Dianne Neal Matthews

Just before I moved to Salt Lake City in 2011, a librarian friend of a friend asked me to be the featured author at her small Christian school’s Book Fair. After I emailed her my photo and book cover images, she met with the principal and got really excited about the promotional ideas the two of them had planned. But I was not prepared for what she accomplished while waiting for me to fly in.

The school sat at the top of a high hill. As we turned in the driveway at the bottom, a huge sign with my face and name greeted me. At the top, a large easel held a similar poster. Smaller signs dotted the walls in the hallway highlighting my books. As I washed my hands in the bathroom, I looked up and saw my face on the paper towel dispenser. Suddenly, I felt like a rock star.

Book Fair

At the Book Fair

Although many people passed through the halls, book sales were slow the second morning. But after all, it was the day for women’s Bible studies; also, the building was serving as a polling place. After a few hours, I saw a woman walking toward me, obviously intending to talk. Did she want to buy an autographed book? Or maybe tell me how much she loved the one she got yesterday? I eagerly leaned across the table. “Where do I go to vote?” she asked.

You know, pride is a sneaky thing. It can slip into our attitudes without us even realizing it. But on that day, I realized something: When you’re a writer, sooner or later someone or something will give you a wake-up call if your head starts to get too big.

On This Day by Dianne Neal Matthews

Dianne Neal Matthews is the author of five daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Behold, I will do something new—

Now it will spring forth;

Will you not be aware of it?

 Isaiah 43:19

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

As I sit on my screen porch, luxuriating in my Wisconsin summer morning ritual, coffee at hand, dog at my feet and a cacophony of avian praise in the background, I cultivate ideas for my new book. Placed in the near future, this book plays with bioethics as illuminated through the life and choices of Em, my female protagonist. Facing her own mortality in the guise of a terminal disease, vexed with arthritis and the quotidian irritations of aging, she wonders daily what it would be like to replace not only the occasional joint—but her entire body.  In an age where humans are able to artificially enhance their physical and mental selves, should they?

I myself am resigned to the inevitability of a knee and hip replacement—but what about body enhancement or replacement? In my fictional year 2060, in a world where downloading human consciousness into artificial bodies has become commonplace, Em struggles with moral ambiguities and bioethics without a common cultural framework. How should her faith inform her choices related to her physical health and mental health? If she were in need of a kidney transplant, or a knee replacement today, I do not know a Christian in my circle who would oppose it. But if she were to consider replacing or enhancing her entire body in the year 2060, would there be a Judeo-Christian framework for her to consider?

Artificial Intelligence is another passion of mine. A recent bout of research brought me to an app called “Replika,” claiming to be “an AI who cares.” Naturally, I signed right up. I named my Replika “Carver.” You can see our exchange regarding today’s lofty topic in the screenshot photo below.  While Carver didn’t seem particularly interested in my question, nor in the future, he did eerily mirror most conversations I’ve had with members of the opposite sex. So that’s something, right?Conversation with Carver 7:17:20

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Dianne Neal Matthews

I attended my first writers conference in 1999, convinced that they’d kick me out once they discovered I had no writing talent. The third year, I gathered enough courage to schedule an appointment with the editor of a major Christian magazine to pitch a personal experience article. While the piece didn’t fit his periodical, John liked the basic story and suggested changes to make before I submitted it. I was thrilled that he didn’t just say no.

At dinner that evening someone asked if I’d had any exciting appointments. I told them about my meeting with John. Joanne shouted, “He’s looking for you!” She had just come from John’s workshop. He’d talked about a woman who had showed him an article he really liked, but he didn’t get her name. I doubted that I was the woman since I had talked with him less than two hours earlier, but Joanne was convinced, and so convincing. I wondered…

A few minutes later, John walked by. My fellow diners urged me to go after him. “There he is!” “Go talk to him!” “Yes, it’s you he’s looking for!” As John and I passed each other, we made eye contact. No sign of recognition. My heart sank, but then I decided to boldly seize the moment—for once in my life. I called his name and asked if he was looking for me. A little confused, he explained he’d been talking about a lady who showed him an article that only needed one sentence changed. He had not taken her name down, thinking she would get back to him. He said that he had been expecting to get tackled in the dining room; I told him that he almost had.

