A Conversation with Susan Anne Mason

INSPYs 2016-Susan Anne Mason

Join us in welcoming author, Susan Anne Mason today! This is Susan’s first year being shortlisted in the INSPY awards. Her  historical novel Irish Meadows (Bethany House) is on the 2016 shortlist in the Debut Fiction category.

Today, we learn about the music Susan Anne enjoys, read and see the inspiration for Irish Meadows plus more!


Irish immigrant James O’Leary has spent his life building Irish Meadows into a thriving horse farm and is not about to let hard economic times threaten its success. He intends for his Book - Irish Meadowsdaughters to marry prosperous men–ones who will secure the family’s rightful place in society, and at the same time, guarantee the future of Irish Meadows. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their father expects them to marry well. Yet despite his wishes, Brianna, the quieter sister, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry–as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards. When stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from college and distant family member Rylan Montgomery stops in on his way to the seminary in Boston, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach? – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN ANNE MASON

INSPYs: What inspired the story of Irish Meadows?

I’ve always loved sagas about large families. One of my favorite mini-series growing up was The Thornbirds about an Irish family who move to the outback’s of Australia. I became enthralled with the sweeping family saga—as well as the forbidden love between Meggie and Ralph—which inspired the romance between the fiery, Colleen O’Leary, and priest-in-training, Rylan Montgomery in Irish Meadows. And as many of my readers tell me, this couple hijacked the book! (I must confess that I fell in love with Rylan, too!)

Having Irish roots on both sides of my genealogical tree, I knew I wanted to write about a big Irish family. My great grandparents on my father’s side emigrated from Ireland to Brooklyn, NY around 1890. So I used New York as the backdrop for my saga about the O’Learys, an immigrant family who had overcome poverty and prejudice to achieve affluence in Long Island. When the book opens, patriarch James O’Leary is faced with the possibility of losing his horse farm and the affluent position he has achieved. This is the motivation for him wanting to find suitable, wealthy husbands for his two eldest daughters—but unfortunately for him, the girls have other ideas!

Horse farm1

A photo depicting Susan Anne Mason’s inspiration for Irish Meadows.

INSPYs: What are the challenges/benefits of writing historical fiction?

The challenge is definitely the research. Sometimes I end up doing hours of searching for a tiny aspect of the era you’re writing about—and it only shows up as one line in a scene. For instance, I had to do a lot of research just to find out about the use of telephones in 1911. Not only who might have a telephone in their house (rich people!), but what type of phone they would use. Hours of research for a tiny detail in a few scenes.

The benefits of writing historical fiction is that you become immersed in a different time period. Learning about the ways people lived back then—long before TV and the internet—is so interesting, and the good news is you get to come back to all the modern conveniences when you’re done!

Susan Anne Mason's favorite writing spot is her kitchen table.

Susan Anne Mason’s favorite writing spot is her kitchen table.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to? I don’t normally listen to a lot of music at home, but I tend to like songs that speak to me, not necessarily by one person or group. That being said, some of my favorite artists are Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift. Right now, I love the song “Piece by Piece” by Kelly. So moving. Another current favorite is “Stand by You” by Rachel Platten. 

+What are you watching?  Now that Downton Abbey is over (sniff), I’m having trouble finding a favorite show. I do enjoy Nashville, which thankfully has been picked up again. I watched Season One of Outlander but it got too graphic for me and I’ve only been watching it sporadically now. My guilty pleasure is the Bachelor/Bachelorette series. It’s romance, what can I say? (wink)

+What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? Oh, my. How long do you have? I am a serious book-a-holic! (At least now I can count the purchases as a business expense.) I just finished reading “The Lost Heiress” by Roseanna White, which was fabulous! Anyone who likes Downton Abbey will love this book! And now I’ve started Pepper Basham’s “Twist of Faith” which already has me hooked!

Here is a snap shot of my “To be read” pile! No shortage of material there! I’m very excited to read the latest books by Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, and Susan May Warren. To name a few!

Susan Mason TBR

Thanks so much for having me here and for highlighting “Irish Meadows.” And best of luck to all the INSPYs finalists!


Thanks so much for joining us on the INSPYs.com blog today, Susan. It was our pleasure to host you; we enjoyed learning more about Irish Meadows, and seeing that impressive TBR!

Susan Mason author photoABOUT THE AUTHOR

I have always loved to write. As a teen, I wrote my first novel, only to be politely rejected by my publisher of choice.

Life got in the way – university, marriage and children became the priority. Then once I had time to start reading again, the writing bug bit once more.

I enjoy writing both contemporary and historical Inspirational romances. “Romance sprinkled with faith” describes my writing style. I love themes of forgiveness and redemption!

I am a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Romance Writers of America. My association with such amazing groups of people has been the biggest asset toward learning my craft.

Home for me is Brampton, Ontario, Canada (near Toronto), where I live with my husband, our two children and two cats. My day job is a part-time secretary at a local church. In my spare time, I like to read and research our family history on-line.

