Monday, September 30, 2013

A Noble Theme

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king;
my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.~ Psalm 45:1

Something has been stirring inside my heart these past 10 days. It began during the women's retreat I attended with an awakening that God was doing something new in my life. Continued during a week of contemplation, prayer, fasting, studying, writing, and affirmation. It concluded with exhortation and confirmation on a day of worship and rest.

While praying a word came to mindbeautiful. And I knew.

My desire is to share my beautiful Lord with others through the themes He places on my heart. These themes have been a burning passion, ever-working in my own life, for many years. I believe my Father-King has led me to this place, prepared me for this place, long before this recent time of contemplation. That He is nudging me forward and expanding the ministry of my words in new ways. Simple ways. To write: stories and His-story. To speak. To share. . .

A noble theme.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Signing Weekend!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an annual ladies retreat in Alton Bay, New Hampshire, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. I've been attending for so many years I've lost count. These wonderful ladies have been praying for my writing ministry and blessed me last year with a fabulous first-time-ever book signing. This year we did it again with cherished friends and new, and I signed books all weekend long. I also had the treasure of enjoying the weekend with my Mom who assisted me with my books. We always attend this retreat together and she usually treats me as an early birthday present!

It was such a beautiful location to spend the first weekend of fall. The retreat itself ALWAYS blesses me. I have not had the opportunity to attend the ACFW Conference as of yet, but these last several years I can surely say that the message I received at this retreat was so relevant to my writing career it has amazed me. I am so encouraged by speakers Sharon VanAmburg McLaughlin and Rebecca Nicoll and the retreat theme "Legacy". The Lord is already at work in my life providing for my next steps in this journey.

Do you ever attend retreats?
Have you ever been to a book signing?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Photo Journal: Fountain of Blessing

Fountain in my mother's garden, by Carla.

    Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace;
    streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
    Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
    Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.
   ~ Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Monday, September 23, 2013

Writing Scrapbook: Colonial Whole-cloth Quilting

This author's fascination with whole-cloth quilting began with my observance of colonial fashion when I discovered the beautiful quilted petticoats that were purposefully displayed as part of a lady's ensemble. Prior to that I had always thought of petticoats as an undergarment, like a slip.
QUILT - A coveríng for a bed, a petticoat for a woman made by stitching
one cloth over another with some sort substance between.
~  The New And Complete Dictionary Of The English Language, 1775

Extant samples of 18th century American quilts.
When I formulated my idea for the quilt that I would feature in my Quilts of Love series novel proposal I instantly new that I wanted to write about the earliest form of quilting in America— the whole-cloth quilt. This type of quilt is really the technique of quilting the fabrics together with the padding between the layers using patterns that result in an elaborately designed quilt. The quilt became a metaphor for the heroine's story in Pattern for Romance and her treasured quilt was central to the plot.
“Each stitch was but naught, yet strung together, part of a unique pattern.  Her stitches were purposeful, sometimes pleasant and other times tedious, yet, one stitch at a time she pressed on.”
~ Pattern for Romance by Carla Olson Gade
From my research: Indigo whole-cloth quilt (top), gold whole-cloth quilt (bottom) at
Old Fort Western, Augusta, ME; Massachusetts Quilts book used for research (left);
quilted silk petticoat at Colonial Williamsburg, VA (right). Photos by Carla.

Here are some of the articles that I have written that tell more about the beautiful art of whole-cloth quilting and quilting in early America:
Colonial Hand Quilting - Labor of Love 
Blog Talk Radio - starts at 31 mins.
Quilting a Novel
My novel Pattern for Romance in the Quilts of Love series from Abingdon Fiction released in August (2013). 
Ask me a question about my story or research!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Feature Friday: Literacy

I've decided to do a little recycling on the last Friday of each month. I've written so many articles that my readers here have most likely not yet seen so I thought it might be nice to share them again.

Since the topic of literacy is a near and dear to my heart I thought I'd mention that September is International Literacy Month. Before becoming a full-time author, I worked for a non-profit adult literacy organization as an office administrator. I also served as a tutor for an adult learner and encourage others to do so as well by contacting ProLiteracy or their local adult literacy agency. Helping adults to improve their reading skills can have a positive effect for generations!

Please join me at Colonial Quills for my previous post on Literacy in Colonial America.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Photo Journal: Old Books

Old books from an antique book store in Maine, by Carla.

"But there is no end to the praise of books, to the value of the library. Who shall estimate their influence on our population where all the millions read and write ? It is the joy of nations that man can communicate all his thoughts, discoveries and virtues to records that may last for centuries."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Address at the Opening of Concord Free Public Library”

Monday, September 16, 2013

Digging Deeper at Novel Pastimes: Sensational Settings

Today I beginning my participation as a contributing author at the historical fiction, Novel Pastimes. Every third Monday, my new column, Digging Deeper, will feature American and English history from the 17th to 19th centuries. I'll share treasures unearthed while researching these historical periods. Please join me for my first post today about Sensational Settings! Please meet me there.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Feature Friday: A Visit with Ruth Axtell

Carla and Ruth in Belfast, Maine.
I love writing about New England locations, especially Massachusetts and Maine. So for today's "Feature Friday" I'm excited to welcome my friend and fellow Mainer, Ruth Axtell.

