Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Open Library

Ever wanted to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast, just to get your hands on that incredible library? To be in that room dedicated to books and stories, too many to count, shelves too high you cannot reach the top? 

Soon enough, your dream may come true. But you'll have to work at it too, if the good people at Open Library have anything to do with it. 

Their aim is to create an internet site where every book ever written has it's own web page. You read that right. Every. Single. Book. Ever written.... with its own page. And this is where the library doors swing open, for YOU.  

Readers are invited to add their favourites, if they're not already in the catalogue. Writers are encouraged to list their works and in seconds, you too can join literary greats and those destined for greatness, and all those in between. 

Titles include e-books and because of this, online reading and borrowing of some kind is possible. (I haven't explored this option yet but you may find a great read in seconds.)

We start in the year 1008 with a Hebrew Bible, (unless you have something older to add). From there, we wind through the history of the world, right up to whatever a member may have added in the last 4 seconds. You will find a big hit of books, my friends. So far, over 20 million. And you're allowed to add to this ever growing number. 

Move over Beast, your library just got dwarfed. 

So what are you waiting for? Go add your favourites. Grab your own masterpieces and let the world know you're out there too. I spotted some of my favourite Christian authors when I skirted around the shelves. And you could be next.

Come, scratch your place into the history of stories. That top shelf is now within our reach. So get going... add something. 
The Open Library is .... open. One web page for every book.

If you get lost there, that's ok. When you find your way out, come back here and share the tale with me. Tell me what you added.

Enjoy. And you're welcome.
(photo source - pinterest)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Carla Olsen Gade

A native New Englander from the US, Carla Olson Gade, grew up in an historic Massachusetts town and now lives in rural Maine with her husband and two young adult sons. Her love for writing and eras gone by turned her attention to writing historical Christian romance. She is the author of The Shadow Catcher's Daughter and the novella “Carving a Future” in Colonial Courtships. Carla is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Throughout the years, Carla has been a conference planner and taught many ministry groups, workshops, and courses, presenting on Biblical topics, genealogy, writing, and adult literacy. 

Colonial Courtships ~ Unexpected adventure catches the Ingersoll brothers by surprise-and brings unexpected love into their lives. Nathaniel has his sights set on becoming a master figurehead carver, until he risks everything for a woman. Jonathan's merchant trade and his new love are in jeopardy from a brother's animosity. Micah expects to settle down to peace after a life of fighting on the frontier but finds a young woman hiding from an abductor. Alden is press-ganged into tending an ailing naval captain, then catches sight of the captain's fetching niece. Will the unexpected end in four courtships?

The novella collection begins with Carving a Future, set in 1753. Ship figurehead carver Nathaniel Ingersoll has apprenticed for many years under his Uncle Phineas and hopes to become a master ship carver in his own right. Indentured servant Constance Starling arrives on the Connecticut coast too ill for anyone to accept. Has Nathaniel jeopardized the future he has worked hard to achieve for the welfare of a weakly servant?

Welcome back to Ink Dots, Carla. It's a thrill to feature you and your books again. For those who don't know you, tell us who the most important people in your life right now. My husband, Brad, and two sons, Justin (25) and Brandon (24). We are a close-knit family, and this includes our son’s girlfriends. Also, my mother is very important to me as my best friend and my first editor for my novels.

What inspired you to write Carving a FutureI wanted to write about Colonial America for Abingdon Fiction’s Quilts of Love series. That is one of my favorite historical eras. My quilt story is about a woman quilter who works for a mantua-maker (dress maker). The costuming and quilt research was fascinating. 

How do you choose your characters’ names? I often research my family genealogical records for interesting names that suit the period that I am writing about. Another resource I use is vital records (birth and marriage) for the location and time period. Many of these have been transcribed and are available online.

Where would you go if you could visit anywhere in the word? I’d love to visit Sweden and Norway with my husband and two young adult sons. My paternal relatives are from Sweden and my husband’s are from Norway. I think it would be a fantastic trip that we all could enjoy together.

What’s next for Carla Olson Gade? I’m currently working on two book contracts. The first, Pattern for Romance, is a novel set in Colonial America in Boston, Massachusetts prior to the American Revolution. This is book #9 of Abingdon Fiction’s Quilts of Love series. It will release in August of 2013. The next one is a novella entitled Season of Love in a Barbour Fiction anthology called Mistletoe Memories. That will be out in September 2013.

