A Conversation with Carrie Stuart Parks

Today, the INSPY Awards warmly welcomes author, Carrie Stuart Parks. Her novel, When Death Draws Near (Thomas Nelson) is on the 2017 shortlist in the Mystery/Thriller category. Please join us in welcoming Carrie

Below Carrie shares about the challenges of writing a series about the same characters, what’s playing on her TV screen – plus more!

ABOUT the BOOK

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before Gwen can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others.

Gwen suspects a connection between the rapist and the “accidental” deaths that are happening around town, but the local sheriff has little interest in her theories. When her digitally-obsessed teenage daughter joins her, Gwen turns her attention to a second assignment: going undercover in a serpent-handling church. She could get a handsome reward for uncovering illegal activity—a reward she desperately needs, as it seems her breast cancer has returned. But snakes aren’t the only ones ready to kill. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself?

In a thrilling race against time, When Death Draws Near plunges us into cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects. – Goodreads


Interview Questions

INSPYs: If you had to walk one day in the life of one of your characters, who would it be and why? The main character, Gwen Marcey, is like a younger, prettier, more talented, better me…come to think of it, she’s nothing like me! Her forensic work is loosely based on my own, so I actually have walked in her shoes.

Carrie says,
“We were in Pikeville, Kentucky, teaching a forensic art
class for the Kentucky State Police. While there I did research on the
area, including attending a serpent handling church in Jolo, West
Virginia. This was taken after our horseback ride (not on that horse!)
with some of my students (I’m standing with the black hat.) Elements of
the horseback ride is in the book, When Death Draws Near.”

What are some of the challenge of writing a series about the same characters? You name it: who did I kill off? How old is everyone? What color is the kitchen? Did I use that line before? Yiiiiikes!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

What are you watching?  Some reality shows like flipping houses, Hoarding (for when I need inspiration to clean,) My 600 Pound Life (for when I need to feel thin…,) Forensic Files (may just have one of my cases,) good movies.

What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? Research books for newest novel.

Faceoff Questions:

1. Print or Ebook? Print
2. Cake or Pie? Have you seen me? Both!
3. Coffee or Tea? COFFEE!!!
4. Comedy or Drama? Are you asking about my life?


ABOUT the AUTHOR

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho. Visits Carrie on her website.


Thanks so much for joining us on the INSPYs blog today, Carrie. It was a pleasure to host you and spotlight your novel, When Death Draws Near.

A Conversation with Ronie Kendig

Today, the INSPY Awards warmly welcomes author, Ronie Kendig. Her novels, Conspiracy of Silence (Bethany House) and Accelerant (Enclave) are on the 2017 shortlist in the Mystery/Thriller and Speculative Fiction categories, respectively. Please join us in welcoming Ronie.

Ronie shares inspiration behind BOTH of her shortlist novels, the difference between Indie and traditional publishing, and her varied TBR – plus more!

ABOUT the BOOKS

Conspiracy of Silence | Four years after a tragic mission decimated his career and his team, Cole “Tox” Russell is persona non grata to the United States. And that’s fine—he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed at an archaeological dig where three Bronze-era censers are found, Tox is lured back into action. Partnered with an archaeologist and an FBI agent who’s an expert in deception, Tox and his team are pitted against a secret society, a plague dubbed the New Black Death, and a revered codex—which may hold the key to stopping the deadly outbreak. – Goodreads

Accelerant | He’ll destroy the world. But first he has to save it.

The Nine Kingdoms bleed. Leaderless, ravaged, the land awaits deliverance from Poired Dyrth’s devastating campaign. But what if one blight can only be cleansed by another? – Goodreads


Interview Questions

INSPYs: What inspired this new, ‘Tox Files’ series? ​Inspiration for this series came from many places, but it all started with author Brad Taylor who often posts images of obscure locations or objects in obsucre locations and gives a hint as to the location by referencing some anicent fact. He did this one night and–in my attempt to make good on honing my avoidance skills–I took up the challenge. That led me to a little-known book called the Jerusalem Crown, otherwise known as the Aleppo Codex. Since one of my favorite authors was James Rollins, ​my curiosity piqued. Could I write a series with ancient biblical artifacts and still keep up my Rapid-Fire Fiction brand and pace?