Author Website | Facebook

A Conversation with Katherine Reay

INSPYs 2016-Katherine Reay

Our final week (before the INSPY Advisory Board announces the winners) of author interviews continues today with author, Katherine Reay. Katherine has been shortlisted in previous INSPY awards and this year, her novel The Bronte Plot (Thomas Nelson) is on the 2016 shortlist in the General Fiction category.

Today, Katherine shares about the inspiration of The Bronte Plot, and asks YOU for new TV show recommendations. Read on below.


Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with Book - The Bronte Plother boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change.

Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along. – Goodreads

Amazon ($1.99 e-book sale) | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH KATHERINE REAY

INSPYs: What inspired the story of The Bronte Plot? 

The Bronte Plot came to me as a question while reading C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. In that story, while asleep, Lewis travels to heaven where he witnesses souls traveling “upward and onward.” Decisions must be made and burdens relinquished if the “passengers” on this journey wish to remain in heaven. Wrapped within fantasy, Lewis introduces us to the ideas of free will, choice and consequence – as well as deftly portraying the strings pulling at our hearts and the nature of surrender. I began to ask, what could or would that journey look like on this side of eternity? And if someone did reach a point to make new decisions and lay down old burdens, what event or force might begin the process? Lucy entered the story first, with her red hair, passion for design and story – and a few other personality traits – but she didn’t complete it. I knew that such turning points can happen at any age and Lucy needed a companion, someone unlike herself yet able to understand. She needed a Helen. And so, with two women ready for change, The Bronte Plot began…

INSPYs: Who was your favorite character/storyline in The Bronte Plot?

I adore Helen. Her character became so complex, from the wild summer of her youth to the pressures that later defined her life. And to see her work to redefine and find herself again – and, in many ways, free her family – was exciting.

I also loved Sid. If I ever hire an interior designer, I’ll need to find him in the real world.

Katherine's favorite writing spot!

Katherine’s favorite writing spot!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+What are you listening to?  

To and from my daughter’s volleyball practice, we listen to audiobooks. We just finished The Book Thief – brilliantly narrated, by the way. We are now listening to The Screwtape Letters. At home, The Zac Brown Band is the most played Pandora station with Needtobreathe and Van Morrison close behind. Now… That said, Jimmy Buffet always makes a strong appearance on the back patio each summer.

+What are you watching?

I just finished The Night Manager, an AMC miniseries of the John le Carré novel. Wow! Incredibly tense and well done. Hugh Laurie is, as always, brilliant.

And now that Castle is over, I’m looking for recommendations. I need a new show! Please help…

+What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand?Katherin Reay TBR

I decided to pick up the two books on the floor and take a picture of the true mess that is my nightstand. It needs a little explanation. At present, I am reading The Blind Side, Prayer, The Screwtape Letters (I know, listening to it too… it’s research) and Self-Editing. The Nightingale has sat teasing me for six months because I want to get to it, but I need more time. I picked up the Moriarty ARC at BEA last month and hope to find time to read it this summer as well. And the Amor Towles? I picked that up at BEA too and pat it every now and then. His debut, Rules of Civility, was fantastic and I’m almost nervous to begin his second, A Gentleman in Moscow, because soon after I start that first sentence it’ll be over and I’ll have to wait five more years for another beautiful Towles tale. Oh… And Everybody’s Jane. Again research. I really do get the best research!

Thanks for inviting me here!


Katherine, thank you SO much for joining us! It was a pleasure to chat with you, and learn more about The Brone Plot.

EDITOR’s NOTE:  Some of my recent TV show favorites would be NBC’s Blindspot, ITV’s Grantchester and I’m currently watching the sixth season of TNT’s Rizzoli and Isles. What are you currently watching, readers?

ABOUT THE AUTHORKBR Headshot

Katherine Reay has lived all across the country and Europe and has just moved with her family to Chicago. She is a writer, wife, mom, runner, and, most randomly, a tae kwon do black belt. Her debut novel, “Dear Mr. Knightley,” is a contemporary story with a dash of Jane Austen and other nineteenth century writers thrown in for the fun of it. Her subsequent novels, “Lizzy & Jane” and “The Bronte Plot,” feature stories of hope, reconciliation, family, some seriously good food and travel. “A Portrait of Emily Price” will be released in November of this year. 

Facebook | Twitter

 

A Conversation with Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

INSPYs 2016-Carey and Lorie FeatureToday, the advisory board welcomes the writing duo of Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon. Know for their Brigadoon inspired YA lit retellings, Carey and Lorie’s latest novel, Shades of Doon (Blink) is on the 2016 INSPYs shortlist this year in the Literature for Young Adult category.

We hear from Carey and Lorie about the challenges and benefits of writing in an underrated market and the inspiration behind this story, plus they both share their current TV obsessions!


After cheating death, Veronica Welling is determined to savor every moment in her idyllic kingdom with both her true love and best friend by her side at last. At the same time, Mackenna Book - Shades of DoonReid is enthusiastically building her new life and a theater with her prince. But just as their dreams of happiness are within reach, the world Vee and Kenna have chosen is ripped away, leaving them to face their most horrific challenge yet—their old lives.