Until then, where can we find you on the internet? I blog and am on facebook and twitter. I also have boards at Pinterest and feature each of my books with bonus pictures and information. The easiest way to find me is to start at my website and connect with me from there. 

Thanks for joining us today, Carla. I'm already intrigued by Constance Starling, the indentured servant, and her hero Nathaniel Ingersoll. But then, I've already read the first chapter!
If you'd like to know more about Carla's characters and their adventure together, you too can read the first pages of Carving a Future right here. Take a trip with me to the Connecticut River in 1753. For the chance to win your own copy, please leave a comment below. Tell us if you've ever taken a journey by ship. I did a quick voyage from the mainland of Fiji to a nearby island on my honeymoon, and I know for certain I don't have sea legs. How about you? I'll announce the winner in the comment here in Friday. Good luck! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I've been asked before, so I'm going to put it here for my dear blogging friends... 

No, Australians do not celebrate Thanksgiving. The holiday is not a part of our history or traditions... but I'm a fan of the concept and would be cooling a few pumpkin pies on the kitchen table right about now, if the day belonged to us as well. 

Much of what I know about Thanksgiving comes straight from television families - The Brady Bunch, the Waltons, the Barone family. And Charlie Brown. 

Courtesy of Pinterest, I'm quite familiar with the Thanksgiving Table. (How could I not?) I think I could pull a snazzy menu together without too much trouble, although I'm not sure I'd have any luck decorating with russet, tangerine and pilgrim's purple with late spring at my door. (Wait... I think pilgrim's purple is in the garden, but it's looking decidedly summery beside my rose petals.)

Thanks to Facebook, I've watched friends count down the days and name their blessings one by one. No fancy table settings there, no step by step instructions for the perfectly cooked gobbler. Only words. Sincere and from the deepest part of who they are, for all God's blessings and His presence in their lives. 

Every day this month, I've followed these friends as they've laid a path of thankfulness. A borderless table of hands pressed in thanks. 
And so I'll add my own today. 

I'm thankful for those who pray for me each morning. For those who share God's heart through their own. Those who laugh with me and those who stop to cry. For those who forgive and those who forget. I'm thankful for those who do none of these things and still fill my days with all things sweet. 

And I'm thankful for you, as you slip here to read me. For every single comment and encouragement. 

I am thankful for my Saviour - the greatest author and finisher I know.


So now I'm thinking...Who says Australians don't stop for Thanksgiving? I guess some of us do...

If you're celebrating, many blessings for your special day. If you're not sitting down at a Thanksgiving table, you're welcome to sit at mine. Come, share your thankful heart with me. 
(Photo Source - The Murmuring Cottage)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Elaine Marie Cooper - Deer Run Saga

Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of The Legacy of Deer Run, as well as The Road to Deer Run and The Promise of Deer Run. Elaine is also a contributing writer for Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson. She is a wife, mom, Grammie to triplets, and a registered nurse.

The Legacy of Deer Run - The Year is 1800. A young man makes weapons for the defense of America, still a fledgling nation. He also protects his heart from the allure of a young woman who seems so far above his station in life that he cannot win her.

The lady fights her own war against loneliness and grief. Despite her finery and airs, she is drawn to the young armory worker, who is distant yet disarming.

Love is the not the only entanglement. The nation's enemies are afoot. They creep within the very walls where America’s defenses are being forged. Who are they? When will they strike? Who will survive their terrorism?

Intrigue of the heart and intrigue of the times are only part of this compelling story—Book 3 of the Deer Run Saga. This series finale is a gripping mix of romance and deception, faith and forgiveness, transgression and trial.

Welcome to Ink Dots, Elaine. Tell us about your family. I’ve been married to Steve for 37 years and we have two grown sons and triplet grandchildren that are two years old. I LOVE being a GiGi! We had a lovely daughter that passed away nine years ago at the age of 24 from a brain tumor. We will always miss her. I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. Such a tragic loss. I can only begin to image how that changes a family... 