I have long admired Ruth's exceptional writing and consider her one of my all-time favorite authors. I can hardly believe that today we even share the same literary agent. But, I must confess that when I first moved to Maine 12 years ago as an aspiring writer and avid Ruth Axtell fan, one of my first thoughts was maybe someday I'll get to meet her! How exciting for me when we spent time together a few years ago when she came to present workshops at the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers conferences. She's a wonderful writing instructor, as some of you may know if you have had the experience of being in one of her classes at the ACFW national conference.

What do you like about living in Maine?

The landscape, whether you are near the coast or inland by the lakes, Maine has a beautiful, primitive geography that cannot help inspiring a writer.

Many of your novels are English Regencies, but you also write novels set in Maine. Please tell us about your Maine novels.

I have written 2 two-book series, a standalone novel, and a novella. The first series includes Wild Rose and Lilac Spring, both set in an 1870s fictitious seacoast village modeled on the one I live in. The standalone novel and the novel are set in a similar village though I’ve changed the name. These stories focus on the lives of the fishermen and farmers who inhabited this rugged Downeast coast.

The second series, Her Good Name and The Lady and the Logger are set in a neighboring town in the 1890s, and are focused more on the logging industry in Maine during this era.

We'd love to hear about your new release, The Lady and the Logger.

The Lady and the Logger  tells the story of the shy young sister of the hero of Her Good Name. I needed to pair her with her opposite, someone who is a brash, self-confident risk-taker, a good foil for her shy, introverted nature. They are also opposites, because she is the daughter of a prominent logging baron, while he is just an itinerant river driver.

Was there anything that you found particularly interesting while researching the story?

Yes, the whole history of the logging industry in Maine in the 19th century, particularly the river drives that came to these coastal logging towns in late spring. I watched a wonderful video of one of the last river drives into Machias, Maine in the early 20th century and heard the firsthand accounts of these men, the dangers they faced riding the logs down the rivers, but the fun and exhilaration they experienced as well.

That sounds like an exhilarating experience indeed!What made you decide to self-publish The Lady and the Logger as an e-book?  Will there be more like it?

Having talked to many writers who have gone the self-publishing route, I decided to test the waters myself. After years of working under tight deadlines and contracts, I needed a time to re-discover my voice. This past year, writing and editing The Lady and the Logger and going back to older manuscripts I’ve written but never found the right publishing home for, has been a liberating time. I’ve enjoyed pushing boundaries in my writing and going back and rereading old manuscripts and being amazed at how rich my writing was in the beginning.

An affirming choice! What's in view for Ruth Axtell?

I am currently editing and revising five manuscripts and planning to self-publish each one, ideally once a month from now until the end of the year. In all of them, I break away from my Regency England or coastal Maine settings. The stories range from the Golden era of Holland (think the age of Rembrandt and the Dutch masters a la Girl with a Pearl Earring) to a historical romance set during a Polish revolution in 1830, the era of Chopin and the French revolution described in Les Misérables. I also have a contemporary romance set in Amsterdam and a New Adult romance set in contemporary New England.

I will return to Regency England next spring with the publication of A Heart’s Rebellion, a traditionally-published novel from Revell Books.

Thank you for visiting! Connect with Ruth online at

Ruth Axtell knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she wrote her first story—a spy thriller—at the age of twelve. She studied comparative literature at Smith College, spending her junior year at the Sorbonne in Paris. After college, she taught English in the Canary Islands then worked in international development in Miami, Florida, before moving to the Netherlands, where for the  nextseveral years she juggled both writing and raising three children. In 1994, her second manuscript was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart competition. In 2002, her sixth manuscript took second place in the Laurie Contest of RWA’s Smoky Mountain chapter. The final judge requested her full manuscript and this became her first published book, Winter Is Past. Since then, Ruth has gone on to publish fourteen historical romances and one novella. Her books have been translated into Dutch, Italian, German, Polish, and Afrikaans. Her second historical, Wild Rose, was chosen by Booklist as a “Top Ten Christian Fiction” selection in 2005. Ruth lives on the coast of Maine where she enjoys gardening, walking, swimming, reading romances, and gazing at the ocean plotting her next romance. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Novel Setting: Pattern for Romance

This collage demonstrates some of the elements I use in a novel to establish setting. I elaborate on these elements through historical detail when suitable to the scenes and plot points.

Time period: The actual newspapers popular in Boston during 1769 were referenced on several occasions and provided a useful tool. I was able to highlight real historical events and show the passage of time. While researching, I learned much about the culture of the time period from reading actual excerpts of these newspapers.

Transportation: Modes of transportation true to the time period can enhance a setting. The landau was one of the carriages popular for wealthy folk during this era. I mentioned the actual carriage maker and tax that had to be paid. In addition to walking, riding in this vehicle got my characters around town. A ship for emigration was also mentioned and I had to learn how long the passage would take and what that experience was like.