…and your fantasy novel, Accelerant? ​The Abiassa’s Fire series was borne out of a “what if” scenario that came to me while watching the BBC’s Merlin TV show. In it, Morgana Pendragon pretends to be making a great sacrifice for her Arthur, who is like a brother to her, but in the end, she’s been working against them. This episode so annoyed me that I wondered . . . What if a princess really did sacrifice herself to save her brother and their kingdom. What would that look like? And thus, the Abiassa’s Fire series was born.

You recently self-published a novella, Titanis. How has the Indie process been different than traditional publishing? ​The biggest change is that I was not restricted on when to release it, other than not compromising my commitment to my traditional publisher. ​

​Overall, the process is much the same, and I was enormously blessed to have some amazing help. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to move at my own pace and get a title out there that I knew readers wanted, yet didn’t have to assemble a series or deep proposal to get it done.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

Photo: BBC

  1. What are you watching?​I regularly watch Doctor Who episodes and use it as white noise, and I’m also going through the TV series LOST on Family Night with my guys (husband, twin sons, and VVolt). ​
  2. What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? ​Two books at the moment: Laini Taylor’s STRANGE THE DREAMER and David Baldacci’s THE FIX. I also have two nonfiction I’m reading through: Lysa Terkeurst’s UNINVITED and Jennie Allen’s NOTHING TO PROVE. ​
Faceoff Questions:
  1. Call or Text? Text!
  2. Print or Ebook? Print! ​
  3. Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? ​ Milk Chocolate​
  4. Coffee or Tea? Yes! :-)​

ABOUT the AUTHOR

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of over fifteen novels. She grew up an Army brat, and now she and her Army-veteran husband have an adventurous life in Northern Virginia with their children and a retired military working dog, VVolt N629. Ronie’s degree in Psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.

Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and Rapid-Fire Fiction novels have hit bestseller lists and garnered awards and critical acclaim.

Ronie can be found at www.roniekendig.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction), Twitter (@roniekendig), Instagram (@kendigronie) and GoodReads.


Thanks so much for joining us on the INSPYs blog today, Ronie. It was a pleasure to host you and spotlight your shortlisted novels.

A Conversation with Dani Pettrey

Today, the INSPY Awards warmly welcomes author, Dani Pettrey. Her novel, Cold Shot (Bethany House) is on the 2017 shortlist in the Mystery and Thriller category. Please join us in welcoming Dani.

Below we read about the idea that sparked Cold Shot, learn what TV show she’s sad is over, and read what wins in her “faceoff” questions – plus more!

ABOUT THE BOOK

In college, Griffin McCray and his four best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore PD. Declan Gray would head to the FBI and Parker Mitchell would go on to graduate school as a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world–and friendships–crumbled.

Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet–until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern–a young social justice lawyer missing since spring–and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Gray takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he’ll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he–and those he cares about–are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents. – Goodreads

Interview Questions

INSPYs: What was behind the creation of Cold Shot? (i.e., the ties that thread them together, story, etc.) 

I knew I wanted to write a series about four friends who grew up together, but then had circumstances in their lives separate them. When Cold Shot opens, there’s a crime that pulls them all back together. I started with the intention of setting Cold Shot and the entire Chesapeake Valor series along the Chesapeake Bay, but an idea my editor posed got me thinking. I took the idea, ran with it, twisted it and made it something totally new, but I kept his idea for a location. Hence, how Gettysburg became the main setting of Cold Shot. I was blessed enough to travel there (it’s not too far away and my family has visited numerous times) and get a private, guided tour. Today, I’m sharing some pictures from that day. Hope you enjoy them!

Gettysburg mass grave site

Shrapnel!

What was the transition to a new series like (after five books with the Alaskan Courage series)?

It was definitely a new sensation since the Alaskan Courage series was my very first series. I was excited about introducing new characters and a new setting, but I’ll admit I miss the McKennas a lot. I think approaching Chesapeake Valor as a challenge to try out new ideas and grow as an author (hopefully) has been my main focus, and I’m really enjoying testing out more suspense and a little less adventure, but my next series, Coastal Guardians, will be a nice bridge between the two.