How did this book come to be written by you? The Legacy of Deer Run was the third in my Deer Run Saga, a series that covers three generations of a family starting during the American Revolution. I was inspired to write this saga based on my own ancestors but it is fictional. Although it is Book 3, Legacy reads well as a standalone novel. All three sound so interesting.

What’s the most fascinating thing you discovered in your research for this book? The details about working in the Springfield Armory were fascinating to me. I had never considered all that went into the production of muskets in the 1800’s and I was in awe of the hard work! I can only imagine. Armory is not something we encounter everyday. I can't wait to learn more... 

 Speaking of learning about something new... have you been to Australia?  I have never actually visited your beautiful country except through photos and movies but I would LOVE to see it in person. When I was about twelve years old, I had a penpal from Australia named Colleen Gannon but we fell out of touch and I have no idea where she is now. If you’re reading this, Colleen, “Hello, from your old friend Elaine Mueller!” That's sweet, Elaine. I hope Colleen finds her way here someday and looks you up again.

So what’s on the horizon for Elaine Marie Cooper? I have written an historical fiction that takes place on the first day of the American Revolution that touches me deeply because it was a battle that occurred in my hometown of Arlington, Massachusetts. It is so little known yet played a significant role in the war that day. It is currently being considered by a publisher. I will also be breaking away temporarily from my historicals to write a non-fiction about my daughter. Wow, I'll be praying for you as you work on the story of your daughter. I can imagine that will take some courage. God bless you, as you work through your next few projects.  

While we wait for them... where can we find you on the internet? I'm at...

Thanks for being my guest this week, Elaine. I've enjoyed getting to know you here and look forward to hearing more about your writing. 


If you'd like a taste of Elaine's Legacy of Deer Run, please leave a comment below and you'll be in the running to win your own copy. Tell us if you've got multiples in your family, or if someone close to you has had two or more babies at once. For years we didn't think multiples ran in any of our family-tree branches, then my Beloved's sister had twins... a boy and a girl. Such fun! I bet Elaine's having a ball with triplets at her knee. Anyone else bouncing more than one baby right now...? I'll announce the winner in the comment thread below on Friday. Good luck!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Garden Surrender

There has been much industry in our garden today. Veggie seedlings have arrived at Crabapple House with baby promises of summer and autumn harvests. Even with gloves on, I've managed to blacken my fingernails into something the most ardent of gardeners would admire. 

But in the midst of celebrated additions, rotting manure and hammering in of pea trellises... we had to cull a favourite bush. 

My rosemary plant, grand sentinel of the herb garden, gave up her spot for a trio of smaller herbs eager to flourish. Poor rosemary... she'd filled and spilled over her corner spot for six years and desperately needed a pruning. Hacked right back, she frightened us. All that remained resembled the gnarled fingers of some fairytale witch, and not at all in keeping with the tender leaves around her. 

So we dug her out and threw her away. But not before I took a healthy cluster of cuttings. My hope, is these young tips will enjoy the next few weeks in a kitchen water-jar. If all goes as God allows we will soon have roots on these slips, and little rosemaries will live another day. 

Sometimes God allows us to flourish in one place for a season. Then He moves us on to somewhere else, and only He can fathom the why. I've had moments in life where I thought I'd found a niche and made myself comfortable. But God always knows better. When He sees us faltering and in need of a prune, He brings in the best surgical secateurs. Sometimes we just need a healthy trimming of all that's getting in our way. Other times God transplants us to a new garden plot. Unpleasant enough in the uprooting but vital for our development.   

And then there are days when He splits us into pieces. Not to harm us, but to refine us. To strip us down to our tender-most shoots, and give us another chance to bloom. 

I hope to have a dozen healthy rosemarie plants by Christmas. Some I'll keep, others I'd like to share with friends. Only complete surrender to my pruning shears allows that hope. And only complete surrender to God allows the shaping of our hearts. 

Do you need to allow God to snip something from your life? To deal with the dry twigs keeping you from growing as you should. Is He calling you to surrender? 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend, dear friends.

