CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Debbie Clatterbuck who won a "Spa Moment with The Reluctant Guardian!"



Thursday, August 31, 2017

We're Eight Years Old!



It all started eight years ago. At that time, there were fourteen of us. Only one had a book published, but we were all hungry to make this dream of being a writer come true. Since then, we've been through a lot! We've gained new friends and added new members as we said goodbye to others. Our dear sister, Connie Marquis, now cheers us on from heaven after a hard battle with cancer. We've cried and laughed together. We've studied our craft, gone to conferences, and lost a bit of our naivete about the business end of things. Through it all, we've supported each other, prayed together, and become a tight-knit family. And every single one of us is published.

Inkwell Inspirations has been a blessing to us, as we hope it has been to you. We wouldn't be where we are today without each other, and that includes you, our lovely readers. As a thank you, we're sharing a little bit about each of the current Inkies and giving away a super prize package. Leave a comment to be entered!



Way back when (2009 to be precise), Gina Welborn enjoyed the social life over on Seekerville Island. A RWA Golden Heart finalist and an ACFW Genesis finalist, she had secured representation with Tamela Hancock Murray, but something was missing. Ah, publication! Yes, but that would have to wait until 2012. What about a team blog? Great idea! So Gina enlisted friends who enlisted friends (no animals were harmed in the process) and Inkwell Inspirations was born. Since then she's written for Barbour Publishing, Abingdon Press, Harlequin Love Inspired Heartsong Presents, and Forget Me Not Romances. Gina is currently writing two historical romance series for Kensington Publishing. Say Hi! on Facebook and be sure to check out her Pinterest storyboards and oh-I-need-a-board-for-this boards.




Suzie Johnson had four releases in the last eight years! 




Debra E. Marvin is paddling as fast as she can.  Eight years ago, she was working on the book of her heart. (Sighs) Now, she has published five novellas and one novel with more on the horizon. In eight years, she'll have published that book-of-the-heart and maybe, just maybe, found her niche. Mystery? Gothic? Sweet Romance, Historical Romance or Contemporary. Or she might just be quilting and taking naps.

For now, there are far too many places to find her on the internet. Start with Twitter.






DeAnna Julie Dodson writes under her own name and the pen name Julianna Deering. Consequently, she is twice as busy as she used to be. Eight years ago . . . she had only three published books and didn't know the Inkwell existed. Today . . . she's working on book number eighteen and so happy to be a part of this blog.  Eight years from now . . . only God knows. Can Drew have a movie? A TV series? Visit her websites, deannajuliedodson.com or juliannadeering.com, or drop her a line at MissWrite@sbcglobal.net






Eight years ago Niki Turner had just completed her first manuscript. It won a second place award and is still sitting in her files, waiting for revision and attention someday. She was a pastor's wife and had four kids at home. Since then, she's moved twice, had a radical hysterectomy, married off two of her kids, and welcomed four grandbabies. A year ago she bought the weekly newspaper where she'd worked part-time since 2000, and now she's the editor-in-chief and publisher. In the midst of it all, her lifelong dream of being a published author has come to pass not once, but nine times. Another Christmas novella is coming this fall and two more stories in 2018. Eight years from now? "Lord, keep ordering my steps, my times are in Your hand!" Say "hi" on her Facebook page!





Since 2009, C.J. Chase published these two wonderful historical romances at Love Inspired Historicals!



In 2009, Susanne Dietze was a clueless-but-eager contest finalist, writing a series about a family in Regency England and Scotland and hoping to someday write a mail-order bride story set in the old west. Shortly thereafter, she won a few contests, signed with agent Tamela Hancock Murray, and won the ACFW Genesis award for Historical Romance in 2013. She kept plugging along, and today, she's an ECPA and Publisher's Weekly bestseller. By the end of 2018, she'll have 14 works published: three novels and eleven novellas with Barbour, Love Inspired Historical, WhiteFire, and Forget Me Not Romances (those aforementioned Regencies and mail-order bride story are included in this list! She can't wait to see her next LIH Regency cover!). What's coming in the next eight years? She isn't sure what God has in store, but historical or contemporary, novel or novella, it's a given that Susanne's stories will be full of romance and all about the happily-ever-after. Come say hi on Facebook!






















