Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Story Behind Creating The Summer of Suspense Anthology! What It Takes to Put Together A Multi-Author Anthology From Start to Finish






Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Mary Alford, Ruth Hartzler, and Samantha Price to Seekerville. These wonderful ladies spearheaded the Summer of Suspense Anthology that features stories from sixteen award-winning and bestselling Christian authors. 

Ruth Logan Herne and I are part of the author lineup, and we're thrilled that you, dear Villagers, will get a behind-the-scenes peak at how an anthology is conceived and brought to publication. Summer of Suspense is available for pre-order NOW and will be released on AUG 6th! 








Please give a warm welcome to Mary Alford...

For myself, Ruth Hartzler, and Samantha Price, I want to say a big thank you to Debby Giusti for inviting us here today. We’re so pleased to have both Debby and Ruth Logan Herne as part of the Summer of Suspense author team!



Everything starts with an idea!

Like most things, creating a multi-author anthology begins with an idea. In this case, three separate ideas.

Little did I know, when I first started mulling over the notion of this anthology, I wasn’t alone in my thinking.

When I reached out to Samantha Price, I learned that both she and Ruth Hartzler had the same idea in mind. We put our heads together and Summer of Suspense was born. 

First, a little about us. Ruth Hartzler and Samantha Price both write Amish mystery and suspense stories. I write for Love Inspired Suspense and have written several Amish suspense stories as well. So, when we first begin tossing suggestions around among ourselves, we originally thought of making the collection an Amish mystery and suspense anthology. Then, Samantha had a conversation with the wonderful Nancy Mehl, who suggested we make the collection bigger. Open it up to Christian suspense and mystery authors. It was like a light bulb moment for Ruth, Samantha, and myself.   


                                                                                                                              

Taking the Idea to the next level!

Even before we decided on the exact genre for the book, we knew we wanted to take the book wide in the beginning, (wide means making the book available to different retailers), then streamlining it to be sold strictly on Amazon after the first week. Each story would all be short—between 10,000-15,000 words. Smaller word count would mean easier summer reading, and it would allow us to add multiple authors to the anthology.



Putting together the perfect team!

With a plan in place, it was time to put together our dream team!

We wanted a nice mixture of Amish/Christian Mystery/and Suspense authors to give our readers the best possible combination. Armed with a list of authors we each wanted for the team, we reached out to them. And that’s the amazing thing about authors. They are always willing to help out.

For Summer of Suspense, we have an incredible group of 16 of today’s most popular Amish, Christian Mystery and Suspense authors. The lineup includes; Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Rachel J Good,  Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry, and myself, Mary Alford. I’m honored to be part of this group.



What’s in a title? Everything!

With the team in place, we needed a catchy title that would best reflect all genres to be included in the book. Keep in mind, we really didn’t know at this point what each individual author’s story would be about. Tough challenge, right?

This is what we knew for certain. The stories would take place in summer, and would involve suspense.

We came up with several ideas for the title, polled the group, and Summer of Suspense won! I love the title, don’t you?
  



A cover can make or break a book!

Like the title, we had two things to work with in creating the cover. Summer and suspense. We wanted something that would remind the reader of summer and still generate an atmosphere of suspense. Ruth, Samantha, and myself found several photos that depicted what we envisioned the cover to look like and sent them to our talented cover artist, Danny Mehl. Danny produced the cover for Summer of Suspense in 2D and 3D. Danny captured the feel for the book completely.

  


 Setting the stage for release!
With the authors in place, an intriguing title, and a cover that established the tone for the book, it was time to get news of the anthology out to the readers.

Getting Summer of Suspense up for preorder was key for us. We put the anthology up early on at Barnes and Noble and Apple.



But with Amazon, you cannot put a book up for preorder before 90 days prior to release. 

Summer of Suspense went live on Amazon, May 10th.




There are lessons in every step of the way!

When the idea of creating an anthology first came about, I had no idea what an amazingly challenging experience this would be. Even though the book doesn’t release until August 6th, as I look back on each of these steps, I can say it has been a learning experience for me and my co-creators. And it has been a privilege to work with these talented authors.     

Thank you each for joining us today. We are so grateful for each of you and we want to give away copies of the preorder of Summer of Suspense to three lucky folks who leave a comment.

Here’s a little about the book:

Long Days. Hot Nights. Deadly Secrets.

Grab this red hot Christian Suspense Anthology bargain for just 99 cents for a short time only before the price increases to 9.99.

