Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jalana Franklin

Jalana Franklin is my dearest writing sister and critique partner. Not only an inspired writer, Jalana's a beautiful musician, a devoted mother and wife, and a gifted artist. 

I had the privilege of bunking with Jalana at the ACFW conference a few years ago, but we'd become firm friends even before that. Sharing a room gave me the chance to learn how to talk like her kin... the good people of Tennessee. And boy did I have fun learning how to chop and twirl my words like the best of them. Her accent is amazing!!

Jalana's featured this week on Lena Nelson Dooley's blogI thought my Ink Dots friends might like to see what Jalana's up to and the exquisite prize she and Lena are offering one lucky visitor. 

Me? Well, I'm already blessed. A good number of gift-parcels have crossed the Pacific between us and my writing room holds many of Jalana's handmade charms. From jewellery to paintings, I cherish every piece she's made and shared with me. 

But now it could be your turn. Go on... Have a look. :-)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Louise Gouge

It's my pleasure to introduce Florida author Louise M Gouge. Louise writes historical fiction set in England and America. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Inspirational Readers' Choice Award for her novel, Hannah Rose. With her great love of history and research, Louise has travelled to several of her locations to ensure the accuracy of her stories' settings. When she isn't writing, she and her husband love to visit historical sites and museums. Her favourite Bible Verse is He shall choose our inheritance for us Psalm 47:4 - a testimony to her belief that God has chosen a path for each believer. To seek that path and to trust His wisdom is to find the greatest happiness in life. 

A Suitable Wife -  Lady Beatrice Gregory has beauty, brains  - and a wastrel brother. With her family fortune squandered, her only chance of a Season is as a lowly companion. London's glittering balls and parties are bittersweet when Beatrice has no hope of a match. Still, helping Lord Greystone with his charitable work brings her genuine pleasure... perhaps more than she choses to admit. 

Even when every marriageable miss in London us paraded before him, the only woman to capture Lord Greystone's attention is the only one he shouldn't persue. Attaching himself to a ruined family would jeopardise his ambitions. Yet Lady Beatrice may be the only wife to suit his lord's heart. 

Welcome to Ink Dots, Louise. Where do you call home and what do you love about it? I live in Kissimee, Florida, USA, just minutes away from Sea World, Walt Disney World, and numerous other exciting tourist attractions. A day at any one of these parks with my family is always a special adventure. People come from all over the world to visit them, but we can go any time. But I would say the best thing about Central Florida is the weather. It’s October and the worst of the summer heat is over, so from no until May, we will enjoy balmy subtropical weather. I love it! This is so exciting for me to learn, Louise! I haven't been able to say this to any other author I've interviewed, but .... I've been to your neighbourhood! What a wonderful place Kissimee is! And how blessed to be there year round, unlike our short Disney themed stay of three weeks. 

Why did you become an author? I couldn’t NOT write. Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a very active imagination, so it’s great fun to create imaginary worlds and place compelling characters in them. We writers will generally admit we’re an odd lot, so writing is a healthy exercise for us. If we didn’t write, we would implode! Admit we're odd? You bet we do!

Why did you choose this period to set A Suitable Wife? The English Regency era has always been a favorite of mine because it makes such a lovely background for romance. The history, the styles, the customs, and the social structures work well to create a wonderful place for young love to blossom. 

Have you been to Australia? Oh, how I wish I could visit! The only ‘visits’ I've made were through watching Crocodile Dundee and the Crocodile Hunter. Your country looks so amazing and beautiful. I used to live in the American West, and some parts of Australia look like that area of my country. Of course I know you have wonderful arts, too. As an opera lover, I would love to visit the Sydney Opera House and watch a performance. 

What are you reading now? Is it for pleasure or research for your next project? I am reading an exciting Regency novel entitles A Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes, my favorite Regency author. Everything she writes is a pleasure to read. Wow... that's the same book I'm reading right now. Laurie Alice has donated A Flight of Fancy to our church library and as librarian... well, let's say there's some perks I enjoy. 

Where can we find you on the internet? I have a blog at I’m trying trying very hard to keep it up to date. Although I’m a bit behind. Readers can still visit there and find out about my books and my writing vision there. Please come and visit!

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Louise. I hope to have you back someday soon, with more announcements and author news. Thank you so much for having me. 


If you'd like to win a copy of Louise's A Suitable Wife, please leave a comment below. Tell us which Disney movie is the family favourite in your home. With a true Disney princess for a daughter and two action loving sons, it would be tricky for me to pick one, but this house has seen many reruns of Mulan. How about you? Add your favourite and I'll announce the winner in the comment thread here, on Friday.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Anonymous Letters...?

