Wholly Loved

Ten years ago I wrote a women’s study that challenged women to change the way they view their lives, and unlock the potential God has graced every woman with in life. I have tried to live that truth ever since, and have reached out to women around me with this message.

Now, I can say that journey has led me to a wider path. I’ve joined a group of other Christian women in the Omaha area who have that same vision for women. Led by Jennifer Slattery, we’re called Wholly Loved, and we will be holding coffees and conferences starting this December.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of such a uniquely-gifted group of women who independently have a heart for other women, and together have become a strong, purpose-filled voice calling out to women caught up in the storms of life. Our events will be filled with stories of our experiences and triumphs in Christ. But, be warned, odds are you’ll laugh and cry before Wholly Loved is done with you.

wholly-loved-logo

Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference

A little over a week ago, I had the privilege of attending the Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference, held right here in Bellevue, Neb. In fact, the conference was held at my church, LifeSpring Church, a mere four minute drive from my house! (They kept asking who came the farthest to get to the conference, but no one thought to ask who came the shortest!)

Unlike some writers conferences, like the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference that attracts writers from all over the country, this was more of a weekend retreat. The Wordsowers are a fine local group of writers, and they put on a wonderful, cost-efficient conference that has grown a lot in the four years they’ve been putting it on.

Cheryl St John
Active, Vivid Writing with Cheryl St. John.

The conference consisted of an opening session on Friday night, followed by a night cap to meet fellow conference attendees, authors, and speakers. On Saturday, an opening session featured speaker Troy Griepentrog of Focus on the Family, and then workshops throughout the day that ranged from The Ten Commandments of Humor and Digging Deep Into Your Characters, to Song Painting and Using Sales Funnels to Fins New Readers. There really was something for every type of writer (well, maybe not technical manuals…)

One thing I was impressed with was the sheer amount of talent in this region! Writers from all over came (including a few from Illinois and Texas), to teach, to learn, to share their writing experiences. While this wasn’t the type of conference where fledging writers come to meet with agents and publishers in hopes of getting “the call,” it is a great place to meet others journeying along this path to publication. To meet people who “get” what it means when you talk in acronyms like POV and MC. Who understand when you talk about the struggle to translate the rapturous visions in your head to the black and white computer screen. Who don’t ask why you need to know a good way to kill someone with a musical instrument; they just ask if you’re thinking of using one from the brass or woodwind family (oh, wait, that’s just me!).

Brainstormers
My brainstorming group: Mikal Hermans, Sara Bernier, me, and Jennifer Slattery.

I love hanging out with other writers because they “get” me. Other than learning new ways to make my writing sing, Wordsowers was a lot of fun because I got to hang out with my kindred spirits, old and new. Whoever thinks writing is a solitary business obviously isn’t doing it right.

For anyone interested, Wordsowers 2017 is already in the works, with New York Times best-selling author (and a Lincoln, Neb. transplant!) Tosca Lee headlining as the keynote speaker. Mark your calendars and come join us!

Tosca Lee

Writing Time

This past month has been filled with writing events and time spent with fellow authors.  April 8th I spent time with memoir writer Gail Kittleson in Boone, Iowa for our first ever ACFW Iowa writer’s meeting. It was a small group, but it was powerful in topics and discussion. Gail even put together a wonderful activity that spurred each of us on in our creativity for our stories.

 

Gail has a new story out titled In Times Like These (see the above photo). I’m reading it now and loving it! Get your copy from Amazon here.

Dawn and Mary at Pitchapalooza
Dawn and Mary at Pitchapalooza

On April 15th I went to the Nebraska Writer’s Guild Pitchapalooza conference in Omaha, Nebraska. There I learned how to more effectively pitch to editors and agents. Chip MacGregor, from MacGregor Literary Agency came to speak to the attendees. He and Linda Camancho from Prospect Agency took appointments to listen to and critique the pitches from the conference-goers. If you get a chance to go to a Pitchapalooza, I highly recommend it to polish up your content and presentation.