Eight years ago, Anita Mae Draper was entering the world of publishing via the contest and rejection route. Her heart had always been on writing Historical Romance set in the pioneer and Old West days, yet her Contemporary contest entries became finalists as well. Her writing caught the attention of an agent, which led to her first two publications - Christmas short stories with the first being a Historical in the Edwardian period, and the next being Contemporary. The publication of Austen in Austin was her first novella project, which was followed by two more, both set in the west. Anita's agent recently retired which has opened a bright new world of possibilities. Yet through all the years of change, Anita's greatest blessing on her writing journey thus far has been the friendship, love and support of the other members of the Inkwell Inspirations blog. You're invited to visit Anita through any of the social media links found on her website.




Eight years ago, Dina Sleiman had just recently gotten involved in writing circles and earned her first award, Overall Winner of the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Since then she's published two novels and a novella with WhiteFire Publishing, a novel with Zondervan, and a three book series with Bethany House Publishers. She also found a niche as an editor for WhiteFire Publishing. Although her books have varied from historical to contemporary and from women's fiction to YA action adventure, you can rest assured that all of her novels include plenty of romance, an artistic touch, her unique brand of intimate Christian spirituality, and a happily ever after. At this point she has primarily transferred her writing talents to the nonprofit humanitarian world, but she still serves on the editorial committee at WhiteFire and dabbles in writing novels. Her second book in her Deep Within contemporary series will release in November. To find her on social media, visit here.

























Barb Early, also writing as Beverly Allen has two successful mystery series:



















Eight years ago, Lisa Karon Richardson was on deputation with her family (raising money as missionaries). She dreamed of being a published author and had finished two manuscripts. Had she known how much she did not know, she probably would have quit while she was ahead! As it is, she has 11 published novels and novellas. (And would still be daunted if she knew how much she still needs to learn!) You can read excerpts of all of her novels here.


























From the time she was a little girl living above a mortuary in the heart of Hollywood, California (okay, she was an odd little girl), Jennifer AlLee dreamed of becoming a writer. Eight years ago, she had one novel published and was just beginning to understand how much she didn't know about the business. Today, she has 11 published novels, 3 novella collections, and a bunch of novellas under her belt. Wanting to challenge herself and help other writers see their dreams become reality, she founded Journey Fiction in 2016 and released its first two novels this month. Eight years from now, she hopes to see the publishing company exploding (in a good way) and still be writing fiction of her own.


Don't forget to help yourself to the party treats!

Take a hat, while you're at it!

AND NOW... to celebrate!  We're giving some of those books away as one grand prize!





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 25, 2017

Meet Book Blogger Kat Good of Kat's Corner Books

Debra here, keeping my head just above water during #CraziestMonthEver, which is why it's been awhile since my last interview. But this time... I ACTUALLY got to meet my guest in person because of the Christian Fiction Reader's Retreat in Cincinnati.
Carrie Booth Schmidt and Kat Good at #CFRR2017!
So- Kat, how long have you been reviewing and how did you decide on the theme for your blog?


K- I have been a reader-reviewer for several years. I started soon after I really got back into reading. I tell the story on one of my first blog posts, but long story short, I had lost a bit of myself in the stress of being mommy and hubs suggested I invest in a book and read it. I had mostly stopped reading after a few general market books burned my eyes, and I thought Christian Fiction was mostly Amish or like Left Behind, (neither really appealed to me). He didn’t know the monster he’d unleashed. In January of this year, I started blogging at 

Kat’s Corner Books 

for several reasons. First, I constantly had friends  asking my opinion and I thought it’d be an easy way to share with them. Second, I was writing reviews anyways and really appreciated bloggers' thoughts to help me figure out if I’d like a book. I  thought I should do the same. Lastly, I wanted more free books and blogging seemed like an open door to that. (Who can blame me for wanting to make the most of my book budget?!)