On Monday I chatted with Sarah Sundin whose book, With Every Letter brings hero and heroine together after some anonymous letter swapping. It reminded me of an anonymous letter I received, once.

Not in the traditional way, mind you. Neither sealed in an envelope or posted through the mail, this anonymous note was delivered when a small posse of boys rode past on their bikes. They threw a slip of newspaper at me and zoomed away, as I sat on a picnic blanket with my Beloved one autumn afternoon.

Well, it was more than one autumn afternoon. It was THE autumn afternoon my Beloved asked me to marry him, and I guess these boys saw the happy aftermath of a romantic proposal. And in true little boy fashion, they wanted to poke some fun at the love-birds.

I'm guessing they found an old newspaper in some corner of the park and managed to scribble their own words to add to the sweet nothings whispered that day. Here's what they wrote;

You loovers... you kiss. Ha ha ha...

Yep. That's it. The accurate observations and mis-spelled words of sticky nosed children with too much time on their hands and not enough bike path to take them out of our hair. (This was 1989... and I wore my hair big like the best of them.)
The boys wound around us ringing bike bells and skidding tyres, until they figured they'd celebrated with us enough. Thankfully, some other distraction caught their eye and they tore away into the ... sunset.

(You didn't think I'd not have a sunset in my proposal story, did you?)

Being the sentimental gatherer I am, I thought I'd sift through my drawers, find that note and take a photo for this blog post. Because I do like to keep all manner of faded sentimentality. But do you think I could find it? Nope... I've found everything else I hadn't looked for in twenty years, but not the scrap of newspaper used for my one and only anonymous note.

And in the end, it's no great loss. I did unearth a small envelope with all the cards my Beloved attached to flowers he sent during our courtship. From my very first Valentines' day roses... to the bouquet he sent me on our wedding day.

And as far as sentimental gathering goes, I'd rather re-read those early words of love, than the anonymous scribbles of the BMX bandits, any day. Nameless and faceless, they somehow slipped into our story and we smile when we remember the gang who trod on our proposal.

But it's the smile on my Beloved's face as he reread his words to me, and my matching grin as I watched him, which warmed our hearts today. Twenty two years later, I'm blessed to have his name on the bottom of my love letters.

How about you? Have you ever received an anonymous letter... or written one yourself? Did your proposal go to plan, or was it high-jacked by juveniles on wheels?

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Teardrop Carpark

If you could mess with time, would you ever go back and relive one of your yesterdays?

I remember my aunty would say she'd love to revisit a time when her girls were little. To hold them once more just as they were, when they fit in the crook of her arm. It wasn't long after her, that I became a mother and learned all too quickly there's no stopping the clock or the swift passage of time, no matter how firm your hold on your babies.  

I've watched my own children march right up to the milestones of adolescence and charge on by with great delight at what life promises around each bend. They've raced through the years and now I'm left wishing for one more taste of when they nestled against me. 

Why such nostalgia? Why the lingering look up at my son as he towers over me and throws his school bag into the car?

Because today is the last time he'll throw his school bag into the car. It's the last time I'll pack him a school lunch and drive him through the morning traffic to school. Past the crossing lady he's named Wendy (she does look like a Wendy) as she waves each car through the intersection. Past the petrol station where he always suggests I stop to fill the tank and perhaps buy him a servo pie at the end of a busy day. 

All the way to the school driveway where parents drop their children off in the aptly named, teardrop car park.  Yes, teardrop because of its shape... but today... for me... teardrop to match the mood and occasion. 

While there's much to navigate during the next few weeks of exams, today was for celebration. For marking a day when the school gate swings for the last time and children prepare to leave the world of bells and school rooms for wherever God draws them next. 

And for mothers to blink away the tears and wish they could tinker with the clock, just once. To pinch a moment from time and hold onto the fleeting, whisper of childhood. To touch what we already know, we've let go. 

What chapter of your life would you like to hold... just for a moment? Would you dare go back to a yesterday?

(photo source - noperfectdayforbananafish)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sarah Sundin

It’s my pleasure to welcome Sarah Sundin to Ink Dots. Sarah is the author of With Every Letter, the first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series from Revell, and also the Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow). In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children, and she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. 

With Every Letter - As part of a morale-building program, World War II flight nurse Lt. Mellie Blake begins an anonymous correspondence with Army engineer Lt. Tom MacGilliver in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, they develop a deep friendship. But when they're both transferred to Algeria, will their future be held hostage by the past—or will they reveal their identities?