Thrust out of Doon, the best friends are confronted with tormentors from their past and no way to return to their adopted land. When the MacCrae brothers rush to their rescue, the girls’ situation turns from nightmare to modern-day fairy tale. But their happiness could be short lived: unbeknownst to them, someone in their closest circle is aiding the witch of Doon in her bid to destroy the kingdom once and for all. – Shades of Doon.com

Amazon | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH CAREY CORP AND LORIE LANGDON

INSPYs: What inspired Shades of Doon

Lorie: Shades of Doon is the third book in a series inspired by the Scottish musical Brigadoon! When I was sixteen I saw the live musical and fell in love with the romantic tale of the village that only appears to the modern world once every one hundred years. But one thing always bothered me about the original – during the hundred years that the portal to the kingdom is closed, the people in Brigadoon sleep. Really? They sleep! I couldn’t stop thinking about what I could do with that hundred years…

INSPYs: What are the challenges/benefits of writing YA in the inspirational (an underrated genre) market? 

Carey: I think the biggest challenge of writing YA in the inspirational market is that readers have a very personal and varied definition of “inspirational.” Too much for some is not enough for others and same with the mainstream or secular elements of the story. Lorie and I don’t write specifically for the “inspirational” market. We write the same way we live, as honestly as humanly possible, in the world but not of the world. Life is messy, riddled with mistakes, doubt, and poor choices. Like us, our characters are beautifully flawed and through their weakness The Protector works His miracles. The biggest benefit to being in the inspiration genre is that we’re able to weave our faith and personal relationships with God into our stories. We’re constantly taking inspiration from things in our spiritual lives. Our greatest hope is that this series will plant seeds in readers’ hearts through which the Holy Spirit will bear fruit.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to?  

Lorie: I’m kind of obsessed with the Hillsong Young & Free album! Especially the acoustic version of This Is Living. I can be in the worst mood ever and that song will turn it around!

Carey: Besides HAMILTON?  Wait is there something other than HAMILTON?  For Forever Doon I listened to a lot of for King & Country, Casting Crowns, We The Kings, Ed Sheeran, and Francesca Battistelli.

+ What are you watching?  

Photo: CBS

Photo: CBS

Lorie: I’m binge watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I didn’t watch the series when it aired and I’ve been hearing about it for years. I finally know why everyone loves it so much. I don’t think they make character driven TV shows like this anymore. I feel like the Gilmore’s are friends. For me, it’s the closest a TV series has ever come to the experience of reading a book! I’m also kind of a superhero geek and enjoy watching The Flash and Supergirl with my youngest son.

Carey: My favorite show of the last couple years has been MTV’s Shannara Chronicles by the incredible Terry Books. I’m also into The Flash, Walking Dead (yes, I love my zombies), Once Upon a Time, and Hallmark movies – I’m a sucker for a good romance! I tend to skip the news and reality television in favor of SyFy and fantasy. Let’s take a look at my DVR: The VoiceSupernatural, Big Bang Theory, tons of Hallmark movies, Stitchers, Containment, The Colony, The Middle, Gravity Falls, Somewhere in Time (movie), and the 58th Grammys (saved for the HAMILTON number).

+ What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? 

Lorie Langdon TBR 2016 (1)

Lorie: Right now I’m finishing Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas, the first book in a magical fantasy series that I’m really enjoying. My TBR pile is out of control! The picture only shows the physical books, I have about fifteen more on my Nook! I just scored the ARC of Sabaa Tahir’s A Torch Against the Night while at BEA…I may have to block off a whole day to read that one! An Ember in the Ashes was my favorite book of 2015.

Carey Corp TBR 2016 (1)

Carey:  I’m currently reading Cinda Williams-Chima’s new book Flamecaster and next up CJ Redwine’s Shadow Queen. Like Lorie, my TBR pile is out of control – it has it’s own room. I’m also rereading Lysa TerKeurst’s Unglued as my current devotional.


Thanks so much for joining us today, Carey and Lorie! Not only do you have amazing TV shows on for your current addictions, but we appreciate you sharing some insight into your thoughts about the YA market.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

careyCarey Corp NY Times & USA Today Best-selling author, Carey Corp, wrote her first book, a brilliant retelling of Star Wars, at the prodigious age of seven. Since then, her love affair of reinvention has continued to run amuck. Writing both literary fiction and stories for young adults, she begins each morning consuming copious amounts of coffee while weaving stories that capture her exhaustive imagination. She harbors a voracious passion (in no consistent order) for mohawks, Italy, musical theater, chocolate, and Jane Austen. Her debut novel for teens, The Halo Chronicles: The Guardian, earned her national recognition as 2010 Golden Heart finalist and more recently made the N Times Best-seller list. Coming Sept, 2015: Shades of Doon (book 3 of the 4 book Doon series), a young adult series loosely based on the concept of the musical Brigadoon, used with permission from the Alan Jay Lerner Estate & the Frederick Loewe Foundation, and co-written with Lorie Langdon.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

lorieLorie Langdon is one half of the author team that writes the best-selling DOON series, a YA re-imagining of Brigadoon!, published by Blink/HarperCollins. She has longed to write her own novels since she was a wee girl reading every Judy Blume book she could get her hands on. So a few years ago, she left her thriving corporate career to satisfy the voices in her head. Now as a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, she spends her days tucked into her cozy office, Havanese puppy by her side, working to translate her effusive imagination into the written word.