(photo source - the murmuring cottage)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Golden Keyes Parson

Golden Keyes Parsons writes historical fiction, and is also a popular retreat/conference speaker. Her highly acclaimed Darkness to Light Series chronicled the journey of her French Huguenot ancestors in 17th century France. Her novel, His Steadfast Love, a Civil War novel set in Texas, released November 2011. Her newest book, Trapped! The Adulterous Woman, is the first in a novella series entitled, Hidden Faces, Portraits of Nameless Women in the Gospels. Golden lives in Waco, TX, with her husband, Blaine.

Trapped - A trap has been set ... by her own foolish heart. A stranger approaches Anna's house in the oppressive heart of the late afternoon before Sabbath. Shielding her eyes against the penetrating rays of the sun, she recognises the familiar gait and realizes he is no stranger. Her hand trembles as, in a moment of panic, she fleetingly entertains thoughts of grabbing her baby and running. But there is no place to run. Her mind flashes back to the events leading up to the present, and the encounter with Jesus that changed her life and set her on the path of forgiveness. 

Welcome to Ink Dots, Golden. Tell us a little about your family. My husband and I have been married for 50 years. We have three grown daughters, eight grandchildren (seven of them boys!) and four great-grandchildren. But of course, I am way too young for that :) We are a very close-knit family and get together as often as we can. Sports activities, band concerts and plays keep us busy with such a big crew. We are both retired pastors and now live in the town where our alma mater is located (Baylor University in Waco TX). We love attending their sports events and being a part of the alumni association there. You're absolutely right! Far too young to be a great grandma! 

I'm a real fan of Biblical fiction. What is the main theme you wish readers to take away when they read TrappedAll of my books have the faithfulness of God at the heart of the story. I would like my readers to come away with the assurance that we can trust God because he is faithful.

If you could follow one historical person for one day and one night, who would it be, and why? I would like to follow Abraham Lincoln around for a day and night. My last full-length novel, His Steadfast Love, was about the Civil War. The courage of that man intrigued me. He made unpopular decisions time after time that held this country together despite the advice and warnings of his counselors and advisors. That the hand of God was on him is so evident.

Have you been to Australia? I've never been to Australia. Truthfully I know very little about your country and would welcome the opportunity to learn about it. Perhaps we can trade books. I'd love to read about the Civil War, and you might like to read about Australia in the 1870s in my book The Everlasting. (wink)

What are you working on now? I just finished the second novella, Alone, The Woman At The Well, in my Nameless Women in the Gospels series. I will start on the third one in a few weeks, Broken, The Woman Who Anointed Jesus's Feet. They all sound intriguing. I can't wait to hear more about your upcoming releases. 

Where can we find you on the internet?

I love Biblical fiction. If you're like me, you might like a sneak peek into Golden's first chapter of Trapped. Here's some of chapter one. If you'd like more, (and why wouldn't you?)... please leave a comment below. One lucky winner will receive their own copy of Trapped. Tell us if you've read Biblical fiction before and what you liked about it. Is a trip into the shadows of ancient days something you'd like to make? I'll announce the winner here in the comment thread on Friday. Good luck.


Thanks for joining us today, Golden. I look forward to exploring your stories and hearing more about you in the days to come. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Marry Me...?

As a romance writer, I love to hear about marriage proposals. And this week, one of my daughter's friends, Natalie, treated us with amazing news. Her sister is getting married, (insert squeal!!) and Natalie had helped her future brother-in-law plan the surprise proposal. Out came her phone with all the sneaky photos she'd taken from behind bushes, to document the happy occasion including the Marry Me sign made of fireworks. 

Yep, you read that right! The guy proposed by saying... "Will you..." and then let the sky say the rest as it lit up with the question... "Marry Me?"

Sigh... so romantic. And worthy of a Disney-Production stamp, I'm sure, as the current trend in proposals is nothing short of a mini extravaganza. Where hero takes heroine's hand and together they enjoy an adventure limited only by the guy's imagination and wallet. 

I've heard of proposals where the bride-to-be is handed a plane ticket at five in the morning and told to make her way across Australia on a treasure hunt. Her prize...? Her Beloved, on bended knee against a tropical sunset with a dirty big diamond and goofy grin. 

Mind-boggling, behind-the-scenes plotting occurs when romantic notions grip those young and in love. How could a girl say no, when her guy's orchestrated the ringing of every bell and whistle? When the flash mob's made up of her family and friends? No siree... these brides can hardly see through their happy tears. Their yes is almost guaranteed, as the finale and reward for such well delivered theatre. 