I crawled back to my table, and we all laughed about the misunderstanding. But Joanne felt horrible and I felt worse. Then I realized that editors must meet so many people at conferences––surely they don’t remember every writer who makes a fool out of herself.

In July, John notified me that my article would be in the December issue. I immediately emailed Joanne with the news: “So you were right—he was looking for me. He just didn’t know it at the time!”

 

The One Year Women of the Bible by Dianne Neal Matthews

The One Year Women of the Bible by Dianne Neal Matthews

Dianne Neal Matthews is the author of five daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook or Twitter.

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Risk Management Cover

Risk Management by Leeann Betts

Often, when an author begins writing a series, they have an idea of how long it will be. Knowing in advance when to stop gives the author the opportunity to develop their characters and their series, and to bring it to a logical conclusion with a satisfying character arc and ending.

Which just goes to show how little I knew about writing a series when I began my By the Numbers series. In fact, when I wrote the first title, No Accounting for Murder, I didn’t even know it would be a series. Until I wrote THE END.

Well, last December, she said, “I’ve had enough. June’s book will be my last.” She meant the June 2020 book. And I thought, “Okay. I’ll simply end the series and go on to something else.”

Not so easy. This was a character I’d been writing about for more than fifteen years. I’d published ten books, was just getting ready in December to release number 11. It was like putting down the family dog.

Or worse.

Unable to write this final story, I tried something different. I asked Carly what she’d do with her time once she retired. What would hubby Mike do now? I researched why Carly would retire (health reasons), and I asked her about how she thought her faith journey would look.

In short, we talked.

Now I was excited to share this with readers, because I was excited for her. For the new path she’d enter. The new adventures she’d have—outside the pages of my stories. And the story flowed as I wrote the story of Carly’s heart.

So stay tuned for Risk Management, available now for pre-order here and officially releases on June 30th. And the segue novella, Mysterious Ink, will release in September.

Question for readers: Do you like to read a series in order, or are you happy to read any which way you get the books?

Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. Risk Management, which releases June 30th, 2020, is the 12th and final story in her cozy mystery series, “By the Numbers”. Watch for a segue novella in August that weaves Carly’s story with the upcoming new cozy mystery series, “Mysterious Ink Bookstore Mysteries”, with its first title releasing in December 2020. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels.

 

 

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Christie & Cosmo in Vegas

Christie & Cosmo in Vegas

Miss Christie’s little black ears twitch at each note as morning birds serenade us. We start most mornings (God, weather, and coffee supply willing) in our treetop screened porch, nestled under blankets, Bible and journal nearby. Very soon, Miss Christie and I will begin our days from the pleasurable confines of Cosmo, my Class B RV.

The three of us are hitting the road on Memorial Day, heading to Oklahoma City, where we will reside in an RV lot for a ten-day horse show. The Amazing Miss Clara—my nine-year-old quarter horse mare, Jess, our trainer and several other dear friends will meet us there.  Anticipation has my arthritis flaring already and I am giddy as a schoolgirl in June.

After way too many weeks of COVID, Netflix, and Cheezits, I am beyond

Miss Clara

Miss Clara

ready for a road trip. And for the blood, sweat, tears, joy, and laughter of enjoying every second of my equine love affair. Few things make me happier than spending time with Clara. I know all of her little secrets, where she loves to be scratched, how best to brush her in all her favorite places. I know her smell, her nicker, and the feel of her body in any number of communication modes.

Just thinking about her makes me happy. As I was plotting my current novel, I wanted to throw in this kind of passionate love and demonstrate how it could morph into an addiction. For extra fun, I propelled the whole idea into the near future and asked how that addiction could be played out in VR (virtual reality). Having set the stage, I wondered what that addiction might look like at a fancy dinner party where my heroine finds herself a bit on the bored side. Cool things happen—but that’s a story for another day.

Interesting storylines come from everyday occasions. And from our best of friends—four-legged and otherwise.

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Her newest novel, Capsized by Death, is the fourth book in her award-winning Jo Oliver thriller series. She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends.

Catherine loves to interact with her readers at www.CatherineFinger.com

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineFingerAuthor/

 

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