Congratulations to Jessica Bertrand, for winning our murder mystery game to receive a signed copy of For Whom the Bluebell Tolls!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

85 Years and Going Strong

I have a confession—I love cartoons. All sorts. From Disney princesses to classic shorts. Some of my favorites are the Looney Tunes. Their music was the soundtrack of my childhood. And this year is the Looney Tunes 85th Anniversary.

Warner Brothers originally developed both Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies to promote their music. The company had recently acquired the Brunswick Records and four major music publishers and were ready to start cashing in on sheet music and phonograph records.

The first Looney Tunes short was Sinkin' in the Bathtub, which was released in 1930. It featured a character named Bosco. Porky Pig didn’t show up until 1935, Daffy Duck in 1937 and both Elmer Fudd, and Bugs Bunny in 1940.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I’ve included a few of my favorite bits. Do you love the Looney Tunes, too? Do you have a favorite cartoon or gag?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Cleaning and Spiritual Decluttering

by C.J. Chase

If you’ve ever read my bio (available here or in my books), you’ve seen my confession that I was born without a housekeeping gene. This actually isn’t the full story. I do try to maintain and clean and orderly home. The problem is that I’ll often start one project only to realize I need to do something else first, so I start that… At the end of the day, I’ll feel like I have little to show for all the time I spent working. I guess it’s not so much my lack of a housekeeping gene as the presence of housekeeping ADD.

Sometimes my husband (who, I should add, has absolutely no room to talk in this area) would say, “Our house is messy.” And I would respond with, “It’s clean. It’s just cluttered.”

So, after a brutal February where the kids were out of school almost two full weeks because of snow, the warm weather (and, oh, yeah, the knowledge that guests are arriving next week) motivated me to do some spring cleaning. I decided I wanted to be organized in my approach this year, so I started googling until I hit a site with a handy spring-cleaning checklist. 

To my surprise, I discovered that my justification comeback (clean, just cluttered) was essentially accurate. I do most of the items on the list—and pretty regularly. (Wash curtains? Check. Wipe baseboards and moldings over doors and windows? Check. Dust ceiling fans? Of course. Launder pillows? It’s just gross not to. Wash windows and screens? Frequently. I hate dirty windows.) Then why does my house feel messy so much of the time even though I seldom bother to put the vacuum cleaner away since I’ll just be getting it out again in a few hours?

Yep. Clutter. I just can’t get a handle on it. And the rest of my family is as bad or worse. At times, (like, when the arrival of company is imminent) I’ve resorted to a “magic box” where I toss in all the accumulated stuff. But part with it? Someday I might need that school paper/magazine/jar/mystery screw/box/coupon/business card/receipt/etc. Furthermore, I love my children. How could I possibly discard the clay turtle, rainbow painting, or indefinable yarn project they bring home from art class? Worse, what if I throw it away and they see it in the trash? They’ll be convinced I hate them, and
therapy is expensive.

As I meditated on this while scrubbing a floor this week, I realized my clean-but-cluttered situation is a metaphor for my spiritual life. My life is relatively “clean.” I’m a pretty moral person. No murder, adultery, or stealing here. I’ve never been charged with a crime. Never even gotten a speeding ticket. You can run my name against any law enforcement database, and I come back clean.

But I continually wage a battle against spiritual clutter—all the “stuff” that fills up time that should belong to God, a minute-by-minute conquest of my day as surely as old mail, a grocery list, son #3’s perfect spelling test, the refrigerator repairman’s phone number, the paper I need to sign for son #2, and a checkbook that needs balanced have appropriated my kitchen table.

Beginning today I'm going to start getting more ruthless with that spiritual clutter, reclaiming a few minutes here, some more time there. Besides, it will be nice change to spend more of that time on my knees having a conversation instead of wielding a scrub brush!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Murdoch on Location in Georgina

by Anita Mae Draper

As an avid fan of the Canadian TV series, Murdoch Mysteries, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that last week's episode, Shipwreck, was shot in the vicinity of my genealogy research, as well as being on the To Explore list of my June visit to Ontario.

The caption for the Shipwreck episode reads: "A murder investigation at a church reunites Murdoch with the priest who mentored him as an altar boy." We see how Detective Murdoch learned to question everything while working with fatalities of a shipwreck.

Shipwreck opens with the usual murder - filmed in the historic cemetery beside St. George's Anglican Church at Sibbald Park, Georgina.

Sibbald's Church, Jackson's Point, 1910 (now Sibbald Point, Georgina). Photo credit - Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library

What makes this cemetery special isn't because the famous Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock, is buried there, nor because of Mazo de la Roche, the Canadian novelist I featured in Mazo de la Roche Part 1 and Part 2.