 

Earlier last week I had a chance to spend time with fellow authors Mary Connealy, Erica Vetsch, Lorna Seilstad, and Bonnie Lacy at a writing retreat. With no internet, I was able to get the majority of one of my manuscripts revised for a different ending than first envisioned. Not too bad for a couple day retreat.

 

Dawn and Stephanie Ludwig at WordsowersAt the end of last week I attended the Wordsowers Conference in Bellevue, Nebraska at our own Stephanie Ludwig’s church. Wordsowers did an amazing job of getting qualified presenters for several different topics to help the Christian authors in their writing craft. I laughed along with Sherri Shackelford in adding humor to your writing, learned how to make my writing more active with Cheryl St. John, and had Jennifer Slattery bring fullness to my story arc. All in all it was a terrific conference! The best part, however, was spending time with all of my author friends, including our former Inksper Rose Zediker.

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Rose at Wordsowers

Now, all I have to do is apply what I’ve taken in the past month to ensure a novel you won’t want to put down.

 

Splickety LogoShamelss plug: for those of you who want to break into writing, or love to read/write flash fiction, there is still four days to enter Splickety Publishing Group’s Havok contest, Heroes vs. Villains. See the information on that contest here. Splickety editors do a great job of editing your work and letting you know how to improve your story, whether or not you get published in the magazine. It’s well worth the ten dollars you spend for the contest, plus you get a year’s subscription to Havok magazine when you enter! That is an amazing deal, and I’m not just saying that because I work with Splickety.

 

Happy writing!!

Books are Blossoming!

Oh, there’s nothing like lounging in a chair outside, a glass of lemonade on the table beside you, the scent of lilacs in the air, and a book in your hand. Don’t you agree? And, as usual, spring is fragrant with new releases.

On my Just-Read list is Joseph Courtemanche’s debut release, Assault on Saint Agnes. Now this book isn’t for the light romance or cozy mystery reader, rather for those who love a good page-turning thriller. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year, and I highly recommend it.

Assault on Saint AgnesAbout Assault on Saint Agnes ~

When terrorists assault Saint Agnes Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, they expect to find a congregation of lambs: they get Bobby Kurtz instead. An unrepentant Cold Warrior, Kurtz destroys the terror cell with violent finality. Against his will, Kurtz is pulled back into the life he left behind decades before. He reluctantly picks up the burden of hunting the terrorists in our midst. He risks his life, and his marriage, in a single-minded pursuit of victory over evil. Working with a shadowy government agency, Kurtz uses all of his skills and experience to foil a plan that would plunge the Twin Cities back into the Stone Age. The final battle rages across the plains during a Christmas Eve blizzard in a story that will leave the reader pleading for more of Kurtz and his team of experts.

On my Read-Next list is Jennifer Slattery’s latest release, Breaking Free. Word has it, this book is a gritty, meaty read, so it’s perfect for me.

Breaking FreeAbout Breaking Free ~

Women’s ministry leader and Seattle housewife Alice Goddard appears to have it all. But when her credit and debit cards are denied, she begins an investigation into the family’s finances—and discovers her husband trapped in a downward spiral of lies. Can they break free from his deception in time to save their marriage?

And finally on my Not-Yet-Released-Yet list is Becky Wade’s Her One and Only, book four in her Porter Family series. Since Becky broke out on the not-your-average-Christian-romance-writing scene with My Stubborn Heart, her books have topped my to-read list.

Her One and OnlyAbout Her One and Only ~

When NFL tight end Gray Fowler is threatened by a stalker, his team hires a professional bodyguard to watch him. But when Gray’s “protection” turns out to be a woman half his size, he’s indignant. Will Dru—a former marine and expert markswoman—prove to be up to the job? And meanwhile, who’s guarding Gray’s heart?

Now this blog post would be a mile long if I included every book on my spring reads list, but we’re asked to limit our words here on the Inksper blog so that you have more time to read books. So go pull out your lawn chair, poor yourself a glass of lemonade (or sweet tea if you live in the South), and dive into a book!

