Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cherry Blossoms in the Storm

Today I'd like to welcome Bob and Gail Kaku, a husband and wife writing
duo, whose first historical novel, Cherry Blossoms in the Wind has
just released. I had the pleasure of participating in a critique group with
Bob and I can attest that this story is fascinating. The authors are close
enough to the subject matter that they bring an unmistakeable ring of
authenticity to the tale as they explore the different experiences of
Japanese Americans in World War II. 

Here's a short synopsis of the story:

Caught in the cataclysm of World War II, three Japanese American
brothers find their lives turned upside down. Akira Omura, the eldest,
is trapped in Japan in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and is later forced
to serve in the Japanese army. Complicating matters is a love triangle 
between Akira, his beautiful fiancée, Emiko, and her former suitor,
Hiroshi Yamada.

In the United States, anti-Japanese hysteria runs rampant on the West
Coast, and the family is forced to evacuate from their home to a
temporary incarceration facility at Santa Anita Racetrack in Southern
California and then later imprisoned in an internment camp at Heart 
Mountain, Wyoming. Life behind barbed wire is brutal and 
de-humanizing conditions. Middle brother, Tad, believes the only 
hope for freedom is to serve in the U.S. Army. Youngest 
brother, Danny, fiercely protests against the government’s plan to 
draft Japanese American men while their families are still imprisoned, 
and ends up in a federal penitentiary.

All three brothers have their spiritual mettle tested. Akira in Japan 
introduces his fiancée to Christianity, which is essentially illegal in 
wartime Japan, and the Kempeitai (secret military police) persecute 
Christians for their faith.  Tad prays for the wounded on the 
battlefield and leads some men to the Lord. Danny drifts away from 
his faith.  When he discovers the woman he loves is dying from 
tuberculosis,  he desperately cries out to God. She receives a 
miraculous healing and he rediscovers his faith.  The Omura brothers 
traverse oceans and the even wider chasms of prejudice, hatred, and 
separation from loved ones, risking their lives to seek freedom and 
hope for the future.

Genre: Historical Fiction (World War II)
Published by Majesty House 2015
364 pages

Why I wrote this book?

World War II continues to be remembered as a significant epoch in 
United States history. Seventy years later, the war continues to evoke 
emotional responses from not only those who experienced it, but also 
from succeeding generations who have studied and understood its 
indelible imprint on humankind.

We’re proud of our heritage. We wrote this novel to honor the Nisei—
second generation—and Issei—first generation—Japanese Americans.  
They lived through a time of extreme prejudice and discrimination, 
even before World War II.  Unlike immigrants from Western and 
Northern Europe, Issei were not allowed to become naturalized 
American citizens. They were also prohibited from purchasing land 
in California, although some got around this restriction by acquiring 
land under the title of their American-born children.  Employment 
opportunities were extremely limited as well. Bob knew an older 
Japanese American man who had graduated with an engineering
 degree from MIT in the 1930s. However, this man became a landscape 
gardener. No company would offer him an engineering job, because he 
was Japanese American.

While there are many nonfiction books about the lives of Japanese 
Americans during WWII, there aren’t many novels. Recently, there 
have been a few published, such as Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by 
Kristina McMorris, whose mother is Japanese.

To my knowledge, we know of no other similar novels written from 
a Christian perspective. Cherry Blossoms in the Storm is unique.  This 
is important, because statistics show that less than 5% of Japanese 
Americans are Christians. So, we thought why not deliver the Gospel 
message by subtly wrapping it within an entertaining novel. 

In addition, less than 1% of people in Japan are Christians.  I don’t 
know whether this book will ever be translated into Japanese nor 
whether it would be well received in Japan.  I’ll have to see how the 
Lord leads in this area.

Writing a book with your spouse

Writing a book with your spouse is not for the faint-hearted. It’s 
somewhat akin to trying teach your spouse how to drive, if you can 
imagine that.  Cherry Blossoms in the Storm is the third book we’ve 
written together. Giving and receiving critiques to and from your spouse 
can be brutal. When you’re married to your coauthor, the veneer of 
politeness quickly gets rubbed off, and there are some days when you’re 
extremely upset with each other.  I’d like to say, “Don’t try this at home,” 
but then, where else would you try it?

All you can do is to try to be honest without being too mean and try to 
praise your spouse when he or she has written something particularly good.  
And, of course, praying and praying together helps immensely.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection - Author Gabrielle Meyer

In 1852, Luke Longley must find a bride by the end of the month, or return East to explain to the mission board why he hasn't married. He hears a single female missionary is working a hundred and fifty miles downriver at Belle Prairie, so he sets out to convince her to marry him. When he arrives at Belle Prairie, he discovers there is not one--but four single ladies--and all of them are eager to marry and stay on the mission field. Now he only has a week to decide which one is right for him.

