Monday, December 23, 2013

Susan Fish ~ Seeker of Stars


It's my pleasure to welcome my final guest author for 2013, Susan Fish. Susan's a writer, poet and editor living with her family in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.  A former Director of Communications for Habitat for Humanity Canada, Susan has been writing and editing for clients for nearly two decades, and operates Storywell, a company that helps people tell their stories well. She has been recognized locally, nationally and internationally for fiction and poetry. She blogs at susanfishwrites.wordpress.com

Seeker of Stars 

As a boy, Melchior is fascinated by stars but has rigid obligations to apprentice with his rug-making father. When his life is radically changed, he is propelled onto a new path full of danger and glory in pursuit of a special star. The journey leads Melchior to reflect on life and death, dreams and duty, and to find unusual reconciliation within his family and with the God he never knew he sought. Destined to become a classic, Seeker of Stars offers a fresh retelling of the story of the magi, and will appeal to people of all ages and faiths.

Susan says...

If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be...Saint Petersburg, Russia because I would love to see the art at the Hermitage, because I’m writing a novel with a character who was born in Russia, and because I would love to experience its famed White Nights where the sun doesn’t really set. My husband is not so keen on this idea and right now I imagine Russia would be rather cold so my plan B would be a return visit to the Blue Mountains, just outside Sydney. Ah, excellent first AND second choice, Susan. :) 

One thing I enjoyed today is...An early morning walk with my dog after a light, early snowfall that has made everything fresh and bright. The sun is watery and pale and the trees are bare and any bit of colour stands out brilliantly.

A secret pleasure of mine is...Playing hide and seek with my children. They are all teenagers now but we all love it – at least I know I do. My heart pounds every time I hide.

A moment that changed my life is...probably the birth of my first child. All through the pregnancy, I didn’t quite believe I could be The Mother, but when he was born and I looked at his face, I thought, “Ohhh…I can be your mother.” That's really cute. :)


When I was a child I wanted to...I can think of three things I wanted to do or thought I could do as a child. I dreamed of flying and wanted to be able to do so; I thought one day I would be able to know everything there was to know and to have read all the books there were to read; and I wanted to grow up to be a writer of stories.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but...I’m a pretty fearful person – snakes, heights, some public speaking. My mother always says that I have a vivid imagination that needs to be engaged or it will find something to fix on. She’s right so it’s a good thing that I am a writer, I think. Thanks for joining us, Susan. I love the premise of your book, Seeker of Stars. 

*****

If you'd like to end the year with a Christmas inspired story, enter in the comments below with the name of your favourite Christmas carol or song, and you'll be in the running to win a copy of Seeker of Stars

I love Go Tell It On The Mountain. How about you? 

Good luck and happy reading,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cara Putman ~ Shadowed By Grace


It's my pleasure to welcome Cara Putman to Ink Dots this week, and celebrate the upcoming release of her latest book, Shadowed By GraceCara's the award winning author of 17 novels. You can learn more about her and her books at www.caraputman.com. You can read the first chapters of all her books (including Captive Dreams) there. Her next novel, Shadowed by Grace, releases on January 1 ~  just in time for Christmas gift cards. You can connect with Cara on

Shadowed by Grace

She found peace in a time of war.

Desperate to save her dying mother, an American woman accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy where she takes photographs dangerously close to the front lines during World War II. But Rachel’s real motive in this journey is to find the father she never knew, an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive at such a desperate time.

In her quest, Rachel becomes involved with what will become the Monuments Men effort to save great monuments and works of art from the Third Reich. Soon enough she will find more than she ever imagined—in war, in love, and in God.

Cara says...

If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be...Florence! I am dying to go see so many of the places that I wrote about in Shadowed by Grace. While I’ve been to London, the French Rivera and Germany, I’ve yet to spend any time in Italy, and dream of traveling in Tuscany. Oh... can I carry your bags to Florence? Anywhere in Europe sounds wonderful to this far-away Aussie. 

One thing I enjoyed today is...Spending time with my kiddos and husband. Our lives are very busy so being able to connect and have fun together is very important to me.

A secret pleasure of mine is...finding the perfect gift for my friends. I love finding something different and unique for them that lets me know I see them and what they love.

A moment that changed my life is...when my husband asked me to marry him. He’s been my staunchest cheerleader on each crazy adventure I undertake. Whether it’s writing, teaching at a major American university or going back to school for yet another degree, he supports me in all the ways he can.

