Hang in there…

We’ll be back!

To our loyal readers, our blog will be down for maintenance for a week or so, so we can get our new blog site up and running. We will let you know when that happens and give you instructions on how to find us. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this transition.

Much love,

The Inkspers.

Support Your Local Author

Have you been enjoying all of these Inkspirational suggestions for great books to read? I know my To Be Read pile is growing daily!!!

We interrupt this series of very helpful blog entries for a brief advertisement. These days, it is easier than ever to help your favorite author so that she can continue to write those wonderful books you love.

Write a review!!! There are lot of ways to do this, but since the overwhelming majority of my reading is now done on my Kindle, my favorite way is to continue past THE END and write a review before I close the book.

Amazon Review for blog

You don’t have to pretend to like the book and give it a five star review, although you should always be kind. Give it three stars, and just say, I learned a lot. (About how not to write a book?) But, if you do love it, give the future readers some great reasons why.

One tip- No Spoilers. Don’t tell how it ends, or even very much about the specifics. Just say, plenty of action, plot twists, had me on the edge of my seat,  – – you get the idea.

This week, I even got a chance to answer a question generated by my review. The reader wanted to know if this book was a “Christian” book, or was it just about faith in general. Woo-hoo! I said,”Yes, it is a Christian book, but the theology doesn’t overwhelm you.” I loved helping the author get her message out!

So, read, read, read, and then review. Your favorite local author will love you for it.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog. Enjoy the wonderful Inkspers!

My Word for the New Year: Refocus

As many writers do, I enjoy contemplating a single word as the year on the calendar changes. This year, my mantra has been obvious since our fall writing retreat. Refocus.

I have been writing stories since I could hold a pencil, and as you can tell from my bio pictures, that is now a very long time. I am known for being able to phrase things well in business letters at work. When it comes time to explain a difficult topic in laymen’s terms, I’m your girl. Of course, with the ability to write comes the desire for others to appreciate that work. So, I have been seeking publication, which has resulted in writing monthly columns in a local general interest magazine. With the advent of social media, I have actually developed a following of sorts, with folks looking forward to my comments, and participating when a song breaks out that they know well enough to sing along. But, have I strayed from that path of storytelling? Refocus.

At this stage in my life, my health can easily get out of control. There is a fine balance of the type and amount of food I eat, the time spent exercising, and the amount of water I drink. When I let any of these components go un-noticed, extra pounds pile on. With more weight, it becomes harder to move, harder to exercise. With no reduction in food, or increase in water, more pounds. The pattern is obvious. Refocus.

Every winter, when plunging temperatures cause our joints to ache, my husband and I talk of moving further south. Since our middle son moved to Florida, got married and brought us our fifth grand-child, the discussions have gotten more serious. Now, grand number six is on the way, and we have learned our way around Central Florida quite well thank you. But, do we really want to move permanently, or just arrange for a vacation home there?  So much to consider. Refocus.

Along with a highlighted word, I like to have a scripture in mind for the new year. This year, I keep hearing Psalm 51 – verses 10-12. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free spirit.” Refocus.

This year, I plan to explore a new path for my fiction writing. I plan to focus on my audience, and then find an agent who shares my vision. Health-wise, I know what to do. It’s just a matter of concentrating on doing what works, and feeling better in the process. Financially, we will dedicate ourselves to paying off as many bills as possible to make the dream of living in a warmer climate a much clearer vision. Renew, Restore, Refocus.

 

 

 

Renewing the Walk

It’s been a little over a week since our country chose a new President. The nation has moved from trying to convince others to vote a certain way to watching the direction or new leaders would be taking. In the days leading up to the election, I was trying to reassure others that no matter what, God is still in charge. Our forefathers planned for a peaceful transition with checks and balances to be sure that democracy would continue.

I will be honest, I was saying those things with the thought that the candidate I wanted would win. Now, as our future commander in chief moves from winning to leading, I am swallowing a dose of my own medicine. I really do believe that God is in charge, and He has a plan for us. It’s time to Walk the Walk that goes with the talk.

Two of my friends from opposite places on the political spectrum have influenced me in the past few days.

One reminded me that Jesus was a friend of all, including those whom had been labeled as sinners by the world. The old adage about What Would Jesus Do takes on a new meaning as we reach out in love to everyone who feels abandoned by the results of the election. Renewed expressions of hatred and prejudice must be confronted and squashed. We must spread Jesus’ message of Love to all we meet, talk to, send messages to. We can’t sit idly by and shake out heads. For whatever we do to the least of these, our brethren, we are doing to Jesus.