Welcome to Ink Dots, Sarah. I'm loving the sound of this story... but first, tell us about the most important people in your life right now. My husband and children, definitely. Our kids are now 14, 17, and 20, so the nest is starting to empty. Also our Bible study group is very important to us—some wonderful friends. My book club, women’s Bible study group, and a fabulous group of writer friends all provide mutual support and prayer. I really feel blessed. Wow... you really are blessed. I'm with you on the Bible study group. Mine includes my favourite people too!

What inspired you to write With Every Letter? I had the idea while watching The Shop Around the Corner, the classic Jimmy Stewart movie that inspired You’ve Got Mail. The anonymous correspondence intrigued me, and I began to wonder what sort of people would be drawn to a relationship like that. And I loved the romance of two people falling in love based on character rather than looks. What a brilliant idea. Anonymous letters fascinate me too.

How do you choose your characters’ names? Sometimes I just know the name, sometimes I just see a name that completely fits, and sometimes I have to search. For the heroine in With Every Letter, I wanted a long and odd name that could have a cute but unusual nickname. So I pulled out my trusty baby name book. Eventually I found the name Philomela—and it meant “nightingale.” Nightingale? For a nurse? Who loved to sing? What could be more perfect? So that’s how Mellie got her name. How perfect, indeed!

Have you been to Australia? I have! My family spent two weeks in Australia in 2005, half in Sydney and half on the Gold Coast. We were most fascinated by the platypuses in the Sydney Aquarium—so cute! We love how they swim! My youngest son has an abiding love for the platypus from that trip. But the memory we talk about the most was a harrowing drive up to Lamington National Park. Hiking on the platforms high up in the rainforest trees, seeing strangler figs and padmelons, and feeding wild lorikeets made the trip worth it, but it was the single scariest drive in my entire life. Narrow roads, blind tight turns, and steep drop-offs. Oh my. Sounds like a real Aussie adventure! Glad to hear you survived it with great memories. 

What’s next for Sarah Sundin? My next novel, On Distant Shores, the second book in the Wings of the Nightingale series, comes out in June 2013. It’s gone through the first set of edits with my publisher, and I’m expecting the book cover any day. Now I’m diving into the third book in the series. 

You're one busy writer. Where can we find you on the internet?

Thanks for joining us today, Sarah. I loved learning about your inspiration for With Every Letter, and look forward to hearing more about your writing in the days to come. 


If you'd like to a chance to win a copy of Sarah's book, please leave a comment below. Tell us about the scariest road you've ever travelled along. My near-death drive hugged the Hawaiian coast, and whilst the scenery was breathtaking, the bus ride there and back left me gasping for the safety of solid ground. How about you? I'll announce the lucky winner in the comment thread on Friday. Good luck to all who enter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Potent Wizard

Lilac blooms - Crabapple House 2012
On Monday I chatted with Cathy Richmond, author of Through Rushing Waters. She provided a link to the first three chapters of her book, and I was taken by her use of smell in one of the opening paragraphs. 

We're introduced to our heroine, Sophia the teacher, when ... "She opened the window with a gentle push. A breath of air, damp with a hint of this morning’s rain and spiced with blooming lilacs, relieved the chalk-dust stuffiness of the classroom."

As it happens, the smell of lilacs, wisteria and orange blossoms have almost knocked my senses over this week. Springtime in Melbourne has swept in with a generous fragrance burst and unmistakable promise. And I'm breathing her in when the rain lifts long enough to let me.

Perhaps Helen Keller knew better than anyone, the power of smell. She relied on it when sight and sound no longer played in her world. 

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles 
and all the years you have lived. Helen Keller

Lilacs from my mother's garden

How about you? What's crept into your world like a potent wizard today? What's outside the window or door?

Monday, October 08, 2012

Cathy Richmond

I was busy raising a family, working as an occupational therapist, and trying to remember where I hid the chocolate, when a song sparked a story within me. The journey to publication has been long, but full of blessings. I couldn’t have done it without ACFWRWA, and FHL, the inspirational chapter of RWA, and Nebraska Novelists critique group. I was born in Washington, DC, grew up in northern Virginia, attended Western Michigan University, and moved around a lot for my husband’s aviation career. My favorite place to write is the porch. Then I reward myself with reading time in my air chair – and chocolate, of course!

