Friday, May 31, 2013

Steps to Yesteryear - Autumn Walks

Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.  
Robert Browning

Silver Birch - Crabapple House
Here in Australia, the last day of autumn has slipped by so quickly it's hard to imagine we're about to hit winter tomorrow. I've made no secret of my love of autumn on this blog. I've celebrated it's arrival and lamented it's end, and listed, year after year, its generous merits and glorious folds. 

I was born in May, so autumn's always held celebration for me. When I was 21, I married in early-autumn, capturing its leafy charms in my wedding photos. So I'll always sink into blissful sentimentality each March to May, and watch my favourite season float through the sky to rest by my feet. 

These last few weeks I've shunned my modern-day shelters of car and gas heated rooms, to face the weather as it turns to winter. Autumn showers have lead to romantic walks in the rain with my Beloved. And many wanders on my own... where I've breathed the last of this season with its early fires and wet grass, and prayed with each sidestep over puddles in my way. While some cringe at the thought of cold weather, I embrace it. God's made us all different, right? So I'll gladly admit, the cold does not push me away. I like to imagine I'm one of my heroines, out in the blast with shawl and wet shoes for my troubles. 

Fallen Leaves - Crabapple House

Give me the pit-pat of rain on my umbrella. And the wind, and the scarf tossed against my mouth, and low, thinned out branches against a sunless sky as they drop the last of their faded greens. For me, this is a beautiful place to lose myself... to walk and think. To escape. 

And there's a word for people like me. I must be a true melancholic. Suited to solitary walks along windblown roads, content to ponder the path ahead. But it's not all romance and violins. Most melancholics are introverted, moved by beauty and by distress, and prefer to be alone with their own thoughts. They are not aggressive and wish to flee from trouble. And perhaps the hardest for a writer... they are thin-skinned. 
Crabapple House

How about you... which of the four temperaments best describes you? Melancholic, Phlegmatic, Choleric or Sanguine... or a blend all your own? 

Perhaps this is why, like Robert Browning, I regard the decay of autumn with some sympathy. Perhaps, you're a kindred spirit... and you do too. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend, whether you're in the mood to embrace the sun or welcome the gusts of winter. Happy reading,

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ginger Garrett - Reign

It's my pleasure to welcome Ginger Garret to Ink Dots. Ginger's the author of several critically acclaimed books on women of history. REIGN: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel, is book three of the Lost Loves of the Bible series from David C. Cook. The other titles include DESIRED: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah, and CHOSEN: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther.

Ginger’s first novel, Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, was a finalist for the Christian Book Award, recognizing it as one of the top five inspirational novels for 2006. Ginger was also nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour. Her popular nonfiction Beauty Secrets of the Bible reveals how ancient women viewed beauty and the natural foods, perfumes and cosmetics that complemented their true beauty. You can learn more about her upcoming projects, speaking schedule, and contact information at  

Reign - From the moment her marriage to prince Ahab thrusts her into the intrigues of palace life, Jezebel’s exotic beauty opens doors and her will breaks down walls. Torn from her homeland and wed to power in a strange country, Jezebel vows to create a legacy and power all her own. Some might call her a manipulative schemer, bent on having her way. But they don’t know the whole story. As she moves through the halls of power, her heart struggles between devotion to the gods she worships, the prince who loves her, and her thirst for revenge. She sparks a battle between her strangely powerless gods and the God of palace administrator Obadiah—a God who confronts her with surprising might. She will fight, though victory may cost her everything.

Part Three of The Lost Loves of the Bible fiction series it’s ideally suited for historical fiction fans and anyone fascinated by the lives of biblical women. It’s as haunting as it is relevant—the story of a woman forced to choose between love and vengeance.

Want to know more about Biblical fiction writer, Ginger Garrett? Here's a few of her secrets...

If I could go anywhere in the world it would be… Boston! I have family there. What a great city, and so much history! I also love Hilton Head beach, and stay there every summer. This year, I am hoping we can visit both places. But since I hate to travel without my giant dogs, travel is a little difficult to arrange at times.

One thing I enjoyed today… I ate a bowl of high fiber cereal, with flax oil, ground flax and chia seeds, honey and skim milk. It tastes like barn hay, but I liked feeling so super healthy. Plus I had to be good before I meet a friend for a pasta lunch!

A secret pleasure of mine is… Kettlebells! There is no faster way to tone up and they are so much fun. I like trying different things at the gym. And pretending that I am tough. I’m really just a softhearted girl who loves to eat and read.

A moment that changed my life is…In college, I was helping to stack chairs after a graduation ceremony. It was May in Texas, so it was hot, and I was sweaty. Plus, I was wearing ratty shorts and felt somewhat less than pretty, to put it mildly. A guy I knew walked up to me and kissed me on the cheek. It was just a silly impulse to him, and he walked away. But I was so moved. When I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin, when I felt so unattractive, he just obliterated all my secret shame. He’ll never know what that silly kiss meant to me, and even today, I have trouble understanding how it seemed to land not just on my cheek, but right in my soul.

When I was a child I wanted to…Be a spy! I opened a school for spies in my neighborhood. For a modest fee of five dollars, I accepted students of all ages. Day One of training consisted of me lining everyone up along my fence. Then I threw rocks at their faces. I told them that they were learning to dodge bullets. There was no Day Two of training. It seems my students lacked motivation. (Best childhood story an author's shared on my blog so far... Ginger, you were one crazy kid!) 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this but...The reason I don’t read reviews is that I don’t know what the agenda is. Everyone who writes a review has an agenda. Some people want to write a review and share their experience with other readers. That’s great and what a review is meant to do. Sometimes, however, people will trash a book out of anger over a personal issue, or frustration with their own art. If they are reviewing a faith-based book, the review can be more about theology differences than the book itself. I know of an author who was trashed repeatedly online by the same person using different fake names to write each review. Turns out, this person had a personal beef. That happens more than people realize. I seek critique from people I respect, who have my best interests at heart. Critique is the most important thing I do after I get the words on the page; but anonymous reviews can be tricky business. 


Tricky business indeed! Thanks for joining us this week, Ginger, and for sharing your thoughts on reading reviews. I'm glad you brought up the agenda question, as it's at the very heart of why we review, and needs to be examined by writers and readers alike. 
Here's a question for my Ink Dots friends. Do you post reviews? What's your agenda when you review a book? Please leave a comment below, and you'll be in the running to win a a copy of Ginger's Reign, The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel. 

Good luck, and happy reading, 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

S. Dionne Moore ~ A Heartbeat Away

It's my pleasure to welcome S. Dionne Moore to Ink Dots this week. Born and raised in Manassas, Virginia, S. Dionne Moore moved to Greencastle, PA in 1993, then to Mercersburg in 2008. She enjoys life in the historically rich Cumberland Valley where traffic jams are a thing of the past and there are only two stoplights in the whole town. Her first book, Murder on the Ol' Bunions was published by Barbour in 2008. In 2009 she moved on to writing historical romances as an outlet for her passions for history. In 2010 her second cozy mystery, Polly Dent Loses Grip was a 2010 Carol Award Finalist. Her newest release, A Heartbeat Away, arrives in May 2013. 

A Heartbeat Away ~ When runaway slaves bring Union-loyal Beth Bumgarner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, she decides she must defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse. Taking comfort from her mother's mysterious goodbye gift of quilt blocks, she sews them together and discovers a hidden message in the pattern. WIll it spur forgiveness and healing? 


As a dabbler in quilting, I love the sound of this story. Here's some more about S. Dionne Moore. 

If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... Australia! Let's swap houses for a week or two. I've always wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback--that's not a steak. What a great idea! Even better, you come here and I'll be your your guide. :)

One thing I enjoyed today is... Learning that my book was listed in the Happily Ever After column of USA Today. Sorry that wasn't Australia Today, but maybe if we talk about the book enough Down Under. . .?? Congratulations! Yes, let's make some noise and get your name known here, too. 

A secret pleasure of mine is... Reading a book, cover to cover, uninterrupted. That's not something I get to do often, but it is so much fun on the very rare occasion when it does happen. Oh, and Dark Chocolate. That too. 

A moment that changed my life is...The premature birth of my daughter almost 18 years ago. Talk about a world turned upside down and inside out! 

When I was a child I wanted to... Be an adult. Isn't that what every child wants? And now, as an adult, it sure would be nice to be a child again. LOL!

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I have a problem with my back. There's a yellow streak down it. Which means I'm too chicken to tell you something I shouldn't.


Here's your chance to win a copy of A Heartbeat Away. Tell us what part of childhood you'd like to taste again. For me, it's reading in bed at night, knowing nothing of adult responsibilities and only the fictional world which held me captive. How about you? What do you miss?

Add your comment below and I'll announce the winner on Friday. 
Good luck and happy reading, 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Steps to Yesteryear ~ Vintage Keys

Photo Source ~ Pinterest 
What is it about old keys that makes them so beautiful? Have you noticed how gorgeous a photo of an old key on a faded letter can look? How about an old key in a rusty lock? A beribboned cluster? So romantic...

The lover in me of all things yesteryear is very taken with these pictures and I'm guessing many others have fallen for their charms as there's oddles of them on Pinterest. 

To my delight, a dear friend recently gave me my own set of wrought iron keys to hang and admire from wherever I wish. 

As birthday presents go, these keys are a winner. Yes, my friend knows me well. Anything old, hinting at old, or even reproduction as these might be, always catch my eye. But this gift fell into my palm before I could tear off the wrapping. Without even seeing them, I knew I had something heavy, metallic and bonelike on a thin ring. And I knew they were keys.

Crabapple House

I don't know for sure, but the keys to The Secret Garden may now belong to me. Perhaps they're the keys to an old gate or heavy door, high in some abandoned turret behind a frayed and faded tapestry. 

Just imagine the wrist of someone entrusted to carry them, lantern held high as they shuffle through dark corridors. The hook they might have hung on in a scullery, or behind a door on a nail in a draughty garden shed. 

Keys invite us to stories. By their size and shape, by their weight and patina they unlock scene after scene, and with each new answer... come more questions.

Like crossroads, they offer direction. Open Here ~ Alice in Wonderland style. This way. Over there. Try Me.
Photo Source ~ Pinterest 

I have a few locks to try in the days ahead. As a pre-pubished writer, I'm praying for openings for my stories. For the hinges to swing open like a sun-shiney smile.

And while I wait, I'll remember keys promise so much more. They offer wisdom and knowledge when we fear the Lord. When we embrace Him and seek the direction He beckons, storehouse doors open and overflow with His provisions. Salvation, wisdom, stability and abundance, all at our fingertips when we hold the right keys. 

He will be the sure foundation of your times, 
A rich store of salvation, and wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
Isaiah 33:6

Do you have an old key story? Has God recently opened a door for you?

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,
And may God make a way for the dreams of your heart,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Jocelyn Green ~ Widow Of Gettysburg

Award-winning author Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage in her readers through both fiction and nonfiction. A former military wife herself, she offers encouragement and hope to military wives worldwide through her Faith Deployed ministry. Her novels, inspired by real heroines on America’s home front, are marked by their historical integrity and gritty inspiration. Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at

Widow of Gettysburg ~ When a horrific battle rips through Gettysburg, the farm of Union widow Liberty Holloway is disfigured into a Confederate field hospital, bringing her face to face with unspeakable suffering-and a Confederate scout who awakens her long dormant heart. While Liberty’s future crumbles as her home is destroyed, the past comes rushing back to Bella, a former slave and Liberty’s hired help, when she finds herself surrounded by Southern soldiers, one of whom knows the secret that would place Liberty in danger if revealed. In the wake of shattered homes and bodies, Liberty and Bella struggle to pick up the pieces the battle has left behind. Will Liberty be defined by the tragedy in her life, or will she find a way to triumph over it? Inspired by first-person accounts from women who lived in Gettysburg during the battle and its aftermath, Widow of Gettysburg is Book 2 in the Heroines Behind the Lines series.


It's a pleasure to welcome Jocelyn back to Ink Dots. This is her second visit, and I'm thrilled to offer my congratulations on the release of the second book in her civil war series. Let's find out a little more about Jocelyn.... 

If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... Lyon, France. I love to travel in general, but Lyon would be extra special because that’s where my brother and sister-in-law live as missionaries with Agape France. They are expecting their first child, and I would just LOVE to be with them and talk baby stuff with my sister-in-law in person. Skype is great, but not the same. Also, they told me they have an idea for a new historical novel set in France, and I want to go hear about it and then do the research on site! What fun!

One thing I enjoyed today is...The day is just begun, but I do love that through my open office window I can hear the rain and the birds singing. Just last week it snowed here, which was really hard to accept. It has been a very long winter here in Iowa and we are ALL ready for spring!

A secret pleasure of mine is... Popcorn way too late at night. With real butter and real salt. 

A moment that changed my life is... choosing to renege on my plan to never date anyone in the military. I did date a Coast Guard officer, which led to our marriage, and of course that changed my life in obvious ways. But my role as a military wife also led me to write my first book, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives, and my nonfiction for military families led to an opportunity to write fiction related to war—the Heroines Behind the Lines series.

When I was a child I wanted to... become an author. But I pronounced it “Arthur” at the time. That's hilarious! I always wanted to be an 'arthur' too! 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I’m a novelist who doesn’t really like making stuff up. Blame it on my training as a fact-driven journalist or my years of writing nonfiction, but what excites me the most about writing historical fiction is when I find diaries, letters, newspaper articles of memoirs from the time period so I can be sure that what I’m writing either jives with the history or reflects what actually happened. My first novel, Wedded to War, was based on the life of real Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey, so the events in the novel closely resembled one woman’s life. In Widow of Gettysburg, my main character is a composite of several townspeople, so I had much more liberty in crafting her storyline. It was more of a challenge, but rewarding.


Have you discovered Jocelyn Green yet? Eager to read book 2 in this fascinating series set during American's Civil War? I have a copy of Widow of Gettysburg for one lucky Ink Dots friend. All you have to do is answer the easiest question you'll hear this week.

What's your favourite colour? (Yes, that's how we spell favourite and colour in Australia.) Jocelyn told us hers is red. And I can see from her headshot and the cover of her book, it really suits her.

How about you? Do you have a signature colour everyone knows is you? Leave your answer in the comment section below and I'll announce the winner this Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Monday, May 06, 2013

Murray Purra ~ Whispers Of A New Dawn

Murray Pura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, just north of the Dakotas and Minnesota. His book The Wings of Morning has been nominated for several literary awards in the United States including Best Inspirational Romance and Best Historical Romance. Murray lives and writes in southwestern Alberta. His releases for 2013 include: Ashton Park, The Rose of Lancaster County, A Road Called Love, Seven Oaks, The Painted Sky, Whispers of a New Dawn, Beneath the Dover Sky, and An Amish Family Christmas.

Whispers Of A New Dawn. The year is 1941. Pilots Jude and Lyyndy Whetstone arrive with their adult daughter Becky back in their Amish community in Lancaster County. It’s time to consider giving up flying forever and finally settle down among their relatives. It seems God is leading that way, especially when Becky finds romance with young Moses Yoder and decides to abandon the skies for the life of an Amish wife. 

But a summons to exotic Honolulu changes everything. Jude has been asked to train fighter pilots for the new Army Air Forces. If the Whetstones leave the Amish community to work with the military, they will not be allowed to return. However the call to serve the country they love prevails, so the family departs amidst tears at what they’re leaving behind and fears at what awaits them. Once settled on the beautiful island of Oahu, Becky is hired on as a flight instructor at a civilian flying school and takes an immediate dislike to her newest student, the brash Christian Raven. Their turbulent road to love comes to a crashing halt with the horrific bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. As Christian joins in the fight that will become World War 2, Becky wonders if God would be so cruel as to snatch love from her life a second time.

Welcome back to Ink Dots, Murray. This is your third visit. With the name Murray Pura and all it's associations with all things Aussie, it's no surprise. 

So what can we learn about you we didn't already know?

What poets have inspired your writing? Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dylan Thomas, W.B. Yeats, Tennyson, John Masefield, Shakespeare's sonnets, the Psalms, haiku. Poems like Langston Hughes'  Mother to Son, or Frost's Stopping by the Woods, or Sandburg's Fog, as well as Thomas' Fern Hill, Tennyson's Ulysses, Yeats' An Irish Airman Foresees his Death, and Masefield's Sea Fever have all had a significant impact on the way I use simile and metaphor and strive for a poetic vision in my novels, not simply straightforward narration. 

Do you have a manuscript in your drawer which never found a publishing home? You mean like John Grisham's A Time To Kill which no one wanted until he became famous? Well, I used to have more of them but now quite a few have been scooped up. I do have one though - leprosy was rampant in parts of the USA in the mid-1800s and the people who contracted the disease were severely persecuted and driven from their communities. My story is about a group of Christians who rescue a number of them, a young minister and a female nurse falling in love with one another during the rescue. I like the sound of that. Hope it finds a home soon. 

If your favourite character came to life, how would you interact with them? Take them for coffee. A hike in the mountains. Ask them to a service in my favourite church. Bring them home to a dinner in their honour. Chat all night. If I were single, and the character was one of my heroines, I'd so much want a dinner and dance date.

If you could write any book, assured of its publication, what would it be? Why, are you offering? No, but carry on. (shakes head) Well, considering you have the Murray River, a rail junction called Pura Pura, not to mention the Pura Cup and Pura milk (oops, there I go, I've mentioned them), (eye roll, small smile) and considering how much I liked the Sundowners and the Snowy River films, I wouldn't mind penning a romance-adventure about a Canadian immigrating to Australia, discovering it for himself, falling in love with it and a certain her, and building a sprawling epic about the land and its people. After all, I write quite a bit about American history with a healthy dash of love, why not an epic about Oz? Why not indeed. (shrug, wink) 

Would you ever write a screenplay? Yes. A good number of readers have said how visually oriented my novels are and how they wish they could be made into movies or mini-series. I have been invited to a screenwriting school in the USA and perhaps that is a place I will head to for a summer session in 2014.

What do you wish readers were more keen on? I don't want them stuck with formula writing anymore than I want publishers stuck there. I want them keen to read more complex plots and more poetic writing. No dumbing down - I want them to grow and develop their reading skills and be blessed by going into writing that is different than the same old-same old. I want them to embrace stories that engage their imagination in new ways and holy ways. I want them to seek deeper enrichment and hunt out the writers who will give them that, not necessarily writers who are well-known or high on the bestseller lists. In new ways and holy ways... I like that. 

Thanks for sharing your heart and vision, Murray. Wishing you all the best with the release of Whispers of A New Dawn. I'm most impressed you've taken an Amish family halfway across the Pacific. 


If you'd like to win a copy of Whispers Of A New Dawn, tells us which book you also enjoyed as a movie. For me, nothing beat watching To Kill A Mockingbird, after reading the classic novel by Harper Lee. I still get chills. 

How about you? Comment below for your chance to win. I'll announce the winner in the comment thread on Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, May 03, 2013

Steps to Yesteryear - Polish Silver

Once a year I polish my little stash of sliver trinkets. I like to grab the polishing cloth the week leading into Easter, as that's when my loved ones gather around the table for a special feast. Here at Crabapple House, we celebrate Greek Easter ~ and for us that's this Sunday. 
Photo Source ~ The Murmuring Cottage

Most other weeks of the year I don't give the silverware much thought. I might admire a silver teapot or sugar bowl as I pass by, but it's not until I'm looking at my upside-down reflection in the serving spoons, that I admire my collection of shiny tea time accoutrements. 

Most pieces are wedding presents. Others I collected over the years of our marriage. Some purchases turned out to be fake, silver-looking veneer, and I've had no qualms tossing them in the bin when I realised their tarnish would never shift.

But there's something better than sparkly silver pieces on the dining table. Something even more sought after than gold. 

Proverbs 16 encourages the getting of wisdom, over the pursuit of riches. Understanding, as something we're to crave in preference to worldly riches and collectables. 

I've been reminded once again how this applies to me this week. Blessed by the wise counsel of my family, writing friends from Australia and abroad, and my church community, they've spoken truths more precious than any antique tea sets. 

You might share my experiences. You may have occasion to dust and polish your precious knickknacks, but at day's end, no matter how well our things twinkle on the sideboard, it's the people God brings into our world and their collective hearts which matter most. 

Silver Tea Tray ~ Crabapple House

So while I lay the heirloom linens, set the crystal glasses and  arrange the polished red eggs onto our Easter table, I'll be praising God for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and the transformation He brings to the lives of those who truly belong to Him.

A little spit and polish goes a long way. But never as far as wisdom, delivered from one honest heart to the other, and held there against all other pursuits. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend, dear friends. Whether you're celebrating Easter, or simply living in the radiance of His joy and truth ~ may you be blessed by the wisdom that is better than any silver. 

How much better to get wisdom than gold, 
To get insight rather than silver. 
Proverbs 16:16