What books will be enjoying next?

Running Amuck

This may be the most scattered post I’ve ever written. But my brain is a bit scattered right now. I’ve gotten up at 5 stupid o’clock on a Saturday to drive two hours to watch my son in Cross Country Track. Which really isn’t much of a spectator sport. You watch them start, then you wait and wait and wait, until they finish. I’ve also been to almost Missouri three times for track meets. Track ended last Tuesday and basketball started on Thursday. He plays basketball too.

St. LouisI did actually make it to Missouri to the ACFW Conference. Since I have two cousins who live there, the only way I could spend time with them was to only attend the conference one day. I felt like I missed a lot of the conference and seeing friends, but I had fun with my cousins. I told my roommate that my cousin and I were going to run amuck. My cousin said, as long as we’re in by 8:00. We went to the top of the Arch and ate Italian, but we were in by 8:00. The picture was taken from the top of the Arch.

I struggled with a book all summer and finally when school started, the piece of the puzzle clicked into place and the words flew from my fingertips. I’m finishing my final read through today and turning it in by my deadline tomorrow. Two down, four to go for my current contract.

I lost eighteen pounds, but lately I’ve been to a lot of appreciation dinners and political meet and greets, so I’m stuck on my diet. And I haven’t gotten back in gear with my daily treadmill for at least 15 minutes since I got back from the conference. But I’m going to. Once I get this book turned in, oh the things I’ll do.

That’s been my mantra lately—once I get this book turned in, I’ll. . . The main thing I’m looking forward to is reading.

I met Jennifer Slattery at an ACFW Conference a few years back, so when I heard she got a contract, I wasJennifer Slattery thrilled and couldn’t wait to read her book—Beyond I Do. I love the title, since so many brides don’t think past the extravagant wedding and I love the sweet cover.

Since then, Jennifer’s publisher asked for my endorsement on her second book—When Dawn Breaks. It came during crunch time—I was about to leave for ACFW and I had a deadline. I had one free night at the conference, so I decided I’d start the book. If I liked it, I’d make time to read it. If I didn’t, I’d tell Jennifer’s publisher I had a deadline.

I loved it and finished it after I got home, when my brain was still too travel rattled to do anything but read. I ordered Beyond I Do this week. It will get here Thursday. Perfect timing. Next time I see Jennifer, I’m going to have someone get a new not orange picture of us.

Jennifer Slattery coverWill seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

November is National Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to writers to write a book in a month. By the time I heard of it, I was already published and it’s never fallen right in my contracts for me to participate. But this time, it does. I’m planning to write my next contracted book in November. It’s not due until March. In December and January, I’m going to write a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time.

In February, I want to read Denise Hunter’s new book. It releases in December and I may not be able to wait. In fact, I’ll probably make time to read The Wishing Season as soon as I get it.

Living side-by-side, a fledgling chef and a big-hearted contractor find a delicious attraction.The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter
Trouble is, their chemistry could spoil their dreams.

Spirited PJ McKinley has the touch when it comes to food. Her dream of opening her own restaurant is just one building short of reality. So when a Chapel Springs resident offers her beloved ancestral home to the applicant with the best plan for the house, PJ believes it’s a contest she was meant to win.

Contractor Cole Evans is confident, professional, and swoon-worthy—but this former foster kid knows his life could have turned out very differently. When Cole discovers the contest, he believes his home for foster kids in transition has found its saving grace. All he has to do is convince the owner that an out-of-towner with a not-for-profit enterprise is good for the community.

But when the eccentric philanthropist sees PJ and Cole’s proposals, she makes an unexpected decision: the pair will share the house for a year to show what their ideas are made of. Now, with Cole and the foster kids upstairs and PJ and the restaurant below, day-to-day life has turned into out-and-out competition—with some seriously flirtatious hallway encounters on the side. Turns out in this competition, it’s not just the house on the line, it’s their hearts.

Sigh. Can’t wait.