Friday Weekend Escape to Lake Superior in Minnesota, USA with Brenda S. Anderson

Today we’re escaping for the weekend with my author friend, Brenda S. Anderson, to the North Shore on Lake Superior, Minnesota, USA. Brenda is giving us a tour of Lake Superior in her beautiful home state of Minnesota. Enjoy!


I’m blessed to live in Minnesota, a state with four seasons and 10,000+ lakes, so I don’t have to travel far when I need an escape. Just a short 2-1/2 hours north of my home in a northern Minneapolis suburb is some of the grandest, yet serene beauty in our world, especially during the fall when leaves turn multitudes of colors.

Our first stop is always the Canal Park area of Duluth. It’s a narrow peninsula that’s home to old warehouses and boutique shops, which alone make it a place of interest, but it’s the shoreline of Lake Superior that really draws the eye. Smart car-sized, ragged boulders are strewn along the shore. And jutting out from the shore is a concrete canal that ushers large freighters into the Duluth harbor. People love watching the Aerial Lift Bridge rise when a ship wants passage.

Panorama of Lift Bridge and Rocky Shoreline (600 x 105)

At the end of each side of the canal are lighthouses that look out to the great lake.

Anchor & Lighthouses (600 x 450).jpg

From Duluth we drive up along the North Shore taking Interstate 35 to its end where it becomes Minnesota 61. You veer off of 61 for several miles, taking the North Shore Scenic Drive which stays close to Lake Superior, offering breathtaking vistas as you drive.

On a typical visit, we’ll drive to Split Rock Lighthouse, roughly 48 miles from Duluth. This lighthouse was completed in 1910 after a 1905 hurricane-like storm on Lake Superior claimed many ships and lives. Today this lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States with its impressive rise above the oft-turbulent waters. And while it’s no longer used to warn ships of rocky danger, this lighthouse is a very popular tourist destination.

Split Rock Lighthouse (473 x 600)

Heading back toward Duluth from Split Rock Lighthouse, we stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park. This park is home to a series of spectacular falls carrying Gooseberry River waters out to Lake Superior. It’s easy to spend an entire day traversing the trails, viewing the falls from various angles, then making your way to Superior. At the time the picture below was taken, we’d had a fairly dry summer, so the falls weren’t roaring as much as they usually do. Still, it’s a fantastic site!

Gooseberry Falls 2 (600 x 450)

Then heading home, it wouldn’t be a trek to the North Shore without stopping at the most quaint candy shop ever, the Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen. This shop is located on the North Shore Scenic Drive in the little town of Knife River. The store’s just a half a block off the lake. You won’t find any processed, shipped candy here. It’s all made on site, the old-fashioned way, and it’s all mouth-watering, eyes-roll-back-in-your-head delicious.

Candy Store (600 x 436)

So, if you’re ever in Minnesota, take the short jaunt up along the North Shore. And if you want to make more than a single day of it, you can drive all the way to the Canadian border, and take in even more spectacular beauty!

Brenda S Anderson 2 (600 x 446)

Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball, and she loves watching movies with her family. She resides in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 26 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.

Her debut novel, CHAIN OF MERCY, came out in April of 2014, and PIECES OF GRANITE, a prequel, will release in November of 2014.

Connect with Brenda







Chain of Mercy

They forgave him for the accident that killed their son, but he will never forgive himself.

Manhattan businessman Richard Brooks was at the top of the world, drunk with success, wealth, and women. Until one disastrous evening, when his world came crashing down.

Richard flees to Minneapolis where he repairs ancient boilers instead of solving corporate problems, and he’s determined to live the solitary life he now deserves.

But Executive Sheila Peterson has other plans for the handsome custodian. Richard appears to be the perfect match for the no-strings-attached romance she’s after, but she soon discovers that he’s hiding more than the designer suits in his closet.





Book Recommendation: Veiled at Midnight by Christine Lindsay


Book Description

The British empire draws to an end…
but the turmoil has only just begun.