The other Christian friend remarked that our new Vice President was being called a radical Christian because he believes that the Bible is the true, inspired word of God. In that case, my friend says, Radical Christian is a label we should all seek. Yes, and yes. The Holy Scripture must be our guide as we move forward. Read it, share it, live it. God’s word will be our guide, our ever present help in times of trouble.

For me, it all comes back to the  the scripture I chose to lead me through this year. Micah 6:8. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Read this verse, but first, read the whole book of Micah. This prophet lived in some terribly harsh times. He spoke of God raining judgement on a lawless land. Everything the nation of Israel had known was changing. But in Chapter 4, verse 2, there is hope. “And many nations shall come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob. and He will teach us His ways . . .”

As Christians, we can truly lead in these times of transition. Keep Walking.

 

Spring Smorgasbord

 

No matter what the occasion, I’m always ready to spring into a good book. And I get a tad shy of giddy when given an opportunity to share what I’m reading. I’ve tried to curb my enthusiasm by limiting my list of spring must-reads to the books currently in  my TBR pile. It’s still formidable though, so let’s get started. Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ll be reading in the next month or so.

I always choose a selection from Love Inspire every month. I love the consistency of their line and the guaranteed happily ever after. Not mention the amazing authors!

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Picking out two Amish books was a given since I love this genre. I’ve read Rebecca Kertz before but Jo Ann Brown is a new-to-me author so I’m looking forward to getting acquainted.

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Heartwarming and faith-filled, the Love Inspired contemporary romance line has a lot to offer. Especially with fantastic authors like Lisa Carter and Glynna Kaye!

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And seriously, how could I resist catching up with Linda Ford’s new historical series? Especially with covers as appealing as these beckoning to me.

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Romantic suspense is a genre I can’t seem to get enough of. Excited about the new K-9 continuity series. Puppies! Intrigue! Romance! Need I say more?

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And speaking of romantic suspense…sqqqqquuuueeeaaalllll!!!!!! Irene Hannon’s newest release is hovering near the top of my teetering TBR pile. I can’t wait to dive in. She never disappoints.

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These three came courtesy of my public library. I love that they are expanding their Christian Fiction collection. I do my part by recommending books every month. I got first dibs on these ones for that very reason.

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One of the huge blessings in my reading life is receiving free books in exchange for an honest review. This trio arrived on my doorstep via Litfuse Publicity Group. Cozy mystery, fairy tale retelling and women’s fiction. Can’t get more eclectic than that!

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These two are courtesy of public library too. I have read both artists in the Christian Fiction genre and while I think these are for the general market I’m sure I’m going to love them as well.

Phew! So that’s what I am reading this spring! How about you?

Christian Romance- It Really is a Thing

When folks find out I am a writer, I usually tell them I plan to be a fiction author when I grow up. Their natural next question is “What kind of books do you  want to write?” When I say “Christian Romance”, they often chuckle, and sometimes even say, “Isn’t that an oxymoron?” So sad. Obviously these people have been reading the wrong romance novels.

I must confess that I have delved into those other kind of books once or twice in my lifetime. For the most part, I wouldn’t call them romances. The wonderful emotion called love is usually left out. Many of them concentrate only on the physical side of a relationship.

My friend Shannon Vannatter has made a very successful career out of writing about honest, flawed couples who are struggling to develop all sides of a relationship. Heroines who have been abused and have trouble trusting even the most appealling hero. Men who have made bad choices in the past, and are trying so hard to prove they have changed. Characters who have loved and lost, and are not sure they will ever find that feeling again. Set against a fun backdrop of small towns, cowboys and rodeos, her books easily sweep the reader up for an amazing ride. What a joy these books, and their sweet author are to all who know them.

Two other authors who really know romance are critique buddies Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren. Their stories are multi-layered, multi-generational, and full of delicious heroes and heroines we can easily identify with. They play on a larger stage, ending up in exotic places, and taking the reader along for a breathless, magical adventure. These two never dissapoint, and I can’t wait to pre-order when they announce a new release.

What these books have in common is the spiritual thread that binds the hearts of the protaganists. Only when they surrender to God’s will do the pieces of their lives begin to come together.

Christian romance- Oh yes. It is very real, very satisfying, and never one dimensional. Now, if you will excuse me, I have another book to read.

Hauck and Warren kindle books

 

Christian Charity + Giveaway

I work in a downtown area, and a coworker and I like to take walks in the middle of the afternoon when the weather is nice. It’s nice to take in the fresh air while stretching our legs and soaking in some vitamin D.

However, like most metropolises, Omaha has its fair share of homeless people, and a lot of them frequent the downtown area. It’s not uncommon for my friend and I to be approached by a person asking for money, change, anything we can spare. We usually just say sorry and keep walking. Sometimes we even cross to the other side of the street if we see someone out asking for money.

