Thursday, September 29, 2011

Welcome Author Mary Moore!

But without faith it is impossible to please him…
Hebrews 11:6

            The very first time I was confronted with faith in my new found faith, I didn’t have a clue! 

            I was twenty-eight years old, and maturity-wise, a baby Christian.  I was busy planning my October wedding in August of 1984, when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.    She was given two weeks to live and my whole world was turned upside down.
            I had faith in God that was not the problem.  I didn’t know how to apply my faith.  I knew He would hear me when I prayed, but what should I pray for; what was I allowed to pray for?  Could I ask Him to heal her or must I pray exclusively for His will?

For we walk by faith not by sight.
2 Corinthian 5:7

            I was raised Catholic.  We weren’t expected to read the Bible; we were expected to listen to the priest read the Bible and then listen as he gave his sermon, his take on what he read.   I believed in God, but I was scared of God.  I pictured Him ready to throw lightning bolts when I sinned, and if I didn’t get a jolt, I guessed I just hadn’t sinned badly enough yet.  I can remember not wanting to waste prayers on the little things, because I knew I was going to need them for much bigger things.  I just hadn’t realized how big.

            I did know what faith was, because my mother lived her faith.  Somehow my mother got through all of the ritual and liturgy and works and believed in His love for us through Jesus Christ.  

            So when I became a Christian, I knew there was no more “middle man;” having to confess to a priest instead of straight to the Lord.  There was no more “holding cell;” a place called purgatory for those who died with sin on their soul.  And I learned that I could pray for anything, it didn’t matter what size the request.

            But when my mother was given a few short weeks to live, I didn’t know enough about my faith to know what to pray for.  In the end, I prayed for a miracle because I knew now that there were no lightning bolts, even if it was the wrong thing to pray for.  

            There was no miracle healing, but I believe my faith grew by leaps and bounds because I didn’t need to question Him anymore; I got my first lesson in trusting Him, that “without faith it is impossible to please him.” 

            Fast forward twenty years.  It is 2004, and I had been driven to the Lord so many times and in so many ways over the years, that after each trial, I could see how a little more faith would have made many of the processes of growing a little less painful.  I began to understand that because of the way I am, He had to use hard situations in my life to teach me to keep Him close and to stay in His Word. 

            And I finally understood the depth of faith God wants when l got my own diagnosis of cancer.
            Oh, I was scared, but I knew that I had to trust Him with my life.  I knew it was OK to ask for that miracle, because I had faith my God could do miracles!  And I knew that others, with the same faith, were asking Him for the same miracle.  I knew it was OK to be scared and to fear the unknown because I had faith that my God knew everything and nothing was taking Him by surprise.  There were still times when I didn’t know exactly what to pray for or even how to pray, as when my mother was sick, but I knew God knew my heart anyway and was listening to the prayers of others when I couldn’t. 

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

            So, here I am seven years later and cancer free, only able to explain one-thousandth of the ways God has been faithful to me, wishing I could word it better or explain it better because it sounds so…not enough.  My husband and I have really learned that without faith it is impossible to please Him, and I know now that I really want to please Him!

Mary Moore has been an avid student of the Regency era since the 1970s and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers' historic fiction community as well as a member of Faith, Hope, and Love and Beau Monde chapters of the RWA. She has been writing historical fiction for over fifteen years. Mary had to put her writing on hold due to some health issues, including a bout with breast cancer. She is now even more excited about her writing as she incorporates her struggles throughout her books, dedicated to encouraging others in the Lord and using her talent to His glory. A native of the Washington D.C. area, Mary and her husband now live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, with their black lab, Darcy. When not writing, Mary enjoys time with her husband, watching romantic movies, reading, and weekend getaways. Mary would love to hear from you. You can reach her by visiting her website here and on Facebook.
Mary's first novel, The Aristocrat's Lady, is now in stores. Here's a peek:

An Unexpected Encounter...
For a few moments on a moonlit balcony, Nicole Beaumont was just a beautiful woman catching the eye of the handsome Lord Devlin—but she knew the illusion couldn't last. If the enigmatic aristocrat knew her secret, he'd realize that her disability left her unfit for love. So who could blame her for hiding the truth a little longer?

