Monday, April 28, 2014

Beth White ~ The Pelican Bride

Last year at the 2103 ACFW conference in Indy, I sat next to the kindest soul one lunch time and was blessed to discover it was non other than Beth White. 

Beth is a native Southerner, born on the Gulf Coast and reared in northwest Mississippi. With undergraduate degrees in music and English education, plus a Masters in Creative Writing, she has spent the last thirty years teaching fine arts to preschoolers through college students. Besides performing professionally as a singer and flutist, in the last thirteen years she has published (as Elizabeth White) four novellas and ten full-length novels with such publishers as Tyndale House, Zondervan, and Steeple Hill.

Beth and her husband Scott have two married adult children and one grandchild. Beth teaches piano and chorus at an urban high school in Mobile, Alabama, an occupation which will undoubtedly one day become a story thread in a novel.

The Pelican Bride 

She’s come to the New World to escape a perilous past. But has it followed her to these far shores?

It is 1704 when Frenchwoman Geneviève Gaillain and her sister board the frigate Pélican bound for the distant Louisiana colony. Both have promised to marry one of the rough men toiling in this strange new world in order to escape suffering in the old. Geneviève knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of persecution for her outlawed religious beliefs. 

When she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer-turned-farmer whose checkered past is shrouded in mystery, Geneviève realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. Trouble is brewing outside the fort between the French colonists and the native people surrounding them. And an even more sinister enemy may lurk within. Could the secret Geneviève harbors mean the undoing of the colony itself?

Beth Says... 

Beth White 
If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be...Williamsburg, Virginia. I love Elswyth Thane’s series of novels set there, beginning with Dawn’s Early Light.

The best thing I did today is... pray with and for a student who had electrocuted/set her hand on fire last night while plugging in a faulty air conditioner. Oh dear!! That's some injury. I hope your student recovered well. And what a privilege to pray with her. 

A secret pleasure of mine is... listening to Bill Whittle’s Stratosphere Lounge. I’m a closet political junkie.

I wish I could relive the day when I... sold my first book.

When I was a child I dreamed I would... live in a garret and scribble novels like Jo March. I scribble novels, but I do not live in a garret. My second choice would have been singing the role of Maria in The Sound of Music. One of my jobs is now teaching high-schoolers to sing, and I use the do-re-mi stuff every day! Oh, I love your Maria Von Trapp dream. The Sound of Music was the first movie I saw at the cinema and still remains a favouite. I'd love to sing along with your do-re-mi, Beth. 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... The Terminator is my favorite movie. We won't hold it against you. :) 


Beth's giving away an e-book of her Miracle on Beale Street to one Ink Dots friend. 

To enter, tell us which character you'd want to play in your own version of The Sound of Music, or any other musical you fancy. I'll announce the winner on Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading,

Friday, April 25, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 17

Attend An Event of Grand Proportions

Seek out a moment of celebration, spectacle and ambition... says my 52 Writer Dates book.  

Well, I didn't have to seek too far. 

My dear mother's 70 birthday celebrations this month delivered an event of grandest proportions.

And to heighten the occasion, I arranged a surprise afternoon tea with her dearest girls. 

Daughter, granddaughter, sister-in-law and nieces, we snuck around one Sunday afternoon and met over the pressed linen cloths and silver service of High Tea at the Beau Monde Hotel in Melbourne. 

How was my mother's 70th birthday gathering a spectacle? 

For the very reason the dear girl had never had a birthday party in her life. And for the first time she walked into a room where those who love her called out surprise and welcomed her to the seat of honour. 

A smattering of cakes and birthday sing songs at home over the years had never really elevated to something this grand. Or secret. And I know it's the stealth with which we planned this afternoon that turned it from ordinary to extraordinary. 

Dear Mum thought she was going to a local shopping centre for a quick coffee. Instead, we arrived at a well apportioned tea room, furnished with the finest finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries. And in case that was not enough, the Death by Chocolate Buffet.   

Happy 70th birthday Sophie
My author challenge was to consider how a spectacle comes together. How it's executed on the day, and how the moment draws characters together. 

We all had our stories to share about that. How we avoided Mum in the days leading up to her surprise, in fear we might say something to give it away. The anticipation of leading her into a room where she had no idea a table of her favourite girls awaited, and how the men in the family played their own part in keeping her unaware. 

An event of grand proportions should cause at least one jaw to drop. In this case, it was the dear birthday girl. In a written scene, it might be more than one character who's overwhelmed. 

