I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas!

May Christmas Joy Abound to You and Yours! I'll see you in the New Year....

(By paulabflat)

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Christmas Pyramid

As you can tell by my surname, I married a guy with a bit o’ German in him.

My hubby's paternal grandfather emigrated from Dresden Saxony to the U.S. through Ellis Island, and although he embraced his new country, he kept many of his homeland’s customs—including the Christmas Pyramid, or Weihnachtspyramide.

The Dietze Pyramid
Maybe you’ve seen smaller versions: they are shaped like wedding-cakes or towers with one or more tiers, small enough to sit on a table-top or large enough to light up the town square. Figures resting on each platform depict a scene from Christmas or everyday life: angels, a nativity, toys or something from the workplace. The tiers rotate around a central drive shaft like horses on a carousel, driven by the rising heat of candles placed on or around the body of the pyramid, which spins a propeller at the top of the pyramid.

A few offerings from The German Christmas Shop

Originating in the mountain region of Erzgebirge, Pyramids have been in use since the Middle Ages--although not necessarily as Christmas decorations. It's possible that the first Pyramids were modeled after the horse-powered gins in the local mines. Pyramids with movable mining scenes were displayed for the wedding of the Saxon prince in 1719.

Sometime around 1800, they became primarily a Christmas item (possibly predating the tradition of the Christmas tree), although the name “Pyramid” didn’t come about until after the Napoleonic campaign saw soldiers return from Egypt in the late eighteenth century. It became a traditional for the head of the household to create one for his firstborn's first Christmas.

That's what happened in my husband's family. The Dietze pyramid pictured above, which sits in the front window of my father-in-law’s house, was carved by my husband’s grandfather in the late 1920’s from linden wood, using a coping saw. He used figures imported from Germany to decorate the four tiers.

It is no longer driven by candle heat, which made the platforms spin too fast. As you can see from the photo, it is electric now, wired in 1934 to be lit by electric bulbs (which are now vintage and tricky to find). In 1939, a new adjustment was made when my husband's grandfather installed a record turntable to rotate the platforms.

Ready for a tour? Let's start at the bottom, which displays the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (this tier does not rotate). One half features Joseph, the Magi, and Mary with Baby Jesus on her lap.

The other half of the lowest platform depicts a shepherd and his sheep, lingering just outside the stable where Jesus was born. You can see one of the Magi behind the central blue light, and in the upper left quadrant, an angel hovers over the shepherd.

Up a level from the nativity scene, a traditional German hunting scene is shown. The hunter rests his rifle (and his dogs) while the forest animals go about their business. Some of the animals are quite perky--especially the fox, who has a squirrel in his mouth.

The third level from the bottom depicts farm animals: goats, cows, and “lucky” chickens—also a traditional scene.

On the top platform, gnomes (not elves) are busy getting ready to help Sinter Klaus prepare for Christmas Eve. I like how the gnome in orange is propped on the edge with a clarinet-type instrument.

The pyramid is crowned with the message, Ehre sei Gott in der Hohe, or honor to God in the highest. Housed within, just under the propeller, are three tiny bells. Their tones echoed through the house while my husband drifted off to sleep as a boy, and their notes still signify Christmas to him.

Remember what I said about huge outdoor pyramids? Below, I’ve included a you tube video of one in Fredericksburg, Texas. This one features Nutcrackers, a nativity, and some nice Christmas music.

Every family has precious heirlooms, and treasures or traditions that mean Christmas to them. With each marriage and birth, new traditions arise. Christmas morning, my favorite cranberry bread is served alongside my husband's traditional stollen, and alas, we have no Pyramid of our own. But the tradition of the Pyramid holds a special place in our hearts and memories of Christmas past.

What about you? What are traditions you’ve inherited from your family? What traditions have you invented for your children?

I'll share a few of our foodie traditions in the comments, but here's one of my favorite new family traditions that's come with my kids: The Toys Visiting Baby Jesus. This picture is a few years old, but "friends" still have a way of creeping into the stable to pay homage to the Newborn King.

Even Jedi and Polly Pockets need Jesus.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas Blog Tour!

Upon her grandmother's death, Izzy Fontaine finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt that supposedly leads to a great treasure.

Of course, once the rest of the family finds out about the "treasure map," they're determined to have a go at the treasure themselves. And, if that weren't enough, Max Logan, a local museum curator, contacts Izzy and says that Grandma Isabella promised him the quilt.

What is it about this quilt that makes everyone want it? Is Izzy on a wild goose chase of her own, or a journey that will lead her to the treasure her grandmother intended?

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee is just the sort of book I love to curl up with at this time of year. Funny, touching, with memorable characters and a steady infusion of Christmas woven throughout, it's a keeper.

AlLee's plots are always so tight that the pace flows rapidly. When I read her books, I realize I've been lost in the story a lot longer than I intended to be--but they're hard to put down! This book is no exception. The romantic journey between Max and Izzy is sweet, and the supporting characters are beyond enjoyable (especially Virgil. I wish he were real.). And of course, I love the Christmas spirit in this book. Sometimes Christmas-themed books don't have much holiday to them until the very end, but from the start, Izzy and Max are surrounded by decorations, carols, the gift-giving plan of a spunky Grandma before her death, and the True Meaning of the season, which makes for a festive delight.