Dani’s office!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

What are you watching? Legends with Sean Bean on Netflix. It’s fabulous! I’m so sad it only lasted two seasons.

What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? True to You by Becky Wade. It is also fabulous.

Faceoff Questions:
  1. Call or Text? Call
  2. Print or Ebook? Print
  3. Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Dark chocolate. Always, dark chocolate.
  4. Coffee or Tea? Most definitely coffee.

Dani Pettrey is the bestselling author of the Alaskan Courage series. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, among others. She and her husband reside in the DC metro area. She can be found online at www.danipettrey.com.


Thanks so much for joining us on the INSPYs blog today, Dani. It was a pleasure to host you and spotlight your latest novel, Cold Shot.

A Conversation with Julianna Deering

Today, the INSPY Awards warmly welcomes author, Julianna Deering. Her novel, Dressed for Death (Bethany House) is on the 2017 shortlist in the Mystery & Thriller category. Please join us in welcoming Julianna.

Today, we read about the inspiration for Dressed for Death (during which its hero travels to a regency era party!), learn more about Julianna’s favorite sweets, and hear about her love of a certain sport – plus more!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Drew and Madeline Farthering celebrate their six-month anniversary by attending a fancy Regency era costume party. Drew is glad to see Talbot Cummins, an Oxford classmate, and his fiancée, Alice Henley, though many present seem worried about the couple. Everyone’s concerns are realized when, at the concluding grand ball, Alice dies of an overdose of cocaine. Tal refuses to believe she took the stuff intentionally, and Drew is determined to find out if her death was an accident or murder.

Drew is shocked and disillusioned when the police arrest Tal’s father and reveal that the man has been smuggling drugs into the country for the past twenty years. Reeling from the death of his fiancée and the revelation about his father, Tal begs Drew to find out what’s going on. Drew, now questioning his own ability to see people as they really are, does so reluctantly, not ready for the secrets he’s about to uncover–or the danger he’ll bring down on everyone he holds dear. – Goodreads

Interview Questions

INSPYs: What inspired the creation of the amateur sleuth Drew Furthering and his friends?

I have been a fan of the golden age of cozy mystery for a very long time. Authors like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham have always delighted me not only with wonderful mysteries to solve but fascinating period characters to solve them with and England in the first half of the twentieth century as a glorious backdrop. I’m also a long-time lover of the movies of the 1930s and ’40s and think black-and-white cinematography is vastly underrated. Besides that, being a devoted Anglophile and an unabashed word nerd, I am intrigued by the small but considerable differences between British English and American English. Given all that, what could be better than writing a series of cozy English mysteries set in the 1930s featuring a British hero and an American heroine?

What is your favorite and least favorite thing of writing a series about the same characters?

I love that I know my characters very well and how they are likely to react in any given situation. But I also love how they sometimes surprise me with what they say and what they insist on doing. I enjoy uncovering new layers to each character as time goes on. (I’m always sorry when I try to force them to do something just to make my plot work. They invariably get mad and stop talking to me.)

The hardest thing about using the same characters again and again in a series is trying to make sure I don’t repeat myself. I want each of them to grow as a person while still keeping his or her original personality. In real life, it’s very unlikely that one person or small group of people not employed by the police or the courts would be involved in even one murder case much less a new one every few months. I always want to find new things for them to do and new ways to involve them in the case at hand, and that’s never easy.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

1. What are you watching? Hockey playoffs! I’m an NHL fiend, and for me this is the most wonderful time of the year. I’m just sorry my Dallas Stars didn’t make it to the playoffs this year. Wait till next time!

2. What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I’ve been on a Georgette Heyer binge for the past few months. I just finished The Quiet Gentleman, which I loved, and I’m now reading Cousin Kate. Fortunately for me, Heyer wrote a ton of Regency romances and, even better, Richard Armitage has read three of them for audio books. When I can’t sit and read, I can still listen. Be still my heart.

Faceoff Questions:

1. Chocolate or Vanilla Ice Cream? Yes, please. Okay, chocolate wins out, but only by a fraction of an inch. Both are fabulous.