The Partition of India has sent millions to the roads, instigated riots as uncontrolled as wildfire…and caught up in its wake Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah. Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, ever since they played together at the mission as children. But a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he? For a while, Dassah believes that Cam loves her. But as the impossibility of a future with him becomes clear, what choice does she have but to run? He may hold her heart—but she cannot let him break it again. Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, and as British forces prepare to leave India, she struggles. She finds purpose in teaching, in helping…but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soul mate or a distraction from what God has called her to do?

Narelle: I had the privilege of reading an advanced reader copy of Veiled at Midnight for endorsement. I loved Veiled at Midnight and the two earlier books in the Twilight of the British Raj series, Shadowed in Silk and Captured by Moonlight. 

A beautiful and heartbreaking story of love and hope during the turbulent political and religious upheaval of post-WWII India. Highly recommended!

Read a FREE sample at

Friday Weekend Escape to South-Eastern Finland with Marion Ueckermann


by Marion Ueckermann

Narelle, it’s so good to be back on your blog again and I’m excited to whisk your readers away for the weekend (and on my subsequent two blogs) to the southern part of Finland, not that far from the Russian border.

My husband, Noel, and I were privileged to take kesämökki (vacation at summer home) after my son, Kyle’s wedding in Finland in 2012. While Kyle, and his bride, Tiia, were on honeymoon, we spent ten days with new friends at their summer cottage beside a lake. Joining us were eleven of the bride and groom’s friends from missionary training who had come from all over the world—South Africa, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, England, Canada and the USA—to Finland for the wedding.

Noel loves to go fishing and had a great time on the lake catching Pike. Once he knew that the smaller fish were a Finnish delicacy, he had an excuse for catching them. Mimi from France insisted on ‘olding the Pike (she couldn’t pronounce her H’s which we thought was really cute), while fellow South African, Christo, thought the little fish were really fun.

Summer cottage fishing

Being about a twenty or thirty kilometer drive to the nearest town, Savonlinna, the summer cottage felt like it was situated in the middle of nowhere. We came to discover Savonlinna to be a quaint and interesting town, having visited the hotel for internet, shops, the castle, church (run by a British pastor and his Finnish wife), and the hospital (yes, we got to try out Finnish medical care when one of the girls fell and badly sprained her ankle.)

We have so many fond memories:

  • the summer cottage the youth stayed in and where we had all our meals down by the lake
  • the sauna hidden in the trees that we all crammed into before running our heated bodies down the hill and into the cold lake
  • the deck where we fished, read books, had quiet times, and breakfasted together
  • and the cottage Noel and I stayed in, about a hundred meter walk through the forest or a five minute row on the lake to get to it (and on which I modelled the cottage in my novelette, Helsinki Sunrise).

Summer Cottage collage

The drive into Savonlinna was on long tree-lined roads (just like everywhere else in Finland).

Finnish Roads1

On one such road, we found this crazy bus stop. It tickled us no end, and Noel just had to try it out. I can imagine that some old man or lady who got tired of standing while waiting for the bus and so placed the chair there for their comfort.

Savonlinna bus stops

Another part of Finnish life and culture are the Kirpputori, or Kirpes for short. We’d know them as second-hand shops. We spent hours hopping from one to the next, finding the most amazing bargains. They carry mostly clothing, but also household knick-knacks, too. I bought myself a long woolen coat, made in England, for 5 Euro. I doubt it had been worn more than half a dozen times, if that, and I’d estimate it would be worth around 200 Euro. Don’t you just love it when you find a bargain? It certainly is going to be very useful when we go to Finland and Hungary in December.


These were the midnight sunsets that bade us goodnight during our Finnish summer cottage vacation. I do miss them and hope I get to experience them again one day.


On November 21st I’ll take your readers to explore the town of Savonlinna, the Ovanlinna castle and the annual Opera festival. It was all so fascinating.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?


Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group,, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Tuscany with Elaine Fraser

Today we’re escaping for the weekend with my author friend, Elaine Fraser, to the beautiful region of Tuscany in Italy. Elaine is sharing her holiday and writing retreat in a Tuscan villa. Enjoy!

