them to connect in some way. The answer was to use a common denominator - in this case, the Jeannette C. Austen Academy for Young Ladies - a place we affectionately called, Austen Abbey, where all of our young heroines would pass on their way to becoming young ladies of distinction.




Our goal was for every reader to be content upon reaching the happily-ever-after at the end of a novella - no matter which individual novella they read. 

That was a good goal, but we also wanted our stories to intersect in such a way that if a reader read all of the novellas in order, they wouldn't just get a satisfying read, but would get a richer experience and be left a dreamy feeling of cherished love and . . . hope.  

Not only did we connect the first four novellas in Volume 1, but characters appear throughout all eight novellas which took coordination, a spreadsheet, and lots and lots of emails. 
For example:
In Romantic Refinements, I have a little girl who shares two scenes with my hero, the retired Texas ranger Brandon Tabor. One is a cute scene, one is full of danger. I could have written the scenes with any little girl, however, during a flurry of emails with the rest of the authors, Lisa mentioned that her heroine, Evangeline Bennett, would be about the right age to be the little girl in my novella. Not only that, but the events that happen to her - called little Eva in my novella - will have a profound effect on Evangeline's life as you'll see when you read her story in the eighth novella, Lisa's Sense and Nonsense.

Other character appearances you'll find in Romantic Refinements:
- Emmeline Travis - If I Loved You Less
- Noah Whitley -  If I Loved You Less
- Eliza Branch - One Word From You
- Harmon Gray - Alarmingly Charming
- Headmistress Mrs. Collins 




One thing I should note here is that it wasn't just the authors who worked to include characters from the other novellas, but when I received my first edits from the WhiteFire editor, she was the one who suggested that I include Eliza Branch and Mrs. Collins in my novella. The easy part was finding a spot to add them. Keeping their characters true was harder, but again, cooperation and communication created consistent characters. 

The end result is that a person from any novella may pop into a scene, either for a cameo appearance, or to enable a reaction that may not happen until several novellas later. That's the surprise element of the Austen in Austin novellas.

I believe that this project has been satisfying to us, the authors, because we've interacted with each other to create diverse, memorable characters. I can only hope that our excitement is transferred to you, our wonderful readers. 

For more information on Austen in Austin and our individual novellas, check here




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

Anita Mae Draper's stories are written under the western skies where she lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. When she's not writing, Anita enjoys photography, research, and travel, and is especially happy when she can combine the three in one trip. Anita's current release is Romantic Refinements, a novella in Austen in Austin Volume 1, WhiteFire Publishing, January 2016. Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae atwww.anitamaedraper.com 



Monday, January 18, 2016

Austen in Austin: Time Zones & Trains



This post originally appeared on Heroes, Heroines & History. I'm sharing it here because railroads and time zones have a part to play in my novella, One Word from You from the Austen in Austin Volume I Collection, which just released January 15 from White Fire!
Available here

**

What time is it? Throughout most of history, this question was answered according to the position of the sun. When the sun was overhead, everyone in the village knew it was noon—even before the technological advent of a town clock or pocket watch.

If one traveled, it was understood that an adjustment must be made to one’s personal timepiece.

But when the railroad came along, the times, as they say, started changing. Literally.
Time of Different Places at Noon Washington DC, from the Hamilton Railroad Timekeeper, 1911
From http://www.railswest.com/time/

By the early 1880’s, there were more than 300 time standards in the United States. In addition, each train station set its own time standard, and oftentimes, it didn’t match the local solar time of the town it was in. Even if the time standards did match, published timetables listed dozens of arrival and departure times for the same train, each referencing a different local time zone. The railway station at Chicago boasted multiple "official" clocks, each bearing a different time. Passengers and employees alike were frustrated and confused.
File:"Great Railway Station at Chicago-Departure of a Train.", ca. 1880 - NARA - 535752.jpg
"Great Railway Station of Chicago" around 1880. By Unknown or not provided (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

To keep trains running, a more efficient, uniform system of telling time was required.

