Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Headed to Realm Makers!

Guess where I'm off to this week?
Can you take a gander? Oh wait, it's already above. Well, that just ruined the surprise.

I'm going to REALM MAKERS, people!!! Are you excited for me?

Wait... you're not? What is Realm Makers, you say? Oh. Of course. You wouldn't be excited if you don't know what it is.

Let me explain... Realm Makers is a speculative writers heaven on earth. A glorious writing conference filled with information, cosplay, fellow nerds, learning, fellowshipping, laughter and education, a chance to meet fellow writers/authors, an opportunity to pitch your book, and did I mention a NERF GUN WAR? Oh yes, how could I forget that. (Ignore the long, run on sentence)

It might possibly be the most epic conference for anyone who writes speculative fiction in the history of conferences.

Okay, but how do you know that, Deanna? You've never even been to it yet. 

Well... let's just say I've spent the last year or so getting to know all the people who HAVE been there, and they are AWESOME. I'm squealing just thinking about getting to meet all these fantastic people in person.

Not to mention how amazing everyone raves it will be. I almost don't want to believe them, for fear that it won't be as epic-ly awesome as everyone claims it is, and then I'll get disappointed. But you know what? I doubt that will happen. No conference is perfect. Nothing is always going to go as planned. I know that as long as I bring a teachable spirit and a happy/helpful heart, God will bless me and make the conference a wonderful experience, no matter what.

I will be leaving late Wed. night. Prayers appreciated for me so I will be able to sleep on the flight. It gets in early Thur. morning in Philly. This is also only the second solo trip I've ever taken. Seriously.

Prayers also, for my friend Andrea and I. Neither of us is that great at directions and together we are going to attempt to find each other in a foreign airport, find the baggage claim, find the place where they sell train tickets, find the place where the train actually is, get on it before it takes off, switch trains at one point, and get on a new train all the way to Villanova campus. But no, it doesn't drop you off AT campus, it drops you off a-ways from campus, and then you have to figure out how to walk there from that train stop. Yes. I imagine with two directionally challenged individuals, this is going to be one crazy adventure.

Prayers most definitely appreciated. (Just found out last night, an AMAZING wonderful friend-who will not be named-AMY-is going to drive us to the campus. PRAISE JESUS for stress relief and good friends!)

Keep checking back in with our blog later this week as I will be updating you (most likely Thur. or Fri) about how the conference is going. And PICTURES, my friends, lots of wonderful photos and all the geekery and madness and wonderfulness that Realm Makers encompasses.

Wish me luck-scratch that-pray for me!

*I do not claim the rights to any of the photos above. I am using them with permission from Realm Makers staff. All photos shown are of previous Realm Makers conferences. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

COVER REVEAL for 'Ending Fear'

Yes! It's happening! It's really happening! (proceed with happy dance, throwing confetti, kissing babies, and generally having a great big party!)

The day has arrived when we can finally share the cover of Deanna Fugett's Ending Fear. Her YA dystopian is getting published soon so you have to forgive us if we're a little crazy around here.

But before the big reveal, would you like to read the blurb? Would you? Would you? All right, since you asked so nicely:

Fourteen-year-old Fear learns she was a parachute baby, dumped over the edge of the Gliding Lands as an infant. Running from her abusive Downer family, Fear discovers a new family. One who knows how to love. But then her new little sister is kidnapped and sold to a harem. Fear must go against her namesake and journey to the dreaded Gliding Lands before the little girl’s innocence is ripped from her forever. Can she save Happy in time?

Ooooh! How does that sound? Kinda like a cross between The Giver and a kick-butt updated version of Hinds Feet on High Places, doesn't it?!?

All of us here at Quills & Inkblotts have been a part of Deanna's journey and can't wait for this awesome book to make its way into the world.

And now...without further ado...

here it comes...

almost there...

wait for it...

Incredible, right?!? We think so too!

Congratulations, Deanna. We're so excited to see this book thrive!

Deanna Fugett’s heart belongs to writing. Author of edgy YA Dystopian fiction with an underlying message of hope, this stay-at-home mom of four focuses on writing as much as humanly possible. She was published at the young age of six in a local newspaper and is excited to be published again. It only took twenty-seven years. She enjoys the thrill of writing fiction that deals with intense topics and prays it will impact people for the better.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Book Review: Zombie Takeover by Michele Israel Harper

I've been known to indulge in zombie entertainment once or twice. It's true. I admit it. I succumbed to curiosity when the whole world would not shut up about this show called, "The Walking Dead." I may have seen an episode, just to see what all the hype was about.

Or.........I may have binge-watched the first four seasons because I was late to the party, and now I may be eagerly, shamelessly, breathlessly waiting with the rest of the world to find out who Neagan killed (I think it's Eugene. Who do you think it was? And don't you dare say Glenn. Don't. You. Dare.).
photo credit: vanity fair

I like riveting television, okay? I want to be engaged with pop-culture. An apocalyptic epidemic resulting in a massive zombie takeover is a fascinating and mind-bending thing to think about. And it's darn good writing, if you can stomach it.

The problem is, many Christians can't. It crosses too many lines for them. When the living become more wicked and fearsome than the dead, it ceases to be entertaining.

With Zombie Takeover, author Michele Israel Harper gives people of faith an avenue to zombie entertainment. Readers will have the freedom indulge their love of zombie culture without violating their conscience with cursing, murder, or sex. 