The types of buildings in the historical era create an interesting backdrop and an intimate location for scenes to take place. Georgian architecture was popular in Boston. Many buildings were brick or clapboard.

Location: I found an historical map online of 1769 Boston—the location and year of my story—to plan out the scene settings with authenticity. I was also able to learn the exact locations of business, industry, and residential districts.

The level of education and literacy (reading and writing) during the time period can help show the norms and means of communication in society. Many could read, but not as well as during the early colonial period, and fewer could write, especially females. Many businesses hung a sign which was symbolic of their trade (ie. Sign of the scissors for a tailor) so patrons could "read" it. My characters posted and read newspaper articles, advertisements, and relevant news which is shared in the story, citing real newspapers of the time. Eduction was a priority for both the Metcalf and Sutton families in my story.

Everyday Items: Utensils & tools that are used by folks on a daily basis are important to know about. What type of lighting, bedding, vocational tools, cooking utensils, clothing, etc. all work their way into the a novel's setting. A betty lamp, a quilted counterpane, a chatelaine, a bodkin, a shoe buckles are some of the items that appeared in my book.

Political Climate: Every historical era is influenced by the politics and leadership of the time. Pattern for Romance was set against a pre-revolutionary backdrop during the British occupation of Boston. This affected every aspect of their lives.

Religion: The belief systems of the characters and society are important to convey, even if the novel is not inspirational fiction, per se. Knowing where and how the people worshiped and who provided religious leadership at the time influences the characters decisions and faith. The Brattle Street church of Boston, was unique in that they read scripture during services, a practice that had been dismissed (except while incorporated into a sermon). This was a catalyst for some of the character's spiritual contemplation. The story begins inside this church, a tribute to a church who's building no longer exists.

Occupations: Every character needs something to do. Learning about the vocations of the time can prove to be central to the story and provide lend immensely to the story setting. My character's are both in the sewing trades. Honour is a quilter in a mantua-maker's shop and Joshua is a merchant tailor. Many of the scenes take place in their work locations. The story is also enhanced by using metaphors relating to their occupations and interests.

Community: The population, proximity, societal norms, social class, and means of social interaction effects the character's lives and how they relate to those around them. This part of the setting also provides a context for the characters to be situated. It gives them the opportunity to have relationships. My characters communities included the city of Boston, society associations, their work place (such as Sutton's Clothier's), family units, friendships, and the romantic relationship between Honour and Joshua.

Activities: Recreation, traditions An important chapter took place at a quilting party which provided the setting for many of the characters to gather. Another scene was at a birthday party. I took some license with this because I needed an occasion for the characters to get together. Birthdays and similar celebrations were uncommon in colonial Boston due to the Puritan influence. I made the celebration a private family affair and justified it by making it a Welsh tradition from the family's ancestry.

What aspects of setting do you enjoy seeing in a story?
Is there anything else you'd like to know about my story setting in Pattern for Romance?

Join me next week for my new monthly column at Novel Pastimes when I talk about Sensational Settings.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Photo Journal: Waterlilies

The lily pond at the Creation Museum, Petersburg, Kentucky by Carla.

"'You shall not go out with haste.' Is. 52:12. I do not believe that we have begun to understand the marvelous power there is in stillness. We are in such a hurry--we must be doing--so that we are in danger of not giving God a chance to work. You may depend upon it, God never says to us, 'Stand still' or 'Sit still' or 'Be still' unless HE is going to do something" ~ Streams in the Desert

Monday, September 2, 2013

Celebrating my 4th release ~ Mistletoe Memories

I'm celebrating the release of my fourth book Mistletoe Memories! My novella 'Tis the Season starts of this collection of stories set at Schooley's Mountain, New Jersey chronicaling nearly 200 years of history of a very special home.

One of America’s earliest summer resorts began atop the majestically wooded Schooley’s Mountain where the mecca of chalybeate springs (or “magic water”) drew visitors from near and far. Eventually the magic water disappeared, but the memories remained. Folks who live there tell the stories they heard from their grandparents who heard them from their grandparents.

'Tis the Season ~
In 1820, Stephan Yost, resident carpenter of Schooley’s Mountain, New Jersey’s fashionable resort, spends off-season working on repairs, renovations, and constructing new buildings. When he is hired to build a permanent home for the resort's physician and his spirited daughter, Annaliese Braun, in time for Christmas, Stephan finds himself enamored by the precocious spinster. But will he be able to compete for her affections against the advances of a manipulative iron baron?

Each of my books is a labor of love and I'll keep you posted on the special guest posts and interviews for Mistletoe Memories. I hope you'll enjoy meeting the handsome carpenter and impulsive activities director of the Schooley's Mountain resort.

In honor of Labor Day I'd like you to please join me at Colonial Quills where I am posting on the topic of labor in colonial times. I'm discussing the process of hand quilting, the occupation of my heroine in my other recent release Pattern for Romance. Please meet me there!

Labor of Love

Join me at Colonial Quills for my post entitled A Labor of Love, labor in colonial times.