Four Brides and a Bachelor is inspired by a true story. Years ago I came across a letter written in 1852 by one of the single female missionaries, Miss Harriet Nichols. She wrote about the event and told her brother: "There was romance enough acted here to write as good a story as you will find in any novel." The story is set on Belle Prairie, in central Minnesota, and is named by the French for it's beauty. The actual location is now a county park, and it continues to draw visitors seeking a bit of respite. The land hugs the Mississippi River, and has a profusion of lovely flowers throughout the summer.

My hero is Luke Longley, a missionary who has been in Minnesota Territory for two years. He grew up in the Boston, the son of a prominent minister. His father's congregation kept a close eye on him, and he was chastised for any mistake he made. When he went to college, he rebelled, and his parents were called in to set him straight. He brought shame to his father, and swore he would follow all the rules from that day forward. Now, as a missionary, he's been instructed by the mission board to find a wife--or return east. There is no other option in his mind, but to follow the board's wishes--no matter the cost. His favorite hobby is fly-fishing, which he does on the river every day. He's much rather be fishing than courting four prospective brides! He travels from the Red Lake Indian Mission by birch bark canoe down the Mississippi a hundred and fifty miles to Belle Prairie. It's the only logical mode of transportation for him to reach his destination. If he can get in a little fly-fishing on the way, he considers himself lucky.
My heroine is Sarah Ellis, a brand new missionary at the Belle Prairie Mission in August of 1852. She has just come west, and has learned that she must marry by the end of the year, or she will be forced to return to Massachusetts, to a lonely, bitter father. Sarah is young, and full of zest for missionary life--but she tends to break rules and get herself into trouble. She doesn't set out to break the rules, but can't seem to do anything right. What she doesn't know is that the missionary directors advise Mr. Longley to consider the three other women over Sarah, because she's so young and inexperienced. Besides teaching, Sarah's main job at the mission is to sew, mend, and clean the clothing. Her favorite hobby is horseback riding along the river. She's riding her horse one day when she comes across Mr. Longley fly-fishing...

Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four young children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people and events. Gabrielle can be found at where she writes about her passion for history, Minnesota, and her faith.


Meet nine men from bygone days who have all the qualities of a true hero and who all the single ladies wish to court—though some are unassuming and overlooked until their worth is revealed. The socialite, the architect, the doctor, the masked vigilante, the missionary, the postmaster, archaeologist, the wealthy widower, and the heir can have their pick of brides, but which one will they choose?

AMAZON - Print and Kindle
BARNES AND NOBLE - Print and Nook

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thanksgiving Heritage Tour

by Anita Mae Draper

PRIMARY MISSION:  Drive 4 hrs north, introduce our son to his rich Ukrainian heritage, document family headstones in six cemeteries

SECONDARY MISSIONS: Explore Saskatchewan and fulfill Find-a-Grave photo requests

ITINERARY: Drive to Yorkton on Friday, stay overnight, start exploring early Saturday morning, return home Saturday night, brief the rest of the family Sunday after a big Thanksgiving meal.

TEAM MEMBERS: Anita, her husband Nelson, their son, JJ.


This year in Canada, Thanksgiving fell on the Oct 11th weekend. With the weather promising to be the waning days of Indian Summer, and with JJ at home and Nelson on days off, we decided it would be the last chance this year to head north on a journey of discovery.

On Oct 9th, we picked JJ up from school and headed northeast. We had driven about an hour when I spotted what would be the first of three bald eagle sightings over the weekend.

Bald Eagle soaring over Saskatchewan, Oct 9, 2015

Shortly after, we began the long drive down and across the scenic Qu'appelle Valley. The addition of huge straw bales created an attractive layer to the usually flat floor of this wide valley.

Saskatchewan's Qu'appelle Valley, Oct 9, 2015

The sun was setting when we arrived at our hotel in Yorkton. Although I visit this city every year, I've never taken the time to explore its historic past and alas, it wasn't part of the mission for this weekend either.

The next morning, we drove through Canora with its 25 foot tall statue of a Lesia, a Ukrainian woman in traditional dress holding the symbols of welcome - bread and salt.