Lorie’s first solo novel, GILT HOLLOW, a YA romantic thriller, releases September 2016!

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Lisa Harris

INSPYs 2016-Lisa Harris Feature

The INSPYs Advisory Board welcomes Lisa Harris to the blog. Lisa is a Christy Award winner, the author of the Southern Crimes series and more recently, The Nikki Boyd Files. Her first novel in that series, Vendetta (Revell) has been shortlisted in the 2016 INSPYs Mystery/Thriller Category.

We learn what Lisa is writing next, and discover her current TV addiction. Join us in welcoming, Lisa.


No one needs to push Nikki Boyd to excel on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force. The case of her own missing sister, still unsolved after ten years, is the driving force in her work. Book - VendettaWhen a Polaroid photo of a missing girl shows up at a crime scene, Nikki quickly recognizes similarities to the past. The closer she gets to the abductor, the more she feels this case has become personal, and she is not the hunter . . . but the hunted.

With this explosive first book in The Nikki Boyd Files, award-winning author Lisa Harris takes you on a fast-paced pursuit of justice that will have you holding your breath until the heart-stopping finish. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


INTERVIEW WITH LISA HARRIS

INSPYs: What inspired Vendetta? The story’s heroine, Nikki Boyd really came first. I wanted a strong character motivated by a complex backstory. The story became the perfect way to share her past as it intertwine with the present. The setting of a national park quickly became another character that worked perfect with her search for a missing teen.

INSPYs: Can you give readers a sneak peek on what your working on next? I’ve just finished book three of this series (Pursued) and am now working on another suspense set in Italy.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

    • What are you listening to? Quiet. Sometimes that’s what I need. 🙂
    • What are you watching? The third season of When Calls the Heart. Love that show.
When Calls the Heart S3 E9 Rosemary and Lee Kiss

Photo: Hallmark

    • What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? Connie Mann’s upcoming Tangled Lies

Thank you so much for joining us today, Lisa. It was a pleasure to have you join us, and learn more about Nikki.

Lisa-HarrisABOUT THE AUTHOR

I’m a wife, mom, teacher, author, dreamer, photographer, world explorer, but most importantly a follower of Christ Jesus.

I currently live with my husband near the Indian Ocean in Mozambique where we work as church-planting missionaries. We’ve started the empty next stage with two children spread around the globe and a third—thankfully—still at home.

When I’m not working l love hanging out with my family at the beach, playing games, cooking different ethnic dishes, and heading into the African bush on safari.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Ronie Kendig

INSPYs 2016-Ronie Kendig FeatureThe Advisory Board welcomes Ronie Kendig today to INSPYs.com. Ronie is a Christy award winning author, best known for her “Rapid-Fire” fiction (military suspense novels), this year wandered into Speculative fiction with her recent release, Embers. This year, she’s nominated in two categories. Her novels, Falcon (Shiloh Run Press) is a finalist in the 2016 shortlist in the Mystery/Thriller category and Embers (Enclave) is shortlisted in the Speculative Fiction category.

Today we talk with Ronie about the challenge of switching genres, her TV addictions plus more!


Book - EmbersEMBERS He’s coming for them. And the kingdom.

Haegan and Kaelyria Celahar are royal heirs of the Nine Kingdoms, but Haegan is physically crippled. What chance does he have against Poired Dyrth, the greatest enemy the kingdom has ever faced, who wields fire with a power none can match?

Their only hope is forbidden: Kaelyria must transfer her fire-harnessing abilities to Haegan. When she does it comes with a terrible price: Haegan’s disability is healed, but only by being transferred to Kaelyria. This decision causes their father, King Zireli, to unleash his wrath against Haegan.

Haegan flees the kingdom alone with two impossible tasks: Find a cure for Kaelyria and stop the coming war with the omnipotent Poired Dyrth. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads

FALCON Special Forces operator Salvatore “Falcon” Russo vowed to never again speak to or trust Lieutenant Cassandra Walker after a tragedy four years Book - Falconago. But as Raptor closes in on the cyber terrorists responsible for killing two of their own, Sal must put his life—and the lives of his teammates—in her hands. Despite his anger, Cassie is ill-prepared for his resistance and the fallout when she must protect the one asset who can end the attacks. As allies become enemies and hostiles become unlikely partners, Raptor fights for its very existence. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


INTERVIEW WITH RONIE KENDIG

INSPYs: What inspired Embers and/or Falcon?

Embers was a classic “what if” inspiration while watching the BBC’s Merlin. There was a character that so aggravated me with her deception and treachery, I thought to myself, “But what if she really was making this sacrifice for her brother and the realm?” And that birthed the opening scenes of Embers.

Some elements of Falcon were inspired by a true story of a professional athlete who recruited his best friend into the same field. Then one tragic night, the athlete was driving drunk and killed the friend he’d recruited. And I could not escape thinking about the intense grief and trauma that athlete would live with for the rest of his life, and that birthed the backstory for Falcon.