D- What can you share about Kat 'behind the scenes'?

K- My hubs likes to say he married 'three cats'!. Me plus my two cats, Sasha and Onyx. I knew he was a keeper when Onyx, the skittish one who hides all the time, came out and crawled on him the first time they met. I thought it'd be fun to name the blog after all three of us and included them because not everyone likes animals. I also try to include thoughts from my hubs and my mom to bring a perspective from non-reviewers!



D- What’s the best part of being a reviewer?

 
K- Honestly, the answer is the same for even those who can’t review/blog; the community. The Christian Fiction (especially romance) community is an awesome one beyond words. I have met so many friends (mostly online) who are real, love God, love fiction, and love each other. The authors care about their readers, the readers pray for each other and authors, and most everyone is really good about not judging others. I’ve struggled most of my life with being an introvert and feeling like an outsider. This community does an awesome job of including everyone. 

D- What’s the most difficult part of the ‘the job’?

            
K- Writing a review for books I didn’t really get into. We all have our reading preferences and there are authors at all different levels out there. Finding the balance of being supportive and positive, but honest can sometimes be difficult . Where I can, I try to sign up to review books I think I will enjoy, so it doesn’t happen too often, but still, it can be hard. I never want to review something without thinking of the author on the other end who might be reading it and be hurt, but we all need constructive criticism.


D- I'm still surprised when I see harsh reviews that don't really do anyone any good. But it's reviewers like you who manage to do that balancing act! 

What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?


K- Full disclosure, it’s past my bedtime as I’m typing because I couldn’t put down Courtney Walsh’s latest, Just Look Up. I picked it up at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat and am so glad I did!




D- It has garnered quite the book buzz, that's for sure! I managed to completely miss meeting Courtney Walsh at CRFF. (ugh!). As you probably figured out, authors and reviewers all look the same in person --like fiction fans!

What keeps you busy or entertained (beyond reading and reviewing!)?


K- My day job, which I also love, is in Historic Preservation. I love old stuff. The other main thing that keeps me busy is my health. I have Multiple Sclerosis, which can make days challenging, but God is growing me and those close to me through it. It’s also opened a door to make some dear friends through a support group I help lead at church. I am blessed to have them and would never have met them without this diagnosis.


D- Some days I look in the mirror and think I should hire someone with a Historic Preservation degree. 
Seriously, though, I learned a lot about MS as we chatted, and I'm thankful you're doing so well and maintaining such an active lifestyle! Thank God for all the improvements in medical science! And it's so true that we grow the most in our bigger challenges.

What is your fiction favorite…setting? Place and time? Genre’?


K- I’ve gotten much more into contemporary fiction the past couple years, and more into suspense since I’ve gotten the hubs interested, but my heart will always belong to historical romance. Sigh. Since I read for escape, I prefer light-hearted or comedies, but with enough depth to make the characters real. I’ve found that my favorites are either Regency or 1870’s-WWI.


D- If you had a rainy afternoon alone to watch a movie what would it be? And what meal would you have delivered if that afternoon included a quiet evening as well?


K- Hmmmm. Is it cheating if I give you my defaults that I rotate between? Pride and Prejudice (BBC and the “new one”), You’ve Got Mail, One Fine Day, and New in Town. I have them all memorized. I probably wouldn’t order out, but settle in with a cup of tea and a bag of buttery salty popcorn.






D- I have yet to see NEW IN TOWN. hmmm. I think we all have our old 'go-to' movies that have become a welcome companion in the quiet times! Sometimes I just let them be a comforting soundtrack while I buzz through my Sunday afternoons, too.

If you could wiggle your nose and be in a new career, what would it be?


K- Other than reading books all day, I’d do what I do only with ideal clients. If we could all remove our office drama, wouldn’t that be wonderful?



Yes, that's Kat taking on another day at work!