Through Rushing Waters - Sophia Makinoff is certain that 1876 is the year she’ll become the wife of a certain US Congressman, and happily plans her debut into the Capitol city. But when he proposes to her roommate instead, Sophia is stunned. Hoping to flee her humiliation, she signs up with the Board of Foreign Missions.
With dreams of a romantic posting to the Far East, Sophia is dismayed to find she’s being sent to the Ponca Indian Agency in uncivilized Dakota Territory. She can’t even run away effectively and begins to wonder how on earth she’ll be able to guide others as a missionary. But teaching the Ponca children provides her with a joy she has never known-and never expected-and ignites in her a passion for the people she’s sent to serve.
It’s a passion shared by the Agency carpenter, Willoughby Dunn, a man whose integrity and selflessness are unmatched. The Poncas are barely surviving. When U.S. policy decrees that they be uprooted from their homeland and marched hundreds of miles to bleak Indian Territory, Sophia and Will wade into rushing waters to fight for their friends, their love, and their destiny. 
Welcome to Ink Dots, Cathy. Tell us about your family. My husband and I have been married 32 years. We have a daughter in medical school who has given us grand-bunnies. And a son in New York City who is a writer.  
How did Through Rushing Waters come to be written by you? Nervous about my first deadline, I decided to stick with the same time period as Spring for Susannah - the 1870s - but look for a story closer to home to make research easier. In 1879 in Omaha, the trial of Standing Bear declared, in the eyes of the law, that an Indian was a person. Through Rushing Water shows the events leading to the trial. I love the 1870s. My own research has brought me there many times...

What’s the most fascinating thing you discovered in your research for this book? I found a Russian woman teaching on the Ponca reservation, during a time when few Russians were in the area. A woman by the same name taught at Vassar College, a fancy women's college near New York City. Why would someone leave a comfortable job to be a missionary on a poorly-supplied Indian reservation. Good question... and I can see you've put much thought into the answer.

Have you been to Australia? I have wanted to visit Australia since my Canadian friend Pene White moved to Brisbane. My next door neighbors, Cory and Kathy, are visiting your beautiful country this month - I'm coming along vicariously! That's great. Perhaps you can make the journey for yourself someday soon!

What’s on the horizon for Catherine Richmond? I have several ideas running around like untrained puppies. I'll let you know which is paper-trained first.

Where can we find you on the internet? CatherineRichmond.com
Twitter:  @WriterCatherine.

Here's the link to Cathy's first chapter of Through Rushing Waters. I'm sure you'll want to read more when you've had a taste of this historical romance. For your chance to win a paper back copy, tell us, if like Cathy, you too hide the chocolate. You don't have to reveal your stash's whereabouts, but I'd love to know if you keep it hidden. I'll announce the winner in the comment thread below on Friday.

Thanks for joining us today, Cathy. I loved reading your first chapters and look forward to more of Through Rushing Waters

Friday, October 05, 2012

Tick, Tock...

Do you work best to a deadline or do you prefer to set your own pace?

Sometimes we don't have a choice. The pot is empty and soon enough hungry children gather, spoons in fist, and there's no use telling them we've only just tied the apron strings. 

Other times the project is all ours. Perhaps a garden bed in transformation, or a knitting project half done. The kind which looks pretty even unhurried in a basket of needles and yarns. 

Somedays you may be like me. You take a look at the calendar and wonder how we've came so close to Christmas, once again. Less then three months on the clock before another year fades, good people... and then it's more of the same. 

More ticking clocks. More deadlines. More due dates. 

I love the start of a new year. I think it's the teacher in me and my love of clean slates and fresh terms. I've always scribbled notes for January and February when December is still a mess of tinsel. 

But this year, I've done something different. I've started early. Earlier.

I've put a string around October, November and December and parceled these three months together. They're dedicated to a story I've had brewing for a few years. Set in the tent city of the Ballarat goldfields in 1855, it's a romance that's bubbled away for far too long. 

Sovereign Hill - Ballarat... How I love this place!

And I want it done by Christmas. It's my gift to me. Until it finds a home...

Early in the new year, when my research is nicely tied up, I plan to write Book 2 in my Phillip Island series. But for now, I have this little pot simmering away. And I'm having the best fun cooking a whole heap of trouble for my hero and his heroine. 

How about you? What do you have on your list which must be done by the end of the year?

(If you say Christmas shopping, I'll smack you with my wooden spoon.)

Whatever you're up to... have a wonderful weekend, dear friends.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Glen Isla House

Running away for a romantic weekend is no chore at the best of times. Ending up at Phillip Island's exquisite Glen Isla House... is my idea of perfection. Thankfully, my Beloved agreed. 

Springtime at Glen Isla House

Nestled is an overused word by many travel writers. But nestled is the perfect word for Glen Isla House. Hidden away from the road at the end of a pretty driveway, she waits for those who appreciate the charms of history, delicious local food, and a vine covered walkway to the beach at the bottom of the garden gate.