Start your summer off right with 16 gripping and never-before published tales of Christian suspense from today's most popular mystery and suspense authors.

Join Mary Alford, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Rachel J. Good, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena B. Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry on a dangerous journey filled with mystery, suspense, and faith that that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.


Debby here! Thanks, Mary, Ruth and Samantha, for being with us today and for sharing so much about the anthology! We're all eager to read the stories that are sure to please!

Happy reading to all! Be sure to pre-order your copy of Summer of Suspense! 

Ruthy here, too! I've loved doing mysteries with Guideposts and the opportunity to work with these lovely gals was too good to miss. And youse know I love a great sale! :) Getting our work into readers' hands is always the goal... and a .99 SALE helps us reach that goal! Thanks to Mary for inviting me onboard, and welcome to Seekerville, ladies!

_____________

About Ruth Hartzler: https://www.ruthhartzler.com
Ruth Hartzler spends her days writing, gardening, walking her dog, and thinking of ways to murder someone. That's because Ruth is a best-selling author of cozy mysteries. She is best known for her 2015 series, Safe House, featuring a WITSEC agent hiding in the Amish community, and for apologizing to strangers when her dog slobbers all over them at the park.

The recipient of several All-Star Awards (author and book) and an Amazon Top 50 Author, 
Ruth is thrilled to connect with her readers, all of whom love the same clean and wholesome stories as she does. 


About Samantha Price:  https://samanthapriceauthor.com
Samantha Price enjoys getting lost in the world of her characters and being surprised by what they do. Over the past years she’s written several Amish romance and mystery series totaling over one hundred and fifty books. 
Since she writes every day it doesn't leave much time, but she manages to squeeze in fun with her six grandchildren, her cat who thinks he's a dog, and her demanding Staffy who has a severe tennis ball addiction.
She is an Amazon Bestselling & Amazon TOP 50 author, and a 9 times Kindle All Star recipient.

About Mary Alford: https://maryalford.net
Mary Alford is a bestselling author who loves giving her readers the unexpected. Combining unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots that result in novels the reader doesn’t want to put down. 
Her titles have appeared on the Publisher’s Weekly bestselling list, and have finaled in the Daphne Du Maurier award of excellence in mystery, The Beverly, The Maggie, and The Selah Awards.  
Mary is a member of the American Christian Fiction

As a writer, Mary is an avid reader. She loves to cook, can’t face the day without coffee, and her three granddaughters are the apple of her eye. She and her husband live in the heart of Texas in the middle of 70 acres with two cats and one dog.  

Mary is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook: www.facebook.com/maryalfordauthorTwitter: https://twitter.com/maryalford13  or any of the social media platforms listed at www.maryalford.net.

103 comments:

  1. Hi everyone. I'm so happy to be here today with you all. I look forward to the conversation.

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    1. Hi Mary! We're thrilled you could join us today in Seekerville! Thanks for sharing your expertise on anthology creation. You are amazing!

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    2. Thank you for the invite, Debby. And I'm happy to have you and Ruth part of the SOS team.

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    3. Mary, welcome aboard! This has been such a fun project to work on. I'm so glad you guys put this together, thank you! And I love, love, love my story for it!!!! Every now and again it's just so much fun to write BAD GUYS!!!!!!

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  2. What A Great Idea! I admire anyone who CAN put together a mystery or suspense plot. I've got enough of a challenge with romance.
    One thing I like about the current publishing climate is the cooperation among authors, no, make that healthy respect and appreciation. Love the way you all work together on projects such as this.
    I am homebound today, waiting for a contractor to come and give an estimate, so I have a considerable block of time for writing! Trying to get back into the rhythm after the temp job and other business.
    Back later,
    Kaybee
    Slogging away at it in NH

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    1. I love it when I get a big blog of time to write. Pure joy. Thanks for stopping by. We will see you later, Kaybee.

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    2. KB, I hope your contractor arrives as scheduled!

      Michael Hauge, who helps Hollywood screenwriters, was amazed when he spoke at his first RWA Conference. He went back to Hollywood where it's dog eat dog and shared how friendly and supportive the romance world was. Is that because we're women?

      I find a real sisterhood among the Love Inspired authors. We cheer success and offer encouragement when times are less bright. It's a wonderful community of women helping other women!

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    3. Contractor not here yet. Mixed blessing. At least I get to write. If it weren't for professionals unable to give me an ETA, I would never get anything done.
      KB

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    4. I have also found CHRISTIAN writers to be more supportive than most, probably because it's not about us.

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  3. Sounds like a great set! I do enjoy sweeping epics, but sometimes bite-size, get-right-to-it stories are just what we need. Thanks for being here!

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    1. Those bite-size stories can provide an engaging read at the end of a busy day. Plus I enjoy reading authors who are new to me. Anthologies seem to be a win-win!

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    2. I do enjoy reading novellas. I can read a whole story at once with staying awake all night to find out what happens.

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  4. I love this idea!!!! Can't wait to dive into these stories!!!! :)

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    1. Hi Beth! I know you've probably read your mother's story. I'm sure she's knocked it out of the ballpark as always!

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    2. Thanks, Beth. I can't wait to read the rest of the stories as well.

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    3. Aw, thank you, Deb!!! :) And no, it's done, but I want to go over it before I send it to Beth for editing... as soon as this LI is done, then it's polish the suspense and move on to the mystery... which is so much fun, too! A little bit of cozy mixed with suspense mixed with romance... and faith! Who could be happier????

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    4. I'm itching to get my hands on it, Debby!

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  5. How interesting! I've always wondered how compilations got their start.

    If I may ask, how does publishing costs and the profits work for anthologies? I assume the top billed author(s) invest the financial funding when going indie. Are the contributors paid a flat fee or a percentage cut or...?

    Anyhoo, sounds like a fun way to collaborate with other writers. Thanks for the inside look. And the giveaway. :0)

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    1. Samantha, everything is shared with an anthology. We pool resources and spread the word to all our readers. I hope you enjoy the stories...all 16 of them!

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    2. Samantha, Debby nailed it. We share the cost equally among all 16 authors as well the responsibility of spreading the news of the anthology. Good question. Thanks for asking.

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    3. Samantha, when I organized the Seekers' anthologies a few years ago, we simply split the cost among the number of contributors... and did the same with the sales. We like keeping things easy.

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    4. It's unanimous! Thanks for answering! Love that it is share and share alike. :)

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  6. I'm so glad Mary, Ruth and Samantha could be with us today! This is the time to ask questions about anthologies and the indie market. These ladies are pros when it comes to self-publishing as well as traditional markets.

    Mary is a HOLT Medallion finalist this year! Good for you, Mary! Congrats! So much talent!

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    1. Mary, congratulations! How exciting!!!!!

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    2. Aw, thank you, Debby. And thanks, Ruth. You guys are wonderful.

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    3. Thanks s much for having us! Sorry I'm off to a late start - pesky migraine.

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    4. Sorry about the migraine, Ruth! Hope you start feeling better!

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    5. Congrats, Mary! That's awesome!

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  7. I have been reading Love Inspired Suspense for a very long time. I recognize many names on this list. $0.99 pre order sounds/feels like I'm stealing from you (and the other authors). I am excited to read an anthology with 16 different stories. I don't really have any questions. I guess I like the reading part of the process :) I am looking forward to reading this!
    Katie W.

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    1. Thanks for your support, Katie. I hope you enjoy all 16 stories.

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    2. Katie, thanks for stopping by today and leaving a comment. You're in the drawing!!! Yes, 16 stories for $.99 is a GREAT deal! :)

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    3. Hi Katie, thanks for our lovely words! I hope you enjoy all the stories.

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  8. I like anthologies and novella collections because you get to sample different writers' styles. It's like Forrest Gump said. Life, and anthologies, are like a box of chocolates.

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    1. That's so true. You get to sample different authors. Maybe find some new ones you might now have tried before.

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    2. I like finding new authors and the anthology will introduce all of us to new writers! A win-win, for sure!

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    3. Lol about Forrest Gump. You are so right - I love the analogy!

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  9. I have been following this anthology through Mary Alford's Facebook group and have loved seeing it come to life! I preordered it on Amazon and can't wait to read it when it arrives on my Kindle.

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    1. Beth, thanks for all your support with this project and all the others. Readers like you are truly what keeps we authors writing.

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    2. Beth, isn't Mary wonderful!!! Thanks for pre-ordering! We love you! Also thanks for visiting Seekerville. As they say in the South, don't be a stranger!

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    3. Thanks so much for pre-ordering, Beth! I'm looking forward to reading all the stories.

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  10. Wow! That is one ambitious project. Congratulations, ladies!

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    1. Ambitious but fun, Mindy!!! :) I'm honored to be working with such a great group of authors!

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  11. Thanks, Mindy. It's been fun and challenging at the same time. I'm so thrilled with our group of authors. They are wonderful.

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  12. Ruth Hartzler, thanks for joining us today! Is your story more mystery or suspense? I find my stories often include a bit of each genre, although suspense is what I most enjoy writing.

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  13. I tend to enjoy reading suspense but writing mystery. Mine is suspense. A covert government group asks a college professor to translate an ancient text referring to a Biblical artifact. She expects they will email her the images, but they whisk her away in a helicopter. It turns out it isn't a safe research expedition and the agency wants no witnesses.

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    1. How intriguing, Ruth!!! You've hooked me. Can't wait to read!

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    2. Wow. Sounds very suspenseful, Ruth. I can't wait to read it.

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  14. I just ordered this anthology! I also feel like I'm stealing from you ladies, but I also know pre-orders help get the ranking up a bit so whenever I see this posted on social media I'll be sure to share it. I love a good suspense/mystery/crime anthology any time of year!

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    1. Thanks, Laurie! That's so good of you to share it. Yes they certainly help the ranking!

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    2. Thank you so much, Laurie! We're grateful!

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    3. Thanks, Laurie. We so appreciate your support on this anthology. Sharing definitely helps get the word out.

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  15. I'm so looking forward to reading everyone's stories. I've heard details of a few, and I can't wait to read them!

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    1. Me, too, Ruth. I agree with Debby. They all sound amazing.

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  17. Debby, can you give us a hint about your story? Will it be suspense with a touch of mystery?

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    1. It's a woman on the run story. Of course, the hero is with her, trying to keep her safe! :)

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    2. Oh, that sounds intriguing.

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    3. That sounds wonderful! I'm looking froward to reading it.

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  18. Hi to all:

    Most important: I've pre-ordered my copy at just 99 cents. If I like even one story, I've come out ahead!

    I have just a few questions:

    1. did authors have to clear their themes with the editor? If not, how could you prevent having 15 hidden child stories?

    2. do you think the stories are long enough to get a good taste of the author's voice? Does the writing reflect the author's full novel voice and tone or has this short format opportunity tempted the authors to experiment with a different voice?

    3. Do you think any of these shorts will later be developed into full novels? (novellas?). They might make good prequels to stimulate interest.

    4. Was any effort made not to use the same names of major characters? What if one story has Bob Smith as a hero and one has him as a villain?

    5. What do you think about turning this book into an audible file book? These would be perfect for short 'listens'. And pro readers sometimes work on a cut so there is almost no upfront fee. (At least the last time I checked.)

    6. Are any of the stories historicals?


    Good luck and may greater success follow.

    Vince

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    1. Thanks for the insightful questions, Vince, and thanks so much for pre-ordering. The rights revert to the authors after a certain time. A little aside on audio, there is a 50:50 royalty share available, but the author is then locked into a 7 year exclusive contract with Audible and the audio reverts to the narrator at the end of the 7 years. In recent times, more audio options (yet without royalty share) have become available and with wider distribution. Still, audio for the anthology won't suit as the rights revert to the author.
      I know some of the authors will be using their stories as prequels to a series.
      Yes, the stories are already novellas. I think 15,000 words is long enough to get good taste of an author's voice. Good question! I can't speak for the other authors, but I'm branching more into suspense with my novella.
      The authors didn't have to clear their themes. Every author already writes their own themes so will be bringing that to the anthology.
      I'm not sure if any are historical.
      I don't think it will matter if one story has Bob as a hero and the other as a villain given they are disparate stories under one cover, so to speak. Bob might not be too happy, though!
      Thanks for your wishes and the great questions, Vince! Feel free to ask more!

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    2. Ruth, I didn't know rights reverted to the audio narrator at the end of 7 years! Thanks for letting us know!

      Vince, great questions, as always. Thanks so much for ordering the anthology. Your support always means so much to me!

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  19. I liked your FB page, Mary. This looks like a great collaboration.

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  20. Hi Lucy! So good seeing you here today. We're all excited about the stories and our August release. It's the perfect beach read!

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  21. I enjoy a good anthology! I've been part of several and I love the collaborative work that goes into them.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us today!

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    1. It's been a lot of fun so far, Erica. And it's wonderful to work with different authors.