INSPYs: What are some of the benefits/challenges of switching genres?

In all honesty, it’s not really a switch in that I’m writing both genres, but the hardest aspect of writing in two genres is that in the speculative genre, I’m starting all over in terms of audience and market. With suspense, my market and name are established. Not so within the speculative market, so that’s the biggest challenge. However, it’s also a benefit, because my loyal readers are willing to brave a new genre, simply because I wrote it. That’s a level of trust I don’t take lightly.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to? Capital Kings’ newest album, II.

Photo: NBC

Photo: NBC

+ What are you watching?  On most any day, I’m watching an episode or two (or ten) of Doctor Who… or Blindspot.

+ What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I’m a mood reader, so I generally have a handful of books at various stages of being read. Right now, that includes: Billy Coffey’s There Will Be Stars, Steve Berry’s The 14th Colony, and Marissa Meyers’ Stars Above.


Ronie KendigThanks so much for joining us today, Ronie! It was a pleasure to talk with you, and learn more about the challenges of a genre change and learn about your TV addictions. (Editors note: Blindspot is seriously, amazing if you like mystery shows.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She married her own hunky hero, who’s an Army veteran. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her husband have a full life with four children and two dogs. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of raw, broken characters. Since launching onto the publishing scene, Ronie’s Rapid-Fire Fiction has hit the CBA Bestseller List, won the prestigious Christy Award, finaled in numerous contests and reader awards, including ACFW Carol Awards, RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards, Christian Retailing’s Readers’ Choice Awards, INSPY Award, The Christian Manifesto Lime Awards, and FamilyFiction’s Readers’ Choice Choice Awards. Ronie loves people and helping other writers through speaking, workshops, and/or mentoring.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Mary Weber

INSPYs 2016-Mary Weber FeatureWe’re starting the first full week of June (where does time go!?) welcoming YA fantasy author, Mary Weber. Her novel, Siren’s Fury (Thomas Nelson) is a finalist in the 2016 shortlist in the Literature for Young Adults category.

Today we talk with Mary about the inspiration of Siren’s Fury, what she thinks of this underrated YA market and of course, question her about her TBR.


“I thrust my hand toward the sky as my voice begs the Elemental inside me to waken and rise. But it’s no use. The curse I’ve spent my entire life abhorring—the thing I trained so hard to Book - Siren's Furycontrol—no longer exists.”

Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed, may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along? – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


INTERVIEW WITH MARY WEBER

INSPYs: What inspired Siren’s Fury?

Oh man, honestly? I’d have to say the darker parts of life. You know – the bits of the journey we each encounter that expose the ugly in our souls and just about wreck us.

(smiles) In that sense I’m not sure the book is so much “inspirational” as it is an examination of Nym’s “dark night of the soul.” It’s the idea that our choices, even with the best intentions, often lead us to broken places. Although, to me that very often IS inspirational… Because I’ve found those broken places can be the most holy spaces, where our walls are finally down and our hearts open enough to let the light of revelation in. 

INSPYs: As an author in the Inspirational YA market, where do you see this underrated (in inspirational) genre going? Ooh interesting question. Although I’m not sure I have an answer! Um…I’ll say I perceive it going in two directions simultaneously. I think we’ll see it continue to grow in the “traditional” inspirational vein—by that I mean Christian fiction, involving people and stories of faith, for young adults. But I also believe we’ll see a strong move toward more mainstream stories that focus on spiritual themes and values without using religious terminology or branding. Basically general market fiction that’s written from a spiritual worldview because the author happens to be a person of faith (which is actually already thriving if you look at many of the general market authors out there).

And both are important. I work with teens who only read Inspirational YA because that’s what hugely encourages them. And then I work with a host of others who won’t touch it because they’ve been so jaded by Christian culture and much of the hypocrisy therein. However, they will read a story that unashamedly talks about the relatable, raw experiences of life, especially if it allows them to process through it whilst offering hope. So I think it’s a matter of audience and authors and what their passion is to pursue.

But again, that’s just my two-cents. 🙂

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to? Halsey, Birdy, and Hillsong United.

+ What are you watching? Due to book deadlines, not much right now, gah! Although my husband’s got me into a discontinued show called “Person of Interest,” which has a very cool concept.

+ What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? These!! <3

Mary Weber Book TBR

Thank you for having me, lovelies!!!! <3


Thanks so much for joining us today, Mary! Great to chat with you about your thoughts on the YA market and your awesome taste in music.

ABOUT THE AUTHORMary Weber

Mary Weber is the award-winning author of the bestselling young adult Storm Siren Trilogy and an altogether ridiculously uncoordinated girl. In her spare time she plots taking over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Carrie Stuart Parks

INSPYs 2016-Carrie Stuart Parks Feature

As we press ahead with the wonderful INSPYs author shortlist interviews, today we have the pleasure of chatting with author, Carrie Stuart Parks. Her novel, The Bones Will Speak (Thomas Nelson) is a finalist in the 2016 shortlist in the Mystery/Thriller category.