When I was a child I wanted to...be a writer, but didn’t think it could happen. Along my journey several authors have encouraged me and God has opened some pretty amazing doors for me. I’m so grateful for the way He took a long-held dream and breathed life into it and blessed it. 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but...I don’t like chocolate. Really. Well, at Christmas time I love the Hershey kisses that are white chocolate and peppermint, but my husband insists that’s not real chocolate!  I'm sure there's enough choc-a-holics out there to take your share of the real stuff, Cara. :) 

***** 

Whether you're a lover of chocolate, or not... I'm sure you'll love to sink your teeth into Cara's Shadowed by Grace, early in 2014. Tell us about your favourite Christmas treat in the comments below and you'll be in with a chance to win your own copy. 

My all-time favourite is my mother's Christmas stollen. Loaded with aromatic spices and dried fruit, I wish she made it all year round. 

What's yours....? 

Good luck and happy reading,

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Rose Dee ~ A New Resolution Blog Tour


Welcome to a fabulous week of prizes on offer thanks to ACRBA and award winning Australian author, Rose Dee. 

Rose was born in Ingham, North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her first novel. Rose, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, decided to try her hand at writing two years ago. The result of that attempt is her first novel, Back to Resolution. Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and desire to produce exciting and contemporary stories of faith for women. Rose's other releases include Beyond Resolution - the second book in the 'Resolution' series. And A New Resolution  the final book in the series. Rose has also co-written a novel in conjunction with three other outstanding Australian Authors: The Greenfield Legacy. Rose resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband, young son, and mischievous pup, Noodle. 

A New ResolutionResolution Island is a safe haven for Anika Demeur - a chance to fulfil dreams, find her place in the world, and a new life for her and young son, Kye. But her dreams of a future are shattered when her son's security is challenged, and the rich and privileged Texan, Nate Hollingsworth sails into the bay. Now Ani must not only fight for her son, but also a growing attraction she has to the one type of man she loathes.

Nate is on a mission - to fulfill his mother's last wish, and change his life. Dropping anchor in the idyllic Resolution harbor, he didn't anticipate becoming involved in illegal fishing, a murder, or an unexpected attraction to the most exasperating woman he has ever met.

The Australian tropical Island, Resolution, sets the scene again for adventures, dreams, and new beginnings. A New Resolution is the final book in the 'Resolution' trilogy, following Back to Resolution and Beyond Resolution.

So what's on offer in this fabulous giveaway? 

FIRST PRIZE:
E-Reader (Details below) AND: an e-reader version of each one of my 4 novels – the 3 ‘Resolution’ series novels, and The Greenfield Legacy (gifted via email).
E-Reader:
Reader™ with 6.0" paper-like touch screen (Red)
Model:
PRST2RC
This slim and light Reader with touch screen puts thousands of your favourite stories at your fingertips. Effortlessly turn the page with a swipe of your finger and the glare-free screen reads just like a real book, even under direct sunlight.
         6" E-Ink® Pearl is designed to feel like a real book with a glare-free paper-like screen for reading
         Battery life of up to 2 months with wireless off and up to 1.5 months with wireless on. Up to 30,000 continuous page turns when reading only
         Let your friends and family know what you are reading and share excerpts up to 140 characters with Facebook® built into the Reader™
         Store posts, articles, and text-based webpages all in your Reader™ with Evernote’s integrated services
         Access public library eBooks and PDF files through the integrated OverDrive® service
         eBook purchases will need to be completed via computer

SECOND PRIZE:
A copy of ‘The Greenfield Legacy’, and a Silver and Amber Grapevine inspired pendant. Really pretty, and ties in nicely with TGL as it is set on a vineyard in the McLaren Vale region. Also the cover is pendant inspired.


THIRD PRIZE:
A personalised sign copy of each books in my ‘Resolution’ Series. 3 hard copy books in total.

Here's how to enter. In the comments below, tell us what part of North Queensland you'd like to visit or leave a question for Rose. Contest closes Thursday Dec 12. Open to Australian residents only. You may comment here AND Australasian Christian Writers to double your chance of winning. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, November 29, 2013

What's A Pocket-Bin?




Last week I had the opportunity to photograph my son and some of his friends at a school function with their principal.

Mr Grace has been in their lives since they started school at age 5, and he knows them by name. In return, they not only know him, but feel confident enough get up close for a group shot. 


My son ~ Handsome dude on left
I love the informality of this photo and the confidence these boys have to be themselves around their principal. With the right amount of respect and honor, they know they can goof around and still enjoy his company. 

If you look closely at the hashtags my son used when he shared this photo on Instagram, you’ll see he included phrases which probably don’t make sense... to you. 

One of them caught my eye. #pocketbins. Let me explain... 