My proposal was sweet. And private. Just me and my Beloved, (a few interlopers who didn't hang around) and a pretty backdrop of local riverbank and autumn leaves.
But fast forward and you'll find many girls swept quite literally onto a stage with not one, but a few cameras, angled to capture their every gasp. These days, brass bands, circus performers and famous celebrities all chime in to lend a hand, in the modern day marriage proposal. (It's true. Check out Youtube - Surprise Proposals, but have the tissues at hand.)

I love a well planned surprise... on someone else. I would wilt a little to be at the receiving end, no matter how delirious the moment. But that's just me. (I'm a first born. I blame it on that.)

However, if the well intentioned other half of one of my children invited me to be part of their proposal, I wouldn't waste a minute getting to a flash mob rehearsal. That would be so much fun!

Congratulations Maryann and John. May God bless all your days together. 

How about you? Know of any amazing wedding proposals? Would you like to be surprised on a grand scale like some of these lucky brides, or are you the blushing type who prefers candlelight for two?

(Photo Source - David Georgy)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Take Me Away...

My Ink Dots guest this week, Patty Smith Hall, was inspired by a scene in Band of Brothers (one of my son's favourite series) for her current release, Hearts in Hiding

Drover's Run - MacLeod's Daughters
And when asked about her desire to travel to Australia, she mentioned the setting of McLeod's Daughters as one of the destinations she'd like to visit. 

I guess those of us who love stories, don't stop at reading them. We escape into scenes just as easily when they're depicted in TV shows and movies. They shape what we know and feel about the world around us and create longings for landscapes far from home. 

Ma and Pa - Little House on the Prairie 
If I could slip into a show to taste a life far removed from my own, I would find it hard to choose between two favourites. But a run around with this little girl would fulfil a childhood fantasy. 

Little House of the Prairie filled many of my television hours. Half-pint was as much a part of my childhood as anyone real. Like many deeply loved characters, I felt I knew them as well as the flesh and blood people in my world. And, boy... did I love Anne (and Gilbert) from Anne of Green Gables!

Anne - With an E

When seasons ended, the wait for new episodes could not have dragged more if they'd been loaded onto a limping ship across the Pacific. 

These days, the wait is almost as bad for Downton Abbey. I see pictures of the latest episodes posted on Facebook, along with the thoughts of those who get to watch them.... many months before I will. Australian devotees know to load up on current episodes and watch them online. Or buy the whole series from overseas sellers. 

I like to wait. To watch each week as a new chapter unfolds. Somehow, it reminds me of my childhood Sunday nights when we would come home from church. I'd slip into pyjamas, gather my plate of Vegemite toast, and nestle in front of the TV for a hour of Walnut Grove or Prince Edward Island. Or anywhere else, my imagination craved. 

How about you? What favourite TV show or movie location would you like to visit? 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Patty Smith Hall

Patty Smith Hall has been making up stories to keep herself occupied since her parents forced her on boring Sunday drives into the Georgia countryside when she was too young to stay home by herself. Now she's happy to share her wild imagination and love of history with others, including her husband of 29 years, Danny, two smart and gorgeous daughters, and a Yorkie that she spoils like a grandbaby. She resides in North Georgia.

Hearts In HidingEngineer Edie Michaels loves her life—she has a good job, close friends, even a chance at romance with former soldier Beau Daniels. But she could lose everything if her secret comes out that she's the German daughter of a devoted Nazi.

And when her father sends spies to force her loyalty, everything Edie values is at risk.

Time in a Nazi POW camp changed army medic Beau Daniels. When he discovers a letter of Edie's written in German, he can't help his suspicions. Is she truly the woman he's started to love? Or has she been the enemy all along? With Nazis on Edie's trail, the pair must fight for truth, for survival—and for love.

Welcome to Ink Dots, Patty. It's great to have you visit with us this week. Where are you from and who do you live with? I’m a Southern girl, having been born and raised about fifty miles outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I live with Dan, my husband of 29 years and our youngest daughter who is attending college nearby, and feel very blessed to have my extended family--including my 91 year old grandma!--nearby.  