Devlin had never met a woman like Nicole. Her unique combination of innocence and wisdom left him utterly intrigued. Yet what was she hiding? For a man who did not trust easily, discovering her secret was devastating. Overcoming their pasts and forging a future would take faith, forgiveness and trust. And second chances could lead to new beginnings… 

Would you like to win this book? Mary has generously offered to give a copy to one lucky commenter, to be chosen at random. Please leave a comment by midnight tomorrow (September 30) Eastern Time, including your email address (spaced out to protect you from spammers) within the body of the comment.

To double your chances of winning and to learn Ten Things about Mary, visit Susanne's blog here. The same rules apply--please leave a comment with your email address by midnight Friday, September 30.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Romance or Love Story???

 by Dina Sleiman

Last week at the ACFW conference was filled with wonderful memories. One of the great conversations I had was…well, more of an argument really…with Gina over the definition of a romance novel. Gina follows very strict guidelines and often fusses that even award-winning books in romance categories aren’t actual romances. I, on the other hand, take a more liberal view. However, after hashing it out for a while, I think we came to a consensus.

Dandelion Dering played by Taylor?
There are romances, and there are love stories. For instance Nicholas Sparks books could be called love stories, but they fall far outside of the parameters of romance, sometimes even ending sadly.

And I have decided that for me as an author, romances are a bit stifling.

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl face obstacles in getting together. Boy and girl live happily ever after. That’s the basic romance novel in a nutshell. For a true romance, if you remove the romantic thread, there’s no plot left. And the story should be told from the hero and heroines third person points of view.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore romance. For me, no book is complete without it. I even love a happy ending. But personally, I enjoy a few more twists and turns along the journey.

When I penned my debut novel, I wanted it to be a love story, but I wanted to go a different route in how I explored the topic of love. The first thing that came to mind was a Eugene O’Neil play I had read in high school. In it, the heroine lost her true love in one of the World Wars. She spends the rest of the play searching for a man who can take his place—but instead finds only men who fulfill aspects of that longing. This gave me an idea. What if my heroine turned her back on true love because of a childhood wound? She could spend the rest of the story searching for love. She would find men who represented aspects of love, but never quite the real thing.

The next thought that came to my mind was a nonfiction book I’d read by Dr. Ed Wheat called Love Life for Every Married Couple. The book lists the different Biblical words for love and explains each one. What if I were to combine this idea with the Eugene O’Neil play? My heroine could meet men that fulfill certain Biblical definitions of love, but never that true God-like agape love.

So in my novel, Dance of the Dandelion, my peasant heroine does indeed turn away from true love because of her childhood trauma of enduring a famine. This launches her on a journey of discovery. She goes through a series of men against an exciting backdrop of the medieval pageantry and adventure on the high seas. Gottfried, the stoic knight, fulfills her need for safety and belonging. Richard, the charming castle steward, meets her longing for romance and fun. Giovanni, the kind Italian merchant, provides her with friendship and companionship. Finally she meets Lucio, the sexy sea captain, who represents passion and desire, but each relationship lacks some important element and leaves her unfulfilled.

As you might have guessed, it is only when Dandelion finds God’s true love that she is set free to find earthly love as well. But the story doesn’t end there. Dandelion still has challenges and difficult choices to face.

So, I guess the verdict is in. I write happy-ending romantic love stories of the non-romance variety. Did that make any sense? To hardcore romance readers who approach a book with a very specific set of expectations it does. And yet I think any romance readers will love my novel.

Here's what a few of your favorite authors have to say (humor me for a minute, I just got two of these yesterday and have to share them somewhere.)

"Dina Sleiman is a beautiful writer. Romantic and gritty, Dance of the Dandelion takes readers on an epic journey of human failings, self discovery, and second chances. Through it all God’s love and forgiveness shines through."
--Julie Klassen, Bestselling Author

"This medieval romp of a book reads like a dance! Full of unexpected twists and turns, it displays the folly or joy of our choices and the God who enables us to find true freedom in Him. Dandelion Dering is a heroine you won't soon forget!”
--Laura Frantz

"A magical medieval tale of whim and whimsy, the Dance of the Dandelion is one woman's journey to both true love and the truth, spinning a spell that will hold you captive from the first page to the last. Strongly recommended for mature audiences, this is a novel--and an author--not to be missed, and an emotional and spiritual journey that will leave you breathless."
 --Julie Lessman

Dance of the Dandelion is now available in print and ebook on and Next week the Inkies have decided to celebrate the release of my debut novel. Please come back and join us and enjoy their various perspectives on the book as well as a giveaway opportunity.

