A Conversation with Pepper D. Basham

INSPYs 2016-Papper Basham Feature

Hello, happy INSPY readers. Joining us today is the first of this year’s debut author finalists, Pepper D. Basham. Pepper’s debut novel The Thorn Bearer (Vinspire Publishing) has earned acclaim in the blogging world, and has been shortlisted in the 2016 INSPYs Debut Fiction Category.

Today, Pepper shares with us some of her thoughts on the challenges (and benefits) of writing historical fiction, more about The Thorn Bearer and we ask her about her current music, TV and book obsessions.


From the decks of the ill-fated Lusitania to the smoke-filled trenches of WW1, Ashleigh must choose between the forgiveness of her past, life in the present, and a Savior who can rescue Book - The Thorn Bearerher from them all.

When her fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. Her worst fears are confirmed – who could ever love a soiled woman? In an attempt to escape the shame and disappointment of her past, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone.

Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and protection as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in his best friend’s former fiancé and his own childhood companion. As they travel across the Atlantic, neither is prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship. When the truth of Ashleigh’s past explodes in the middle of war and Sam rejects her, Ashleigh must decide if God is enough – or if the double weight of her betrayal and past will crush her life forever. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


INTERVIEW WITH PEPPER D. BASHAM

INSPYs: What inspired you to write The Thorn Bearer?

Real life mixed with a discovery of the perfect book ignited the creation of The Thorn Bearer. I’d begun daydreaming about this young woman who had been wounded in a severe and intimate way from someone she should have trusted, because of some personal experience with the topic as well as knowing people who have felt the sting of such betrayal. What I hoped to create was a story of hope, of God bringing healing even in the darkest of circumstances.

Well, while I was creating this story idea, I found a book about The Lusitania at a yard sale for something like fifty cents. Suddenly the story began to come together and The Thorn Bearer was born. Now, of course, the version you read has been rewritten several times and edited even more, but that’s the history behind it 🙂

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

The challenges, for me, is finding the time to write (in general) AND the research. Wow!! There are so many little nuances and details that can really put some readers off if they’re not done correctly. I strive to make the details correct of the time because I really want people to get a sense for the era.

The benefits? The research 🙂 I know, I already used it as challenging, but there are many challenging things in life that bring the most benefit 🙂 Earning a degree, teaching kindergartners, giving birth 😉

But I love the research – the discovery of another time and place. And the Edwardian/WW1 era is my FAVORITE! There was so much change going on with transportation, inventions, women’s rights, travel, and education…AND the costuming was FABULOUS!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to? Pandora Worship and Praise Radio, The Piano Guys, and Michael Buble

Captain America Civil War Wanda Steve

Photo: Marvel

+ What are you watching? The Flash, Agents of Shield, Dancing with the Stars, Phineas and Ferb, North and South, Emma, Austenland….and my family really enjoyed the new Captain America movie!

Book - The Sound of DiamondsI’ve also been watching lots of cool documentaries (sounds kind of oxymoronish doesn’t it…cool documentaries 😉 about WW1 as well as The Biltmore Estate. I’m determined to write a book involving the Biltmore some day.

+ What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I’m in the middle of TOOO many books! Rachelle Rea’s The Sound of Diamonds, Sondra Kraak’s One Plus One Equals Trouble, and Tabitha – Girls from the Mountain book 1 (for research).

On my shelf? A Season to Love by Nicole Deese, Candee Ficks’ Dance Over Me, and The Christian Imagination edited by Leland Ryken.


Pepper, thank you so much for joining us today. It was a pleasure to chat with you and learn how The Thorn Bearer came to be.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Pepper Basham

Pepper D Basham has been telling tales ever since she was a little girl. When her grandmother called her a “writer” at the age of ten, Pepper took it as gospel and has enjoyed various types of writing styles ever since. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and lover of chocolate, Pepper enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction wherever she can. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC, where she works with kids who have special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn, and her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, arrives on May 7th 2015.

Author Website | Twitter

A Conversation with Kate Breslin

INSPYs 2016- Kate Breslin Feature

The INSPYs Advisory Board welcomes Kate Breslin to the blog today. Last year, Kate was on our debut shortlist for her novel, For Such a Time. This year, her sophomore novel  Not by Sight (Bethany House) has been shortlisted in the 2016 INSPYs Historical Category.