In their earlier years, before these boys graduated to high school, Mr Grace held the top job in their primary school. (These days he’s the principal over P-12.) Back in the ‘olden days’ during school assemblies, he’d encourage the primary students to make sure their rubbish stayed in their ‘pocket bins’ until such time they could empty their pockets into the trash. (Or when mum did the washing)

It became his saying. Delivered every Monday morning with the raising of the flag and singing of Advance Australia Fair.

Fast forward almost a decade, and these kids remember the instruction of their principal with fondness. They tag him in photos by his first name, Ross... (cheeky) or in this case, Rossy... (Even cheekier) 

They call him BigBoss, and top-off the tags with the school verse, Micah 6:8. 

Because they haven’t forgotten the wisdom imparted with love and kindness. They would not clamour around a man they feared or did not respect. And with respect, comes life lessons that stick with kids on their way to adulthood. 

I was impressed by the sentiment in this photo and its captions. It’s unforced. Not staged.

Rewind to the photos taken in the late 19th and early 20th century. Photographic limitations meant those who posed sat with fixed stares at the camera ~ wooden limbs or sombre expressions all we have to remember them by. Their strict lives recorded in sepia tones with dignified, measured smiles. If appropriate. 


Photo Source ~ Pinterest


Victorian era children wouldn't dare throw their arms around their teachers with such familiarity. And who would blame them?

Photo Source ~ Pinterest

But would they mess around in photo booths with frames or props... like we might? 

Photo Source ~ Pinterest

Apparently, yes. Although I'm not sure who's who in the photo above and why some are so glum while others look miffed. Maybe you can read it better than me. 

And while it may not be complete, a photo offers significant snippets of who we are. Not the sum of us. But threads which make up our whole story. The splice of today and yesteryear, held in time for tomorrow. 

I love this photo booth moment of a couple in the late Victorian era. 

Photo Source ~ Pinterest
Poised for the camera. 







A little unsure... when's that second flash?







Unravelled by giggles. 






And then.... how would you describe that last one? 



Blessings for a wonderful weekend, 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Margaret Brownley ~ Gunpowder Tea


It's a pleasure to welcome Margaret Brownley to Ink Dots this week. 

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this—except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."
            
Margaret wasn’t sure that was true, but she wasn’t about to take chances. She’s now a New York Times bestselling author with more than 30 novels to her credit including her current Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. Also look for her work in the following recently released collections A Bride for All Seasons, A Log Cabin Christmas and A Pioneer Christmas.  Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence. 

Margaret Brownley ~ Gunpowder Tea

Gunpowder Tea

Pinkerton Detective Miranda Hunt has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom – a notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling Last Chance Ranch.

But she isn’t the only one there with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggert is working the scene undercover as well. Although their true identities are a secret—and both are suspicious of the other—it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the spark that flares between them. 

But with careers and lives on the line, love will have to wait—perhaps forever. 

If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow... it would be Italy. Also on my bucket list is Australia and South America.  

Margaret says...

One thing I enjoyed today is... opening up my email and finding a lovely thank you note from a boy scout I counseled.  As I write this, it also happens to be my son’s birthday and I’m looking forward to a family celebration.

A secret pleasure of mine is... sitting on the beach with a good book. (Did you ever notice how the beach makes every book seem good?) Yes, I so agree! The beach and a good book are a perfect match. And we're headed into beach weather, Downunder. Can't wait for my mix of beach-and-book. 
Margaret Brownley

A moment that changed my life was... the day I met the man I would fall in love with and marry.  Giving birth to my three children also provided life-changing moments (I once said that having a baby wasn’t going to change my life. Little did I know!) Famous last words, hey? :)

When I was a child I wanted to be... a writer and wrote my first novel in fifth grade—a mystery I didn’t know how to solve. Still don’t.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I’m geographically challenged. If you give me directions to your house you better also give me directions back to mine. Now, that's really funny, Margaret! Thanks for visiting with us this week. 

*****

If you'd like to read more of Margaret's work, how about entering to win an e-copy of Gunpowder Tea? Leave a comment below and you'll be in the book draw. 

Tell us about the best place you've snuggled with a book. Margaret and I both favour the beach. How about you? 

I'll announce the winner on Friday in the comment thread. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Patty Smith Hall ~ The Doctor's Bride



It's my pleasure to welcome back Patty Smith Hall to Ink Dots. We're celebrating the release of her latest Heartsong Presents book, The Doctor's Bride.