2. Print or Ebook? Again, yes. I love print books most because I can actually “have” them. But, since I have text-to-speech on my Kindle, I have really enjoyed listening to e-books while I’m doing other things around the house. Win-win!

3. Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Uh, yes. Dark chocolate gets the tiniest edge here, but both are my favorite. Trying to keep away from them is the problem.

4. Coffee or Tea? Oh, boy, I can never just answer, can I? I have to say both and neither. I always drank iced tea (unsweetened) when it was hot outside and coffee (cream only) when it was cold. But I had to stop drinking both because they were affecting me badly. So now it’s just water or juice (which I love, too).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julianna Deering is the creator of the acclaimed Drew Farthering Mystery series. She has always loved British history and is a particular fan of the writings of Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in business administration and spent several years as a Certified Public Accountant. She lives outside Dallas, Texas. For more information visit www.juliannadeering.com.


Thanks so much for joining us on the INSPYs.com blog today, Julianna. It was a pleasure to host you and spotlight Dressed for Death.

2017 Shortlists Announced

The day has arrived. We are ready to announce our 2017 INSPYs shortlists. 

We thank you so much for your continued support, especially in light of the 2017 changes as we strive to create a program that is considerate of the many wonderful novels written in this genre. 

Following multiple book deliveries plus multiple time zones, and juggling our respective schedules, the Inspy Awards Advisory Board is thrilled to (finally) announce the 2017 shortlist contenders. As each year does, another daunting task was placed before us to pick just 5 books in each category from a long list nominated by readers and bloggers around the world. After careful consideration and deliberation, the INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce that the following books have been shortlisted in the 6th annual INSPY Awards. 

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE/ROMANTIC SUSPENSE 

Can’t Help Falling (Howard) by Kara Isaac
Her One and Only (Bethany House) by Becky Wade
Just a Kiss (Thomas Nelson) by Denise Hunter
A Twist of Faith (Southern Firefly Fiction) by Pepper Basham
You’re the One that I Want (Tyndale) by Susan May Warren

 DEBUT FICTION

Close to You (Howard Books) by Kara Isaac
Counted with the Stars (Bethany House) by Connilyn Cossette
Leaving Independence (Waterfall Press) by Leanne W. Smith
The Secret to Hummingbird Cake (Thomas Nelson) by Celeste Fletcher McHale
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus (Tyndale) by Beth Moore

GENERAL FICTION 

The Alliance (Tyndale) by Jolina Petersheim
The Feathered Bone (Thomas Nelson) by Julie Cantrell
Land of Silence (Tyndale) by Tessa Afshar
Long Way Gone (Thomas Nelson) by Charles Martin
A Portrait of Emily Price (Thomas Nelson) by Katherine Reay

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

A Flight of Arrows (Waterbrook) by Lori Benton
The Lady and the Lionheart (Mason Jar Books) by Joanne Bischof
A Heart Most Certain (Bethany House) by Melissa Jaegers
The Captive Heart (Shiloh Run Press) by Michelle Griep
The Ringmaster’s Wife (Thomas Nelson) by Kristy Cambron

MYSTERY/THRILLER

Conspiracy of Silence (Bethany House) by Ronie Kendig
Cold Shot (Bethany House) by Dani Pettrey
Dressed for Death (Bethany House) by Julianna Deering
If I Run (Zondervan) by Terri Blackstock
When Death Draws Near (Thomas Nelson) by Carrie Stuart Parks

LITERATURE FOR YOUNG ADULTS 

A Daring Sacrifice (Zondervan) by Jody Hedlund
Gilt Hollow (Blink) by Lorie Langdon
I’ll Be Yours (Sweet Pea Productions) by Jenny B. Jones
Siren’s Song (Thomas Nelson) by Mary Weber
Unblemished (Thomas Nelson) by Sara Ella

SPECULATIVE FICTION

Accelerant (Enclave) by Ronie Kendig
The Calling (Tyndale) by Rachelle Dekker
The Long Journey to Jake Palmer (Thomas Nelson) by James L. Rubart
Seasons of Glory (Blink) by Lisa T. Bergren
The Shattered Vigil (Bethany House) by Patrick W. Carr


Congratulations to all of the nominated authors and shortlist contenders! We now turn the job over to our 2017 judges to select a winner in each category. Winners will be announced June 28th.

