A Conversation with Susie Finkbeiner

INSPYs 2016-Susie Finkbeiner

Today we’re talking with another author shortlisted in our 2016 awards as our interview series continues. The spotlight today is on Susie Finkbeiner and her novel, A Cup of Dust (Kregel Publications), which is on the 2016 shortlist in the General Fiction category.

We chat with Susie about the inspiration behind A Cup of Dust, what’s next for her (fans of A Cup of Dust will want to read about this one), and learn what TV addiction she makes time for every Monday.

Where you come from isn’t who you are. Book - A Cup of Dust

Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff’s family, they’ve got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They’re who the town turns to when there’s a crisis or a need—and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.

Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother’s unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn’t sure she likes.

Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he’s really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won’t be the only thing darkening Pearl’s world.

While the tone is suspenseful and often poignant, the subtle humor of Pearl’s voice keeps A Cup of Dust from becoming heavyhanded. Finkbeiner deftly paints a story of a family unit coming together despite fractures of distress threatening to pull them apart. – Goodreads | Amazon

INSPYs: What inspired A Cup of Dust?  When I was 17 I read The Grapes of Wrath for the first time. I’d never even heard of The Dust Bowl before then. Over the next 20 years I researched that era, pouring over books and documentaries and the photography of Dorothea Lange. Then, one day, I looked at my husband and said, “I’m ready to write my Dust Bowl novel.” He smiled and answered, “It’s about time.”
INSPYs: Can you give us a sneak peek into what’s coming next from you? I’m actually working on the sequel to A Cup of Dust. It’s called A Trail of Crumbs and it picks up right where Cup left off. I can’t wait for my readers to experience more of Pearl’s story. 


  • What are you listening to? I listen to all kinds of music. But when I write, I stick to classical music. Debussy is my favorite, particularly his piano pieces. 
  • What are you watching? I don’t watch much television. I find that it sucks away a lot of the time I could be spending with my family, writing, or reading. I do, however, indulge in watching Gotham with my husband on Mondays. It’s fun.

Susie Fink IMG_20160509_134629

  • What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I’m currently toggling between This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff and Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson. Next on my list of to-reads is Alison Hodgson’s The Pug List and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I also have a stack of books to read aloud to my kids this summer. I can hardly wait!

Thanks for joining us today, Susie! It’s great to learn more about your novel, A Cup of Dust and the inspiration behind it, plus see what’s on your reading list.


Susie Finkbeiner is the author of A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (Kregel, 2015) as well as My Mother’s Chamomile (WhiteFire, 2014) and Paint Chips (WhiteFire, 2013). 

She is currently working on her fourth novel.

Susie is a wife, mother of three, and avid reader. She enjoys time with her family, coffee dates with her good friends, and quiet moments to read and write.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

Year Six! The 2016 INSPY Awards are Now Open

awhCbhLqRceCdjcPQUnn_IMG_0249Good morning, INSPY readers. The advisory board is excited to open year six of the INSPY Awards, a program for the bloggers’ “best in fiction” award is welcoming a new year and opening the nominations for 2016.

The Inspys were created to select and showcase books with the highest literary standards that grapple with the Christian faith and were designed to help readers in their search for the preeminent faith-inspired literature of today.  This program is organized and judged by book bloggers who have considerable experience and knowledge of books published for both the CBA and general markets.

This year, we’ve made a significant change to our nomination process. For you, the nominator, the rules remain the same, only difference you’ll note is the lack of a publicized long list. This is because the advisory board will be collection our long list from the top 15 nominated novels in each category. So, even if you know someone else who has nominated your favorite read of 2015 or you’re certain it’s already been nominated, go ahead and add your voice because that nomination could be the 15th vote that gets the book into the top fifteen.

Once the task of the top 15 is calculated and complete, we will publicize our long list, which will be then narrowed down to five books and from there, the same judging process will apply. For more information on the changes, please refer to our announcement post.

Please note the book eligibility and the nomination rules:

  • The dates of eligibility have returned to a 12 month timeframe and will include books published in print between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. If a print book was released as an ebook prior to 2015, it is ineligible.

  • Self-published books have been eliminated from consideration.

  • Reissues are ineligible
  • Books can not be self-nominated by their author.

Books may be nominated in any of the following categories:

  • Debut Novel
  • General Fiction
  • Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
  • Historical Romance
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Mystery & Thriller
  • Literature for Young Adults

For more detailed description of categories please see the Revised Nomination Categories. If you’d like to read more about the nominating process, read our blog post with some tips on nominating the right books in their best categories. Pull out those lists and let’s begin!

The deadline to nominate a book is January 16. Winners of the sixth annual INSPY awards will be announced June 28, 2016.