Patty's made up stories since being forced on boring 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, Danny, two smart and gorgeous daughters, and a Yorkie she spoils like a baby. She resides in North Georgia. You can find her at www.pattysmithall.com 
Patty Smith Hall ~ The Doctor's Bride


The Doctor’s Bride

Dr. Joshua McClain is headed west
First stop: Hillsdale, Michigan, to break the marriage contract his late mother arranged between him and Katie Clark. Years ago, Katie left him behind in Charleston. But after a train crash, he comes face-to-face with Dr. Kathleen Clark, his childhood friend all grown up.

When Josh shows up in town, claiming they're betrothed, Katie refuses to consider an arranged marriage. She'll marry for love or not at all. Besides, he's headed for Kansas Territory; her practice is here in Hillsdale. So why are they both finding it hard to break their betrothal and say goodbye?

Patty Says...
  
If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be...my office. The last few weeks have been difficult with the loss of my much-loved grandma in September following by the unexpected passing of my father-in-law the first week of November. So right now, I crave the normalcy of the every day. I'm so sorry for your family's loss, Patty. I pray you'll be comforted and find your way back to normal life soon. 

One thing I enjoyed today is...reading the comics over breakfast. I'm a newshound--I read six newspapers a day--but just that brief moment of silliness lifts my spirits no matter how bad the news is.

Patty Smith Hall
A secret pleasure of mine is...fried eggs over medium and grits with butter. But I only have them when I'm on vacation or out of town. This dish reminds me of trips I took with my family as a little girl--Daddy would always order this combination and for some odd reason, I thought it looked fantastic. I was right! Ok this grits thing is something I haven't managed to taste, even after 4 trips to the US. A must for next time. :)

A moment that changed my life is... was when I let go of my anger at God after an attack left me physically disabled. In giving up that anger, I not only found peace, but saw God use me in ways I never would have dreamed of, one of those things being my writing. And He taught me that holding on to that anger hurt no one as much as it hurt myself. I've learned to deal with anger differently now. That's beautiful, Patty. Thanks for sharing such a deeply life changing milestone. 

Patty Smith Hall ~ Ballerina
When I was a child I wanted to... be the President of the United States! But as I got older, my artistic side came out and I thought about majoring in dance. (See picture) I even taught ballet for a couple of years and helped started a dance program at the college I attended.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but...I quit my first job as a balloon girl at a local amusement park by releasing 250 balloons into the air. I was fifteen and my boss refused to give me a break...so I took a permanent one! LOL! Ha, what a moment that must have been, you storming off, all those balloons filling the sky! I bet you wish there were cell phones back then... that would have been some clip. :) 

*****

I love Patty's tantrum story. I guess we've all spat the dummy, but she did it real style when she worked at the amusement park!

Are you game enough to share about a time you let the balloons go like Patty? Or perhaps you've seen someone stomp their foot in spectacular fashion. Tell us in the comments below, and you'll be in the draw to win The Doctor's Bride in e-book format. I'll announce the winner on Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sarah Sundin ~ On Distant Shores



Today is the 95th anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War. A day Australians observe a minute silence at 11am in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts. 

So it's fitting to welcome back dear friend, Sarah Sundin, author of WWII fiction. Sarah's the author if On Distant Shores and With Every Letter in the Wings of the Nightingale series from Revell, and also the Wings of Glory series. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to tennis and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com.

Sarah Sundin ~ On Distant Shores
On Distant Shores ~ During WWII, homesick flight nurse Lt. Georgie Taylor arrives in Sicily and strikes up a friendship with Sgt. John Hutchinson, who longs to become one of the Army's first pharmacy officers. When Georgie and Hutch's lives back home fall apart, can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?

Sarah says...

If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... Boston. I’m researching my next series, which is set in Boston, so I can’t wait to go back and explore one of my favorite cities in America.

One thing I enjoyed today is... Helping my fifteen-year-old son repair his big brother’s traffic cone Halloween costume. Yes, a traffic cone. We made it about six years ago—a bright orange A-line tunic with wire in the hem and orange craft foam to make the base. With a megaphone covered in orange fabric as a hat. My kids stenciled “tire tracks” with a black marker to make it look like the cone had been run over. I saw that costume on facebook! So clever. What a great idea. 

Sarah Sundin
A secret pleasure of mine is... Gumdrops. I don’t know why, but I can’t get enough of the fruit-flavored chewiness. Yum, chewy lollies are my favourite too. 

A moment that changed my life is…When I woke up from a dream in 2000 with a story idea that wouldn’t let me go. I had to write the story down. That was the moment I began the transition from pharmacist to writer. Wow, what a great way to 'wake' up the writer in you! 