Lesia in Canora, Saskatchewan, Tribute to Ukrainian Pioneers

We really were in the land of the Ukrainian heritage we were seeking on this trip. Soon, we left the main highway and struck out on a gravel road in search of our first stop. I had my camera in hand and so was ready when Nelson spotted a coyote hiding under a grainary. By the time he slowed, the coyote was on the move, but I was able to take some shots and a short video.

Coyote sighting in Saskatchewan, Oct 10, 2015

You can watch the Saskatchewan Coyote video on my YouTube channel if it isn't showing up here on this post.

This area was surveyed and settled in the first decade of the 20th century and you can still find the ruins of  early 1900's homesteads if you look. This following image shows an original log house that has not only fallen, but is being taken over by the surrounding trees. I zoomed in on the clothes still hanging in what appears to be the porch. Of course, that got my imagination soaring with possibilities as to why someone would walk away from their house and leave their clothes behind. I wonder who lived here and the circumstances of their life.

Log homestead ruins, Saskatchewan, Oct 10, 2015

The building in this next image could be a school or homestead. It looks like an old school, yet there are old School District markers throughout the province to show where a school stood. Sometimes they have a bell, and sometimes they include a mini version of the original building.

School or homestead building, Saskatchewan, Oct 10, 2015

Farther down the road we see several windblown evergreens standing like sentinels in a field. As we approach the spot, we notice the school marker for Norway School District #1469 which first opened in 1907 and closed its doors in 1965.

To find our first destination, we are using the Find-a-Grave app on my iPhone. This free app is the best resource tool I have for finding lost cemeteries as well as lost relatives. It works with GPS and shows all the cemeteries around you. For this journey, I set the location for Preeceville, which is the biggest community close to our area of search.

The Find-a-Grave app shows 2 colours of cemeteries... green and orange. The orange ones mean there is a photo request from someone who wants an photo of a loved one - usually to confirm the birth and death dates as well as final resting place - yet for whatever reason they can't physically come to the cemetery and take the photo themselves so they put in a request. A volunteer will take the photo and post it on the Find-a-Grave site for them. Since there are times I have reqested a photo, I give back by being a photo volunteer to others.

Using the app, we head to the green image designating the Chechow Church and Cemetery where many of Nelson's ancestors are buried. As we park in front of the gate, I experience a surreal moment because I've seen it in so many photographs and it's hard to believe we're finally here.

Nelson's 2 x great-grandfather (JJ's 3 x g-grandfather) John Holowachuk helped build this church along with his son Danylo (Daniel) and other family members. As blacksmiths, both men crafted many of the iron crosses which stand in the cemetery, although the hand-wrought iron seems to be disappearing at an alarming rate.

We spent almost 2 hrs in Chechow, with 3 different cameras to ensure nothing is missed, for this place is special in its own right, but this is not the post for that story.

We continued west after a brief picnic and suddenly I yelled to stop the car. Standing near a copse of trees and bush was a house I believe was a Ukrainian homestead. It didn't have the thatch roof that the Ukrainians used when they first arrived, but the wall construction was exactly as I had read about.

In the photo below, you see the original part of the house made with logs. They are not saddle-notched like the Swedes do, but sit atop each other at the corners, and then are chinked with a mixture of clay and straw. Over this is spread another layer much as you would put stucco on the exterior of the house. And finally, the whole thing was whitewashed. I am so excited to have this photo which shows the layers of construction.

Ukrainian homestead construction method, Oct 10, 2015

Following the app, we stop at the green-coloured Hazel Dell Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery. We only need photos of a couple headstones here and we are soon on the way again, driving north through the hamlet of Hazel Dell, which I've read so much about in the local history book. But nowadays, it's one of those place you'll miss if you blink, and we are soon past it and pulling into the 3rd cemetery on our journey.

Here at the orange-coloured Hazel Dell Community Cemetery, there are no Ukrainian relatives, but there are 2 photo requests to fill. The graves here are spread apart in the field so we each take a segment. When we join together again, we realize the graves we're looking for aren't here. However, I thought I saw them back in the Hazel Dell Ukrainian cemetery. Since it's only a few miles back, Nelson says we might as well check, so back we go.

As we get closer, we see a car and know that someone else is now visiting the Ukrainian cemetery. That's good to visit loved ones on this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend. As JJ goes to search for the missing graves, Nelson strikes up a conversation with the other visitors - quite a novelty for him. Soon, he wants me to join him.

When I'm introduced to the woman, I blurt out that I had been reading about her that morning. It's true! I had been looking at the family tree before we left the hotel. Her name is Leona and she is the cousin of Nelson's mother. It truly was a God-thing to stand there and talk to family members we'd never met. And it would never have happened if we hadn't gone back in search of fulfilling photo requests.