Walkway to the garden gate, and beach beyond.
The author hunt for historical details has brought me to many interesting stops. And now I'm here, at Glen Isla House, the 1870s kit home shipped from America to this remote Australian island, south of Melbourne. It's been a family home, working farm, and more recently, Phillip Island's top B&B. 

Featured on TV shows and in magazines, it's hard not to fall in love with the two acre property of house, cottages, gatehouse and heritage listed surrounds. Owners Ian and Madeleine Baker know how to offer seclusion in a romantic setting, with just the right amount of charm and hospitality. They're generous in sharing their home and property, their antique furniture and English style gardens with those who care to stop a while, and step into the pages of history. 

So how could I keep away? How could I not embrace this amazingly restored slice of yesteryear? Knowing my Tennessee critique buddy has floor plans for 19th century American hit homes, I couldn't wait to explore the possibilities. And after a leisurely weekend in the Anderson suite, named after the original owners... I knew.

This is where my characters will play out the continuing story of The Everlasting. (Can you hear me squealing with delight?)

The original 1870s dwelling
In true B&B fashion, our hostess took time from her day to share old photographs, letters and newspaper clippings. She even sat with me after breakfast and brainstormed a few story ideas. The perfect ending to a perfect scouting trip. History, romance and the coming together of a story I'm eager to flesh out. 

Stay tuned, dear friends. I can't wait to share more.

Until then... here's the link to the beautiful B&B with even more gorgeous photos and details. Isn't Glen Isla House the perfect inspiration for an historical romance?

Monday, October 01, 2012

Amanda Deed

It's a great pleasure to welcome my dear friend and fellow Aussie author, Amanda Deed to Ink Dots. Amanda grew up in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne in a Christian home, and found faith at an early age. She has followed her passion to serve the Lord through music and literature since her teen years. Now married, with three children, Amanda enjoys the variety of being a mother, finance administrator, musician and historical romance writer. Her debut novel, The Game, won the 2010 CALEB Prize for fiction, and Ellenvale Gold is currently a finalist for the same prize in 2012.

Black Forest Redemption A man resigned to a life without fulfilment or purpose. A woman desperate for adventure. Set against the tumultuous times of the Eureka uprising in Ballaarat, 1854, the two find themselves victims of an abduction. To escape could mean death. To hope for rescue is not an option. Together they must find a way to survive in an untamed land where bushrangers, dense forest and wild animals are only some of the dangers they must face. Can he find the courage to succeed? Can she realise her dreams of freedom? Will the ordeal forge a bond of love between them, or drive them apart? And above all, will they find their way home?

Welcome to Ink Dots Amanda. Where are you from and who do you live with? I live in the South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, with my hubby and three gorgeous children. I have lived in this area most of my life and I'm not in a hurry to move, although Queensland and the rainforests call me at times. Don't go too far away. I need to be able to find you for a coffee, now and then.

Tell us how you came to write this book. It is the continuing story in the Jacksons Creek trilogy. At the end of Ellenvale Gold, Rupert Foxworth expressed a desire to get revenge ... and gold. As a result, poor Tony Worthington had to be abducted and held for ransom. Most of the time with kidnapping stories, you see the point of view of the people trying to get their loved ones back. In this case, we see the journey of the victims - how they survive and what they do to escape. It makes for lots of drama, and of course, romance. I also wanted to show more of what happened during the Eureka Stockade, a well known part of our history. 

If you could have lived at another time in history, what would it be and why? I am rather enamoured with Victorian times - the clothes, the hairstyles, the manners, the courtship, the travel and the slower pace of life. Love it all. Me too, sister!!

As an Aussie, what fascinates you the most about our beautiful country? Everything. There is so much this country offers. But, I especially love that red sand from the centre, the colour of Ayers Rock, sorry Uluru, at sunset.

How has writing this book changed you? I was actually going through some really hard stuff at the time (nothing to do with the storyline at all). I had to persevere and write, even though at times I didn't even believe in what I was doing for a while. Thanks to the Lord, he brought me through and (LOL) I went back and edited the flat, lifeless parts out of the manuscript. I think it has made me a stronger writer. What a great testimony of His provision!

Where can we find you on the internet?

You can find me at or on my blog,

Thanks so much for being my guest this week, Amanda. I can't wait to read Black Forest Redemption, and see what happens after the cliffhanger of Book 1. Thanks for having me on your blog, Dotti. Can't wait to return the favour! 


If you'd like the chance to win a copy of Black Forest Redemption, please leave a comment below. I'll announce the winner in the comment thread on Friday. Tell us where you'd like to live, if you had the chance for a sea or tree change. I'd love to live full-time in my favourite spot... Phillip Island. Part beach, part farmland it's the ideal Dotti spot. How about you?