When I was a child I wanted to...I wanted to be a ballerina and a protozoologist. That would be a scientist who studies protozoa, the little one-celled organisms in seawater. I was a strange child. But I bet you were a cute one, too. 


I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but…While we’re on the subject of being a strange child…In seventh grade, I made a list of all the capitals of the world…and memorized them. Can you guess who was not Little Miss Popularity? Ha, that's too funny. I bet those capitals come in handy now you're writing fiction that crosses the globe. 

*****

Thanks for visiting with us Sarah, and sharing a few quirky secrets. It was great catching up at the ACFW conference last September. I'm looking forward to another chat sometime soon. 

With Sarah Sundin at the 2013 ACFW Conference

If you're a fan of WWII fiction, here's your chance to win a copy of Sarah's On Distant Shores. To be in the running, leave a comment below with your favourite chewy gumdrop flavour. Mine's apple. Once I start on those Apple Chews, I'm sunk. 

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

Good luck and happy reading, 




Monday, November 04, 2013

Ruth Trippy ~ The Soul of The Rose

It's my pleasure to welcome Ruth Trippy to Ink Dots this week. Ruth was born in Overisel, Michigan into a Dutch family with values similar to the Victorian ones she writes about. She left home to teach high school language arts in Florida where she explored her love of apologetics. Later, she worked as Public Service Director for a radio station in Ft. Lauderdale.
Her writing originated from her marriage. She needed encouragement and found it in the pages of a 19th century romance novel. Identifying with the characters helped her focus on the roses rather than the thorns in her relationship and inspired her to pick up her pen to help others. Romance fiction, she believes, can bring encouragement and more importantly, serve as a wonderful metaphor of the love between Christ and His bride, the church.
Ruth and her husband live near Atlanta, Georgia and have two grown children.
Ruth Trippy ~ ruthtrippy.com

The Soul of The Rose ~ “And the soul of the rose went into my blood…”
This line from a Tennyson poem captivates young Celia Thatcher, who believes every woman’s heart hopes to be the rose that enchants a man.
Celia is searching for her own sense of hope after the tragic death of her closest friend. Moving in 1876 to work in a Massachusetts bookstore, she starts life afresh, when she soon catches the eye of not one, but two men; the elite but unkempt Edward Lyons and the charming law student Charles Harrod. One is hiding from his past and from God. The other promotes a religious belief Celia had never before considered. Both leave Celia wondering if either are right for her.
When one of her suitors is accused of murder, Celia is challenged with a deeper choice: should she follow her heart or her faith? 
Ruth says ~ 
If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... Cefalu, Italy where my husband has family roots. This small, historic town is just east of Palermo where the Mafia originated. I’ve been saving for this trip for many years, but so far my husband has said “No.” I’m waiting for the Lord to change his mind, because being part Sicilian, I don’t mess with him—at least not much! That's too funny, Ruth. I don't blame you for not not messing with him. 
Ruth Trippy ~ Soul Of The Rose
One thing I enjoyed today is... eating a slice of roast beef for breakfast in place of Wheaties, “the breakfast of champions.” Beef gives me energy and stamina. A famous speaker once said she sometimes eats lunch or dinner food for breakfast. If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me. Oh, I love this. I eat weird breakfasts every morning. You're a kindred spirit! 
A secret pleasure of mine is... to eat a square of Ghirardelli dark chocolate while I watch HGTV’s House Hunters International. I love to travel, but the arm-chair variety IS easier, especially with chocolate.
A moment that changed my life is... when I agreed to change my college graduation trip from Montreal, Canada to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida—in order to interview for a teaching position. There I met my husband and the rest is History. Awww.... boy meets girl! 
When I was a child I wanted to... have the same happy home when I married as the one I was raised in. A favorite memory is of us five kids, ranging in ages 5 to 14, packed like sardines under a blanket watching home movies with our parents. 
I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... to bed each night I wear a cotton bandana tied in a knot at the top of my head. I guess I hardly look the part of a romance novelist—even in a glam nightgown. That is some secret, Ruth. Love it! 
*****
I have a soft spot for Ruth. I met her at my first ACFW conference in 2010. She introduced herself in the First-Timers Orientation, so it's an extra delight to share her debut release with Ink Dots friends. 
If you'd like to enter to win a copy of Ruth's The Soul of The Rose, tell us about the strangest breakfast you've enjoyed. Ruth likes roast beef. I eat boiled eggs with broccoli and feta cheese. (Yes, I know. Even for a Greek girl, that's weird.) 
How about you? Leave your oddest breakfast in the comments below and you'll be in the running to win Ruth's book. I'll announce the winner on Friday. 
Good luck and happy reading,