Download Press Release here.

A Conversation with Zachary Bartels

INSPYs 2016-Zachary Bartels Feature

Our second interview today welcomes author, Zachary Bartels. Zachary has been shortlisted in previous INSPY awards and this year, his novel The Last Con (Thomas Nelson) is on the 2016 shortlist in the Mystery/Thriller category.

Today, Zachary shares inspiration for The Last Con as well as the most challenging factor of writing in the mystery genre. (Can you believe tomorrow we announce the 2016 winners!?)


Former con man Fletcher Doyle is finally home after six years in the pen. He’s working a menial job, regaining his bearings in the world, and trying to revive his relationships with his wife and Book - The Last Contwelve-year-old daughter. No easy feat.

But when Fletcher and his family go on a mission trip to Detroit—in the company of the condescending church leader who also happens to be his landlord—Fletcher finds his old life waiting for him. Within hours of arriving in the city, he’s been blackmailed into doing a job for a mysterious criminal who calls himself The Alchemist.

A series of relics hidden by the Knights of Malta, as ancient as they are priceless, are in the sights of The Alchemist. What he needs is a gifted grifter with a background in ecclesiastical history . . . what he needs is Fletcher Doyle.

Between hiding his reawakened criminal life from his wife and trying to hide her from their relentless landlord, Fletcher is ready to give up. But when his family is drawn into the dangerous world he can’t shake, Fletcher is forced to rely on his years in the game to save the only people who mean more to him than the biggest con in history. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH ZACHARY BARTELS

INSPYs: What inspired The Last Con?

I’ve always been interested in con men and grifters as long as I can remember. Books like Catch Me If You Can, TV shows like White Collar, and movies like The Sting and Oceans Eleven have always entertained the heck out of me and maybe ten years ago, I started reading about the real grifters of the 1920s and ’30s, who really lived these lives that sound cartoonish on one level, but were really an empty veneer of deception covering over something so complex. Fascinating stuff!

The kernel of the story that became The Last Con came from a jail visit I made about a dozen years ago. Having done some prison ministry, I was used to being frisked, grilled, marched through metal detectors, etc. But once I presented my ordination certificate at the jail and got on the chaplain’s approved list to visit inmates, I was allowed to waltz right in and out without any of that. It got me thinking, what if there was a guy who used this loophole to run a business, smuggling items and information in and out of the jail? That role became the character Dante. From there, the rest of the crew sort of filled in themselves: Fletcher the brains, Happy the techie, Andrew the mentor, Marcus the muscle, and Meg who was just caught in the middle of it all.

With Playing Saint, I had woven in the characters from a screenplay I’d written, called The Jesuits. They were these Vatican agents operating in the shadows, searching for a hidden church relic. The publisher wanted a similar conspiracy/relic/secret society element for this book and I had been reading a lot about the Knights of Malta, so I decided to try bringing them together. Honestly, I can’t believe how easily and tightly these different elements all came together into one story, spanning centuries and continents, and yet the entire modern day story line taking place in Detroit over the course of four days.

Zachary's Study at his church, Judson Baptist Church.

Zachary’s Study at his church, Judson Baptist Church.

INSPYs: What are some of the challenges/benefits of writing suspense?

One of the greatest challenges of writing suspense, for me, is that I love reading stories that take their time developing characters and slowly-but-relentlessly unfold the conflict. With suspense, however, readers (or at least editors) expect more or less nonstop tension, nail-biting, and edge-of-the-seat sitting from the get-go. I have to force myself to write that way to meet the expectations of  the market. At the end of the day, however, it  works, so I’m not complaining.

As far as benefits, my favorite thing about writing suspense is to hear from readers that they were up till 2 AM reading, unable to put the book down because they had to know what happened next and how the story resolved. It’s humbling, but also the opposite of the humbling to be able to have that kind of an effect on someone, using only a story. Maybe because of this total buy-in from the reader, I find that suspense is also a great vehicle for introducing spiritual themes for readers to wrestle with.

Zachary's office coffee bar - a writer has to stay caffeinated!