Her characters show godly compassion to one another, selflessness, and--yes!--even purity. The heroine prays. She listens to God as if He is still active in this world, which has been taken over by zombies. But as dire as the world is, Harper keeps the 1st person narrative light, and even laugh-out-loud funny in parts. 

Candace Marshall is a fresh and welcome heroine for readers who have grown weary of the brooding, dark, and masculine female leads so prevalent in pop-culture today. She's humble, and doesn't take herself too seriously. She's clutzy, socially awkward, needs rescuing every once in a while, and she has a wonderful, compassionate, and even maternal heart.

Better than that, she stands up for her convictions. Her love interest, the swoon-worthy Gavin, responds just the way every young romantic reader hopes he will. He is chivalrous, amorous, and a true gentleman.

The action begins on page one, and good pacing carries the heroine through obstacle after obstacle. Readers will also stay engaged with a believable romance between a sweet couple they can't help but root for.

Readers may think they've got it figured out, but I promise there will be some head-scratching along the way! 

Worry not, zombie lovers, the gore is present, but palatable.

At just $1.99 for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ibooks, and Kobo it's a steal, and a worthy, entertaining, lighthearted read. Support this amazing and talented author, and don't forget to leave a review on her Goodreads page.

Michele Israel Harper spends her days as a stay–at-home mom and her nights typing away furiously on her laptop. Sleep? Sometimes… A member of the Heartland Christian Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, as well as the treasurer for the Indiana chapter of ACFW, Michele has her bachelor’s degree in History and can most often be found with her nose in a book when not chasing her two rambunctious boys or cuddling her new baby daughter. Visit her website at http://www.MicheleIsraelHarper.com to learn more about her.

You can meet her virtually at her Facebook launch party this Thursday.  Never been to a Facebook party before? It's easy! Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/704667613005619/. Click that you're either "interested" or "going." Show up at the page the day of the event (July 14th between 7-10pm--Facebook will send you a reminder) and comment on ANY picture to enter the giveaways of your choosing. Winners will be chosen and notified, and the post office will never go out of business with the number of prizes being mailed. She's giving away roughly 50 books!

Want to know more about Zombie Takeover?

Check out this blog post yesterday from a reviewer who hates zombies but loved the book!

And Michele is blogging tomorrow because it's RELEASE DAY! How exciting! You don't want to miss it.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Thriving in the Lord

It’s hard to believe the year is halfway over. We’re in the depths of winter here in the Southern Hemisphere, and is it cold! It may be hard for some of you to imagine as you may be experiencing record-breaking heat where you are and wishing for a glimpse of frost or snow. But, trust me, there’s something about being inside when it’s freezing outside that breeds contemplation. I started thinking about my word for 2016 as I sat, bundled in a merino top and fuzzy slippers, under my heat pump with my cat on my lap and the dog at my feet.

I’ve done this for several years in a row now (picking a word as well as migrating to where the warmth is!) I like the idea of seeking God for a direction for the year and then seeing what he does with that direction. Last year, the word was ‘joy’ and I believe he was faithful to show me so much about where my true joy is and even how to maintain that joy in the midst of trials. These lessons have carried over this year as well which is exciting to experience.

After much prayer and contemplation, I chose the word ‘thrive’ at the beginning of January. I had a feeling that some amazing things were on the horizon, and that I should be ready for them. I’ll admit, I had some specific ideas about this word. Something beyond just the success in the temporal matters of life.

I saw this word representing the flourishing of my mind, body, soul and spirit. The deepening of relationships. A greater dependence on God. And, yes, even some achievement in my writing. I believed this word was also in line with the nature and character of God and his plans for me.

I love what John the Apostle says in 3 John 2:
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that God means for our lives to go well. We Christians can become quite dour at times, resigning ourselves stoically to a life of suffering and pain, forgetting that we’re to live a life of abundance—with living water pouring out of us and transforming the landscape around us. We see ourselves too often as sinners saved by grace when, if you read the beginning of just about every letter Paul writes in the New Testament, we’re to address one another as saints! As co-heirs with Christ! As blessed, chosen, and beloved sons and daughters of God! Now that’s an inheritance.

That doesn’t mean that there are no trials, no challenges, no disappointments. Not at all. Jesus himself said we would experience all those things in this world, but he also reminded us to be encouraged because he has overcome the world. I believe when we see him working all things together for good—as he promised us in Romans 8:28—that we will see ourselves thriving under his love and goodness. Remember it doesn’t say that all things ARE good, but that he’s working them FOR good.

This process of working of things together for good reminds me of a woman who makes beautiful silver jewelry out of recycled silver clay. She can craft beautiful designs, rolling the silver out into intricate shapes, and when she’s finished, the piece goes into the fire. All the impurities are burned away. What’s left is a gorgeous locket or brooch that’s pure silver. That’s how God gets us to those places where we can thrive; we go through those trials so that the stuff that’s imperfect gets lifted to the surface and flushed away.

As I’ve reflected about the year thus far, I’ve seen God bring many imperfections in me out into the open, so he can deal with them. As painful as this can be—who likes the fire?—I know it’s an essential element to me thriving. There have been other areas where I’ve thrived as well. I’ve seen new friendships blossom, discovered new truths of who God is, and I’ve even had success with my writing. I’m anticipating the second half of 2016 with great expectancy. Of course it all won’t be easy, but I know that, in the Lord’s hands, I will thrive.

Be blessed,

What about you? How's the year gone so far? What challenges have you faced? How have you thrived? Let us hear from you in the comments below!