Today we talk with Carrie about the struggles she dealt with while writing The Bones Will Speak, her perspective on the mystery genre, plus more.


Forensic artist Gwen Marcey has become the target of a serial killer who believes he’s been appointed God’s executioner.Book - The Bones will Speak

In Copper Creek, Montana, Gwen Marcey is struggling to put together her life after cancer and divorce. When her dog retrieves a skull of a murder victim and leads her to the victim’s grave, Gwen uses her forensic art ability to identify a serial killer. She is horrified to discover all the victims look like her fourteen-year-old daughter.

The murderer is a “lone wolf,” a member of the terrorist group Phineas Priesthood-and he has a score to settle with Gwen. Unraveling the tangled Christian Identity movement, where race-not grace-provides salvation, Gwen is in a frantic rush against time. She must use all her skills to uncover the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her and everyone she loves. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


INTERVIEW WITH CARRIE STUART PARKS

INSPYs: What inspired The Bones Will Speak

Although this book came out as the second in the series about forensic artist Gwen Marcey, it’s the book I labored on for almost nine years learning how to write. By the time I was done, I HATED this book! My mentor, Frank Peretti, was very patient!

As a forensic artist myself, I wanted to use parts of my old cases and weave them into a story. In the 1980-90s, the Aryan Nations compound was located in nearby Hayden, Idaho. My dad had a crime lab and was the Director of Law Enforcement for North Idaho College. Feelings ran high between the law enforcement community and the Aryans/skinheads parked nearby, ended up with my dad being shot and wounded by one of them. I worked with the FBI on the Phineas Priesthood cases-a violent offshoot of the Christian Identity Movement- during that time. Also about then was the Robert Yates serial killing cases, which I worked on. This book was a blend of those experiences.

INSPYs: What are the challenges/benefits of writing in the mystery genre?

Being discovered by readers!! Suspense/thriller/mystery readers are very picky about authors and view new authors with suspicion. I’m hoping readers of Iris Johansen, early Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson will find my books and enjoy Gwen Marcey. 🙂

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to? When I write? Just the sounds on the ranch, located in the mountains of North Idaho. Usually in the mornings it would be birds, occasionally wild turkeys or

Great Pyrenees puppy, Elsa, checking out Carrie's bedside reading.

Great Pyrenees puppy, Elsa, checking out Carrie’s bedside reading.

coyotes. And my dogs barking outside (I have a total of five Great Pyrenees and a bull terrier. I show my dogs when I have time.)

+ What are you watching? Deer, elk, or sometimes a stray moose wandering past the windows. Inside, two of my Great Pyrenees and Bull Terrier tussling around the house.

+ What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I do a lot of research, so right now I’m reading about the history of the Nez Perce Indians, Nez Perce war, and American Indian Movement. Also stacked up about a foot high on my nightstand are the books from my fellow writers that I need to finish and write reviews for. Just finished Colleen Coble’s excellent “Twilight at Blueberry Barrens.”


Thanks for joining us today, Carrie! It was great to learn more about the in-depth process of creating The Bones Will Speak.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie Stuart ParksCarrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning fine artist and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity. 

Author Website | Twitter

A Conversation with Cathy Gohlke

INSPYs 2016-Cathy Gohlke Feature

Good afternoon, INSPYs readers. We’re welcoming  author Cathy Gohlke today. Cathy is the author of novels like Saving Amelie, Promise Me This, and this year, her novel, Secrets She Kept (Tyndale) made the final in the 2016 INSPYs shortlist in the General Fiction category.

Below Cathy shares about the inspiration of Secrets She Kept, and gives us some insight into her favorite story to write in the two-person narrative of the novel.


The secret a mother was forbidden to share . . . the consequences a daughter could not redeem—but will risk everything in her attempt.Book - Secrets She Kept

All her life, Hannah Sterling longed for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following Lieselotte’s death, Hannah unlocks secrets of her mother’s mysterious past, including the discovery of a grandfather living in Germany.

Thirty years earlier, Lieselotte’s father, ascending the ranks of the Nazi party, demands a marriage for his daughter to help advance his career. But Lieselotte is in love—and her beloved Lukas secretly works against the Reich. How far will her father go to achieve his goal?

Both Hannah’s and Lieselotte’s stories unfold as Hannah travels to Germany to meet her grandfather, who hides wartime secrets of his own. Longing for connection, yet shaken by all she uncovers, Hannah must decide if she can atone for her family’s tragic past, and how their legacy will shape her future. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


INTERVIEW WITH CATHY GOHLKE

INSPYs: What inspired Secrets She Kept? Secrets She Kept was conceived while researching WWII and touring Germany. I learned that WWII bred many deep secrets in families—secrets of good deeds unrewarded and secrets of evil deeds never discovered.

But I wondered, how did Holocaust survivors reclaim their lives and live beyond the tragedies of the war when anti-Semitism still existed? How did perpetrators and their families live with the horrors they’d inflicted? Were they sorry for what they’d done? Did they attempt to hide their wartime activities? Did they confess or try in any way to redeem the wrongs they’d committed? Is there atonement? How do Germans today reconcile what they or their nation did during WWII?