The railroad companies were so powerful at this time they could avoid the U.S. and Canadian governments and set their own time standards. They created over a hundred of them. As one can imagine, it didn’t help much.

In 1870, Charles Dowd proposed four time zones for North American railroads, but it wasn't until 1878 that the idea stuck, when a Scottish-born Canadian named Sandford Fleming (1827–1915) developed a system of worldwide time zones. (In addition to being known as the father of standardized time zones, he was a railway engineer, inventor, and the designer of the first Canadian postage stamp! No wonder he was knighted.) 
Sir Sandford Fleming.jpg
Sir Sandford Fleming. Public Domain
Fleming proposed the earth's division into 24 time zones, one for each hour of the day, spaced fifteen degrees longitude apart, since the earth spins fifteen degrees every hour.

Fleming’s idea met some resistance. It took five years for U.S. railroad companies to abandon the hundred time zones they'd been using to implement the handful Fleming proposed, but the change became official on November 18, 1883. The continental U.S. was divided into Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones—for railroad purposes, at least. 
Time Zones in the US and Canada 1886
1883, Public Domain
Many citizens in both countries followed the new time standards, since railroads were such an important part of their lives. However, not everyone did, and it took another 35 years for the use of Fleming's time zones to become mandatory in the U.S.

Perhaps one reason folks hesitated was a resistance to the tremendous power the railroads held. Others may have assumed the notion wouldn’t stick, or would prove too difficult to observe. After all, condensing 300 local times zones to 4 was no minor undertaking. Nevertheless, all U.S. states complied when Congress passed the Standard Time Act of 1918. 

Time still fluctuates for us. Time zones shift to form new borders, daylight savings is debated, and we still watch the sun. But next time you hear a train whistle, you’ll know that’s how the time was set.



***

Austen in Austin, Volume I

Four Texas-Set Novellas Based on Jane Austen's Novels

Available here
Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love--Jane Austen style. 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.

**

Susanne Dietze is still pinching herself about the release of Austen in Austin, Vol. I. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dina's Favorite Fiction of 2015

I've made no secret of the fact that since becoming an author/editor, I have a hard time reading fiction for pleasure. But this year I read three books that not only held my interest, but also fed my soul. I love those stories that reach deep into your heart and change you, and all three of these met that very high standard.

So in no particular order, since they are each brilliant in such different ways...

Click here to order
I Always Cry at Weddings

I fell in love with this debut book from the first moment it came across my editor's desk. In no time at all, I was sending excited email updates to the rest of my WhiteFire team. Not only is the book written with a lovely style, charming characters, and a winning setting, this witty, urbane fairy tale is truly unique and surprisingly heartwarming with powerful spiritual messages. 

Imagine (if you possibly can stretch your mind that far) the Christian version of Sex in the City with a missional theme, and you will begin to get a feel for this wonderful romantic comedy. You won't want the amazing ride to come to an end. I'll mention that this book might be too mature for some teen readers since the main character is not walking with Christ in the beginning of the book and she takes a long journey to get to that point. But I think adults will find it both real and delightful.

Read a full description here.



Click here to order
A Soft Breath of Wind

This Biblical novel is my favorite book by my favorite author, Roseanna White, which I suppose puts it in a class of it's own. Set during the New Testament Era, this book simply has it all: adventure, romance, suspense, deep spiritual content, incredible history, and intelligent insights into the human condition. For this one you're going to need to imagine Frank Peretti meets Francine Rivers, and oh, what an idyllic meeting it is! You'll see the New Testament church brought to stunning light at a time when it was persecuted yet thriving and full of the Holy Spirit's power. The heroine is truly unique with her ability to see into the spiritual realm and the high price she pays for that gift. Meanwhile she deals with very normal human longings, and wonders if a man will ever accept her.

If you had the pleasure of reading A Stray Drop of Blood first, that will be an extra bonus, but as this book takes place nearly a generation later, anyone can enjoy it.

Read a full description here.