Which do you prefer, a romance novel or a love story? Why? What is your definition of a romance?
 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. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing has just released. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

That's Cool!

I write historical fiction, and I love the beautiful images past times evoke. I love the clothing – women in bustles and corsets, or high Empire waistlines or the tall, veiled hats of the middle ages or cowboys in boots and spurs, knights in armor, or Regency Beau Brummells. I love the living spaces – English castles and country houses and ante-bellum mansions of the Old South. I love the manners and the social conventions that characters uphold or break and the consequences when they do. I love the "other-ness" of how people lived and worked and ate.

I sometimes think I'd like to live in in the beauty and pageantry of one of those far-off times, but that usually lasts only the brief seconds it takes for me to consider what that would really mean: no modern conveniences. Some are just that, conveniences. Yes, we all survived just fine before there was an internet or satellite TV or digital cameras. What about the more important things? Yes, I'm talking about air conditioning.

I'm a big baby when it comes to the heat. Don't make me get out in it. Don't make me sweat.


But air conditioning is a relatively new luxury. Of the roughly 2011 years just since the birth of Christ (I won't even mention the thousands of years before that), air conditioning even in its crudest form has been around for only 105 of them. That's roughly five percent of the time. In 1906, Willis Carrier patented his invention for combating humidity in a printing company, calling it an "Apparatus for Treating Air." That same year, Stuart W. Cramer coined the term "Air Conditioning."

Things have just gotten better since then.

In 1914, Carrier installed the first home air conditioning in a mansion in Minneapolis at a cost of $10,000. That's a whopping $214,977.19 in 2010 dollars!

The U. S. House of Representatives got air conditioning in 1928, followed by the Senate in 1929 and the White House in 1930.

It wasn't until 1940 that Packard offered an option for automobile "factory air."

After World War II, the demand for room air conditioners skyrocketed, and central air conditioning became common in the 1950s and '60s, enabling the continuing population growth in the southern part of the United States, making even Texas in summer bearable.

I will be forever grateful.

Don't get me started on plumbing.

What modern conveniences could you just not do without? How well would you have survived in a different time period?

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, and Letters in the Attic, a contemporary mystery. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with four spoiled cats.

Monday, September 26, 2011

St Louis Inky Report

by Anita Mae Draper

This past week, 5 members of Inkwell Inspirations attended the 2011 American Christian Fiction Writers  (ACFW) conference in St Louis, Missouri.

(l to r) Gina Welborn, Jennifer AlLee, Anita Mae Draper, Lisa Karon Richardson, Dina Sleiman

The conference started on Thurs with the first workshops including the Early Bird session, Worship, the Publisher's Spotlight Sessions and the Agents Panels. 

Dina Sleiman and WhiteFire
editor/owner Roseanna White

Friday's breakfast started at 8 am with the last session ending at 9:30 pm. This was the first day of the agent and editor's panels as well as more workshops where the Inkies spread out to cover differ different sessions.

The keynote speaker was Tracie Peterson of Bethany House who addressed the assembly Friday afternoon.

Friday night was also the My Book Therapy Pizza Party hosted by Writing Therapists Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. The venue was the no-roof terrace and adjoining room at the top of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. It provided a spectacular view of the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River. 

Anita Mae and Gateway Arch

Susie May and Rachel provided food, hilarious entertainment by participants including Karen Ball, Jim Rubart and others, and handed out the Frasier writing award. 

I was the ACFW's ezine reporter for the final workshop of the day, Rejection: The Key To Your Success presented by Steve Laube and Tamela Hancock Murray.

Saturday morning breakfast was fun as I sat with the Seekers and friends.

(l to r) Mary Connealy, Pepper Basham (SeekerFriend), Myra Johnson, Janet Dean, Cara Lynn James
Christ Barrett, Ruth Logan Herne, Amanda Barrett, Audra Harders

 After devotions and worship, the 2nd day of agent and editor appointments carried on as well as more workshops. My morning consisted of the second part of Randy Ingermanson's The Snowflake Method which is based on his popular writing software program.

During the afternoon, I sat in on Susan May Warren's class, Focus on Description. That was followed by Media Training by the people who bring you Romantic Times and the Romantic Review blog. No sooner had these ended when everyone rushed upstairs to ready themsleves for the Gala Banquet and Awards show.