Those questions made me ask, too, how do we confront the far-reaching consequences of our actions or those of our family members?

Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian, who, with her sister, father and many family members, helped Jews escape Nazi persecution during the war, inspired an answer in her book, The Hiding Place. I’ve been fascinated and convicted since my teenage years by Corrie’s courageous and triumphant faith, and the frank honesty of her journey.

INSPYs: Which character/story did you most enjoy writing about in Secrets She Kept? Lieselotte. During my research I walked Lieselotte’s paths in Berlin before and during the war, and through Ravensbruk Concentration Camp. I tramped through the rain from a train to the camp at Sachsenhausen and imagined what it meant to be Jewish or considered a political criminal, yanked from your life, taken away by train and thrown into prison . . . not just any prison, but one of terrible persecution.

Creating Lieselotte and imagining her life, the daring and courage it took to help Jews right under the nose of her Nazi loving father and brother, the grievous loss of her mother and the man she loved so dearly, and the terrible sacrifice she made for love of her daughter . . . I feel as if I know her, as if she and her journey are part of me.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to? “Favourite Wartime Songs—The Songs That Lifted a Nation’s Heart,” produced by English Heritage. It’s a wonderful collection of nostalgic and well-known British songs and dance music from WWII that I found at the Imperial War Museum in London. A note on the back of the CD case reads, “Tunes that we all remember from a time we will never forget.” Can you guess the period for my current wip? : )

+ What are you watching? My brother and sister-in-law introduced me to “Coalhouse at War,” a series filmed in Wales. I’m hooked! It’s a fascinating reality show about daily life in a Welsh coal town during WWII. Three modern-day families and a group of young men “drafted” to work the mines live, work and go to school just as they would have during WWII.

Men, women and children deal with blackout, rations, deprivations, evacuees from bombed towns, raising animals for food, air raids, Home Guard training, coal mining, the threat of invasion, dances and sing-songs for fun, weekly chapel, and all that went with life in those days. It is the only reality show I’ve ever seen that I would love to participate in—although I’m not keen on the idea of eating sheep’s tongue. : {Cathy Gohlke's Reading Table

+ What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I’m rereading some of C. S. Lewis’s works, especially those things written prior to and during WWII. Many of his works were published or broadcast in different forms than the final books we have today. I’ve just finished reading Mere Christianity which is a compilation of his WWII radio broadcasts, The Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters, and am now reading The Weight of Glory. I’ve loved reading the Boxen stories he and his brother, Warnie, wrote and illustrated for fun as a children (inspired by beloved stories and illustrations of Beatrix Potter).

Daily I read my Bible. This year I’m enjoying Tyndale’s NLT and the new Tree of Life Version. Dwelling Places, by Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a favorite new devotional, as is Priscilla Shirer’s Fervent. Two wonderfully engrossing novels I’ve read and reread recently are Tessa Afshar’s Land of Silence and Carrie Turansky’s Refuge at Highland Hall.


Thanks so much for joining us, Cathy. It was a pleasure to learn more about Secrets She Kept, and which storyline was your favorite to write.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Cathy Gohlke Author-Photo

Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award–winning author of the critically acclaimed novels Promise Me This, William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award and was listed by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2008.

Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director of children’s and education ministries. When not traipsing the hills and dales of historic sites, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, make their home on the banks of the Laurel Run in Elkton, Maryland.

Author Website | Facebook

A Conversation with Beth K. Vogt

INSPYs 2016-Beth K. Vogt Feature

As we return from the long holiday weekend, the INSPYs Advisory Board is thrilled to welcome Beth Vogt to INSPYs.com. Beth is a well-known contemporary author whose latest novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Howard) made the final in the 2016 INSPYs shortlist in the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense category.

Today we talk with Beth about her novel’s inspiration, the latest TV addiction her family enjoys and MORE!


Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that Book - Crazy Little Thing Called Lovehappen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?

As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after? – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


INTERVIEW WITH BETH K. VOGT

INSPYs: What inspired Crazy Little Thing Called Love?

All of my novels examine real life situations, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love looks at what happens when two teenagers elope during their senior year of high school. The novel is fueled by a Story Question: If you’re given a second chance at love, should you take it?

INSPYs: Who was your favorite character to write about in Crazy Little Thing Called Love?

Oh, now you’re asking me to pick favorites – such a difficult thing to do! I did become attached to Mrs. Wright, Vanessa’s former next-door neighbor. She ended up playing more of a crucial part in the story than I expected. And I created her based on our neighbors when we lived in Florida. The wife was like a second grandmother to my children, especially my daughter, Katie Beth.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to? My daughter Christa controls the Spotify playlist, so I listen to quite an eclectic variety of music. Pop, oldies, praise and worship – whatever she queues up. We have a great time singing together when I drive her to school every morning.flash

+ What are you watching? My husband, daughter, and I are avid fans of the TV show The Flash. Right now we’re trying to guess who the man is behind the iron mask that Zoom is holding prisoner … sorry, you have to be a Flash fan to understand.

