Phillip Island in the Winter

 

I spent most of last week at Phillip Island, working through the bones of what will become Book 3 in my Blue Wren Shallows series.

For those of you waiting on Book 2, Carry Me Away... it’s currently (happy-squeal!) in the lap of a few of my all-time favourite authors who are reading for endorsement, and my talented cover artist is putting her finishing touches on the cover.

I’m most grateful to those who continue to ask about Carry Me Away. I can’t wait for you to meet the characters who come to life in the telling of this story and cause their own trouble in Shadrach and Finella’s world. (Carry Me Home)

Until then, I want to share with you last Monday’s sunset and my scarf-wrapped walk to Red Rocks and back home ~ a true riot of setting sun and clouds playing in the shallows.

Somehow, I managed to sneak into the one majestic hour of stillness over an island battered by rain most of the week I was there.

Depending on whether I had my back to the sun or walked towards it, my phone camera captured all manner of wintery light and reflections. And even in the stillness, the ominous power of the clouds hung above me in a bruised sky.

And that, dear readers, is why I run away to write on this beautiful island.

To breathe in the beach after a storm. To capture the sun that falls into the horizon, and to wade through the shallows where my characters play and fight and learn to love.

These photos are unedited. But sometimes I like to run them through pretty filters and I post on Instagram.

You can follow me there for more photos.

Meanwhile, please join me on this quick stroll through the Blue Wren Shallows.

 

Phillip Island, Australia

 

Phillip Island, Australia

Sunset over Phillip Island, Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Rocks Beach, Phillip Island, Australia

 

Sunset, Phillip Island, Australia

 

 

Boats ashore, Phillip Island, Australia

 

Sunset, Phillip Island, Australia

 

Seagrass, Phillip Island, Australia

 

Sunset, Phillip Island, Australia

 

Sunset, Phillip Island, Australia

Australia ~ A place you feel (says chris hemsworth)

The grapevine, looking every bit the Queen of the Garden at Crabapple House, Autumn 2019

May is my favourite month because I celebrate my birthday AND Mother’s Day… only days apart. And because these special days occur when the weather is flush with brilliant rubies and saffrons, I have grown to love autumn more than any other season.

This year, I have even more reasons to LOVE the month of May. Many of you have found this journal page, and website, and my book, Carry Me Home, thanks to this month’s Christian Historical Romance Book Bundle Giveaway. (If you haven’t checked out the 9 FREE books on offer, you have until the end of May to take your pick.)

And so a big warm WELCOME to those of you who are newly arrived to all things Ink Dots. I’m delighted you’ve downloaded Shadrach and Finella’s story. If you’ve journeyed with these characters to the end, I am most grateful! Let me know what you thought of the story in the comment section below.

Fiction set in Australia may be something you’re already fond of, or something that’s completely new to you. Either way, I wanted to share this fabulous Tourism Australia link, with voiceover by Chris Hemsworth. If you haven’t opened your copy of Carry Me Home, here’s a peek into the majestic Australian landscape my characters occupy.

 

 

Click Here for Chris Hemsworth’s Invitation to Australia

 

Ventnor Beach, Phillip Island, Australia

What did you think of that quick tour of our beautiful country? I hope it inspires you to read or perhaps even re-read Carry Me Home. Because in a few short months, Carry Me Away, book 2 in the Blue Wren Shallows series will be ready for your reading pleasure.

So what are you waiting for? Step right into yesteryear and the beauty of Australia’s beaches and windswept cliffs and the Blue Wren Shallows of Phillip Island in… Carry Me Home

Happy Reading,

Dotti

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.

Queen Mary 2 – Author Visit

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Once in a lifetime, an author has an innocent conversation with a friend who is the Business Development Manager for the world’s best cruise ships.

This leads to all manner of dreaming and scheduling and before she knows it, she’s in the back of an UBER ride on her way to the famous CUNARD LINE Queen Mary II.

And yes… in my wildest dreams I would never have imagined this would be MY author adventure, but thanks to my fabulous friend Andrew Perry, it is.

And I am still pinching myself.

To continue the giddy-fest of drool-worthy photos of this magnificent vessel, I bring you the day Rel Mollet, (my part-time assistant, part-time photographer and full-time partner in author world adventures) and I, boarded this recently remastered flagship on its 2017 World Voyage – Melbourne visit.

What an honour to be invited to deliver copies of my debut Australian Historical Romance, Carry Me Home, for readers from all over the globe.

Here’s how we rolled…

 

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Really, truly…. our first ever UBER ride. Early morning excitement – before the wind tore up our hair.

 

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We’re official! Passed security and tagged for embarkation.

 

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Aboard the Queen Mary 2 with our escort and dear friend, Andrew Perry. I think he’s saying, ‘You should live onboard and write away each day in some sunny corner.’ And I’m saying, ‘I so should.’

