Monday, July 28, 2014

Shelley Shephard Gray ~ Secrets Of Sloane House

It's a pleasure to welcome Shelley Shephard Gray to Ink Dots, this week. Shelley writes Amish romances for Harper Collins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire and historical romances for Zondervan. Her novellas have been Holt Medallion winers and Inspirational Readers Choice and Carol finalists. Shelley’s novels have appeared on both the New York Times and USA bestseller lists. Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s degree in English literature and elementary education and later obtained her master’s degrees in educational administration. She now live in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two college students, and is an active member of her church. Shelley is active on Facebook and also has a website, 

Secrets Of Sloane House ~ One woman’s search for the truth of her sister’s disappearance leads her to deceit and danger in 1893 Chicago. Rosalind Perry has left her family’s rural farm in Wisconsin to work as a housemaid at Sloane House, one of the most elegant mansions in Gilded Age Chicago. However, Rosalind is not there just to earn a living and support her family---she’s at Sloane House determined to discover the truth about her sister’s mysterious disappearance. Reid Armstrong is the handsome heir to a silver fortune. However, his family is on the periphery of Chicago’s elite because their wealth comes from “new money” obtained from successful mining. Marriage to Veronica Sloane would secure his family’s position in society---the lifelong dream of his ailing father. When Reid begins to realize that Rosalind’s life may be in danger, he stops thinking of marriage prospects and concentrates on helping Rosalind. Dark things are afoot in Chicago and, he fears, in Sloane House. If he’s not vigilant, Rosalind could pay the price. Set against the backdrop of Chicago’s Gilded Age and the 1893 World’s Fair, Secrets of Sloane House takes us on a whirlwind journey of romance and mystery.

Shelley says...

If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... I love to travel, so this is a hard question for me! Since I get to choose anywhere in the world, I’ll choose Cape Horn. Years ago, when I taught 5th grade, I would read aloud a book by Sid Fleischman called By the Great Horn Spoon. Making that journey would be exciting, for sure! Wow, that's some travel wish, Shelley. I hope you get to the Cape Horn someday. :)

The best thing I did today is... My son recently started his first ‘real’ job and money is kind of tight. So I made him a little care package and mailed it off first thing this morning. My kids are in their twenties now, but I still love doing ‘mom’ things. 

A secret pleasure of mine is... I love watching cooking shows and cooking competitions. We're the same in this house. Australian Masterchef is a real favourite. 

I wish I could relive the day when I... I would have to pick a lazy Sunday. I love going to church on Saturday night, then waking up late on Sundays and doing nothing but reading and napping. A few years ago I decided to make Sundays a true day of rest. That doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it feels great. Really great. 

When I was a child I dreamed I would... I didn’t grow up in a very stable environment, so I used to always wish for a home, a husband, kids, stability. I feel very blessed that those things happened. I'm so glad to know your childhood dream came true, Shelley. 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I’m a pretty poor housekeeper. I don’t like to clean and will usually try to do anything to not do it. (even write!) Even my daughter makes less mess in the kitchen than I do. It drives my husband crazy. Isn't the messy chef the most creative? (wink)

Shelley's offering one of her western books to one lucky Ink Dots friend. If you'd like to win a copy, tell us what kind of home help would best suit your household. I bet Shelley would order a housekeeper, but not a cook. I'd love a cleaner, but not a gardener. I enjoy my garden too much. How about you? If you could have home help for a year, what would you chose? 

Leave a comment in the thread below and I'll announce the winner on Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, July 25, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 30

Transform Your Writing Space

Howdy folks. Do you hear me speaking American like a local? I'm rolling my Rs like I'm supposed to. :) 

That's because earlier this week I packed my ruby slippers and headed off to the Romance Writers of America conference in San Antonio, Texas. This is my first RWA conference and I’m so thrilled to be here.

(Offering quiet, ferverent prayers on my behalf about now would bless me beyond measure. Thank you, dear friends.)

Before I left home, I took on the 52 Author Dates challenge to Transform Your Writing Space. If you’re like me, you like returning from a trip to a clean house. Writing room included.

So I tidied my book piles as best I could. Overflowing bookshelves are my biggest problem these days, but I hope to soon remedy that with more shelves ~ never less books.

52 Dates for Writers encourages the author to incorporate symbols of their writing in their environment. I had plenty of these already. So I dusted off …

A beach rock from a collection in the rockpools at Ventnor, Phillip Island. It symbolizes the smoothing of ragged edges in the life of my heroine, as seen by the hero who gives her a rock almost identical to this one.

And a dotted quinea fowl feather from my father-in-law’s farm. One I’d love to fashion into a writer’s quill, someday.

A women’s magazine with an article written by me. The first paid writing job I secured at age 15.

And a photograph of my Beloved in N.Y. (without me) arms outstretched, calling my name and wishing I were with him for a carriage ride through Central Park. He's the one who keeps me believing in the beauty of romance.
My desk at Crabapple House
The sentimental desk-bound writer in me is more than happy to be surrounded by these tokens because they all mark turning points in my writing life and I love to remember how far I’ve come.

52 Dates For Writers tells me changing your writing space is also a good way to mark the beginning of work on a new manuscript or distinction between different projects.

I know from the other writing conferences I’ve attended, I never return the same. So I’ve cleared my desk in anticipation and prepared it with a small token for my return.

A velvety pansy. 

A tiny welcome~home pot to symbolize the growth I look for in myself, the hope I hold for my stories, and the inspiration and opportunities I know I’ll carry home with me next week. 

Until then, 
Blessings for a wonderful weekend. 

And don't forget to pray for me. 
Thanks, lovely friends...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kristy Cambron ~ The Butterfly And The Violin

It's a great pleasure to welcome debut author, Kristy Cambron, to Ink Dots today. Kristy's been fascinated with the WWII Era since hearing her grandfather's stories of his experiences as a B-17 co-pilot in the war. She writes WWII and Regency Era Christian fiction titles.

Kristy's a proud Hoosier, living in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.

The Butterfly And The Violin ~ A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan. Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.
In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.
A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.
As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.
"In her historical series debut, Cambron expertly weaves together multiple plotlines, time lines, and perspectives to produce a poignant tale of the power of love and faith in difficult circumstances. Those interested in stories of survival and the Holocaust, such as Eli Weisel’sNight, will want to read." —Library Journal, starred review
". . . debut novelist Cambron vividly recounts interwoven sagas of heartache and recovery through courage, love, art, and faith." —Publishers Weekly. 

Kristy Says...

If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... Two places: London and Paris - la ville de mon coeur! I confess that I’m one of those dreamers who writes about places she longs to go. And after years of studying art history, I just may be a little Paris obsessed… My friends and family know this; every Christmas and birthday that rolls around, I open vintage-inspired gifts with an Eiffel Tower theme. So of course, my first book just had to include Paris. And book two in The Hidden Masterpiece series? You guessed it. Readers will take a journey to London. 

The best thing I did today is...Wake up in a loving home. My husband and I have three young sons and for the life of me, I can’t think of anything better than waking up to the sound of children’s laughter. It reminds me of what’s really important in this life. Despite the trying year we've had I still feel blessings through it. Joshua 1:9 talks about having strength and courage, for the Lord will be with us wherever we go. I feel His strength through the smiles of my children. 

A secret pleasure of mine is... Classic films! Comedies, dramas, film noir, mysteries, even old westerns… I love films from the 1930s and 40s. I recently watched The Best Years of our Lives (1946) for the first time and - wow! I was so moved by the portrait of GIs coming home to a different life after fighting in WWII. These classic films are packed with history, emotion and some of the best stars to ever grace the screen. 

I wish I could relive the day when...Years ago, my family visited an orchard in the rolling hills outside our hometown. It was shortly before I was married, so it felt like a last outing as our little family. My parents took my sister and I out to a local orchard and we had a glorious autumn day together – mums were in bloom, we picked apples, walked in the sunshine, ate good food…laughed and smiled. I have several photographs from that day and now that my Dad is gone, I cherish those memories. I revisit them in my heart daily. It was a good day. 

When I was a child I dreamed I would... become a Disney animator! Isn’t that wild? My Mom used to take my sister and me to the library each week. Instead of going for the fiction section (as my sister was the real reader in the family), I went straight to the art section and sat in the aisles, falling in love with the Disney animation books. I remember being captured with the visual aspect of story at a very young age. And since I can only draw exceptionally poor stick figures, I don’t expect the Disney Company to track me down for a job. : ) I’ll keep on writing Christian fiction– happily.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I’ve worked in the city for nearly fifteen years, but I’m a true country girl at heart. (I’ll take a rocker on the front porch and glass of iced tea over a night on the town anytime.) We live in rural Indiana– quite literally. There is a horse farm behind our house and on occasion, I’ll even get stuck behind a tractor on my drive to work. When we take our boys for a drive out to visit my husband’s family in the country, my heart truly sings! Someday we’ll move further out there, where the stars glow in God’s great big night sky, and fireflies light up the fields as far as the eye can see.  Like you, Kristy, I'm more of a country girl at heart. Thanks for visiting with us, this week. I'm SO excited to read The Butterfly And The Violin. :) 


If you'd like the chance to win a signed copy of The Butterfly And The Violin, please leave a message below. Tell us if your heart sings for the country or if it's the buzz of the city that draws you. I'll announce the winner on Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, July 18, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 29

Go To The Beach

“Sometimes in the waves of change, we find our new direction.”

Oh, how I love that quote. It’s the reason why I write. 

To see God’s purpose in new directions.

Kerferd Rd Pier, Melbourne

Change comes in waves and alters life for all of us. Some can even say for them, this change came on the crest of real waves.

My parents arrived in Australia on a tide which not only delivered them into each other’s lives, but washed new life into their souls when they discovered the tender mercies of God.

Kerferd Rd Pier, Melbourne
As the daughter of post war immigrants, I'm wrapped in a deep longing for the stories of those displaced and replanted in a new homeland. Australia has welcomed new settlers for centuries. Some came by choice, others ... not so willing. All fashioned identities to match the upside-down landing place they came to call home. 

In doing so, many left a piece of themselves behind. 

But nothing is ever lost. We thread our history through life by the things we hold onto. The memories, the tokens and values. And the new discoveries which transform our destiny. 

Two weeks ago, my Beloved and I visited the beach down the cove from the landing docks where my parents arrived in Melbourne. Hobson’s Bay has been welcoming immigrants since the days when convict ships swayed onto our shores. It’s the stage for reinventions, a letting go of the past and the place where first footfalls declare chapter one in newly written lives.

It’s also the landing place for many of my heroes and heroines.

Kerferd Rd Pier, Melbourne
Displaced and washed up on a shore they know little about, they set foot on boards which will lead them into waters deeper than the ones they’ve just travelled. Waves of trouble will knock them over and just when they think they’re sunk… they’ll find the treasures they longed for… right under their feet. 

My 'go to the beach' challenge allowed me a glimpse at the horizon. The one which separates my characters from their old world and their new one. I normally ponder the beaches of Phillip Island where many of my stories are set.

This time, I watched the waves roll in as a reminder of why I'm writing these stories in the first place. To explore God's direction on the waves of change. 

Is there a significant beach or landmark in your family's history?

Blessings for a wonderful weekend, 
I'll be posting next week from beyond the Pacific Ocean. I'll be in San Antonio, Texas for the 2014 RWA conference. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Laurie Alice Eakes ~ A Lady's Honor

It's my pleasure to welcome Laurie Alice Eackes back to Ink Dots. 

“Eakes has a charming way of making her novels come to life without being over the top,” writes Romantic times of  bestselling, award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes. Since she lay in bed as a child telling herself stories, she has fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author, with a degree in English and French from Asbury University and a master’s degree in writing fiction from Seton Hill University contributing to her career path. Now she has nearly two dozen books in print and more under contract.

After enough moves in the past five years to make U-Haul’s stock rise, she now lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, Himalayan and Exotic felines, and golden retriever and black lab canines. If the carpet is relatively free of animal fur, then she is either frustrated with the current manuscript, or brainstorming another, the only two times she genuinely enjoys housekeeping.

She loves to interact on social media, so do, please follow her at or on Twitter @LaurieAaEkes

A  Lady’s Honor ~ On the cliffs of 19th-century Cornwall, a spirited, impetuous young woman is torn between the honor of her family and the longing of her heart.
England, 1811
A tarnished reputation. A distant home. A forced engagement to a dangerous man. When Elizabeth Trelawny flees London, she has more than one reason to run. And when her carriage, pursued by her would-be fiancé, is caught in a storm, she quickly accepts the help of a dark stranger. Anything to get back to Cornwall.
But Rowan Curnow is not exactly a stranger. He’s not quite a gentleman either. Class disparity once kept him from courting Elizabeth . . . even if it didn’t keep him from kissing her.
The couple elude their pursuers and reach Bastion Point, Elizabeth’s future inheritance and the one place she calls home. But in the very act of spiriting her to safety, Rowan has jeopardized Elizabeth’s inheritance—if her grandfather ever learns she spent the night, however innocently, in the company of a man.
When smugglers unite the pair in a reckless, flirtatious alliance—an alliance that both challenges the social norms Elizabeth has been raised to revere and rattles Rowan’s fledgling faith in God, Elizabeth must choose between the obedience of a child and the desires of a woman: cling to the safety of her home or follow the man she loves.

Laurie Alice Says...

If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... the Scottish Highlands. I feel this urge to walk those ancient hills. The call of my ancestors? Or maybe the Welsh hills, the other side of my ancestry. No place too remote or uncivilized for me. 

The best thing I did today is... Hmm. Make dinner from scratch (I don’t know if you all use this term for something not made from a package, but the raw ingredients) for my long-suffering husband. Oh yes, we use the term from scratch. I've just popped an apple crumble in the oven for afternoon tea. I hope my kids enjoy it. :)

A secret pleasure of mine is... If I told, it wouldn’t be a secret, now is it?  In truth, I don’t know if I have secrets like that.

I wish I could relive the day when I... Met my husband. I had flown across the country--the direction that makes days longer--and had taken some medication, so I was pretty loopy and exhausted... Ah, well, he married me anyway.

When I was a child I dreamed I would... Be an author. Seriously. That was my ambition from at least fifth grade—around age 10.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I am terribly shy. I can be in a crowded room and, if no one talks to me first, go all evening without speaking to anyone. I’m not unfriendly; I just find starting conversations difficult.

Thanks for joining us this week, Laurie Alice. I'm looking forward to chatting with you some more at the RWA conference in San Antonio, next week. 
I'll come find you if you're too shy to find me. :)


To celebrate the release of Laurie Alice's A Lady's Honor, we have a fun giveaway this week. Your choice of one book from her list of e-books. To be in the running tell us what you like to make from scratch for your table. Something sweet like I've done today, or something savoury? 

Good luck in the draw and happy reading, 

Friday, July 11, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 28

Flea market find I wish I hadn't left behind. 
Visit A Flea Market

Not much would stand between me and a good fossick through a flea market or car boot sale. One of my favourite junk spots, and I use the term junk with deep fondness, is the Phillip Island Bazaar.

For many years it’s been one of those portals to yesteryear a history nut like me cannot ignore. While the rest of the family are clambering for ice-cream, I’m the one searching through the echoey heartbeat of yesteryear on shelves cluttered with all manner of junk.

Old clothes, furniture and books aplenty fill this many-roomed display of everything you could image. And then some. 

If it’s dusty, faded, ripped and /or tarnished, it’s all there. Most times I head straight to the musty book corner for old journals and love letters. Sometimes I hit the jackpot. 

Other times, I just wander and ponder who the original owners were and why their ‘stuff’ ended up behind glass in an island store in this corner of Australia.  

When I introduced my dear writing sister, Narelle Atkins, to the Phillip Island Bazaar, we spied this darling pair of shoes. I like to think they could be Edwardian… what do you think? 

Edwardian shoes...?
Spotted with age, they look well cared for and only now, are the stains someone probably worked hard to scrub away... appearing again. I’m guessing they were someone's good shoes. The toes are not as scuffed as working shoes or boots might be. The heels look in good order, too.

Could they be a bride’s wedding shoes? Worn only a few times and wrapped in tissue as keepsakes of a beautiful day?

What if the bride pulled out of her wedding at the last minute, and ran through wet grass for air when her parents insisted she return to remedy the disgrace?

Or, what if...?

Yes, I could go on. I’m sure you could join me in wondering how these shoes remain in reasonable condition long after they were worn. For good reason, the bazaar owners have preserved them behind glass. And authors like me love them for it. 

Vintage Cup and Saucer

Making a trip to the flea market is a challenge I not only enjoyed, but one which has delivered inspiration for another story. 

Thanks to my beautiful island and the little worn bridal shoes in the sea-side bazaar. 

So what does you imagination suggest about these shoes?
Do you have a special treasure you found on the shelf of a junk shop?

Blessings for a wonderful weekend, 

Friday, July 04, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 27

Running Track

Otherwise known as...You have to be kidding me, right?

It’s been a long time since I made it to the cross country finish line and the ribbons I won for my efforts back then are long lost. 

Those who know, say running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going. 

I ignored those arguments and laced up my running shoes, this week. My accept the one word challenge from my 52 Dates for Writers book ~ RUN.

Did I want to kickstart a running routine? No. 
Did I want to improve my fitness through running? No.
Did I want to kill my lungs on a lonely road where only the crazies go? No, no, no!

But I did want to know why some writers fit running into their writing regime. And so I pushed at the part of my brain that told me I had no hope of running a full lap of the football oval. Oh, I would run, and gulp down all the oxygen my brain needed to knock off a few stellar chapters when I got home. I pondered words like endorphin and rush, and other such nonsense. 

Water Stop
Surprise, surprise, on day one I didn’t even run the whole way. I stopped to die in an upright position so the poor couple walking their dog behind me wouldn’t have to peel me off the running track.

Barely recovered from the fire in my throat, I carried on. I ran over another stretch of concrete until my lungs gave out. But I resumed my run as soon as I told myself it could be done. I had no choice. I’d left my water bottle at my starting point in a sneaky move to ensure I'd at least clock up ONE lap.

But my brain was even sneakier. Even better than completing one lap was the crazy whisper I could manage a second one. So I pushed on. I listened to the rhythm of my feet, my laboured breathing, making note of the changes in speed when I slowed and when I found the energy to pick up the pace. 

On day two of my challenge, I added an extra lap. Not because I was enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s because I wanted to come home with more than I’d achieved the day before. And with my brain awakening to the possibilities, I talked myself into it. 

Just keep running to the communal bbq, then you can stop. 
Just until you reach the change in colour in the concrete path.
You can stop when you’ve passed the footy goals. 

And on it went. The slow, painful convincing I could go further.

And that’s when it hit me. Running is another way of going beyond what I believe I’m capable of. Another stretching of my mind (never mind the poor legs and lungs) which changes my default position.

And how does this translate to the writer in me, other then the desire to kill off the emergent runner?

Taking the lane home 
If yesterday's attempt saw three laps, could today's equal four? If I can do this, maybe when I get home I can knock off the synopsis writing I’m putting off. Maybe, there’s an unwritten limit under my feet, and when I find it... it’s possible to exceed it. And apply it to my writing.

Golden moment. This is when I started humming Chariots of Fire. 

And I ran all the way home. 

Did you read that? 

I ran home. 

I added the uphill lane for good measure because, maybe, some of those endorphins were playing happy music and my brain said it could be done.

Are you a runner? 
Do you hate the idea of running... anywhere? 

Whether you lace up the running shoes or not, blessings for a wonderful weekend,