Thursday, October 24, 2013

Win a Lawson Writing Academy Online Course

I'm guest blogging over at the International Christian Fiction Writers blog today. 

5 Reasons Every Novelist Needs Margie Lawson. 

Come say G'day and enter to win one of TWO Margie Lawson online courses. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Melissa Jagears ~ A Bride For Keeps

It's a pleasure to welcome Melissa Jagears to Ink Dots. Melissa's an ESL teacher by trade, and a stay-at-home mother on a tiny Kansas farm with a fixer-upper house. She's a member of ACFW and CROWN fiction marketing, and her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly. Her debut novel A Bride for Keeps released last month to rave reviews. Congratulations, Melissa!

A Bride For Keeps ~ Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, but he won’t humiliate himself by looking for a wife again—not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. So when a well-meaning neighbor takes matters into her own hands, Everett is less than pleased . . . especially when a beautiful, cultured woman from the east responds. One glimpse at Julia Lockwood is enough to convince him that she is not cut out for the harshness of prairie life. 

Despite Everett’s misgivings, can he and his unexpected bride let down their defenses long enough to discover that the truest love can be the one that’s unlooked-for?


Melissa says....

If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... A deserted island with a nice beach that happens to be having beautiful weather tomorrow with absolutely nothing to do. 

One thing I enjoyed today is... The extra bit of sleep I got because the kiddos slept in.

A secret pleasure of mine is... Napping…. for hours. I'm detecting a sleeping thread. Perhaps a new-born in the mix has tilted the household more to sleep than ever before. Congratulations on baby Nathan's arrival. 

A moment that changed my life is... Being given my first child by the nurse at the hospital and told we could leave….as if we knew what to do!

When I was a child I wanted to... Grow up to be an editor…. no teacher, marine biologist, or astronaut dreams for me!

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I’m the most unromantic woman in the world. A romance author who can’t stand Valentine’s day, doesn’t want surprise gifts of any kind, can’t stand jewelry, live flowers, planted flowers, candles, or fancy chocolate, barely remembers her own anniversary, can rarely bring herself to say anything sappy, and whose hubby has to grab her before she walks away because he wanted to kiss her and she didn’t even realize it has to be a fraud, right? I'd say wrong... If you're delivering romance in story form, there's romance in you somewhere. But you're probably too sleep-deprived to see it, just now. 


How about you? Are you a romantic? Who takes the title in your relationship of most romantic? I like to think it's me, but my Beloved is fluent in the language of romantic gesture. And I'm not complaining.

Comment below with your favourite romantic gesture, (yours or someone you know) and you'll be in the running to win a copy of Melissa's A Bride For Keeps

I'll announce the winner in the comment thread on Friday. But don't despair if you don't win. Today, I have a gift... for everyone. Melissa's offering the link to her novella, Love By The Letter.

Ink Dots friends Click Here for your free copy. 

Thanks for visiting, Melissa. Congratulations on your debut novel and growing family.

Happy reading everyone, 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Immersion Masterclass with Margie Lawson

There's only one direction when you've finished raiding the stores in Downtown Denver. You brave the bears and head up. To the Colorado mountains. 

Yes, this is me. At the Edge of the Mountain!
And if you're a writer, your internal compass points to the very top, where Margie Lawson holds court and runs her Immersion Retreats. 

Margie's the best. A psychotherapist, editor and international presenter, you couldn't ask for a savvier writing teacher. She gathers her students (about 6 at a time) to a place where if the hair-pin turns along the road don't mess with your innards, the cougars and bears just might. A place so near the end of the edge, you might wonder what miracle brought you here and how you ever wrote without her. Because once you knock on the Lawson door... you will never be the same. 

Working hard, playing with rhetorical devices
To start with, you need some writing grit. Finish your manuscript, then dig your writing snout into three of Margie's prescribed lecture packets ~ ground, swallowed and digested until the essence of what Margie teaches invades your writer's brain, and takes over. Then you're mountain-ready. Margie-Ready. Lions and tigers and bears-ready.

Mountain journey with Margie Lawson
The four days dedicated to becoming Margie-ized will see you playing with rhetorical devices even the most dedicated Greek scholar would envy. You'll learn to avoid cliches as if they were grumpy bear cubs, woken too soon and nosing down a rubbish bin shackled to your feet. Sorry... trash can. Whatever you like to call it... that's where the tired writing belongs. Buried under yesterday's fish scraps. 