I loved watching the thrill on my mum's face when she walked into her party. The realisation she'd stepped into something bigger than she anticipated. And the delight in her guests matched her own. The giggle of her nieces and radiant smile of her sister-in-law. It all melded together in the best kind of birthday happiness, wrapped in the adoration we all have for this special lady. 

Sophie and all her dear ones
I recently attended another surprise birthday where the guest of honour's face crumbled into grateful thanks. She slipped out for a short cry and returned to the festivities with renewed composure. But we were all in it with her. Tears were blinked away by most of the guests that day. The emotion we held back when she
discovered us in her family room, had to appear sometime. It's the natural response to an event of grand proportions. 

I cry each time I see the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. I cry when I hear Australia's national anthem. And there's no way I won't cry when I sit through a graduation ceremony of one of my children. 

Grand events should pull on our emotions. 

Anticipation should churn our insides, happy tears should flow like confetti, and delight should bubble over like the fountain in the choc-laden buffet. 

What's the latest event of Grand Proportions you've attended? 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lori Benton ~ The Pursuit Of Tamsen Littlejohn

I'm thrilled to welcome Lori Benton back to Ink Dots. Lori was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early family history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky and The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn.

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love 

In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.

Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?

Lori Says...

If I could eat anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... I like Italian food, so I’ll say Italy. I‘d like to try some authentic Italian food, and I hear their pizza is not like American pizza. Who knew? Yes, I hear the pizzas cooked in Italy are something else! Yum.. I hope you get to eat there soon. 

Lori Benton
The most unusual job I've ever had is... a summer internship in the graphic art department of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. I won this internship on the strength of an essay, and joined a troop of graduated high school seniors from around the country, in various internship positions throughout the Smithsonian complex. Because I lived locally, I didn’t room with the rest of the interns, but came into DC each day on a bus that arrived an hour before I had to be at work, and before the museum opened to the public. So for an hour each morning that summer I was able to roam to corridors of my favorite childhood museum, and have it all to myself. Well, me and the cleaning crew. Wow, sounds like a dream summer!! 

My all-time favourite movie is... either Amazing Grace or Last of the Mohicans. I can never decide. I’ve watched both countless times. 

I can't wait for the calendar to flip over to… the day I’m ushered into the presence of Jesus Christ, my love and my hero, whenever that day may be. No blessing here on earth could compare with that moment. 

When I was a child I most feared... probably speaking to people I didn’t know. I was a paralyzingly shy child, at times. I still am deep down, but I’ve learned to overcome it. 

If I had a pet kangaroo, I'd name it... after a fictional character I like. My current dog’s name is General Ka D’argo (from Farscape), Dargo for short. Perhaps I’d name it Brother Cadfael, if it was a boy. That's so interesting, Lori. I'm almost sure there's no kangaroo in Australia named, Brother Cadfael! Thanks for sharing with us, this week. 


If you'd like to win a signed copy of Lori's The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn or Lori's debut Burning Sky (fabulous book I'm reading right now) please leave a comment below. Two lucky winners will be announced on Friday. 

Tell us if you were a shy child like Lori, or if you didn't mind the attention of an audience. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, April 18, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 16

Spread Out With The Newspapers. 

Spreading out with the newspapers is one thing. There's local and international news to explore, and my author challenge this week is to consider what my protagonist would have read in his/her newspaper on this day

Thanks to Trove digital newspapers, I've found myself lost in much of the the 1870s, but...

When there's a royal tour happening in the country next door, which then spills into your own, it's easy to ignore the news of old and sink into the hype and pageantry offered by today's women's magazines. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Australia, with Prince George

With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting New Zealand and Australia this week, there's been a flood of photos to please the besotted masses of royal watchers. 

I will admit, I'm in their ranks, for reasons deeper than my own fascination with Britain's royal family. 

In 1984, I spent weeks checking between the covers of Australia's New Idea magazine for a story I'd submitted earlier that year. Accepted by Consolidated Press, I'd been sent a handsome cheque (to my fifteen year old eyes, anyway) and knew my story would appear in print.... someday. 

Well, that day arrived when the November issue appeared on supermarket shelves. With Bonnie Prince William on the cover and across the next three pages, no less... with my Story Of The Week buried further along.
Sharing a magazine with a future king

I took the chance to spread out with this old magazine today. To look at my name in print and the story I wrote about my father's immigrant journey to Australia. 

I'm so glad there's no 1980's celebrity on the cover. The history lover in me thrills to have shared my first publication with a future king. One whose every move has, and will be, played out in the public eye for life. Each step to the throne will be watched, while I sift through the shadows and details of life when his grandmother's great, great, grandmother, Queen Victoria, reigned. 

I'll continue to enjoy this tiny brush with royalty, but I'm more excited about an appointment I have with an Eternal King. 

It's not booked in for sometime when He's free to see me. I'm already in His presence. And unlike my well preserved magazine which will fall into a pile of dust someday, my name is written in the book of life. Never to be erased. 

Prince William has no clue about our shared experience in the New Idea magazine. But the record stands in my relationship with the Lord Jesus. It's etched in God's book and there's no better place to see my name. Especially on this Good Friday. 

Blessings to you this Easter,

Friday, April 11, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 15

Visit Your Favourite Cafe

Do I have a favourite cafe? 

Good question. 

In our search for the perfect breakfast stop, my Beloved and I find ourselves still looking. As if it were a military operation. 

We've eliminated plenty of options, and we're intent on hunting down the best one. For us. 

I know. 

It's a first world problem. 

But for now, we're testing the early Sunday morning egg menu in a row of eateries not far from home. Giant windows let in the entire neighborhood, while sweeping scenes beyond let the eye roam to the edge of Melbourne's skyline. The food is ok, but that's not why we return each Sunday on our way to church. 

We stop here, at the same table with brilliant sky views, because it's our place to connect and compare diaries for the week ahead. To sift through the busyness and unpack what's on our heart, as much as what's on the never-ending to-do-list. 

But we have a rule. No talk that might tip us me into tears. We save that discussion for another time. Sunday morning is our time, well guarded and much anticipated. It's where my Beloved asks about my writing schedule and upcoming conferences. Where I ask about his teaching and travelling schedule and what he's dreaming of next. Before we know it, the coffee's all gone and the eggs... well, they weren't so bad, after all. 

There's time for a pot of peppermint tea before we rush off, as well as another half hour to pencil in our lists and reminders. We've committed ourselves, our children and the week to God in prayer, and while it's not all tidy and far... far from perfect, there's a rest that comes from having synchronised the calendars and set each war plan to action. 

Because some seasons of life bring warlike conditions. And the foot soldiers need a place to strategize and muster arms. We do this with prayer, coffee and eggs. And then, we fuel up on a great sermon before heading into the fray of another week. 

Where is my favourite cafe?

Wherever my Beloved sits across the table from me.


Where's your favourite cafe and who sits with you? 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Monday, April 07, 2014

Tamera Lynn Kraft ~ Soldier's Heart

I'm welcoming Tamera Lynn Kraft to Ink Dots this week. Tamera has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction because there are so many stories in history. She has two novellas published, Soldier’s Heart through Helping Hands Press and A Christmas Promise through Pelican Book Group. Tamera has recently celebrated her thirty-fifth anniversary with her loving husband. She has two grown and married children and two grandchildren.

Soldier’s Heart ~ Noah Andrews, a soldier with the Ohio Seventh Regiment can’t wait to get home now that his three year enlistment is coming to an end. He plans to start a new life with his young wife. 

Molly was only sixteen when she married her hero husband. She prayed every day for him to return home safe and take over the burden of running a farm.

But they can’t keep the war from following Noah home. Can they build a life together when his soldier’s heart comes between them?

Tamera Says... 

If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... I would explore Alaska, the last great American wilderness. I am planning to explore Alaska in May. My husband and I are going on an Alaskan cruise. I’m so excited and plan to take notes for future novels while I’m there.

The best thing I did today is...Follow my routine. I like to stick to a routine in the mornings. When I start the morning with devotions, breakfast, getting dressed, and exercising, then sitting down to write, my whole day seems to go better. Like you, I love my routine. It's school holidays where I live right now... which means the routine is being messed with, a little. :)

A secret pleasure of mine is... I had to think about this one for a while because I have three of four. I guess I would love to sit down with a piece of chocolate cake and a cup of English breakfast tea and read a great novel or watch an old classic movie. Now my secret pleasure isn’t so secret. Chocolate features in most author secrets. Sounds good paired with that tea!  

I wish I could relive the day when I... I really don’t like to look back. I’m looking forward to the next great day.

When I was a child I dreamed... I had two dreams. I wanted to be a writer and a Radio City Rockette. I took dance lessons for 20 years, but I never grew tall enough or was good enough to be a dancer. But my dream of being a writer has come true. 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but...I’ve always dreamed of living in a log cabin in the woods.


To enter to win a digital copy of Tamera's Soldier's Heart, please leave a message below. Tell us if you're given to looking back or looking forward. 

I think I enjoy looking back at the special days we've enjoyed as a family. Especially now that our children are young adults. There's lots of happy memories to shed a quick tear or two over. 

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

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, April 04, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 14

Seabird Couple ~ Phillip Island
Take A Writing Retreat means go where the brain and heart can slow a little... and draw deeper into the creative well.

I've filled my diary with humble Phillip Island writing escapes since 2010. My first retreat came thanks to my Beloved’s generosity and in the form of a birthday gift voucher. 

Go and write. It said. 

So I went. And wrote. And I’ve done this over the years in the deep of winter and the snap of spring and even during the slow turn of autumn. (Summer is reserved for reading on the beach ~ a different and much needed retreat)

I know why a writing retreat is the author’s best birthday present.

It’s time. 

And space. 

To unwind, immerse in the story and pick up the threads which hang, just where the busyness of life keeps them. Dangling and waiting to be grabbed. 

Each time I’ve run away by myself to the very island where my stories are set. Phillip Island and the secluded beach of Red Rocks, where our family beach house sits just up the track in Ventnor. But for this author challenge, I invited my dear friend, Heartsong author Narelle Atkins to join me.

Who better to share the writing table and sea view than someone also in the thick of her own romance writing? 

Dorothy Adamek, Narelle Atkins and Rel Mollet
Day 1 found us playing tourist. We stopped in at the home of gorgeous Australian reveiwer Rel Mollet for a quick
afternoon tea, and then headed to Victoria’s top tourist attraction, Phillip Island’s Penguin Parade. I’m so sorry we were not allowed to take photos. If only I could share them here. The well protected Little Penguins could not get cuter or more intriguing, and our view of each surf-drenched waddle (yes, their packs are called waddles on land and rafts at sea) emerged more dignified with each fresh wave. 

I’d seen the Penguin Parade many times before, but this was Narelle’s first visit. She loved the way the penguins waited in the surf to cross the sand to their burrows. Their instinct to proceed only when dusk covered the beach in shadows. Their adorable hustle to the safety of the moonlit grasslands.

My highlight was the brilliant Southern Cross, beaming like it had been taken out of a box for the first time and hung in the sky just for us. 

By evening’s end our hearts brimmed with the majesty of God’s ocean, it’s creatures and the lavish expanse of sky overhead. 

Essential Stop ~ Harry's On the Esplanade
Day 2 delivered a writing agenda with a difference. Instead of banging at the keys, I took hold of the opportunity to re-read a project I’m unpacking after some time. While Narelle worked on her own story, I fell back into mine. By late afternoon we were ready for a coffee, a snoop around the shops and dinner at Harry's on the Esplanade overlooking the main swimming beach, Cowes. 

Pottering around the antique store didn’t fail to deliver a new book to add to my library, but walking the pier and showing Narelle where my characters push and fight and discover the cost of love, brought them to life for me afresh. That's a thrill that matches any book buying. I pointed out the path they’d take to walk along the shore from what would have been a village in 1875 to the location where I’ve set my hero’s farm. We squinted against the same colours of the sunset I’ve painted into my scenes. 

Two happy authors, chatting about characters as if they were real people who’d followed us around all day. And in a way, they had.

By midnight, I stood in the doorway of Narelle’s room, nutting out the complexities of conflict, backstory and subplot and only when the clock struck 2 did we figure it was time to put our stories to sleep and steal some ourselves. 

The shallows at Red Rocks Beach
Day 3 took us to the back beach where some of my characters find their lives tipped upside down. We walked the expanse of sand, with hardly a fellow sunlover in sight, except for the fishermen who tried to impress us with a catch that got away and two seabirds, very much the inseparable couple. 

To our right, the beach stage for my book 1. To our left, the sandy setting for my book 2. In the distance, the broad stretch of water from which all my displaced protagonists sail and sink into deeper trouble before they’re rescued and find love. 

Do I love writing about this island and her people as I imagine them in the late 1870s? You bet I do.

I’ve shared snippets of Phillip Island with Ink Dots readers over the years. And now I can add to that, the slow walk through the shallows with a dear friend who didn't mind listening to the gentle percolating of my stories, right where I imagine them. 

Author Selfie ~ Red Rocks Beach

Have you been to Australia's Phillip Island? 
Heard of the Penguin Parade? 

If not, I hope it won't be long before you get to explore this beautiful part of Australia's southern coastline. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,