Clifford Thompson, WW2, somewhere in England

It's special because it's the final resting place of Clifford Thompson (1920-1983), his wife Hope Sibbald Seale Thompson (1921-2012), and their son, Daniel Thompson (1961-2009).

The Thompson family is special because Cliff is my husband's first cousin 1x removed. (If you've been following my Author Memories genealogy blog, Cliff is the son of Grandma Ethel's sister, Christie, who married Roy Thompson.)

And in case you're wondering about the Sibbald name...yes, Hope is the great-great-granddaughter of early Ontario pioneer Susan Sibbald whose original six hundred acres included the land which the church sits on as well as Eildon Hall and Sibbald Point Provincial Park.

In this next image, you see the archway to the church's entrance and cemetery. You also see a lane which leads to Eildon Hall, the historic manor of the Sibbald family which is now the Sibbald Point Museum. This shot (minus the signage and motorcycles) appears in a scene about 10 minutes into Murdoch's Shipwreck episode.

St. George's Anglican Church, Sibbald Point, Georgina, Ontario. Photo Credit - Google Earth

According to the Town of Georgina website, Susan Sibbald donated 66 acres along the Lake Simcoe shore for a church and cemetery. Others donated money, materials, and 5 more acres. In 1938, they began work on a wooden log church, holding services in Eildon Hall while the work progressed. Susan Sibbald suggested the name St. George because she admired him as a warrior. The name stuck.

Highly educated and well-travelled, Susan was a forward thinker and woman of action. From everything I've read, it was due to her strength and determination which resulted in the first fine St George's church which included stained glass windows. One in particular needs to be mentioned here because it was designed and hand-painted by the artistic daughters of the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada John Graves Simcoe and his wife, Elizabeth, who happened to be an old school friend of Susan Sibbald as well as an accomplished artist and painter herself.

Stained Glass Window designed and painted by the daughters of Governor John Graves Simcoe and his wife, Elizabeth. Photo credit -

When the stained glass panes were done, the daughters shipped them from England to Upper Canada (now Ontario). After Susan's death in 1866, her sons wanted to honor her life by building a church that would withstand centuries. Using rollers, they moved the original log church closer to the shore and began work on a stone one. Upon completion, the huge stained glass window which the Simcoes' daughters had created was taken from the old church and set above the communion table of the stone church. An exterior view of the window is displayed in both church images above.

However, if you watch Murdoch's Shipwreck episode, you'll notice that the interior church scenes show a beautiful stained glass window, but it's not the elaborate colorful one of St. George's Church at Sibbald Point.

Interior view, St James' Anglican Church, Sutton, Ontario. Photo credit - unknown at this time

That's because the interior shots were filmed at nearby St. James' church, completed in 1858, which is also of the Anglican Parish of Georgina. Although I don't know why the switch, my film industry experience points to the fact that the show needed a subdued window to enhance the interior scenes and not distract the viewers from the action. Add to that the fact that the St James' location is surrounded by the 21st century and its honorable, yet simple brick vista can't equate to the beauty of secluded St. George's on Sibbald Point.

St James' Anglican Church, Sutton, Ontario, Canada. Thank you Google Earth

The funny thing is, although the Shipwreck episode was filmed near the shore of Lake Simcoe, all the shots were on dry land. The answer to why, as well as many other answers, are explained in the following seven minute video, Making Murdoch: Shipwreck.

I enjoyed the video not only for its factual and cast information, but also because it shows the series creator, author Maureen Jennings who wrote this episode and wanted to give us Murdoch's back story.
If I've piqued your interest, CBC online carries the full episodes after the show is aired - but you may need to be in Canada to receive them.

Watching the Shipwreck episode and the accompanying video, as well as researching for this post is filling me with excitement for my upcoming trip to Ontario in June. There are simply so many things to see and places to visit, and one of my goals is to take my own photos of the historic St George's and St James' churches and then replace the ones on this post with my own.

And finally, I need to give a shout-out to the Georgina Pioneer Village & Archives facebook page for the Feb 25th heads' up notice about the Shipwreck episode. Thank you!

So... did you watch the episode? The video? Learn anything new? 


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. Anita's stories are set, but not limited to the western prairies. She is blessed to be included in Guideposts Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer collection. Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at

Monday, March 16, 2015

Reading and Writing: God’s at work behind the pages with Guest Emilie Hendrix!

Welcome Emilie Hendrix to the Inkwell!
I’m a writer but before that, I was a reader. I’m still a reader, of course, but I’ve started to see reading differently since I began dissecting what makes up a book. There’s so much more to a story than the plot. That’s the driving force behind a book, but before there is a plot, there’s a mind that dreams.