D- What piece of advice would you offer authors who are just starting out?


K- Get active in the online Christian Fiction Community. They’re always willing to offer support, opinions, prayers, etc. and once you’re publish, they’ll already be fans eagerly spreading the word. My favorite authors are all great about interacting with fans.


D- Same for new reviewers—


K- Same answer! And don’t be afraid to reach out to other bloggers to ask advice. I’ve had a few who’ve answered all of my annoying questions and I would do the same for others. It really is full of awesome people.

Kat's links are:


D-  And... it was great to meet you Kat. I kept asking around for you and then Voila! That busy dark-haired beauty named Katherine was you! 
CFRR was an incredible event for both authors and readers. I think the authors enjoyed the 'hanging out' time as much as the readers! We're all just fiction fans, and sharing that with others brings much enjoyment. If I'd gotten some sleep, I might have been functioning and able to take photographs with all of my blogger friends (for this blog feature!)

I want to interrupt this blog post to remind readers that my current $25 Amazon Gift Card promotion ends Aug 31. New Subscribers to my newsletter from June, July and August are eligible (and this doesn't include BookSweeps or other promotions. Just new readers who sign up directly.)
 Here's the link!


Thanks so much for playing along, Kat! 

Next month my guests will be:
Trisha Robertson, and Rachel Dixon!









Monday, August 21, 2017

My New Obsession: Kombucha

Susanne Dietze

Have you tried it?

I've only recently tasted Kombucha. A year ago I didn't know what it was, except that it's a trendy health-food/beverage. I heard a lot of this:

It gives you energy.

It's great for the digestive system.


It stimulates the immune system.


It's refreshing and tasty!


Online, buzz includes taglines like "immortal health elixir." Two of my friends even make their own! But what is it?

If you look it up on Google, it'll say: a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria. Wikipedia says Kombucha: is a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks that are commonly intended as functional beverages for their supposed health benefits. Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea using a "symbiotic 'colony' of bacteria and yeast" (SCOBY). Click here.
Mgarten at the English language Wikipedia. Kombucha brewing with SCOBY. No changes made.
So...it's a fermented tea rich in antioxidants, active live cultures, enzymes, and...stuff. Organic stuff. Including a little alcohol: because of the fermentation, Kombucha contains a small amount. The drink must contain less 0.5 percent alcohol, which is the amount the FDA has allotted as the line between beverages sold as alcoholic opposed to non-alcoholic. (Side note: some Kombucha contains more and should be marketed as such. However, another healthy drink, Kefir, is said to contain 1% alcohol, which is over the legal limit.)

Needless to say, if someone abstains from all alcohol, is expecting or nursing, etc, Kombucha is probably not for you.

But I thought I'd try it. As someone who always craves more energy, better digestive health, a stronger immune system, and yummy drinks, I thought, why not? I deal with GERD and am always interested in ways to help my digestive system find balance, so it was worth a shot for that alone.

It wasn't hard to find Kombucha at Target in the refrigerated "healthy drinks" section, and the brand Kevita Master Brew was on sale! I bought two flavors: Pineapple Peach and Raspberry Lemonade.

I started with the gentlest-sounding of the two: Raspberry Lemonade. I took a sip and immediately got on Facebook.

Kombucha friends! Is it supposed to fizz? Is it supposed to taste like vinegar?

Yes and yes. So I drank down half and shared the other half with my husband. He made a face, too. We drank them down, noted how few calories are in the bottle, hoped for good things, and went on with our days. (Back to the alcohol for a second: I had no clue at this point there could be a little alcohol here. I didn't feel a thing.)

The next day, my husband and I split the bottle of Pineapple Peach. Then something weird happened.

We started to like Kombucha.

We crave the vinegary tang of them. The light fizz. The taste. We both found them to be quite refreshing after a work out.

