Sunday, January 31, 2010

What makes you happy?

One of the blessings of blogging is the many new friends I have made in the last few months. We chat about the things which are important to us or just interesting, and encourage one another in our writing and in our walk with God. The greatest gift has been those who uphold me in prayer, and whose prayer requests have in turn, been shared with me.

One dear friend,
Raymonde from Every Day I Walk With You

has generously awarded some of her blogging friends a Happy 101 award. I am one of the blessed ones to have received the honor of being her friend and award recipient. Raymond loves life and uses her God given gift of photography to capture the beauty of God's world around her London home and abroad. She has made a list of ten things she loves, and encourages me to do the same. So here goes:

1    The Lord Jesus and His Word
2    My beautiful family
3    Reading
4    Writing
5    Researching history
6    Rain
7    Baking
8    Massages
9    Hugging Babies
10  Antique Shops

Thanks Raymonde for encouraging me to draw the curtain back on my little world here in Melbourne. If only there had been 11 things to list. Then I could have added chocolate covered licorice! I hope you have enjoyed this peek at some of the things which put a smile on my face and make my day a happy one!

Perhaps you might like to discover something about my dear friend Jalana Franklin. It's her turn next, as she is my recipient of the Happy 101 Award.

Don't forget to enter my book giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Amanda Deed's new book The Game.
You can do this by scrolling down to my previous post. Entries close whenever the sun sets last on Feb 1. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Game by Amanda Deed

My First Book Giveaway  
 The Game by Amanda Deed

Some of the books I took away with me to the beach this year have come back with signs of having been well loved. They are the sort of book you don't want to put away when the rest of the family is splashing around in the water or digging huge holes along the shoreline. These books return to the real world with the marks of summer - tiny grains of sand in the spine and droplets of watermelon juice stains on the pages.
One such book is The Game by Melbourne writer Amanda Deed.  

It's my pleasure to introduce Amanda, a new Australian fiction writer. Amanda's debut novel The Game was released in August 2009 by Ark House. Set in Colonial Australia, it caught my eye instantly with the promise of romance and the tussle of love verses faith. I was hooked before I even opened the front cover. Here is what the back cover has to say:  

 Mr Jonathon Fordham, the most eligible bachelor in Sydney and heir to a noble title in England, treats matters of the heart like a game. Living in the newly forged Australian Colony in 1844, Jack Fordham buries his past beneath an indifferent facade. In spite of his rakish reputation, Jack’s dashing smile and suave flattery would melt any woman’s heart. Any that is, it seems, except for Miss Margaret Wingrove. The beautiful governess is strangely unmoved by the nonpareil’s many attractions, nor his beguiling charm. When Meg does not fall into his arms as he presumes she will, his game of pursuit begins in earnest. As Meg continues to resist his advances, Jack’s determination to win her intensifies.  But can he risk exposing his true heart to find the love he desires before his game unravels? And can he embrace, or will he simply deny the obstacle which stands between them…her faith?

I've had the privilege of getting to know Amanda over the summer, and hearing about her writing journey.  She's a kindred spirit who loves the Lord and wants to encourage others through her writing to know Him too. It doesn't hurt that she loves all things old world!

What prompted you to write this book?
I wanted to write about sexual purity - the benefits of abstinence vs the consequences of promiscuity. I wanted to encourage people to think carefully about their choice of a partner as well.

What made you choose the setting?
At first I had set it in modern society. The leading man was a rich executive with a penthouse apartment--very elligible but a bit of a womaniser. When I woke up to the fact that I have a deep respect for the old-fashioned, I quickly shifted the whole story back 150 years or so. Sydney, being the earliest settled, seemed the logical place to start.

What do you want readers to take away from this story?
As mentioned earlier, I hope they take the message about sexual purity and relationships. I also hope they have a great time reading it and, perhaps for some, hear the gospel for the first time.

What’s the most interesting historical fact you unearthed while researching?
Hmm. Now I have to think! Probably it would be about a revival in 1840 in Paramatta which I didn't even use in the book. Thinking back, I could have used poetic license and messed with the space/time continuum a little and used it anyway. I read it in the autobiography of Rev. John Watsford, entitled Glorious Gospel Triumphs: as seen in my life and work in Fiji and Australasia. Here is a quote: "I prayed, and then my two friends prayed, and oh! the power of God that came upon the people, who were overwhelmed by it in every part of the room! And what a cry for mercy! It was heard by the passers-by in the street, some of whom came running in to see what was the matter, and were smitten down at the door in great distress. The clock of a neighbouring church struck twelve before we could leave the meeting. How many were saved I cannot tell. Day after day and week after week the work went on, and many were converted." Fascinating stuff!

What’s the next project for Amanda Deed?
I have just completed a manuscript retelling Ezekiel 16 as a medieval romance and am aiming to see this published soon. I am also working on a couple of books centered around the Victorian gold rush.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you now? He is teaching me to step out of my comfort zone (which is to hide behind my computer!) and also to leave everything in His hands. Learning to trust and be patient in His timing is always a challenge too.

Are you intrigued by this new writer? I am. Amanda has an enthusiasm for life, and the Giver of Life which comes out in her storytelling. Like me she believes in happy endings, but the twists and turns she will take you on to get to the ending are nothing short of amazing. 

To be in the running to win a brand new copy of The Game simply leave a comment below and I will draw one lucky winner on Monday 1st February. This is my first ever book giveaway at Ink Dots and I am so excited to be showcasing a talented and promising writer such as Amanda Deed. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Home Again

It's time to brush the sand away, buy school shoes and dead head the summer roses. In less then 2 weeks schools will reopen and most Australian families will be back to familiar routines. It takes me some time to move on from holiday mode. Sleeping in is a luxury we have all enjoyed as well as catching up with friends. And I couldn't neglect to mention the wonderful weeks we spent at Phillip Island enjoying the sun and water. While I am sorry to see the summer holiday routine come to an end, I will be glad to see my children enter another school year with all the possibilities and adventures ahead. When routines are re-established, we know we are Home Again.

Famous 19th century Australian painter Frederick McCubbin painted a scene in 1884 he called Home Again. The painting depicts the return of what could be a miner to his family home. While the dog appears happy enough for his master's return, the wife strikes an interesting pose. Is she happy her husband has returned? Did she ever expect him to? There are many layers to this story if you look at the picture carefully.

On a quick trip to my local shops this week I came across a copy of this painting. Displaced from the wall where it once belonged, it sat upside down in a cluster of orphan prints in a dusty thrift shop. And it called to me. For a few dollars I made it mine and it will hang in my study along with other 19th century treasures I am in the habit of picking up along the way.

I'm drawn to it because it shows the inside of a home in the time period I love to research. And there is a love story somewhere in there too. Do you think this homecoming will go smoothly? Is the wife happy or stunned to see her husband return? How long do you think he has been away?

My homecoming, back to blogging, is something I return to with anticipation! One of my writing goals this year is to continue to write here and maintain the relationships with my wonderful blogging friends. The other is to complete my manuscript by the end of May. Yes, there we are. I have said it, out loud now. My self imposed deadline is the last day of May.

I know I have a little catching up to do with all the blogs I follow. There are many writing goals being worked on right now and I'm sure I will read about them all as I make the rounds of my favorite blog sites. My 2010 has been slow in getting started, and I'm ok with that. January means holidays here, and there's a real need to unwind and soak in the sun. But as for me and my house... we look to 2010 to do our best in achieving the goals God has set before us and to bring Him glory in all we do.

Joshua 24:15     As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.