Cousins Nelson and Leona, Hazel Dell Ukrainian Cemetery, Oct 9, 2015

Oh, what fun we had telling that story to Nelson's mom and everyone at the big family Thanksgiving meal the next day in Regina, but I'm getting ahead of myself. With our hearts lighter, we took the necessary photographs and headed north once more.

On the main highway, we turned east for a few miles and then stopped at St Mary's Buchach Ukrainian Church and cemetery, The Ukrainian immigrants named this place for the village they'd left behind in the old country. The headstones here ranged from old crumbling cement with illegible Cyrillic writing to modern renditions with engraved images. Several iron crosses stood with blank name plates - the letters weathered away from the elements. We took the dozen or so photos we needed and several we weren't sure about, and continued east.

Our excitement grew because just up the road was the homestead of Nelson's great-grandfather, the blacksmith Daniel Holowachuk. We'd seen photos of the old house in all stages of its existence, and I knew the exact land location from maps and records. And then there it was...

Homestead of Daniel and Anna Holowachuk, Ketchen, Sask

Nelson drove us down the lane on the east side of the quarter, but the trees and bush were so thick we couldn't see through, so the photo above was taken at the north east corner. What's left of the house is on the right, down past the river, and Nelson's mom says it's probably too overgrown with trees to see it from the road now. We didn't see any white from the white-washed walls at all. It may even have fallen by now. But at least we were there to see the land where Nelson's grandmother was born.

After a brief stop to rest and eat in Preeceville, we headed north to the North Prairie Lutheran Cemetery. Two of Daniel Holowachuk's sisters married into the Holmes family and I have made on-line friends with a family member who would like photos. As well, the app shows it's an orange cemetery and I see there are two photo requests from someone else.

It's a well-kept church and cemetery, although one of the family members is under a bush - and it happens to be the spouse of one of the Holowachuk girls, so the guys work together for this one.

Finding James Holmes under a bush, Oct 10, 2015

With the sun in its final hours, we head back to the Preeceville Community Cemetery where the final graving will be done. It doesn't take long to find the ones we need, but we don't fulfill - why do they use fulfill instead of just fill? - any of the 10 open photo requests here, They are all from different families and will take time to locate - time we don't have any longer as we still have the four hour drive back home.

Preeceville Grain Elevator, Oct 10, 2015

And there ends our Ukrainian family heritage tour. The following day we celebrated Thanksgiving with Nelson's family which included his mom, who was very interested in our journey. She surprised us by bringing a photo album which included several pics of her as a youngster - and one of her as a baby! It really was a lovely weekend filled with blessings all around.

Have you gone back to see the land of your ancestors? Would you if you had the chance?


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 4 kids. Anita Mae's short story, Riding on a Christmas Wish is published in A Cup of Christmas Cheer Volume 1 Tales of Faith and Family, Guideposts Books, October 2013, and a 2nd short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, is published in A Cup of Christmas Cheer Volume 4 Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Present, Guideposts Books, October 2014.   Anita Mae has recently sold a novella to WhiteFire Publishing to be released January 2016. She is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita at

Monday, October 19, 2015

Hey, Brown Betty!

I love my Brown Betty teapot! Brown Betties are known the world over as excellent for tea-brewing, thanks to their rounded shape (which allows tea leaves to swirl, creating a more even infusion) and their make-up of red clay (which retains heat well). They've been a staple in English homes since Victorian times, and as an icon to British people, they haven't changed since.
Brown Betties are a great price, too! This one is $23.99 on ebay.
Alas, mine isn't an authentic Brown Betty. While it's serviceable, cute, and a pretty shade of maroonish-red--rather than the typical brown--it's a knockoff...I had no idea until recently, when I learned the history of the Brown Betty.
My faux "Brown Betty" looks a bit like this one on Amazon. Not real, but it still makes a nice cuppa.
England's Midlands have been called "the Potteries" since the Middle Ages, since the resources used to make pottery occur in abundance here. Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, and Spode are some famous Staffordshire companies.

Tea drinking became popular in England before 1800, to the point where poorer folks purchased used tea leaves and/or tea leaves mixed with other, less savory, ingredients (including animal dung). While the upper-class served tea in bone china, regular people used clay tea pots.

Most of the time, these pots were intended to be used for a while before they inevitably broke, and then they could be easily replaced. But what became known as a Brown Betty teapot proved to be durable and superior for brewing, and many became heirlooms.

There is no single Brown Betty teapot; it's not a brand. Rather, a Brown Betty is a type of teapot, but they all bear certain things in common.