KeVita's Master Brew Kombucha contains 2 strains of probiotics, 4 billion CFUs, natural energizing caffeine, and 6x the organic acids as other Kombuchas.
From Kevita site
Since then, we've tried several flavors and brands: GT's were all good (Trilogy, Gingerade, and Multi-Green. I'm still looking for Lavender Love to try.)  Brew Doctor's were good, too, and they had the added benefit of being sold in a 6-pack at Costco at a cheaper cost (I liked the SuperBerry and Clear Mind, which has a rosemary taste. Because of my GERD, I give the Lemon Ginger Cayenne bottles to my husband. He digs them.) Other Kevita Master Brew flavors we've tried are Tart Cherry and Ginger.

The Pineapple Peach remains our favorite. But is it worth it?

Does Kombucha give us more energy? Maybe. It's been a busy season in my house, and while we are wrung out. we've kept our heads above water. As part of a healthy diet, exercise, and trying to get enough sleep, they might be helping...or might not.

Has it helped my digestive system? Well, I've felt more balanced and haven't had a GERD episode since I started.

Is my immune system boosted? Perhaps! I can't quite judge that yet.

It's expensive as a daily habit (bottles can run between $2-$4), which is why some people make their own. I'm interested in learning, and one peek at Pinterest can overwhelm you because so many hipsters offer cute memes with recipes for flavors and directions for other uses (Kombucha soap, anyone?). 
DIY Kombucha
www.KombuchaKamp.com allows use of this image!
In the meantime, I will definitely indulge from time to time. Kombucha may not be "the immortal elixir," but it is a good source of live cultures and enzymes which are helpful to digestion. I like it, too, and it can be one more tool in my attempt to be all-around healthier.

How about you? Have you tried Kombucha?

**

Susanne Dietze is the author of a dozen new and upcoming inspirational romances, like The Reluctant Guardian (LIH) and My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca's Plight (Barbour). Lately, she's typed some of them while sipping Kombucha.

Visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who's Watching Whom




A few days ago, I walked into my office and was halfway to my desk when I spotted a Great Horned Owl looking in my window. I deked to the right to hide behind the drapes. A few seconds later, I leaned to the left and peered out to see if it was still there...it was leaning to the right peering back at me.

I snapped back from view and reached for my camera...but I'd left it in the living room!

Since I didn't want to yell, I whipped out my phone and texted Nelson who was also in the house…




Moments later I heard him padding down the hall. I motioned him to stop before he reached the door and jabbed my finger in the owl's direction. Nelson peered around the corner and his eyes widened. I stepped into view, took the camera, and clicked away at the owl. Behind me, I heard Nelson retreat, and then he returned and I heard him taking pics, too. 


Great Horned Owl, Front View. Source: Nelson Draper


Great Horned Owl, Looking to side. Source: Anita Mae Draper


Great Horned Owl, Looking Back. Source: Nelson Draper

The owl checked out the place for a minute or so, and then turned and hopped away to another branch. This last photo of the owl looking back at us reminds me of a 1950's chenille bedspread due to the unique feather placement. However, when I look at its extended back and down to its feathered legs and sharp talons, I'm reminded more of a wary cat than a comfy bed. As usual, I'm amazed at God's creativity when I see something as special as a Great Horned Owl. By the way, the use of the word, horned, refers to its ear tufts.

Here's a short clip of the owl before and after it had hopped to another branch. If the video doesn't work, you can find it at: https://youtu.be/8Mn1gjMma-s 


i



Of course, this owl encounter has given me ideas about including the scene in a story, similar to how I included the cranes in my novella, Sweet Love Grows. I enjoy adding wildlife to my stories and hope the readers can see that.

Do you have a favorite owl, whether real, virtual, or fiction? Have you had an encounter with one? Care to share? 


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

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.  Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, The American Heiress Brides Collection, and The Secret Admirer Romance Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience.  Discover more at:



Monday, August 14, 2017

Fear Is the Problem


The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear. ~ Ghandi

The last few days have been yet another painful reminder that our nation is in crisis. As I watch news stories where armies of young Americans march in the streets with torches, spewing hateful rhetoric that’s as wicked and evil as anything coming out of North Korea, I wonder how we got here again.