We learn what inspired the story behind Not By Sight, learn what’s next from Kate plus chat with her about her current favorites. Join us in welcoming, Kate.


Gripping Sophomore Novel from a Rising Historical Romance TalentBook - Not By Sight

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country’s cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she’ll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them–or the faith they’ll need to maintain hope.  – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


INTERVIEW WITH KATE BRESLIN

Photo: PBS

Photo: PBS

INSPYs: What inspired Not By Sight? I blame it all on PBS Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey. 🙂 I’m a die-hard fan of the miniseries and watched an episode in Season 2, where a pair of suffragettes crashed a war-aid benefit at the Crawley home and handed out white feathers of cowardice to all men not in uniform. When the Crawley’s young footman, William, received a feather, it was the final push he needed to enlist. It was a decision that would later prove most unfortunate for him, but also the bud that blossomed into my next novel. When my heroine Grace gives hero Jack a white feather at a London ball during the war, the wealthy suffragette has no idea the chain of events she’ll set off in Not By Sight.

INSPYs: Just for fun: can you give us any teasers of what’s coming next from you? I’d love to! Currently I’m working on my next WWI historical romance, which releases in July of 2017. It’s a connecting book to Not By Sight, and takes place in Brussels with a tad more drama, intrigue, and danger. 🙂 My Christian message deals with the struggle to believe in God’s mercy when we can’t forgive ourselves. I do hope readers will enjoy the story!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to? “Tuck,” the third novel in Stephen Lawhead’s “The King Raven Trilogy,” a delightful and different take on the legend of Robin Hood. Adam Verner reads all three audiobooks and he’s wonderful!

+ What are you watching? Thanks to the DVR, I’ve been catching up on PBS Masterpiece’s “Call The Midwife” series and also the second season of “Grantchester.” I’m working up a Pinterest board for my next novel and actor James Norton is definitely a candidate for the story hero!

Kate's nightstand, full of wonderful reads!

Kate’s nightstand, full of wonderful reads!

+ What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? Ohh so many tantalizing selections! I’ve included a photo, and being democratic, I’ve stacked them in alphabetical order: Jane Austen’s unfinished manuscript, Sanditon; Kristy Cambron’s new release, The Ringmaster’s Wife; Elizabeth Camden’s, Until the Dawn; Dawn Crandall’s upcoming October release, The Cautious Maiden (third book in her Everstone Chronicles series); a perennial favorite, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love; Carrie Turansky’s, The Governess of Highland Hall (first book in her Edwardian Brides series); and Karen Whitemeyer’s A Worthy Pursuit. I have so many others I want to read as well!


Thanks so much for joining us today, Kate. We enjoyed learning more about the inspiration behind Not By Sight, and totally approve of the hero inspiration for your June 2017 novel!

ABOUT THE AUTHORKATE BRESLIN

Former bookseller-turned-author Kate Breslin enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing’s 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her first novel, For Such A Time, won American Christian Fiction Writers 2015 Carol Award. Kate’s second novel, Not By Sight released in August, 2015. When she’s not writing inspirational fiction, Kate enjoys reading or taking long walks in Washington’s beautiful woodlands. She also likes traveling to new places, both within the U.S. and abroad, having toured Greece, Rome, and much of Western Europe. New destinations make for fresh story ideas.

Author Website | 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.

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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).

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Announcement: Amendment to 2016 Debut Shortlist

2016 debut category

Dear Readers and Authors,

The Advisory Board wishes to apologize for an error in the Debut Category on the 2016 Shortlist. After announcing the finalists, it was brought to our attention that one of the authors nominated did not qualify for the Debut Category and had to be eliminated from contention. Consequently, the Debut Category will be comprised of four shortlisted titles this year instead of five.

The Advisory Board assumes full responsibility for this oversight and offers our sincerest apologies for the confusion and error. We verify each nomination during the longlist open nomination process; with the increase in participation this year, we made a mistake.

The Inspy Awards would not be possible without your involvement. We appreciate your understanding and continued support.

With heartfelt apologies,

The Inspy Awards Advisory Board

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.

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