I often feel a niggling squirm of guilt, but then I make the usual excuse to myself to justify my behavior: I don’t have any cash (which is often true), I’m a vulnerable female in her 30s, the person might just take any money I give them and blow it on booze or drugs, the person might try to mug me while I’m getting out money, etc.

Now, I’m not saying these aren’t all legitimate scenarios. But as I thought about what charity I should write about, I began thinking of plain, simple Christian charity. Despite our fears or prejudices, Christ calls us to help the poor and the needy.

I was once downtown with my dad when a man in dirty, tattered clothes approached us. He asked us if we could spare a dollar so he would have enough money to buy a bus ticket at the terminal a few blocks away. I immediately averted my eyes and gave the man a mumbled sorry, and began walking away. But then my dad did something that I won’t forget.

He stopped, looked the man in the face, and told him he could give him ten dollars, but in order to get the money, he had to allow my dad to pray with him. The man was a little taken aback but agreed. As I watched, my dad took the man’s hands, asked him his name, and prayed that God would bless this stranger and give him a safe journey on his travels. He then gave the man the ten dollars.

Good Samaritan I asked my dad about it later, and he said he tries to keep a ten dollar bill, or a few bucks in his wallet for just this kind of thing. He said he won’t just give the money away, but he asks to pray for the person he’s giving it to. Some people have said no, but more often than not, they say yes.

It brings tears to my eyes to know I am so selfish and scared that I more often than not refuse to help someone out. I’m just like the “righteous” people in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, those who passed the poor beaten and robbed man by, only to be cared for by the last person he expected, a Samaritan. How can I be a living example of Christ’s love for others when I can’t even do that for one of God’s children?

That’s the kind of charity I want to be living, and in fact, need to be living.

~~~

Don’t forget about our giveaway of Brenda S. Anderson’s newest book, Hungry for Home, available now for preorder and everywhere September 22!

HappyBook Birthday!

 

The contest runs from Sept. 14 to midnight on Sept. 26. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, answering the question, “What charity (or charities) are close to your heart?”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Girl on the Blog!

Summer’s almost in the rear view mirror, football games have started, and there’s a new blogger bringing you Inkspirational messages! I’m Jenny McLeod Carlisle, and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to  become a part of this active, exciting community.

I have been writing stories since I could hold a pencil. I remember my Daddy reading to me on the front porch swing, and I particulary loved the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson. As I grew Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew mysteries and Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague sparked my imagination.Jenny with glasses small

My church family played a huge part in my upbringing after my Mom and Dad divorced, so in many ways, my stories “preach to the choir”. Getting in touch with the spiritual aspect of a character’s life makes for a much richer story, whether adventure, mystery or romance.

While hubby and I both worked to support our family, I sought out groups of people who understood the borderline madness of fiction, and eventually met Hannah Alexander (a husband and wife team) and their editor friend Barbara Warren at the Ozark Creative Writer’s conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

I was  first published in non-fiction as a contributor to Gospel Tidings, a national publication of the churches of Christ. I now write a monthly column for  Ouachita Life, a magazine that is distributed in the southwest portion of Arkansas. This gives me the chance to share my memories and observations about life in general.  Recently, I have become a storyteller on Tales from the South, an internationally broadcast radio program. This is a great venue, with a live audience instructed to laugh in all of the right places, and a very gracious editor who helps keep the stories on point.TFTS-better small

Membership in American Christian Fiction Writers, and in particular our local Arkansas chapter has encouraged me to make my dreams of being a published author a reality. I am now represented by Terry Burns with Hartline Literary Agency. While he communicates with potential publishers, I continue to create, and wait for the chance to revise my work to make it a better “fit” for the marketplace. I am a huge believer in God’s Plan, as outlined in Jeremiah 29:11, and I am eager to see what he has in store for me! Can’t wait to share my journey with you.

 

Whatchya Readin’?

Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by Judith P. Abrahamsen
Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by Judith P. Abrahamsen

As I think about the books in my TBR pile, I am overwhelmed. So many books, so little time!! I enjoy an array of books. Everything from romance to self help. Some of the books I really am looking forward to reading are not new releases, but books that are in my TBP (to be purchased) pile as I have not purchased a fiction book in a really long time. I think I’m going through withdrawal! So here’s my TBP and TBR list:

 

A Lady at Willowgrove Hall by Sarah Ladd -TBP

The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah Ladd -TBP

Mark of the Lion Series (3) by Francine Rivers -TBR

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers -TBP

Song of Acadia Series (5) by Janette Oke -TBR

Jaded by Varina Denman -TBP

Justified by Varina Denman -TBP

It’s not long but certainly gives me enough to get me through the rest of the summer! As you can see I’ve got a total of about 12 books and that’s just scratching the surface!

 

Question: What are you reading this summer?