+ What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? Where to start? I’m diving into women’s fiction: Summer Sisters by Judy Blume and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell. I’ve also got some newer releases by Rachel Hauck, Becky Wade, Patricia Bradley, and Melissa Tagg. And I’m always reading nonfiction, too: My Sister, Myself by Vikki Stark and I Thought It Was Just Me by Brené Brown. I’m a book juggler when it comes to reading.


Thank you so much for joining us, Beth! Love reading more about your favorite character in Crazy Little Thing Called Love and hearing more about your family’s latest TV addiction.

Beth s PortraitsABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Beth is a 2016 Christy Award finalist, as well as a 2015 RITA® finalist, and two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. She continues her destination wedding series with You Cant Hurry Love (May 2016) and Almost Like Being in Love (June 2016).

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Rick Barry

INSPYs 2016-Rick Barry

Happy Wednesday, readers. Today, we have a chance to welcome and converse with author, Rick Barry. Author of the novel Gunner’s Run, Rick’s latest novel, The Methuselah Project (Kregel) is nominated in the 2016 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category.

Below we talk with Rick about the inspiration behind this novel, and he shares a sneak peek into what’s next from him.


Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended. Book - The Mesthulah Project

Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed–until the day he’s shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.

When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success–but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn’t aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn’t Captain America–just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger’s sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there’s no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It’s 2015–and the world has become an unrecognizable place.

Katherine Mueller–crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle–offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee? – Goodreads | Amazon


INTERVIEW WITH RICK BARRY

INSPYs: What inspired The Methuselah Project?

Rick Barry's dad Tom

Wow, that’s a big question. First, family history provided partial inspiration. Dad learned to fly as a teenager in the 1940s, and my upbringing was filled with airplanes, airports, and airshows. (Over the years Dad cracked up a couple airplanes, but those are separate stories.) So, the idea of featuring a pilot as the hero of my story came naturally.

Next inspiration: I’m a big WW II buff. I’ve read tons of true accounts from the war years, which I find fascinating. I even own a collection of genuine WW II memorabilia, which I used as decorations to transform a guest room into what my family dubbed our “War Room.” The 1940s practically begged me to use that time period for my setting.

Rick's WWII memorabilia

Rick’s WWII memorabilia

However, I grew up with two older brothers, and we often tuned into Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and other science fiction shows. Quite a few times in fiction, a person from one time period ends up in another time period. The whole concept of a “chronologically dislocated” character appealed to my imagination, although I disliked some of the cheesy mechanics various stories used to transport a person from one time to another. My challenge became to pluck up a WW II pilot and deliver him to our own time while keeping looking young–and make it believable! What a tall order. Of course, I’m thankful to all those Amazon reviewers who claim The Methuselah Project sounds like it’s based on real life. 

INSPYs: can you give us a peek into what’s coming next? The Methuselah Project was created as a stand-alone novel. Neither the publisher nor I touted it as Book #1 of a series. Yet, so many enthusiastic fans have expressed hopes for a sequel that I’ve taken up the challenge. Progress has been hampered by a move to another state and the need to care for my aging father, but the story is progressing. My working title? Methuselah Flies Again.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

Rick's writing space

Rick’s writing space

What are you listening to? My listening choices are fairly eclectic. When I’m feeling “historical,” you’ll most likely catch me listening to Big Band music and songs from the 1940s. (The style of Glenn Miller and his orchestra really appeals to me when I’m “In the Mood.”) Other times, nostalgia might lead me to oldies from the 1950s and 1960s.  I enjoy Irish music from Celtic Woman, and as a Christian I listen to a lot of Christian music, ranging from classic hymns to the songs of Keith and Kristyn Getty. Most recently, I stopped at a yard sale and bought a CD of Disney’s Newsies, which I sing along with while driving.

What are you watching? My favorite TV program is CBS’s Survivor. I’m a huge fan. I’ve actually applied 30 times, and I would hurl myself into that challenge even without the cameras, the fame, or prize money. The sheer adventure appeals to me. But there’s a lot of competition just to get on the show. So far, CBS hasn’t realized how perfect I would be!

Of course, since I worked one day as an extra on the set of Captain America: Civil War, I just had to go see that movie.

What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? Last week it was A G-Man’s Life, the biography of Mark Felt, the FBI agent who helped the press uncover the truth about Watergate. At the moment, I’m reading the classic non-fiction book, We Would See Jesus, by Roy and Revel Hession. For a slim volume, it brims with spiritual truths any believer will find uplifting. Next up will be The Book of Strange New Things, by Michel Faber. It’s Christian science fiction, and I’m curious to see how Faber weds faith with sci-fi.


Thanks so much for joining us, Rick. We’re thrilled to chat with you about the inspiration behind The Mesthuselah Project and learn about some of the music, TV shows and reading currently on your favorites list.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR RickBarry

Rick Barry is the author of The Methuselah Project, Gunner’s Run, Kiriath’s Quest, plus over 200 published articles and fiction stories. In addition to being a World War II buff, he has visited Eastern Europe over 50 times in connection with Christian ministries. He holds a degree in foreign languages and speaks Russian.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter