Friday, April 18, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 16

Spread Out With The Newspapers. 

Spreading out with the newspapers is one thing. There's local and international news to explore, and my author challenge this week is to consider what my protagonist would have read in his/her newspaper on this day

Thanks to Trove digital newspapers, I've found myself lost in much of the the 1870s, but...

When there's a royal tour happening in the country next door, which then spills into your own, it's easy to ignore the news of old and sink into the hype and pageantry offered by today's women's magazines. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Australia, with Prince George

With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting New Zealand and Australia this week, there's been a flood of photos to please the besotted masses of royal watchers. 

I will admit, I'm in their ranks, for reasons deeper than my own fascination with Britain's royal family. 

In 1984, I spent weeks checking between the covers of Australia's New Idea magazine for a story I'd submitted earlier that year. Accepted by Consolidated Press, I'd been sent a handsome cheque (to my fifteen year old eyes, anyway) and knew my story would appear in print.... someday. 

Well, that day arrived when the November issue appeared on supermarket shelves. With Bonnie Prince William on the cover and across the next three pages, no less... with my Story Of The Week buried further along.
Sharing a magazine with a future king

I took the chance to spread out with this old magazine today. To look at my name in print and the story I wrote about my father's immigrant journey to Australia. 

I'm so glad there's no 1980's celebrity on the cover. The history lover in me thrills to have shared my first publication with a future king. One whose every move has, and will be, played out in the public eye for life. Each step to the throne will be watched, while I sift through the shadows and details of life when his grandmother's great, great, grandmother, Queen Victoria, reigned. 

I'll continue to enjoy this tiny brush with royalty, but I'm more excited about an appointment I have with an Eternal King. 

It's not booked in for sometime when He's free to see me. I'm already in His presence. And unlike my well preserved magazine which will fall into a pile of dust someday, my name is written in the book of life. Never to be erased. 

Prince William has no clue about our shared experience in the New Idea magazine. But the record stands in my relationship with the Lord Jesus. It's etched in God's book and there's no better place to see my name. Especially on this Good Friday. 

Blessings to you this Easter,

Friday, April 11, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 15

Visit Your Favourite Cafe

Do I have a favourite cafe? 

Good question. 

In our search for the perfect breakfast stop, my Beloved and I find ourselves still looking. As if it were a military operation. 

We've eliminated plenty of options, and we're intent on hunting down the best one. For us. 

I know. 

It's a first world problem. 

But for now, we're testing the early Sunday morning egg menu in a row of eateries not far from home. Giant windows let in the entire neighborhood, while sweeping scenes beyond let the eye roam to the edge of Melbourne's skyline. The food is ok, but that's not why we return each Sunday on our way to church. 

We stop here, at the same table with brilliant sky views, because it's our place to connect and compare diaries for the week ahead. To sift through the busyness and unpack what's on our heart, as much as what's on the never-ending to-do-list. 

But we have a rule. No talk that might tip us me into tears. We save that discussion for another time. Sunday morning is our time, well guarded and much anticipated. It's where my Beloved asks about my writing schedule and upcoming conferences. Where I ask about his teaching and travelling schedule and what he's dreaming of next. Before we know it, the coffee's all gone and the eggs... well, they weren't so bad, after all. 

There's time for a pot of peppermint tea before we rush off, as well as another half hour to pencil in our lists and reminders. We've committed ourselves, our children and the week to God in prayer, and while it's not all tidy and far... far from perfect, there's a rest that comes from having synchronised the calendars and set each war plan to action. 

Because some seasons of life bring warlike conditions. And the foot soldiers need a place to strategize and muster arms. We do this with prayer, coffee and eggs. And then, we fuel up on a great sermon before heading into the fray of another week. 

Where is my favourite cafe?

Wherever my Beloved sits across the table from me.


Where's your favourite cafe and who sits with you? 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Monday, April 07, 2014

Tamera Lynn Kraft ~ Soldier's Heart

I'm welcoming Tamera Lynn Kraft to Ink Dots this week. Tamera has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction because there are so many stories in history. She has two novellas published, Soldier’s Heart through Helping Hands Press and A Christmas Promise through Pelican Book Group. Tamera has recently celebrated her thirty-fifth anniversary with her loving husband. She has two grown and married children and two grandchildren.

Soldier’s Heart ~ Noah Andrews, a soldier with the Ohio Seventh Regiment can’t wait to get home now that his three year enlistment is coming to an end. He plans to start a new life with his young wife. 

Molly was only sixteen when she married her hero husband. She prayed every day for him to return home safe and take over the burden of running a farm.

But they can’t keep the war from following Noah home. Can they build a life together when his soldier’s heart comes between them?

Tamera Says... 

If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... I would explore Alaska, the last great American wilderness. I am planning to explore Alaska in May. My husband and I are going on an Alaskan cruise. I’m so excited and plan to take notes for future novels while I’m there.

The best thing I did today is...Follow my routine. I like to stick to a routine in the mornings. When I start the morning with devotions, breakfast, getting dressed, and exercising, then sitting down to write, my whole day seems to go better. Like you, I love my routine. It's school holidays where I live right now... which means the routine is being messed with, a little. :)

A secret pleasure of mine is... I had to think about this one for a while because I have three of four. I guess I would love to sit down with a piece of chocolate cake and a cup of English breakfast tea and read a great novel or watch an old classic movie. Now my secret pleasure isn’t so secret. Chocolate features in most author secrets. Sounds good paired with that tea!  

I wish I could relive the day when I... I really don’t like to look back. I’m looking forward to the next great day.

When I was a child I dreamed... I had two dreams. I wanted to be a writer and a Radio City Rockette. I took dance lessons for 20 years, but I never grew tall enough or was good enough to be a dancer. But my dream of being a writer has come true. 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but...I’ve always dreamed of living in a log cabin in the woods.


To enter to win a digital copy of Tamera's Soldier's Heart, please leave a message below. Tell us if you're given to looking back or looking forward. 

I think I enjoy looking back at the special days we've enjoyed as a family. Especially now that our children are young adults. There's lots of happy memories to shed a quick tear or two over. 

How about you? I'll announce the winner on Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, April 04, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 14

Seabird Couple ~ Phillip Island
Take A Writing Retreat means go where the brain and heart can slow a little... and draw deeper into the creative well.

I've filled my diary with humble Phillip Island writing escapes since 2010. My first retreat came thanks to my Beloved’s generosity and in the form of a birthday gift voucher. 

Go and write. It said. 

So I went. And wrote. And I’ve done this over the years in the deep of winter and the snap of spring and even during the slow turn of autumn. (Summer is reserved for reading on the beach ~ a different and much needed retreat)

I know why a writing retreat is the author’s best birthday present.

It’s time. 

And space. 

To unwind, immerse in the story and pick up the threads which hang, just where the busyness of life keeps them. Dangling and waiting to be grabbed. 

Each time I’ve run away by myself to the very island where my stories are set. Phillip Island and the secluded beach of Red Rocks, where our family beach house sits just up the track in Ventnor. But for this author challenge, I invited my dear friend, Heartsong author Narelle Atkins to join me.

Who better to share the writing table and sea view than someone also in the thick of her own romance writing? 

Dorothy Adamek, Narelle Atkins and Rel Mollet
Day 1 found us playing tourist. We stopped in at the home of gorgeous Australian reveiwer Rel Mollet for a quick
afternoon tea, and then headed to Victoria’s top tourist attraction, Phillip Island’s Penguin Parade. I’m so sorry we were not allowed to take photos. If only I could share them here. The well protected Little Penguins could not get cuter or more intriguing, and our view of each surf-drenched waddle (yes, their packs are called waddles on land and rafts at sea) emerged more dignified with each fresh wave. 

I’d seen the Penguin Parade many times before, but this was Narelle’s first visit. She loved the way the penguins waited in the surf to cross the sand to their burrows. Their instinct to proceed only when dusk covered the beach in shadows. Their adorable hustle to the safety of the moonlit grasslands.

My highlight was the brilliant Southern Cross, beaming like it had been taken out of a box for the first time and hung in the sky just for us. 

By evening’s end our hearts brimmed with the majesty of God’s ocean, it’s creatures and the lavish expanse of sky overhead. 

Essential Stop ~ Harry's On the Esplanade
Day 2 delivered a writing agenda with a difference. Instead of banging at the keys, I took hold of the opportunity to re-read a project I’m unpacking after some time. While Narelle worked on her own story, I fell back into mine. By late afternoon we were ready for a coffee, a snoop around the shops and dinner at Harry's on the Esplanade overlooking the main swimming beach, Cowes. 

Pottering around the antique store didn’t fail to deliver a new book to add to my library, but walking the pier and showing Narelle where my characters push and fight and discover the cost of love, brought them to life for me afresh. That's a thrill that matches any book buying. I pointed out the path they’d take to walk along the shore from what would have been a village in 1875 to the location where I’ve set my hero’s farm. We squinted against the same colours of the sunset I’ve painted into my scenes. 

Two happy authors, chatting about characters as if they were real people who’d followed us around all day. And in a way, they had.

By midnight, I stood in the doorway of Narelle’s room, nutting out the complexities of conflict, backstory and subplot and only when the clock struck 2 did we figure it was time to put our stories to sleep and steal some ourselves. 

The shallows at Red Rocks Beach
Day 3 took us to the back beach where some of my characters find their lives tipped upside down. We walked the expanse of sand, with hardly a fellow sunlover in sight, except for the fishermen who tried to impress us with a catch that got away and two seabirds, very much the inseparable couple. 

To our right, the beach stage for my book 1. To our left, the sandy setting for my book 2. In the distance, the broad stretch of water from which all my displaced protagonists sail and sink into deeper trouble before they’re rescued and find love. 

Do I love writing about this island and her people as I imagine them in the late 1870s? You bet I do.

I’ve shared snippets of Phillip Island with Ink Dots readers over the years. And now I can add to that, the slow walk through the shallows with a dear friend who didn't mind listening to the gentle percolating of my stories, right where I imagine them. 

Author Selfie ~ Red Rocks Beach

Have you been to Australia's Phillip Island? 
Heard of the Penguin Parade? 

If not, I hope it won't be long before you get to explore this beautiful part of Australia's southern coastline. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Monday, March 31, 2014

Serena Miller ~ Fearless Hope

I'm welcoming Serena Miller to Ink Dots this week. In the early 1990s, Serena joined a writer’s group and met several multi-published authors who taught her that becoming an author didn’t involve magic, but it did require years of hard work. 

In 2008, Serena signed with Sandra Bishop of McGregor Literary Agency. In 2010 her book Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio was published by Summerside Press. She has since written six more inspirational novels for Simon & Schuster and Baker Books. Two of her novels have won national awards. A non-fiction book on Amish Parenting will be available in 2015.     

She also had the honor of watching Mission Pictures International turn her first book into a made-for-television movie which will air on the Up Tv station on June 1, 2014. Serena and her husband live in Southern Ohio where they and their family have served in full-time ministry to their home church for the past twenty years.  

Fearless Hope ~ When Hope Yoder loses her husband, she is left trying to support her two small children—and one on the way—however she can. She ends up taking a job as a part-time housekeeper for the Englisch man who has bought the farm that once belonged to her family.
Logan Parker is a bestselling crime fiction writer from New York City who accompanies his fiancĂ©e on a trip to Holmes County, Ohio, but the trip takes a strange turn when he sees an Amish farmhouse for sale. Intrigued by a strong sense of familiarity, he enters the house and is overcome with a feeling of deep peace. He’s never been to Ohio before, but something in this house feels right, and he purchases the farm to use as a retreat. Something about the peacefulness of the house frees him from the crippling writer’s block that threatens to ruin his career, and something about the quiet Amish woman who comes to clean his home makes him less and less excited about returning to New York and the woman he is supposed to marry.
Slowly, Logan and Hope are drawn together, and when they discover that they share a strange past, they must decide how that affects their future. Will Hope overcome her fear of embracing love again?

Serena Says...
If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... Machu Pichu. It’s an ancient site on a mountain top in Peru with the most amazing stonework and buildings. Friends showed me their photos from vacationing and I’ve wanted to go ever since. Sounds wonderful! My daughter explored Mexico's ancient ruins in February. I hope you get to visit there, soon. 
The best thing I did today is... I visited an Old Order Amish family early this morning where I buy milk twice a week. The big news was their daughter’s wedding yesterday. Four hundred wedding guests were fed a homemade sit-down chicken dinner. The family was exhausted, but very happy. WOW! Now that is some wedding celebration. I bet they were exhausted. (I'm a little jealous of your farm fresh milk purchases, Serena.)
A secret pleasure of mine is... Sometimes, when I’ve written my word count for the day, I’ll reward myself by packing a sandwich, a thermos of coffee, a thick blanket—and then hiking back through our woods to a small river. It’s beautiful and quiet and I can spend hours there with my dog and a good book.   
I wish I could relive... a family vacation at Ice Lake, Manitoulin Island, Canada with our three sons. It was around dawn, we were in the middle of the lake, and suddenly the fish started biting like mad. Our three-year-old only had his little Mickey Mouse toy fishing rod, but we put a hook on it and he started reeling them in, too. The fish fry that evening outstanding. Too funny! 
When I was a child I dreamed I would... someday live in a two-story house, with a wrap-around-porch and most importantly….it would have a real bathroom with indoor plumbing!( I did not like our outhouse. I was too afraid of snakes!) I’m happy to report that thanks to my husband’s hard work and building skills, that’s exactly what we have.
I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... As a child, I was alone a lot and often had long conversations with trees. I made up lots of stories to tell them. They were excellent listeners and seldom interrupted. I hope they didn't freak you out too much when they 'interrupted.' 
I have one giveaway copy of Serena's Fearless Hope. To enter, please leave a comment below. Tell us about the biggest wedding celebration you've attended. Or the smallest. Or the most unforgettable. The winner will be announced on Friday. 
For me, it was my uncle's wedding in the early 70s. I was a 6 year old flowergirl with a stack of new and scary duties, including a long walk up a steep flight of stairs in a floor length dress, clutching a basket of flowers when all I wanted was my mum's hand to help me up. My faded memory of the day is sweet, until I remember those stairs. 

How about you? What's your wedding story...? 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, March 28, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 13

Attend A Two-Team Sports Fixture

My feet have hovered over the basketball court for more than 15 years now. 

Not as a player, but as the anxious mum of two sons who fly over and around their opponents, twist into a jump and slam that ball into the net. 

Anxious, because I want to see them win. 

Anxious, because while I know a loss is character building, I still want to see their hard work on the practice court rewarded in victory. 

And anxious, (oh, please ...ramp up the anxiousness here) because I’ve carried an injured son to the hospital for reconstructive surgery on his knee, decades before he should have seen an operating theatre. 

Less than a year later, he rejoined his team to play and win the season grand final. He took home the MVP medal and the admiration of his teammates, while I sat on yet another wooden bench and prayed the game would not deliver us back to the Emergency Room. 

Like a reader, lost in words about heros and their rivals, I’ve watched basketball matches where the opposition have played dirty. Where their efforts have forced my sons to foul out of the game and send them to the bench to cool off. Elbows on knees. Eyes filled with angry tears and fists holding up a chin which might have trembled, had they let it. 

And what I feel for my sons in the those moments, is what I want my reader to feel for my hero and heroine when the story sinks into the pit I dig for them. With just a hint of emotional baggage pieced together from their backstory.

Over the squeak of soles and the thump thump of balls, I’ve listened to parents cheer their kids, offer tips on how to block shots, and yell at them to steal the ball. Most times, the rivalry on the court is palpable. Nudging leads to shoving. The kind of shoving where jabs to ribs ensure balls don’t land in hoops. Where goals aren't reached. Where bruises grow, hidden under jerseys right where someone's heart might beat. 

I've watched the hero (either one of my sons) look like he's going to lose something he's strived for all year... and I can't do anything but scream for him to not give up. 

I’ve listened to insults get thrown as often as the ball. Most times from the parents. And most times at the poor umpires. Emotion simmers with every tick of the clock and erupts at the sound of the buzzer. 

52 Dates for Writers asks me to soak up the drama and rivalry of a two-team sports fixture. To think about how evenly protagonists are matched against antagonists. Are they worthy opponents? Do I include secondary characters as cheerleaders, fans and supporting players? Who contributes to the game the most? 

And in the end... Are the fans, the readers, those twisting their toes in anticipation of a win... offered an exhilarating showdown? 

I really enjoyed looking at a basketball game as if it were a book in motion. I don't think I'll ever watch my boys play the same way again. 

No, I'll be monitoring my responses and remembering I need to throw my reader on the same bench alongside me ~ mother's heart cabooming as fast as the player in the spotlight... about to clinch the game in the final free throw. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Paula Vince ~ Imogen's Chance

It’s a pleasure to welcome fellow Aussie and award-winning author, Paula Vince to Ink Dots this week. Paula loves to evoke tears and laughter through her novels. A wife and homeschooling mother of three, she resides in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Her youth was brightened by great fiction and she’s on a mission to pay it forward. 

Her novel, Picking up the Pieces, won the religious fiction section of the 2011 International Book Awards. Best Forgotten, was winner of the 2011 CALEB Award in the fiction category and also recognized as the best overall entry for the year, chosen over memoirs, devotionals and general non-fiction. Paula’s books are a skillful blend of drama and romance tied together with elements of mystery and suspense. 

Paula is the author of Picking up the Pieces, The Risky Way Home, A Design of Gold and Best Forgotten. Her new novel, Imogen’s Chance, will be published in April, 2014. Paula is also one of the four authors of The Greenfield Legacy. 

Imogen’s Chance ~ She has given herself a chance to fix her personal history. But will old mistakes bring up new emotions?

Imogen Browne longs to make up for past mistakes before she can move on. She quietly resolves to help the Dorazio family, whose lives she accidentally upset. Her biggest challenge is Asher, the one person who may never forgive her. And he is facing a crisis of his own. Imogen must tread very carefully, as trying to fix things may well make them shatter.

A sensitive story about misplaced loyalty, celebrating life and falling in love. Can family secrets concealed with the best intentions bear the light of day?

Paula Say...

If I could explore anywhere in the world, it would be… a tour of the world’s most sacred sites. What a fascinating pilgrimage that would be. And it’s a good way to cover every continent of the world in one answer. That’s quite some wish list, Paula. I love how you swept the world in a few well planned steps. 

The best thing I did today was… answer these questions, so far. It’s still fairly early. Later this afternoon, I intend to go for a hike with my nine-year-old son. I love that our ‘conversation’ is the best thing you’ve done. I would guess hiking with your son beat it, though. :)

A Secret Pleasure of mine is… thinking of new scenes for novels I’ve finished reading and enjoyed. That itself is not the secret, as I’ve shared it before. Rather, the content of the daydreams themselves are secret. Many authors may be surprised to find out the things I have their characters saying and doing in my head next. 

I wish I could relive the day when I… woke up after my wedding night and embarked on the adventure of marriage. I’m not sure I handled some of the challenges of managing finances and raising a family as well as I could have, yet it all turned out to be great. I’d love the chance to live those years again, in hindsight. Wow... Paula that’s one of the best answers I’ve had so far. Many authors wish they could relive their wedding day, and for good reason, but you’ve put a different slant on that by revisiting the morning after. What a sweet moment in a marriage. First morning. First day. No wonder you’re a writer! 

When I was a child I dreamed I would… be a high-profile journalist who would travel around the world and interview celebrities. That lifestyle sounds too stressful and challenging to me now. I think I’m happy with the style of writing I do.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but… part of writing Imogen’s Chance was to help me work through some of my own issues. Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with the concept of trusting God in all things. Writing this novel was therapeutic and helped change my own outlook. I’ve had similar experience with writing myself. There’s always a big chuck of what God is doing on our lives, in the pages of our stories. There’s a travel the world theme happening here, Paula. You’re determined to  globe-trot one way or another, aren't’ you? 

Thanks so much for visiting with us, Paula. I wish you wonderful success with Imogen’s Chance.


Ink Dots Friends ~ Paula’s offering a copy of Imogen’s Chance for one lucky winner. To be in the draw, please leave a comment below. Tell us how you would like to travel the world if you had the chance. As a photographer, journalist, tourist...?

I’d like to travel the world in the company of my Beloved who already hops from one country to another for work. I’d be happy to follow him through Asia, (where he is right now) and tuck myself into a quiet corner of each hotel, near the coffee barrista, and write until my Beloved returns. (Having done this before, I can vouch for the author thrill. It never gets old)

How about you? Share your world travel dreams and I'll announce the winner in the comment thread on Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, March 21, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 12

The track to Blackburn Lake
Feed The Ducks

In my part of the world, feeding the ducks isn't always easy. 

First, you need to find them. 

After our long Aussie summer, some flocks have abandoned their watering holes for lusher grounds. And when you do find them, chances are the local authorities will have already stepped in with restrictions on feeding the wildlife. 

Well, I found my ducks for this week's challenge. They populate the pretty Blackburn Lake and were out on the water, cooling off in the early autumn sun. That's them, the little black dots in the background before they ventured closer. 