An interesting turn of events was the appearance of several writers and their spouses in costume according to what they wrote. I didn't get many photos, but Randy Ingermanson was in a top hat and tails, Jeff Gerke was some science fiction character, and here's an officer straight out of Star Fleet. I also saw a Mad Max look-a-like, several women in period gowns and a man in a Word War II uniform. It's very exciting to see this change of events. Two years ago in Denver, the only person wearing what she wrote (that I know of) was Roslyn Elliott.

The Inkies enjoyed the banquet so much, they decided to do a spoof of the old TV show, Charlie's Angels - except now they're known as Charlie's Inkies.

Lisa Karon Richardson, Dina Sleiman, Gina Welborn

The next day was Sunday and I took some video of the choir singing but I have to get home to make a YouTube video of it.

I also took videos of some of the My Book Therapy shenigans and other things, but you may have to check my site at later on to see those. Watch the blogroll in the sidebar for more info.

I had a fantastic time in St Louis. My best conference experience to date. What about the rest of you Inkies. What did you think?

And for the rest of you, when we go to conferences, do you prefer to see photos of the attendees or the venue hotel and city?


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. She writes stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. You can find her at

Friday, September 23, 2011

Left Behind!

…From ACFW Conference, that is.

by Susanne Dietze

If you’re reading this, I can guess you’re not in St. Louis for the 2011 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. Me neither. We all have our reasons for staying home, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t a little sad—and maybe more than a bit curious about what we’re missing.

While some of our favorite inspirational authors (both published and soon-to-be published) are networking, we’re working day jobs. While they’re marinating in the teaching of notable speakers, we’re marinating tonight’s chicken dinner. Which we’ll be eating while they’re celebrating achievement in inspirational writing with a big ol’ banquet.

But this is not the time to have a pity party! Those of us who are left behind from Conference can accomplish some big things weekend. Here’s what I plan to do:

Be present in the moment and trust in God. Rejoice in wherever you are this weekend, because the Lord most probably wanted you there, whether it’s a family wedding or a kid’s soccer game. God’s faithfulness and love for you is the same as it ever was. Trust in His timing and provision, and pray to be able to discern His will for your future attendance.

Write. Networking is only part of our job as writers. If we don’t have proposals / manuscripts in hand, then there’s nothing to publish. Plan to get some work accomplished toward that end. As for me, I’ll be writing a synopsis.

Do research—for your story or your craft. Since I’m writing a synopsis this weekend (one of my least favorite things to do), I’m going to search online for articles to help me do it well.

Speaking of craft, if you’re a member of ACFW, you can attend the At Home Conference. Teachings on marketing, writing, and networking will be available. Visit for more information.

Party. We can join in the celebration for the Genesis and Carol Awards! Participate in the Live Blog, which will occur during the awards ceremony tomorrow, September 24, at 6:30 PM CDT. Visit to take part.

Last year, I was a Genesis finalist but couldn’t attend conference. My family picked up my favorite take-out and we put the laptop on the kitchen table, joining in the Live Blog. I was also blessed that my friend Lisa Richardson sent photos of the banquet food, so I felt part of the party. Except I got to wear comfy yoga pants instead of sequins.

Do one thing to pamper yourself. Yeah, our friends at conference can visit the hotel’s spa. But you’re worth an indulgence, too. Paint your toenails, take a nap, order a zillion-calorie drink at Starbuck’s (mine will be a Pumpkin Spice Latte!)—whatever makes you feel special and nurtured.

I’ll be praying for conference, and for those of us left behind. Perhaps one of these days—maybe even next year—we’ll be there together.

What are you doing this weekend? What’s your favorite Starbuck’s indulgence?

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,

Photos courtesy of

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Time to Retreat

by Suzie Johnson
Have you ever been to a women’s church retreat?

I was twenty-four years old the first time I went and I’d never been to anything like it. I was in awe of the sound of three-hundred women raising their voices in songs of praise. Along with the fun, fellowship, and new friends, it was simply amazing. From that weekend on, I looked forward to each retreat. Then, after ten years of attending yearly and soaking up all everything I could learn, it came to an end. I had a full time job and had difficulty getting away.