Zachary’s office coffee bar – a writer has to stay caffeinated!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What Are You Listening? Andy Mineo’s “Uncomfortable” album, The Moth Radio Hour, ’90s Alternative Pandora station, and the Happy Rant Podcast.

+What are you watching right now? Rehab Addict, Better Call Saul, Voltron: Legendary Defender (with my son), New Girl (with my wife), Turn, Brooklyn Nine Nine, and binge-watching Grounded for Life on Netflix.

+ What are you reading? Tesla: Inventor of the Electric Age by W. Bernard Carlson, Unashamed by Lecrae Moore, Broken: Seven ‘Christian’ Rules Every Christian Should Break by Jonathan Fisk, and With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray.


Thank you so much for joining our author interview series, Zachary. It was a pleasure to learn more about the inspiration of your novel (all great inspirations!), and to read about the challenges of writing in this genre.

ABOUT THE AUTHORZachary Bartels

Called “the suspense author everyone is talking about” by Family Fiction Edge magazine, Zachary Bartels is the author of critically acclaimed supernatural thrillers. An award-winning preacher and Bible teacher, Zachary has been serving as pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan, for ten years. He enjoys film, fine cigars, stimulating conversation, gourmet coffee, reading, writing, and cycling.

His debut novel, Playing Saint, has been called an “intrigue-filled thriller” (Library Journal) and “a page-turner from the very beginning . . . gripping and realistic” (RT Book Reviews). His newest book, The Last Con (HarperCollins Christian Fiction, 2015) has met early positive reviews. He lives in the capital city of a mitten-shaped Midwestern state with his wife Erin and their son.

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 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

Up Close and Personal with Steven James

Today, award-winning and well-known author, Steven James joins us. Steven has been shortlisted (and won!) for an INSPY in year’s past and this year, his novels  Checkmate (Signet) is on the short list for the Mystery/Thriller category and Blur (Skyscape) in the Literature for Young Adults category. Below we chat with Steven about what’s playing on his television and his upcoming to-be-read pile (with photos!).

Checkmate Goodreads SummaryBook - Checkmate

In “Checkmate,” critically acclaimed novelist Steven James offers the final, chilling chapter in his bestselling series, The Bowers Files.

 When a clandestine FBI facility is attacked, Special Agent Patrick Bowers is drawn into the vicious, ruthless story that a killer from his past is bent on telling the world.

Clues lead to long forgotten secrets buried deep beneath uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. Now, Bowers is caught up in trying to stop one of the most deadly attacks ever planned on American soil.
Smart, tense and full of mind-bending twists and turns, “Checkmate” explodes onto the scene, bringing The Bowers Files to a climactic and unforgettable conclusion.

Blur Goodreads Summary

Book - BlurThe isolated town of Beldon, Wisconsin, is shocked when a high school freshman’s body is found in Lake Algonquin. Just like everyone in the community, sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers believes that Emily Jackson’s death was accidental. But at her funeral, when he has a terrifying vision of her, his world begins to rip apart at the seams.

Convinced that Emily’s appearance was more than just a mere hallucination, Daniel begins to look carefully into her death, even as he increasingly loses the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.

What’s real? What’s not? Where does reality end and madness begin?

As Daniel struggles to find the truth, his world begins to crumble around him as he slips further and further into his own private blurred reality.

Mineshaft2

A mineshaft “under Charlotte.” Part of Steven’s research for his novel, Checkmate.

Full of mind-bending twists and turns, Blur launches a new trilogy of young adult thrillers from Steven James, a master of suspense.

1.) What are you listening to?

Lately, I’ve been wearing out The Rend Collective’s “Art of Celebration” CD, as well as tapping into my collection of Goa trance songs. I listen to the trance anthems while I’m writing and the songs with words as I’m typing in my edits. 
 
2.) What are you watching?

Let’s see—Orphan Black, The Blacklist, and The Flash (my daughters are huge fans).

3.) What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? What I plan to read over the next several months…
Steven James Reads

 

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Thank you so much for joining us today, Steven. It was a pleasure to host you here. Learn more about Steven: Facebook ǀ Twitter ǀ Website