Is it because we’ve ignored the ugly lessons of history? Is it because we’ve allowed ourselves for several generations the luxury of blaming others—in and out of our country—for our problems? Is it because our politics and our preachers have promoted this “you deserve better” attitude that has created an atmosphere of churning discontent any time things don’t go our way? Is it because the corporate oligarchy that controls everything from what we watch to what we read to what we eat has figured out that if the masses are enmeshed in constant struggles with each other they won’t notice that the oligarchy grows fatter and fatter by the day? Is it because over the course of the last generation we’ve allowed “freedom of speech” to become the freedom to abuse, attack, accuse and basically say any crazy thing we want no matter the consequences?

It could be any or all these things, and a thousand more possibilities, but when it comes down to it, I think the underlying problem is fear. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of the future. It doesn’t matter what kind of fear it is, fear feeds hatred.

It’s tempting to jump on the nearest bandwagon and give in to the fear… but that’s not an answer.
It’s going to take a concerted effort on the part of every sane person to neutralize the fear that has gripped our nation. How do you neutralize fear? The Bible says “perfect love casts out fear.” We need to speak the truth in love. We need to demonstrate love to one another. And we need to set examples of love—the unconditional kind—for our children and our children’s children.  

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen




Niki Turner is an author, newspaper publisher and editor. You can find her at www.nikiturner.net or visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nikiturnerauthor/. All her books are available on Amazon at amzn.to/2hWOsLV



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Best Book on Writing?




Okay, we all know it. There are a LOT of great books on how to write, how to be inspired, how to be organized, how to promote your book, how to research it, how to get an agent or publisher to notice it, and on and on and on.

But what if you want to have just one book? One that you can sink your teeth into and use over and over again with every book you write? I’m sure different people have different books they would deem essential, but for me there is only one: James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel from the Middle.

Here’s what the description says:



A powerful secret, and a fresh approach to writing bestselling fiction!

What's the best way to write a "next level" novel? Some writers start at the beginning and let the story unfold without a plan. They are called "pantsers," because they write by the "seat of the pants."

Other writers plan and outline and know the ending before they start. These are the "plotters."

The two sides never seem to agree with each other on the best approach.

But what if it's not the beginning or the end that is the key to a successful book? What if, amazing as it may seem, the place to begin writing your novel is in the very middle of the story?

According to #1 bestselling writing teacher James Scott Bell, that's exactly where you'll find your story's heart and heat. Bell's "Mirror Moment" is the secret, and its power is available to any writer, at any stage of the writing process.

Bringing together years of craft study and personal discovery, Bell presents a truly unique approach to writing a novel, one that will stand the test of time and serve you all your writing life.


Now Mr. Bell has written many books on the craft of writing, and I have yet to find one that wasn’t excellent, but this one is my favorite. Here’s why:

1. It’s short. It doesn’t mess about with lots of filler. It gets right down to the how-to in easy-to-understand-and-implement instructions.

2. It works for any kind of writer, pantser, plotter or (like me) the hiker who knows where he’s going to start and where he’s going to end up and maybe three must-see sights along the way.

3. It assures me that my books will have good structure each and every time.

It took me eleven-and-a-half years (that’s years) to write my first book. Now I have commitments to write six books by March of 2019. I obviously have to have a plan and stick to it if I’m going to get everything done on time. My plan is to use Bell’s fourteen-point list from Write Your Novel from the Middle in order to plot my books quickly and efficiently. I have a blank template with each of the fourteen points on it. When I’m ready to start work on a plot, I start filling in that template and soon I have a story. Yes, there is still a lot of work to do and the story changes as I start uncovering more and more about it, but again, I end up with a supportable structure and don’t waste my time staring at my computer screen, wondering what to write.
    I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I’ve used it to plot my last five or six stories, and they have been faster and far less painful to write than the ten that preceded them.

Give it a try!

How about you? Do you have a favorite book or method for getting a story put together?