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  22. Hi Erica, you have been in some wonderful anthologies! How fun to work with the other authors. I know they all want YOU in their lineup!

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  23. It's been wonderful to work with these authors and get to know them.

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    1. Hi Samantha! Thanks for all your hard work on this anthology! Love the cover and can't wait to read the stories!

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    2. Yes, it has been, Samantha. We are blessed with a great crew.

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    3. It's fun working with such lovely people!

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  24. This is a great idea. Please throw my name into the hat for the drawing. I only wish this was coming out at the beginning of the summer and not toward the end. I look forward to it.

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    1. You're in the drawing, Sandy! School in GA starts at the beginning of August, which I hate! August should be summer! :(

      Is that why you wish the anthology came out earlier? Are you in the thick of things by August?

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    2. Debbie, yes. As a substitute teacher, summer starts for me next week when school lets out on Wednesday. We start back August 15. It would be fun to have the anthology to read throughout my summer break. But I will enjoy it in August, too!It looks great with so many good authors and a few that I am unfamiliar with but look forward to reading.

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  25. Thanks so much for this inside look to creating an anthology. You all must have had fun chat sessions when you were tossing out ideas. It looks like a fun read with the list of authors provided. Here's to wishing my name will be drawn! Lee-Ann

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  26. I'm sorry to be so late today! I stopped by this morning but didn't have time to comment.

    What a great idea for an anthology! I'm really excited about it. I just pre-ordered my copy! I think y'all did a wonderful job on the look and on putting together a fantastic group of authors. I hope it's really successful!

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    1. You've had a busy day, Missy! Thanks for stopping back again. And thanks for getting the anthology!

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    2. Thanks so much for your support, Missy and we so appreciate you stopping by.

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  27. A Summer Question


    When I think of summer, I think of seaside and lakeside venues. How many of these stories take place in beautiful waterfront locations?

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  28. I'm not sure, Vince. Mine starts lakeside.

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    1. Mine takes place in Alaska, but there is a small pond near the cabin where the heroine is staying.

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  29. Fun to see how a group book project comes together! Congratulations to all the authors on this upcoming release. Don't enter me as I've pre-ordered the collection....and Summer of Suspense is the top new release in the Christian mystery catagory. Yay!

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    1. Thanks, Sherida, for your support...and friendship! We're grateful!

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    2. Thank you for the support, Sherida.

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  30. I'm quite excited to be a part of this group of writers. In Texas, August can be a hot and dreadful time ... but with the release of Summer of Suspense happening August 6, I have something to get me through! My story will be Amish suspense, and I can't wait to share it with you.

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    1. Looking forward to your story, Vannetta!

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    2. Vannetta, as a fellow Texan, I can so relate to the hot August days. I'm definitely looking forward to reading all these wonderful stories. Yours sounds very interesting.

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  31. What I'd Like to See Next

    I'll buy fiction for location if I find that setting to be some place I'd like to visit or have visited and would love to visit again.

    How about all stories happening in a location millions visit a year while millions more have it on their bucket list to visit?

    Grand Canyon Suspense

    Any ideas for other wish list locations?

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    1. Grand Canyon Suspense sounds good. Maybe the Rocky Mountains or perhaps Hawaii?

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    2. Hi Mary: I'd order the Hawaii book right now. There could be different stories from each of the islands and maybe a cruise ship as well. Suspense! Don't they have active volcanoes? Love among the lava! Maybe you could all go there to do the research. :)

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  32. Grand Canyon Suspense sounds like a great location for a series, Vince! I can see those cowboys and their ladies!

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  33. Just a Notice!

    Sherrinda Ketchersid's Debut Novel
    "Lord of Her Heart" is out Today!


    Her post was "The Unexpected Journey" last week and was highly inspirational. The story opens in 1198 and what a difference it is to read something from that period. I think it has been ten years since a read about this time period.

    I just began reading and the story is off to a very fast start! This is going to be a fun read while I'm waiting for "Summer of Suspense" to release on my wife's birthday, 6 AUG 19!


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    1. A great birthday present for Linda, Vince! Sending wishes well in advance! :)

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  34. I'm a little late to the party but thrilled to read about such an amazing collaboration. Thank you for sharing all the wisdom behind pulling off a project like this one. Your tagline is the perfect hook. I pre-ordered, so now I'm anxious for those hot nights to arrive. :)

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