Tell us how you came to write Hearts In Hiding. A few years ago, as I was researching my first book, my husband and I watched the WWII series, ‘Band of Brothers.’ In it, an American soldier comes across a group of German POWs and is surprised to find one from his hometown in Oregon. The whole idea of a parent sending their child to defend a country they’d left behind intrigued me, especially when I discover young women were sent to Germany too. Thus, Edwina Michaels was born. 

WWII series are really popular at the moment. If you could have lived at another time in history, what would it be and why? That’s a tough one! Being a history buff, I’d love to visit them all. But I have to say if given the choice, I’d go with the early 20th century. It still had that feel of Gilded Age civility while the world was changing, becoming smaller with the spread of telephones, transportation and such.

Have you been to Australia?  No, I’ve never had the privilege of visiting Australia but if I had the opportunity, I’ve always been interested in visiting the small towns and ranches like the ones I saw in ‘McLeod’s Daughters.’ The settings remind me of some of the stories my grandmother has told me about growing up on a farm.

How has writing this book changed you? I think living out this book is what truly changed me. I had a situation in my own life where I had a choice--do I live out the love and forgiveness Christ showed me by giving love and forgiveness to someone who had done the ‘unforgivable?‘ Or do I turn my back on them and possibly lose any opportunity to witness to them through my actions? God had to work on me a while but there was reconciliation and forgiveness. 

Where can we find you on the internet? 
You can find me at

Thanks for being with us today, Patty. I look forward to hearing more about your future books. Thank you for having me today!
If you'd like a peek into Hearts in Hiding, here's the link to Chapter One.  Patty has generously offered an e-copy of her book to one lucky Ink Dots friend. To enter, please leave a comment below. Tell us what a Sunday afternoon looked like at your home when you were growing up. Like Patty, we often went on drives into the country, too. That, and afternoon napping filled many long Sundays. How about you? What did you get up to?  I'll announce the winner in the comment thread on Friday. Good luck and happy reading. 

Friday, November 02, 2012

Still Glides The Stream

Lured by Melbourne's sunnier days, my Beloved and I are back to our daily walking. Our favourite place is a quick drive from home, along the Yarra Flats trail in the next suburb of Heidelberg where I spent my high school days. 

The winding paths which follow the river were, once upon a time, the inspiration for some of Australia's best known artists. They were among the first painters who really got the Australian bushland and captured it in a style which came to be known as Australian Impressionist, or The Heidelberg School.

In 1888, Arthur Streeton gathered artists and friends here to a dilapidated farmhouse where they spent the summer creating some of Australia's most celebrated artworks. Together with Tom Roberts, Jane Sutherland and Frederick McCubbin, this band of artists committed to capture the local colour, people and landscapes on canvas. 

Still Glides The Stream And Shall Forever Glide - Arthur Streeton

I never knew any of this, when I attended high school in the thick of this very landscape. Perhaps our art or history teachers tried to tell us, but paintings of early Australia didn't thrill me so much back then. 

As a gatherer of threads for my historical writing, I now linger over walkway markers showing 19th century interpretations of the very paths we pound. I wonder about the people who stopped to preserve the vistas for those who came next, and how much has changed in the years between. 

Obstruction - Jane Sutherland

Maintained for the public, the Yarra Trail runs through 85 hectares of bushland along the Yarra River. Only minutes from my home and I'm transported not into a lycra-clad speed walker, but a pondering dreamer... as I imagine the walkers before me... the ones in longer skirts and bonnets. The ones who braved the bush, and bellowing cows on their way through. 

And I'm thankful not only for the canvas gifts of the Heidelberg School of painters, but the words they attached to their works. Words like these, by Charles Condor, who reminisced from Europe some years after his days in the Aussie bush. 

"Give me one summer again,... 
the same long evenings, songs, dirty plates, and last pink skies."

I'm so glad to know these artists ignored the dishes, long enough to enjoy the sunset. A little like me, when I run away some afternoons from what beckons at home ... to wander off the beaten track. To peek into winding pathways and hidden pockets of the bush, I once raced by on my way home from school.

Do you have a pocket of history on your doorstep? Something to draw you out of the everyday, and transport you to another time..?

What's on the road where you live? 
Blessings for a wonderful weekend,