Spirit Bridge


Click here to order book 1
Last but most certainly not least is Spirit Bridge. This is the final book in the new Well Spring Series by James Rubart, and since it is a true series, you will need to read all three books in order to fully understand the plot, premise, and characters. This series takes a speculative journey into the spiritual realm. It examines spiritual matters quite literally, and imagines what it would be like to truly and completely walk in the spirit throughout this action-packed tale as good battles epic evil.

In book one the "Warriors Riding" go into the soul to do battle for inner healing, in book two they face devastating memories, and in book three, as the war intensifies, they must learn to fight on a new and challenging level.

This series is hard to explain with just a few words, but it is truly life changing. Particularly after reading book Spirit Bridge, I felt as if I had gone through some sort of intensive inner healing session. God definitely shifted something deep inside of me through this book, and set me free from religious bondage at level where I didn't even know I struggled with it. If you long for truth in the inward parts, do yourself a favor and read these books.

Read a full description of Spirit Bridge here.

What was the most life-changing novel you read in 2015, or for that matter, ever?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Guest Blogger Paula Moldenhauer: Ten Years and It’s Still True

Please welcome guest blogger Paula Moldenhauer to Inkwell Inspirations today, celebrating the release of her new series of devotionals, just in time for 2016. 

What I found was joyously stunning.

Recently I read through hundreds of devotionals I’d written over a span of more than ten years. I was deciding which devotional thoughts I wanted to include my latest book project, SoulScents ~ A Journey in the Son’s Embrace, which offers four volumes of devotional reading: Awaken, Rooted, Bloom, and Flourish. As I read, made my choices, and edited my heart rejoiced because I still believed it all.


The journey of the last ten years has been arduous, but the glorious truths our sweet Savior taught me along the way stand the test of time.

I may have been naïve in 2004 before the big storms hit. Back then I wrote in wonder as I absorbed new understanding of who Jesus is.  I may not have understood how deeply the concepts I penned would be tested. I certainly didn’t understand what I was praying as I offered my thoughts of praise and surrender, nor did I guess how God would take me at my word.

But I’m delighted to report it’s all true.

I edited word counts and clunky sentences, but the foundational concepts which I so naively typed many years ago needed no revision. And guess what? The devotionals I penned a few weeks ago are again written in wonder as I “absorb new understanding of who Jesus is.”
In 2004 I invited readers to go with me on a journey into the heart of Jesus. I declared we’d never run out of places to discover, and we never have. He shows us glimpses of His character then allows life experiences to solidify the understanding of the insight. Over time He takes initial understanding deeper and reveals new wonders of His Person.

To be vulnerable, our family rode some difficult waters after the earlier devotionals were written. In spring of 2015 I tried to write about the really hard years, but I often dissolved into tears at the computer.

The Lord called me away from those efforts and invited me to spend time with Him. I journaled, did some more Bible study in the Song of Solomon, and rested. Truth be told I spent a lot of time talking to my plants last summer! And the Lord, always the Healer, did what He does best and healed me.

In the fall the Lord released me back into focusing on development of Soul Scents. I wasn’t really surprised (although I was very pleased) when those months of seeking God resulted in devotions for volumes 3 & 4 of this collection. Even though I believed I was not productive last year, I was writing the rest of this series without knowing it.

I love how organic that is.


I’m excited to offer fellow travelers a year’s journey in the Son’s embrace. It begins with volume 1, SoulScents: Awaken, and continues with a new devotional book releasing each quarter of 2016.



Author, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to be released into full potential through freedom in Christ and the empowerment of God’s grace. Published over 300 times in non-fiction markets, her first devotional book series, Soul Scents, releases in four volumes beginning with Soul Scents: Awaken. Paula’s first two novels released in 2012. Sometimes empty-nesters, Paula and her husband, Jerry, enjoy four adult children and a wonderful son-in-law. Paula loves peppermint ice cream, walking barefoot and talking to her flowers. For inspirational articles, book information, and speaking topics visit: www.paulamoldenhauer.com