The Art of Writing Tuscan Retreat

By Elaine Fraser

Imagine sitting on the terrace of a Tuscan villa in the Casentino region, surrounded by fascinating people from around the world who all have stories to write. The food is Kilometre Zero —sourced from local producers, along with the red wine.

You are there to spend a week developing your writing project and being inspired by great tutors. You’re in heaven!

Sometimes you have to climb out of your comfort zone, fly to the other side of the world and take a step of faith.

I found The Art of Writing through Lisa Clifford’s Facebook page: Because of the beautiful photos of Tuscany I was led to discover Lisa’s books and the writing retreat she has created.

I decided to sign up, take the plunge and join the retreat.


The Art of Writing is an opportunity for writers at all stages of development to gather and move their project on—whether it’s a memoir, short story, blogging or a novel. The retreat is located at the Borgo Caiano in the Casentino region.

Our hosts Ombretta and Roberto Stoppioni are very welcoming and you feel very at home. They cooked traditional dishes made with simplicity and authenticity for us.


Located in eastern Tuscany, Casentino is in the upper Arno valley and is fifty minutes from Florence and fifty minutes from Arezzo.

Casentino has a rich literary and historic heritage. Dante was inspired to write parts of his Divine Comedy in this region and it is said that St Francis of Assisi received his stigmata here. It’s a land of castles, medieval monasteries and sanctuaries.


We had our own private apartment, complete with living room, worktable and Wi-Fi inside and on our own terrace. Walks around the property and area were lovely.


The sunflowers were out and the rolling hills had that distinctive olive green haze that we associate with Tuscany.


On Wednesday we had an outing to visit Castello Di Porciano where we met the owner Martha Specht Corsi, the daughter of George and Flaminia Specht, who restored the castle. You can actually book the apartment out at the top of the castle or a cottage on the grounds‑very romantic!


Later in the day we visited Lorenzo Cipriani’s farm where we milked sheep. Lorenzo and his family then made ricotta and pecorino. The family then treated us to a Tuscan feast with the fresh cooked ricotta, some aged pecorino, prosciutto, salami and the most amazing tomatoes we had ever eaten—picked from their garden.


From a writing point of view, there were morning lectures on writing, individual coaching sessions in the afternoon and guest speakers in the evening.


Our tutors were generous and encouraging. Lisa Clifford, Jane Corry and Conrad Williams are successful authors who gave practical insight, and help, to each one of us.


Each of the participants had fascinating life stories and discussions around the meal tables were full of laughter and deep conversation. From England, Dubai, Australia, the USA and Italy it was a mix of culture and experience that was uniquely cohesive. Lifetime friendships were birthed in this group.


This was one of the best weeks I have had in terms of both work and travel. Tuscany is inspiring and beautiful. For a feast of the senses and warm hospitality, you can’t beat it.

DSC_7351 Elaine

About Elaine:

Elaine Fraser, author of ‘the Beautiful books’, is from Perth, Western Australia. For many years she taught English and Drama in secondary schools.

Although Elaine is best known for her non-fiction work: Beautiful: beauty tips for the soul and Too Beautiful: more beauty tips for the soul, she has branched out into fiction.

Perfect Mercy, Book #1 in the Beautiful Lives series was released in 2012.

Book #2 Love, Justice was released 2014, and Book #3 Amazing Grace is in the works.

‘I try to write books that are honest, concerned with real lives and real issues with a spiritual edge. My books are contemporary, don’t always have the perfect ending, but always have hope. For example, Mercy Hamilton, the central character in Perfect Mercy, finds out that life isn’t always perfect.’

Then, she looked up to heaven and thanked God from the bottom of her heart for where she was at that moment. She didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but at this minute, in this place, she was thankful.

Travel is an important part of Elaine’s life and she spends up to three months of the year away from home.

‘People say I have the dream life. I get to do what I love – write, study, travel, mentor writers and enjoy living in one of the best cities in the world with my wonderful husband, young adult children and golden retriever, Bear,’ Elaine says.

‘I agree with Marc Anthony when he said, If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.’

Elaine’s latest book Love, Justice can be purchased online at: or at Koorong Books

 DSC_0702 Love Justice 2

Find out more here: