Writing In The Pocket Of Grief

My mum’s 12 year cancer battle ended 12 days ago. In these last two and a half years she endured many months of distress including a difficult recovery from surgery last year, meant to buy her more years.

It didn’t. And now she is gone.

 

But her suffering has ended and if you’ve watched a loved one buckle under cancer’s cruelty, you will understand my thankfulness that God has set her free.

Free of pain. Free of confusion. Free of everything that darkened her days.

But her struggles did not define her. They were only part of her beautiful story. Her true legacy surrounds us each day. It comes over me in layers, like the beautiful writing gloves she knitted. Her warmth for my cold mornings at the keyboard.

All around me, memories of her. Her touch left in a thousand places, in all our homes.

In all our hearts.

But what about the gaping hole, and the thick silence? It grabs me by the throat and chokes hard when I least expect it. When I turn to share a snatch of conversation with her and she’s not there, anymore.

When I see the wilting floral arrangements that adorn my home in tribute to her, and know I must throw them out… because they too are dead.

How do I live as a motherless daughter? Where do I find myself, when a big piece of me is lost forever?

I go back to the story of her. A tapestry of Greek wisdom and Christian beliefs. Her cord of silly humour that still ran through the most somber of our days. Her fussiness, wound tight like a perfect braid. And her faith, which held her right up to the end, and holds me up, too. Her God, is my God. And nothing confounds Him.

The day Mum entered Palliative Care she was given a small blanket by hospital volunteers. A knitted riot of unmatched colours that in any other world, would… and should, never sit together. She smiled with me at the mess of patterns, of clashing tones and scrappy squares. Pieces, thrown together, as if by chance.

But not really. Those hospital knitters know what they’re doing.

While I held her hand, Mum breathed her last under that blanket.

I took it home and washed it. It dried on a summer breeze. Now it’s a beautiful, warm, weighted reminder of life’s unique moments and fragments. The beautiful and the ordinary, the delicate and the rough, all hooked in knitted loops. Each one holds the other in place. Each ending becomes the starting point for something new, and I am now wrapped in its comfort.

While my publication schedule changed during Mum’s illness, the words still flowed. Each day I wrote from the pocket of deepening grief.

But now… writing gloves on, I will pull the ugly-beautiful-blanket a little closer, too.

And I will publish the stories she will never read, knowing they too, are coloured pieces of me, and the happy fragments of a life that knitted us together… and made us smile.

Author Talk Snapshots

 

The nights have been cold and this winter has not been mild.

Nope. Melbourne continues to deliver its iciest blast.

But my readers have showered me with warmth and love.

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Rustic bookshelf, scattered sea shells…

In June, it was my privilege to speak with the wonderful women of NewHope Baptist Church, in Blackburn. These girls sure know how to manage an event. Every corner of the room was festooned with details inspired by Carry Me Home.

A million thanks, to my beautiful team…Fiona, Surette, Laura, and Robyn. 

From shells to tea cups, lanterns and candles, to olde worlde books and nostalgic touches like handmade bunting… the entire room glowed with such attention to detail, I thought I may have walked into my own story-world.

And notice the carefully chosen tablecloth, matched to Finella’s skirt! Brilliant!

Many thanks to the beautiful souls who attended this Meet The Author event, and for your wonderful support! What a treat to discover such warm hearted readers.

Meeting you girls was the highlight of my June!

 

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Old Bible

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Book display

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Beautiful Bunting

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Vintage Books

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Wonderful Readers

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More Wonderful Readers

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Stunners, each one

AND… just last week, it was a delight to chat with the good people of Phillip Island in the local library. We talked all things Carry Me Home, Displacement Fiction, and my road to publication. Many thanks to Helen and Jenny for their hospitality.

An Aussie author could easily believe the months of June and July are cold and unwelcoming. Not true. For this debut author, they’ve been a warm embrace.

Thank you, dear readers! Once again, you’ve blessed me beyond measure.

 

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Book Signing At The Phillip Island Library

 

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Meeting New Readers

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Final Instructions…. Read Carry Me Home

 

I hope you’re keeping toasty or ice cool… wherever you may be.

Happy reading,

Dotti xx

 

 

2016 Fingerless Gloves Giveaway

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In case you’re somewhere warmer, it’s the thick of winter in Melbourne. Measures need to be taken, friends. We fight the cold any way we can.

Me…? I take out my fingerless writing gloves.

Knitted with love by my beautiful mum, Sophie, I’ve grown used to wearing them at the computer when the weather turns frosty. They’re a hug from her on solitary days when I’m editing and working on Carry Me Away re-writes.

Mum hasn’t enjoyed the best of health in recent years. But even in the midst of sickness, she’s worked on a pair of these gloves for one lucky Ink Dots friend. She’s such a generous woman! I am blessed she’s my mama.

Along with the pair she’s knitted for me, (which I’m wearing while I type right now) she’s made others I’ve had the privilege to give away over the years. And it’s that time of year again when I pause my writing for a moment to share Mum’s excellent knitting with someone who loves the touch of the old worlde as much as I do.

This year, that could be YOU.  Oh, I so hope it will be YOU

All you have to do for your chance to win….is join my mailing list. (Don’t worry if you’re already signed up. You’re automatically in the running. How cool is that?)

Why sign up? So you can be one of the first to receive my author news and the latest developments on Carry Me Away. And because it’s a fun way for me to pick someone who might cherish a pair of these sweet gloves for themselves.

How? Scroll to the bottom of this page, or any page on this website, for the mailing list sign up form. You have until the end of June to sign up and the GOOD news is…  This offer is open to all Australian AND international subscribers.

Yes. I will post this prize anywhere in the world. With real Aussie stamps and postmarks. Truly!

So, stay warm, (or cool) dear friends, wherever you are.

Enjoy the passing seasons.

Read good books and enter to win the 2016 Ink Dots Fingerless Gloves Giveaway.

And let me know… if you win, do you plan on wearing them to write like me, or snuggle up in a corner to read?

Love, Dotti

 

UPDATED  – Congratulations to the winner of the 2016 Fingerless Gloves Giveaway…. Sally Bradley! 

besotted with history…

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James and Rachel’s engagement cake, made by Galina Adamek, wooden board by Vlad Adamek.

There’s nothing I love more than history and tradition. I’m besotted with the tokens and treasures which shape families and tell their stories.
Stories told through ordinary… and sometimes extraordinary objects we pass through the generations.

Objects like the beautiful circle of wood used as a base for this engagement cake.

Originally a cypress pine on the country property of my mother and father-in-law, it graced the farm where 11 Adamek cousins played for most of their growing up years. Like the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music, these grandchildren climbed trees and brought home more sap on their clothes than their mothers cared to shift.

But we never really minded. We knew our kids were making life long memories. And when the farm was sold, there wasn’t one grandchild who didn’t mourn the loss of their childhood playground.

My clever brother-in-law, Vlad, managed to save one of the trees which had to be cut down, and recently worked a circle of the trunk into a base for his son and future daughter-in-law’s engagement cake.

It took my breath away.

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Sophie and James’ engagement cake. Made by Holly Petty.

Not only beautiful, but a sentimental real life slice of a mischief-filled childhood, rich in the love of grandparents, aunties and uncles.

This wooden base was used for the first time at the engagement of my nephew, James, and his future wife, Rachel.
Two weeks later, my own daughter, Sophie and her fiancé, James, borrowed it for the base of their engagement cake, too.

Woven into the present, this is a cherished token from our yesteryears. A wooden thread to be handed from one cousin to the next, a symbol of their shared treetop cousinhood.

My mother’s heart filled with delight to watch our Sophie and James cut their engagement cake and share it with their guests. Few people at their party would’ve guessed the significance of the stunning wooden board.

But some of us knew.

We knew beneath the layers of decadent chocolate, peanut butter and green ombre frosting… a ring of years echoed the ring of children’s voices calling to each other from the windswept limbs of cypress pines.

We knew a part of our history had collided with our present…and we knew it was about to become a part of many more futures.

Does your family have a tradition passed on through brides and grooms?
Do you have tokens which tell a family story?

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Dotti

 

 

 

 

One year on…

Last April, we shot all the photography for the Blue Wren Shallows series book covers, as well as the location shots I’ve used on this website. Each photograph captures the beauty of Phillip Island and the beaches where the stories of Finella and Shadrach, and the people who come into their lives, are set.

April, 2015

I’m privileged to walk these beaches when I visit my island. They remind me of critical scenes in my stories and continue to inspire new ones. One particular stretch of beach is where my daughter sat for this website’s homepage header. She’s perched on a washed up, sun-bleached log left for us by the wind and the waves.

My dear friend, Rel Mollet, spotted that piece of driftwood the day we went scouting the beach for suitable photography locations. It served us well later that afternoon when we took our cover model and photographer down to the beach for the last of the photography. (See this fun to revisit that day.)

Since then, I’ve walked that same beach a dozen times, maybe more. Each time that driftwood log is snuggled into the sand a little more. Last week, it looked like this… in places, almost completely buried by the kiss of the tide.

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April, 2016

And I was reminded how much has happened since last April.

The happy launch of Carry Me Home.

The delightful months of introducing Shadrach and Finella to readers all over the world.

And for me… the opportunity to connect with many of those readers who’ve now become friends.

I’m thrilled to say book two in the Blue Wren Shallows series, Carry Me Away, is a now a complete story.

To me, it looks a little like the log in the photo. I can see the beginning and end. But there’s branches which need dusting off and polishing up. That’s what I’ve been doing these last few months and will continue to work on in the weeks ahead.

I’ve also been a little distracted by the happy engagement of our daughter to her sweet love, in February. And with their permission, I will share some of that deliciousness in my first newsletter, scheduled to be sent out next week.

Are you on the Ink Dots Newsletter mailing list?

You can subscribe by filling in the field at the bottom of any page on this website.

I’m so excited to share it with you.

 

 

Mornings look like this…

Summer days are racing by and I’m spending more and more time in the library working on the ending of Carry Me Away, book 2 in the Blue Wren Shallows series.

Lots of new reader friends have popped in to pick up their copy of Carry Me Home (book 1). They sit in that chair while I sign their book, but most of my days I spend in the library, all alone… working on this new manuscript. (Don’t be fooled. I’m not complaining. Alone = bliss for this homebound author)

Here’s a peek at my view one morning this week ~ surrounded by my words, my tea, and a little angel watching over me to make sure I’m on task. I’m in the thick of making life miserable for my characters. Really bad. Tissue box bad.

During a coffee catch up with a dear writing friend, we brainstormed a further ‘misery twist’ … and even I flinched. Thankfully there’s a giddy, full blown romantic thread to wrap around this story before it’s delivered to YOU, my dear reader.

If you haven’t signed up for the Ink Dots newsletter, now is the time to get on that list. You will be among the first to receive news about upcoming book releases, the first to glimpse cover reveals, and in the month of February, anyone who subscribes to the Ink Dots newsletter is in the running to win an autographed copy of Carry Me Home.

You can do that by filling in the field at the bottom of any page on this website. There’s two books up for grabs this month!

Good luck, dear friends!
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