Eleven years would pass before I could attend again. But this time, I wasn’t going for the fellowship. My motive was simply four days away from stress. Four days of writing time. I didn’t want to spend time chatting with other women. I didn’t want to attend group studies or participate in skit night. I certainly didn’t want to stay up all night laughing and planning pranks to pull on other cabins. I had reached a point in my life where I simply wanted to escape the stress. This was the perfect opportunity for me to hole up in a cabin and write.

Don’t you know God had other plans?

Almost immediately I encountered a friend I hadn’t seen in years. She’d changed churches long ago, and we both worked, and…well, you know how that goes… We made plans to eat our meals together. Yes, I wanted to write, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that Leslie was there. I seized the opportunity to spend time with her. Later, in my cabin, I couldn’t ignore the laugher, chatter, and moments of sharing that were going on right under my bunk. So I made new friends with some of the ladies from my own church – ladies I never got a chance to really know because we all worked.

But something even more incredible happened. I reconnected with God on a level I’d never experienced. Not that I thought I was disconnected, but looking back, I realize I was in a place of stagnancy in my relationship with Him, just going through the motions and letting everything get in the way of my time with Him.

At the camp, there’s a lovely wrap-around porch on the main lodge. Part of it overlooks the woods and river, and part of it overlooks a grassy meadow with the other mountains in the background. I was sitting on the porch with my friend, Lynn, talking about the issues some of our family members were having – issues we couldn’t fix that caused deep hurt to all involved.

As we talked, we noticed someone had planted a wooden cross in the meadow. Painted white, it stood about six feet tall and was surrounded by small rocks. We walked down the rock-lined path to the cross. Lynn suggested we write the names of each of our hurting family members on a rock and place them at the foot of the cross. 

Then we prayed for each of them.

In that wonderful, incredible moment, I felt God’s presence so strongly it was undeniable. Lynn did, too. We cried and hugged each other, and as we walked back to the lodge, the sun was beginning to set. It was a perfect God-healing-moment.

I went away from the retreat marveling at the way God’s plans were much, much different than my own, and how He provided just what I needed when I needed it.

I’m not saying the issues were resolved overnight. The road was long, but I had many more God-healing moments along the way. One thing that helped me through was remembering how it felt to stand at the foot of that cross and physically place the burden there – to physically turn it over to the Lord. It made me wish I could create my own rock-lined trail leading to a cross.

I wonder, though, if it would become forgotten over time. For me, I think it is better to close my eyes and meet God at the cross – the real cross where Jesus hung – to imagine physically handing over my burdens to the One who wants to carry it for me. It’s such a simple thing, so easily forgotten, and yet so powerful.

An excellent prayer series by our own Dina Sleiman, brought this all back to my mind. In Open They Eyes of My Heart, Dina talks about Visio Divina, picturing yourself in a place where you meet God as you pray. At the time, I first read this, I imagined the place I’d like to meet with God as the beach – a place where I frequently meet with Him as I walk and pray. But as I keep thinking over Dina’s prayer series, I’m reminded of my time at the cross with Lynn during the retreat, and the overwhelming closeness I felt with Him. This is where I want to meet with Him. This is where I want to imagine His face. This is my Visio Divina.

Some of the Inkies, and one of my critique partners, are at a retreat of sorts this week – the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference where they’ll have a praise and worship service, prayer time, and fellowship. I’m praying for my critique partner and each of the Inkies, to be successful in their networking, that God puts them in the right place to make the best contacts for their careers, to make new friends, and to renew friendships. I’m also praying they go home from the conference refreshed, and ready to write the stories God gives to them.

Questions for the day: 
  • Do you ever make plans for your spiritual life, and later find they slipped away over time?
  • What do you do when God’s plans for you don’t match the ones you have for yourself?
Suzie Johnson has won several awards for her inspirational novels (writing as Susan Diane Johnson), including the Maggie, Lone Star, Heart of the West, and Beacon awards, as well as finaling in the Touched by Love, Finally A Bride, Linda Howard Award for Excellence, and Virginia's Fool For Love contests. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and is a cancer registrar at her local hospital. The mother of a wonderful young man who makes her proud every day, she lives with her husband and little kitten on an island in the Pacific Northwest. And although the beaches are rocky instead of sandy, lined with Madronas and Evergreens instead of Palm trees, and the surf is much to cold for wading, it is still the perfect spot for writing romantic fiction. You can visit her blog, Suzie's Writing Place at

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We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.