Blackburn Lake

But the Do Not Feed The Ducks signs put any birdseed throwing to rest. I knew this might be a possibility, given all the talk recently about the best menu items for lake-fed birds.  

Frozen peas. Earthworms. Chopped lettuce. 

Well, I had none of that in my pocket, but that didn't stop me dragging a dear friend to the lake after a lazy lunch date. 

The challenge...? To observe wildlife interact with each other. Watch how they communicate. Imagine the dialogue they might exchange. 

Really, ducks do that? I wasn't sure. 

Lucky for me I could not have visited with a better accomplice. My lunch date is a skilled voices girl and demonstrates all the conversations her dog might offer, if Koko the pup had human voice to do so. 

She can bring any voiceless creature to life. 

(My friend and I are also quite brilliant at impersonations of folks we've known for years, but we keep those voices well hidden. )

Watching the ducks from the viewing deck
Same thing went for this week's Eurasian Coots and Chestnut Teals...they had no voice.

I don't think we heard a quack from one of them. If they communicated at all, it was through silent bird whispers, lost to me. Instead, they duck-dived for unseen morsels at the bottom of the lake and emerged with hardly a drop on their slick backs. 

Reminding me how often 
my dear friend has counselled me over the years to let troubles fall away like water off a duck's back when bumps in the road threatened to overcome us, relying instead on prayer to voice the deepest aches. The number of times we've shared griefs, only to be cheered with a clever voice and funny story. The way we've encouraged each other to let things go, tangled up in our young mothers' hearts. 

And the writer in me remembered afresh...

there's a time to loosen the tongue in song or goofy role play, 

a time for venting in the ear of a trusted friend, 

and time to cast our voice at the feet of Him who hears and carries our griefs. 

Each voice a different sound. Sometimes, even no sound. Like our duck friends. But all part of the dialogue of well-rounded characters ~ spoken or unspoken. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend, dear friends.
May you be the voice of encouragement to someone's heart. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Joyce Magnin ~ Maybelle In Stitches

I'm welcoming Joyce Magnin to Ink Dots, this week. Joyce is the author of nine books. Seven books for adults including the award-winning Bright’s Pond series, the Harriet Beamer novels, Maybelle in Stitches (Quilts of Love Series) and two middle grade novels, Carrying Mason and Cake-Love, Chickens and Taste of Peculiar. Her debut novel, The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow (Bright’s Pond) was named one of the top five titles of 2009 by Library Journal. Her work has received much critical acclaim. Joyce is also a frequent conference speaker and teacher.

Maybelle in Stitches ~ Maybelle Kazinzki can’t sew. She was after all, the only girl in the seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of the A-Line dress they were supposed to make. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house she gets the crazy idea to finish it—somehow, come heck or high water. She thinks it will help fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden, is serving overseas during World War II.

Her recently departed mother’s quilt is made from scraps of material Maybelle traces back to her mother’s childhood, her grandmother’s childhood and her own childhood. She tries to add one of Holden’s stripes to it but the sewing is not going well and neither is her life. After receiving some harsh news, Maybelle's faith falters and she puts the quilt away and stops trusting God. But God is faithful- no matter what. And it'll take a group of neighborhood women armed with quilting needles to help Maybelle believe that.

Joyce Says... 

If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... Scotland. It’s my heritage and I would love to wander the streets and castles in search of ancestors dead or alive. Scotland must be on many wish lists. It comes up a lot in answer to this question. I hope you get to visit there soon, Joyce. 

The best thing I did today is...
watched my son eat chocolate cake at Ikea before buying him a new desk. 

A secret pleasure of mine is...
I love role-playing games because they’re all about story, characterization and growth, overcoming evil, saving the world.

I wish I could relive the day when I... learned I was pregnant with my first child.

When I was a child I dreamed I would... write novels and live on Mars. 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but...I can’t sew even though I wrote a book about quilting. I’ve never quilted and I have a birthmark in the shape of a bunny rabbit. Thanks for visiting with us Joyce. I'm glad your childhood dream of becoming a writer came true. Sorry the Mars quest hasn't eventuated. Hang in there...You never know... :)

Ink Dots readers...who's the best crafter you know? 

Around here, it's my darling Mum. She'll persist until she's mastered any stitch work or knitting project that takes her fancy. She's knitting fingerless gloves for Ink Dots readers right now. (Stay tuned for your chance to win). 