Because on the mountain, it's all about fresh writing, and by the end of the week, it's still all about fresh writing. As fresh as Rocky Mountain air, with the promise of snow and a hint of something stellar, it stings ~ it's that good. 

The NYT Express, with Mama-Bear, Margie Lawson and Calpypso the Dachshund 
I'm not going to lie. The Immersion Masterclass is hard work. Margie is welcoming and warm and an instant friend. But your innards will twist even if there weren't a roller-coaster ride up the mountain. Just when you think you've turned mediocre writing into some kind of brilliance, you're sent back to your hidey-hole (with a handful of M&Ms) to work harder still. 

But you'll be blessed to sit under Margie's expert tuition. And by the last day... the blood on your manuscript, and the manuscripts of your Margie-Sibings, might look like wild animals tore you up and hung the lot of you from the nearest aspen to bleed all over your precious words. And that will be ok, too.

Because encounters with bears heighten our senses and tip us into pure visceral responses. Responses designed by a clever psychotherapist to shape us into better writers. One red paw mark pen mark at a time.

Knock Here
If you haven't visited Margie, don't delay. Tap into her wisdom, and someday, you might even be tempted to knock on the Lawson door for your own mountain top treat. 

Margie and Tom will feed you and shoot rubber bullets into the brazen behinds of snack foraging bears. All you have to do is gather your words, your wits and your highlighters. 

And write. 

Our warm hosts, the generous Tom and Margie Lawson

Monday, October 07, 2013

Traces of Mercy ~ Cindy Kelley and Michael Landon Jr

It's my pleasure to welcome Cindy Kelley to Ink Dots this week. Cindy is a screenwriter and author. Her film screenplay credits include the hit television movie Love Comes Softly, as well as: Loves Enduring Promise, Love’s Long Journey, Love’s Unfolding Dream, Saving Sarah Cain and The Velveteen Rabbit. Kelley also co-authored the novel, The Silent Gift, with her longtime writing partner, Michael Landon, Jr.

Traces of Mercy ~ As the Civil War ends, a young woman suffers an accident that leaves her unconscious and alone. Waking up with amnesia, she takes the name Mercy because of the mercy medallion found around her neck.  More than anything, Mercy wants to find out the truth of her past, but when the town’s most eligible bachelor comes courting, she decides to look instead to the future. Life seems filled with promise until a handsome stranger comes into town, a man who knows her history…and something that could destroy her.

With Michael Landon Jr busy on a movie set, Cindy's chatting with us today. 

If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be...on the back of my husband’s Harley so we could ride along the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado.  The Aspen trees are glorious and the leaves shimmer like gold dripping from the branches. We’d arrive at our favorite B & B in Leadville, eat decadent food and unplug from the world for a week!  Having just returned from a writing retreat atop Colorado's majestic mountains, I can vouch for those beautiful aspens! 

Cindy Kelly
One thing I enjoyed today is... getting up at dawn to sit out on the back porch with a cup of coffee and ease my way into the day. This time of year it’s still hot in Arizona (where I live) so the cooler temps in the very early morning hours are a treat.

A secret pleasure of mine is… setting a beautiful table for dinner. I know it’s crazy, but I love centerpieces and eclectic tableware. Holidays are my favorite! The possibilities for place settings are endless. I love this about you, Cindy. Setting a special table can be such fun. 

A moment that changed my life is... a challenge that my brother issued to me one day. I wanted to be a writer and he dared me to do it. He named several well known authors and said they were published because they actually were brave enough to write something and put it out in the world. Challenge accepted J

Michael Landon Jr, with my dear friend, Jeane Wynn
When I was a child I wanted to...have a tree house like the Swiss Family Robinson. I didn’t necessarily want to be shipwrecked on an island, but I did think it would be amazing to have my very own tree house like they had. I improvised by spending a lot of my youth, climbing trees with a book in hand and sitting high above the ground to read. What a kindred spirit! I had a cubby house where I did most of my reading. 

 I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but…I absolutely work best when I have a looming deadline. I need that ticking clock to get me motivated and I even have a big white board in my office where I write down my word count for the day. The same thing is true for everything else – company coming? I’m still dusting or vacuuming fifteen minutes before they ring the doorbell. Christmas shopping? Running around like a crazy person the day before Christmas Eve. I call this my ‘method’ but my husband calls me a champion procrastinator!


Thanks for visiting with us, Cindy. All the best with Traces of Mercy, and your ongoing projects. 


If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Traces of Mercy, tell us about the table you enjoy setting the most. Christmas, Easter (that's mine) ... birthday, anniversary? Or... has someone set a special table just for you? Share your table setting story and I'll announce the winner in this comment thread on Friday.

Good luck and happy reading,        

Friday, October 04, 2013

Downtown Denver

Downtown Denver
Q. So what's a girl to do between an exhausting writing conference and a writing retreat? 

A. Bunker down in a hotel room for a few days of solo writing and taking in the local sights. 

On the final day of the ACFW conference I moved on from Indianapolis, into the pretty streets of downtown Denver. I had a few Dotti Days to regroup before I headed up the mountain for a week with Margie Lawson. (Giddy-Giddy Goose Flesh... but more about that in my next post!!) 

Reinforcements... for writing into the night 

I needed those alone days to think and pray about all I'd encountered at the ACFW conference. There's good reason a writing conference is likened to a fire-hose filling a tea-cup. I busied myself finding cold weather clothes for the days ahead, and in between shopping expeditions I worked on my story... shifting scenes, adding more and shaping it up for submission. 

But I kept a close eye on the quirky locals, and soaked in the late summer, Denver-style. 

Glamming it up, Denver style for a little chess

I discovered the lollies have my name on them :)

Brain Food ~ Yum!

Watching Denver hum from my corner street table

Scene Adjustments ~ Additions and Deletions
Because in a few days, I knew I was in for a mountain-top treat, with Margie Lawson and my soon to be Margie-Siblings. 

Sorting the colours for Margie Lawson's Immersion Class

During my shopping days I bought a few gifts for my Ink Dots friends. Share your favourite city in the comments below, for a chance to win something quirky from my US trip. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

2013 ACFW Conferennce ~ Indianpolis


At the awards gala with my fellow Aussie author, Narelle Atkins
That's the welcome I received when I landed on American soil, last month. The man behind the desk with the stamp and authority and face with no smile, did not shirk his responsibility. He had questions to ask. And he kept his head down while he scanned my passport.

Him: What brings you to the US?
Me: I'm here for a conference.
Him: What kind of conference?
Me: A writing conference. 
Him: Ah ha. And what do you write?
Me: Historical Romance. 

He finally lifted his head. 

Him: Historical Romance, hey? 

He mashed my passport with his stamp and slid it back.

Him: You... (he pointed a finger at my nose) stay out of my wife's head. 

And that's how they let me into the Good Ole USA. 

I smiled, and he returned a quarter smile but I didn't promise to stay out of his wife's head. After all, I came to do just the opposite. To further my book into the hands of readers who will escape whatever their world offers, and slip into some of what I've created. 

And the ACFW Conference of 2013 was just the place to chase that dream. I chatted with agents and editors, and all manner of authors, who gathered me in with advice and affirmation and the punch of promise I've worked toward for years. 

Here's a snapshot of my weekend in Indianapolis, including the special moment Kelly Riley snuck my winner's certificate for the Touched By Love contest, onto my empty breakfast plate. 

What an incredible time of bonding with writer friends, new and already-much-loved, on my quest to capture the head and heart of my reader. 

Thanks for praying for me, dear friends. God was listening and He answered in lavishness I could not have anticipated. 

Hanging, and playing Instagram with Brandilyn Collins. 

Early morning catch up with my dear Jeane Wynn. 

With my Beyond the Borders sister, Canadian, Cherie Tarcia Gagnon 

The one and only Rel Mollet ~ the neigbour I had to meet all the way across the world. 

So excited to meet sweet Joanne Bischof

Smilin' it up with the amazing Sarah Sundin

Stealing a smile with the generous Mary Connealy

Genre night, with darling Suzie Johnson and my Aussie sister,  Narelle Atkins

With my ruby slipper shopping buddy ~ Megan Sayer, all the way from Tasmania

And receiving my winner's certificates from the 2013 Touched by Love contest co-ordinator....

...the beautiful Kelly Riley.