  • The teapots must be crafted in Staffordshire, England, from the red clay discovered there around 1695.
  • They are round in shape, although very early teapots from Staffordshire red clay looked more like coffee pots.
  • The teapots are glazed with manganese, or Rockingham glaze. They are a soft lavender color until the second firing, when they turn their famous shade of brown (a little like Hershey's chocolate syrup).
A few companies still make Brown Betties, Adderley Ceramics Ltd. and Cauldon Ceramic Ltd. are just a few.

Is your teapot a Brown Betty? Whether it's Adderley, Cauldon, or from another manufacturer, it's easy to tell. Flip it over. On the bottom, there should be an unglazed ring of tell-tale red clay, and it should say "Made in England".

One more word on caring for your Brown Betty: don't put it in the microwave or on a hot stove. And to clean, just rinse well. That's one benefit of the classic brown glaze: it won't show tea stains!


Susanne Dietze will have a nice cuppa today and hopes you'll join her. Her Faux Betty is brewing a blend of tea called "Paris" which is Earl Grey infused with vanilla. Susanne is the author of four contracted novellas. You can visit her on her website at

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Release Party (and Give Away)! A Fair to Remember

Welcome! We are celebrating the release of Suzie Johnson’s A Fair to Remember (available in both print and digital formats). Suzie will be giving away a copy of A Fair to Remember to one lucky reader. 

Doesn’t that title just make you think of Cary Grant? As a matter of fact, Suzie’s hero James Brinton is a bit Grant-like, with dark hair, dark eyes, and a turn-your-innards-to-Jello smile. Speaking of which, I could use a little something to munch on. 

Ah, here come our servers, treating us to some delicacies.

No, no. Those aren’t the delicacies. That’s just the wait staff. Isn’t it amazing how they all look like Cary Grant doppelgangers? It’s almost like I made that the job requirement. I mean, a job requirement. I mean— Oh, never mind. Here is our fair-inspired fare.

Since A Fair to Remember is set in Buffalo, what else should we start with but wings???

 Caramel apples are a favorite fair-time treat.

Oh, yes. Don't forget the funnel cake.

And after those sweets, I could use something salty.

And a drink. Oh, waiter! I'd like a...what is that stuff Clara Lambert likes so much? Oh, yes. Coca Cola. I'd like to try one of those, please.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Suzie’s book. A Fair to Remember starts with a bang. No, really. The book opens with photographer Clara Lambert taking pictures—or snapshots, as her boss George Eastman calls them—at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. 

Here is a little footage of the Expo, created with Mr. Edison's new camera that takes moving pictures.

Oh, dear. What's that I hear? The band is, no. It can't be! 

Welcome, Mr. President! I really shouldn't be surprised to see you at Suzie's release party.

You see, Clara is the only female on the list of photographers invited to capture President William McKinley’s reception at the expo's Temple of Music. Isn't it a beautiful building?

Photo by C.D. Arnold, 1901

She even gets a photograph (on the sly) of a handsome Buffalo police officer who was there providing security.

No, this isn't the picture from the expo. He's out of uniform here.

But then things go terribly wrong when one of the guests pulls out a pistol and shoots the president! Clara takes several pictures of the ensuing melee. But what is on her film that someone with nefarious intent so badly wants her camera?

Fortunately, Officer James Brinton, one of Buffalo's finest (and handsomest), is ready to serve and protect. Lucky Clara -- that is, if she and James can convince his boss she isn't part of a conspiracy to assassinate the president. Will he be able to keep Clara out of jail?

A Fair to Remember is full of intrigue, romance, and fabulous Tiffany glass.

Here is the "official" blurb:

A fair that will never be forgotten… 

Clara Lambert attended the Pan-American Exposition as a Kodak girl, never dreaming that she would end up photographing the attempted assassination of President McKinley. 

James Brinton, a disgraced police officer now working security at the Expo, wants only to redeem his good name…and perhaps earn a new position with the president’s security. 

When Clara is accused of being involved in the assassination attempt, James has to put aside his own ambitions to try to prove the innocence of the young woman who has captured his heart as surely as her camera captures the world before its lens. 

But in the face of investigations, arrests, and mounting danger, they must do the hardest thing that could be asked: forgive 

Doesn't that sound just as yummy as a deep-fat fried candy bar on a stick?

Congratulations, Suzie! We're looking forward to more stories in the World's Fair Series.

And if you want to get in on the giveaway, be sure to leave a comment by 11:59 Saturday with your email address (disguised from spammers in a your_name (at) service_provider (dot) com/net format).

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We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.