How about you? Who's the expert with the needles and threads in your life? Tell us in the comment thread below (even if that master crafter is you) and you'll be in the draw to win Joyce Magning's Maybelle in Stitches

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, March 14, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 11

Hedge Maze ~ Healesville
Find Your Way Out Of A Maze

There's no way I'd set foot in a maze without a friend. Not with my potential to end up stranded in a twisted labyrinth.

So for this week's 52 Dates for Writers challenge, I took along the best friend I've got. My Beloved. 

We celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary recently with an excursion to Melbourne's foothills. After a slow breakfast, Hedgend Maze beckoned from around the bend, and dared us to put our minds and legs to the test. 

The author in me was to consider the paths I carve out for my characters. Are they signposted with foreshadowing? Do they lead to satisfying/frustrating outcomes? Do dead ends tip emotions (and readers) into new and challenging ways forward? 

Keen for the adventure and author experience, we bought our entry ticket from the lady behind the counter. She wore one of those, have fun smiles that held the wisdom of seeing those who actually exit... days later. 

Undeterred, we shot her our best just watch us return in half an hour smiles and headed off to conquer the maze ~ the 1200m cypress maze, riddled with clues to a secret message. What a great way to spend a morning, walking through a pretty maze, collecting puzzle pieces. Fun...right?

Sort of. 

For the first hour.

Scattered in corners we only found by sheer luck, signposts revealed hidden numbers and letters snuck in by those who keep the attraction well manicured for guests. Planted with such stealth so we wouldn't stumble upon each clue with ease, we found ourselves encountering the same corners. The same clues we'd already pencilled onto our visitor's map. Every few turns lead to the same area we thought we'd walked miles to escape. Until we faced each other and knew exactly why the front gate lady smiled. 

At the 44624m mark, we were still in a tangle of well clipped bushes. By now, every row looked the same. Hadn't we already stopped here 15 minutes ago? Yes... see... we have this clue. Already. 

And so began the backtracking, to where we thought, perhaps, we needed to turn right. Or was it go straight?

Armed with the desire to not be beaten by a labyrinth of cypress plants we shuffled on. Only three clues eluded us. Why couldn't we find the remaining pieces to the puzzle?

The slow realisation it was past midday and the winery/restaurant down the road offered outdoor tables and chairs with little need to calculate anything beyond menu choices... spurred us on. 

An older couple passed us with only one clue left to find. They leaned into the orange scented hedge as if it were their best friend. "Don't give up." They glowed with achievement just within their reach. "We're almost there, you're not far behind."

But we didn't know where to find the path to almost there. I stood on a corner while my Beloved ploughed right into an already visited dead end. He followed my voice back and we tried again. 

This time I attempted a leaf strewn path while he waited. A sharp left, another sharp left, a twist and a zigzag and I was back in his ams. Minus our clue. 

We started to think of names we might call the maze designers. They weren't complimentary. We focused on their mischievous ability to hold us right where they wanted us. They'd set us on a course where the end-gate remained as far off as the hope of a vine covered Autumn lunch table. 

We consulted our clues, lined up in a row with three key letters missing. 

And that's when we found it. 

All we had to do was sound out the hidden message, and the letters jumped off our tongue and fit the puzzle. In a wild pencil scribble the answers spilled onto the page and we were done! (I won't share the mystery, for those who might someday wish to visit Hedgend Maze.) 

Glory, Hallelujah, we'd used our guessing skills to end the quest and now, victorious and smug, we headed off hand in hand for whatever the cooks had simmering in their pans. 

We'd truimphed. Not how we imagined, that would be too obvious... but we'd found a satisfying solution. 

End of story. 
Happy Ending of Story.

We passed the smiling lady ~ the urge to poke her in the eye with a cypress stick long forgotten. We liked her now. She'd opened the gate and let us in to a fun ride. And we'd returned happier for the adventure. 

As an author, will I do this to you? Will I mess with your heart and trap you in a corner? Will I let you think there's clues to collect only to release you into a sweet ending just when you think there's no more answers to be found? 

You bet I will.

That's why I do these challenges. They remind me of my author obligation to consider my characters' journeys through the messy maze I create... because in the end... it's the same maze my reader will follow. 

Hopefully, that will be you someday. 

Celebrating 24 years of  'cheek to cheek'

Have you ever found your way through a living hedge maze? I'd love to know where it is. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,