To stay up to date with all things INSPYs follow along on:



Or email us with any questions: inspyawards@gmail.com

We look forward to your nominations. Besides nominating the best in faith-driven literature, another way to help today is to spread the word — blog about the INSPYs, tell your friends.

inspy nominations

Looking Back: Authors who Brought Inspirational Fiction into the 21st Century

Every generation brings with it a crop of new authors.  What we sometimes forget in our excitement welcoming new authors  are the names that inspired the market of Christian fiction. Unlike secular fiction, the Christian fiction genre and its subgenres, has not been as wildly popular until the more recent years.  Since the below authors came on the scene the Christian Fiction genre has exploded with brilliant talent targeting a wider audience by tackling thrillers, contemporary and even recently, dystopion fiction.   With the recent influx of talented writers genre readers have been able to discover and enjoy this genre.  In an effort to highlight the Christian Fiction genre the Inspy’s Advisory Board is looking back at some of the authors who helped to bring this genre the recognition it deserves.

Ted DekkerTed Dekker: In the early nineties while visiting a friend who had just written a book, Dekker decided to pursue a long held desire to be a novelist. Over the course of two years he wrote two full length novels before starting from scratch and rewriting both. Now fully enamored by the process and the stories, he realized that storytelling was in his blood. Two years and three novels later his first novel was published.

Dekker’s novels have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Two of his novels, Thr3e and House, have been made into movies with more in production. Dekker resides in Austin, Texas with his wife Lee Ann and two of their daughters.

Dee Henderson: Award-winning novelist Dee Henderson excels at creating believable, challenging characters. Dee is the author of two series: the Uncommon Dee HendersonHeroes series and the O’Malley series of romantic suspense novels. Her books have won a host of awards, including the prestigious RITA Award, Bookseller’s Best Award, and National Reader’s Choice Award and Christy Award, Romance category.

Karen KingsburyKaren Kingsbury: Karen Kingsbury is America’s favorite inspirational novelist. There are more than 25 million copies of her award-winning books in print. Karen’s recent dozen titles have all debuted at or near the top of the New York Times Bestseller’s list. She is also a public speaker, reaching more than 100,000 women annually through various national events. Karen lives and works outside Nashville, Tenn., with her husband, Don, and their five sons, three of whom were adopted from Haiti. Also living nearby is their only daughter, Kelsey.

Most popular to Karen’s name is the many intersecting novels that tell the saga of the Baxter family in the Redemption, Firstborn and Baily Flannigan series’.

Tim LaHaye: LaHaye is best known for authoring the Left Behind fiction series, co-authored with Jerry B. Jenkins, which have broken all pTim Lahayeublishing records with a total of 80 million in print. These books have appeared on the best-seller lists of The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Christian Booksellers Association.  Based on the Bible’s book of Revelation, the apocalyptic thrillers follow the lives of those left behind after the sudden disappearance of millions of believers.

Frank PerettiFrank Peretti: With more than 15 million novels in print, Frank Peretti is nothing short of a publishing phenomenon and has been called “America’s hottest Christian novelist.” The Oath (Word Publishing 1995), sold more than half a million copies within the first six months of release. The Visitation (Word Publishing 1999), was #1 on the CBA Fiction Bestseller list for four months. Born in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada in 1951, Frank is a natural storyteller who, as a youngster in Seattle, regularly gathered the neighborhood children for animated storytelling sessions, drew comics, and tapped out stories on his mother’s portable typewriter.

Janette Oke: Bestselling author Janette Oke (pronounced “oak”) is celebrated across the world for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry. She is credited with launching the modern era of inspirational fiction with the publication of her first novel, Love Comes Softly, in 1979. Today, her novels have sold more than 30 million copies, and she is thJanette Okee recipient of the ECPA President’s Award, the CBA Life Impact Award, the Gold Medallion, and the Christy Award. Janette and her husband, Edward, live in Alberta, Canada.

Janette is well-known for her prairie fiction stories – including the Love Comes Softly Series and the Canadian West novels, and many of her books have been inspiration behind several of the Hallmark Channel’s programming.

Francine RiversFrancine Rivers: Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith.  First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered a classic work of Christian fiction and continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles; it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade.

Lori Wick: Lori Wick is a multifaceted author of Christian fiction. As comfortable writing period stories as she is penning contemporary works, Lori’s Lori Wickbooks (more than 6 million in print) vary widely in location and time period. Many of her books are published by Harvest House. Wick lives in Wisconsin with her husband Bob and 3 children.

Some of Wick’s well-known novels are the stand-alone contemporaries, Bamboo & Lace and Pretense, and her English Garden series.

Just to update you all on where the Inspy Awards are – our 2014 Inspy nominations have now closed and the Advisory Board is getting to work determining the five shortlist nominees in all seven categories before we put the winning decision in the capable hands of our judges. Judging applications open on March first. Until then, feel free to join the Inspy Awards on our Goodreads page where we ask that you leave us some helpful feedback via polls or invite you to join in some discussion threads. Stay tuned for more news!