 

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One copy each of Carry Me Home for the 3 Cunard Queens – The Queen Mary II, The Queen Elizabeth, and The Queen Victoria.

 

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With the QM2 Librarian, Nathan, and Sandy, QM2 Events Co-ordinator.

 

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Talking all things libraries and the habits of seafaring readers.

 

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Top shelf, centre…. goosebumps and cheesy author smiles.

 

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The Queen Mary 2 is the world’s largest floating library, with a backlit collection of over 8000 titles to cover the reading delights of its 2600 passengers and 1300 crew.

 

Queen Mary 2

After my author visit to the library, Andrew took us on a 3 hour guided tour of the QM2. Melbourne put on a glorious summer’s day and showered us in sunshine, befitting a ship so grand.

 

 

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The QM2 has 14 decks. I think we covered every one of them!

 

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Acres of fine dining.

 

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We worked up an enviable appetite and were delighted with our delicious luncheon. Thank you, Cunard!

 

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The Grand Lobby. Lives up to its name and then some.

 

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The Captain’s Table…, a little larger than the rest, to welcome special dinner guests.

 

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Part of the Royal Family photographs in the Grand Ballroom. I’m looking at an original photo of Queen Mary, after whom the ship was named. Bliss for a lover of all things historical.

 

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Aussie Pride on a cabin door.

 

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The view of Marvellous Melbourne from the top deck of the QM2.

 

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Author life. It’s a hard job. Lucky for me my assistant insists on afternoon naps. In the sun. On a luxury ocean liner. #dreaming

 

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Most passengers were exploring the sights of  Melbourne.

 

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So, take your pick of deckchairs.

 

Queen Mary 2 (a)

The spectacular Royal Court Theatre seats 1000 guests for movies and live performances to rival anything seen on Broadway or West End.

 

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Illuminations – The QM2 seriously has a planetarium! Seating almost 500 guests it also screens movies and features lecture programs.

 

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What a magnificent vessel! Why would anyone want to leave? A cruise onboard the Queen Mary 2 is now TOP of my wish list.

 

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Rel Mollet and I had to be lured into our ride home by this generous gift of CUNARD boxed chocolates. Otherwise we might have stayed forever.

 

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I’ve learned a lot in my short time as published author. Here’s what’s impressed me the most – My readers are the BEST PEOPLE around. They cheer me on, encourage my writing, and constantly surprise me with opportunities to speak and showcase my work. This time it was this guy. Thank you, Andrew, for your generous heart and invitation to come aboard. The author life is never dull and this week in particular, it was off the charts super spectacular. #literallyblownaway

 

 

 

 

Delivery ~ Carry Me Home

 

There’s IMG_4073much I can say about the book publishing process, which added grey hairs to my head and wrinkles around my weary eyes.

But I forgot most of it the day I ripped open this package to reveal the first ever print copy of Carry Me Home.

Fast-tracked via Amazon, it arrived one sunny November morning, like any other delivery which barrels into the driveway on the back of some regular looking truck.

Only, this truck had been listened for all morning.

 

I’d pottered around the front garden, half interested in the new summer roses, but really, head tilted to every noise and rumble from the other side of the hedge.

The cardboard packaging fell apart easy enough under the pull of my knife, and there it was. Velvety cover, cream pages, everything I’d imagined for years. Beside the lemon bowl on my kitchen bench.

In. My. House.

A proof copy for me to examine from every angle, before I pressed the publish for all the world to read button.

But first, I had to hold it. And smell it. And rub the soft cover against my cheek. And when my breathing allowed… hold the book at arm’s length to make sure it was real. And squeal a little.

Giddy, giddy gooseflesh, all my prayers had been answered…and my book had come home.

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editing, proofreading, and formatting

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In August, Carry Me Home received it’s final, full, deep editing.

This came after three weeks with the wonderful Margie Lawson from Denver, and her dear husband, Tom, who visited with us to run two Deep Editing Immersions and attend the RWAust conference in Melbourne.

Armed with the trusty Margie Lawson highlighting arsenal, I took my manuscript apart, page by page.

 

Each scene, each sentence, each word went through the refining fire of ruthless editing. A process which took close to a month to complete.

When I was done, I didn’t want to see a fluro marker or the story again. (Yes, this happens. It’s an author thing. We do recover but there are times we never want to look at the multi-highlighted pages EVER AGAIN.)

Thankfully, the fabulous Rel Mollet was on on hand to proofread one last time before Carry Me Home went off to the experts in Bangkok for print version and digital formatting.

 

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The editing process…delete, swap, add.

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One week into the final editing and the sticky notes were stacking up!

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Two weeks into editing… and I was running out of sticky notes.

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Week three… and that could possibly be blood on the title page.

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Done! Highlighted, annotated… now to apply to the version on my laptop!

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Printed… ready for Rel Mollet to proofread once last time.