I’ve always been a dreamer. I was that little girl playing quietly in her room, making up stories for Barbie’s and my stuffed animals. I’m an only child so playing by myself came easily. An adventure was never far away, because they were all in my head.

When I got older and started to enjoy reading on my own (my parents used to read to me at night) I began to have even bigger dreams. If you’re a reader, you’ll understand that feeling of wonder you get when picking up a new book. The spark of anticipation that zings through you at the thought of what you’ll experience in the pages held between you hands.

That truly is the beauty of reading. It’s not one sided. A book requires participation. The reader brings their own imagination and creates something even greater than any author could hope for. I can think of many books that are still vividly ingrained in my mind even though I read them over ten years ago. Scenes, conversations, a setting, all of these things come rushing back just at the mention of a title.

Realizing the “power” a book has then requires action on the side of the reader and the writer.

We all have a unique story. In His majesty and amazing power, the Lord has created everyone with individual desires, likes, dislikes, tastes, dreams, hopes, fears, passions…the list goes on.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me!...For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:1,13-14

We have a responsibility to that individual creativity. If we are writers, we must write what the Lord has given us passion for. We must do it excellently. And we must persevere. If we are readers, then we have the blessing of enjoying someone else’s creativity. It’s easy to get lost in a great story, but (as I’ve seen in my own life) sometimes the Lord uses a story to teach something in addition to entertaining.

 I get the opportunity to interview a lot of authors and one question I ask is about the overall intention of the story or why the writer writes. I have been surprised and amazed at the reasons. In addition to mentioning entertainment, most authors have a special message they desire to share. For some it’s to encourage, others to show how God is faithful and trustworthy, and others want their characters to tackle tough questions of faith in order to bring about a deeper understanding to the reader.

I say all this to impart a little bit of the awe and wonder I have about God. To think that He has gifted some with the ability to write fictional characters that teach a real-life lessons is amazing and humbling. I know I’ve been touched by the books I’ve read. I’ve laughed, cried, and learned something new about my own walk with Him. That’s because there is someone behind the book—the reader and the writer. And behind them, there is God.

He is at work in us all, and to think that He uses books is--for this book lover and writer--the most amazing thing!

Emilie lives in Washington, D.C. and fills her time with creative pursuits. She writes, takes pictures, reads, plays guitar, and drinks too much coffee. She’s a member of ACFW and My Book Therapy and currently working on a romantic suspense series while dreaming up a YA dystopian series. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
Connect with her on her blog,, or on her Facebook author page,

Twitter: @eacreativephoto

Instagram: @eahendryx

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Scripture Pic - 1 Kings 19:11

Photo Source:
Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, Milk River, Alberta, ca 1980's

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dina's New Valiant Hearts Series

 by Dina Sleiman

Hi Everyone, today I would like to officially introduce you to my Valiant Hearts Series. Book 1, Dauntless, is now available. Find it at amazon, barnesandnoble, cbd, or your local bookstore.

From Bethany House Publishers
Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior, prepare to meet your historical counterparts!

What is a Valiant Heart heroine? A young woman who is both feminine and strong, vulnerable and tough, gentle and passionate. She is fearless, intelligent, and full of life. A heroine who contains within her both the tender beauty of a blossoming flower and the fierceness of a lioness. One who uniquely reflects her creator God and is willing to pursue her dreams with all her heart. A woman who is open to love, but not defined by a man.

My prayer for my readers is that you will be strong and courageous. Follow the path God has laid before you, wherever that might lead. Be a doctor, a lawyer, a professional athlete, a wife, a mother, or even a president. Chase after your dreams, and if a handsome knight in shining armor should happen to come alongside you, headed in the same direction, and you should happen to fall in love…then join together and become partners in your quest. But please remember this—you are complete, you are beautiful, and you are dearly loved by God just the way you are.

Each book in the Valiant Hearts Series will feature a strong, young medieval woman in a traditionally male role as she lives out a story of adventure, romance, and faith. The series is geared toward teens, but will appeal to adults as well. If you love Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior, prepare to meet their historical counterparts. Shown above is Merry Ellison, my heroine for the Robin Hood inspired Dauntless. 

Where Legend and History Collide, One Young Woman Will Fight for the Innocent.

Born a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father's failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village--a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he's forced to reexamine everything he's known.

In book 2, Chivalrous, strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit.

When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

My heroine Rosalind for book 3 (working title Relentless) has a role in book 2 as well. I'm picturing Katie McGrath from the series Merlin. She serves as Gwendolyn's handmaid in book 2, but in book 3 she will face her own adventure as she goes on crusade in search of redemption.

I hope you'll check out my Valiant Hearts series, or maybe send a copy of Dauntless to a special young woman in your life!