Thanks to Abingdon for providing a copy of the book for my review.

For an excerpt, click here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Blame it on the Mistletoe Blog Tour!

Is There Really a Fountain of Youth in Paradise?

Welcome back to Bright 's Pond, where strange happenings are afoot at the Greenbrier Nursing Home. Strange even for Bright 's Pond. The residents suddenly act like kids again riding trikes, climbing trees, and of all things falling in love. Some of the townsfolk blame it on the crooked new gazebo, or its builder, a quirky little man who quotes Don Quixote, collects water from the fountain at the Paradise trailer park, and disappears on a regular basis.

While Chief of Police Mildred Blessing investigates the mystery, Griselda and her friends deal with a luau Thanksgiving, preparations for the Christmas pageant, and maybe even an upcoming wedding. Only, in Bright 's Pond, nothing ever really goes as planned . . .

Blame it on the Mistletoe is a fun read. Bright's Pond, Pennsylvania reminds me a bit of Cicely, Alaska in Northern Exposure: it boasts endearingly quirky residents, like narrator Griselda, the subject of gossip about her relationship with her flying instructor, Cliff, despite the fact that she's dating Zeb. Then there's Griselda's sister Agnes, who now lives in the Greenbrier Nursing Home, where strange things are afoot with the inhabitants. Little Mercy Lincoln might just need more from Griselda than books to borrow. Meantime, all of the goings-on might be too much for Mildred, the Police Chief. The sort of crazy holiday spirit running amok in Bright's Pond might give anyone a headache.

This is Book #4 in a series of Bright's Pond books by the author, Joyce Magnin, but it isn't necessary to have read the others to enjoy this one. I hadn't read them and managed just fine. This is truly a story about a community, with widespread ages among the characters. I love the sense of family at the heart of this town, which makes for an enjoyable read--appropriate for teens and grandmas alike.

Thanks to Abingdon for providing a copy for my review!


You can read an excerpt of the book here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman

Looking for an Amish Christmas story? Curl up with this holiday tale!
Will Annie find acceptance in the Amish community she left behind?

Annie Weaver always planned to return home, but the 20-year old RN has lived in Philadelphia for three years now. As her time of rumschpringe is about to come to an abrupt end, bringing for Annie an overwhelming sense of loneliness. She returns home and finds herself face-to-face with a budding romance with an Amish farmer and Annie has several important choices to make.


Vannetta Chapman's sweet and satisfying tale of restoration and hope is an enjoyable Christmas read that fans of Amish romance are sure to cherish.

Annie Weaver had no interest in encouraging any of the potential beaus in her small Amish community, so her family sent her to live with her aunt for her rumschpringe. In that time, she becomes a nurse. When she learns that her father has been injured, however, she is eager to return home. She has missed her family and life among the Amish. Still, she's not the same person she was when she left. Her education and skills may not be acceptable to her community.

Will she be accepted back in the community if she stays true to the call she believes God has given her? Should she forget her love of medicine and be baptized? As she develops feelings for Samuel Yoder, she struggles with the path she's supposed to take.

This is a satisfying Amish-set story. I enjoyed reading about the Amish community and Annie's journey to discern God's will. The romance is sweet, and the story's ending is a tender treat.

Thanks to Abingdon for providing a copy for my review!


To read an excerpt, click here.


To read more about a continuation of Annie's story, scroll down to read the post below!

To learn more about Vannetta Chapman, visit her at:
webpage -- www.VannettaChapman.com
blog -- http://vannettachapman.wordpress.com
facebook -- www.facebook.com/VannettaChapmanBooks, and
pinterest -- http://pinterest.com/vannettachapman

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman

I love Christmas novels--and I'm not alone. Some of us start reading them when they start being released each September! If you're in the market for a little holiday reading, be sure to check out the Abingdon Press blog tour: until Christmas, they're spreading the word about some of their Christmas-themed titles!
I love the quilt on the cover!

The Christmas Quilt is an Amish romance by Vannetta Chapman, one of the books in the highly successful Quilts of Love Series. (After the excerpt, be sure to read my review!)

Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.

To read an excerpt, click here.


I love Abingdon's Quilts of Love series. Every novel features a quilt of special significance, which introduces themes of family, celebration, gift-giving, treasure, and beauty.

This is certainly true as Annie labors over a baby quilt for her brother's wife, Leah. But when Leah must go into the hospital and her husband stays behind at the farm, Annie wants to be there for Leah. Too bad she won't be able to finish the quilt before the boppli arrives...unless she and Leah work together. Something precious happens when they sew--and Christmas is a miraculous day indeed.

This work of fiction is a continuation of Annie's story in A Simple Amish Christmas, but it is not necessary to have read that book in order to enjoy this one. Chapman is a skilled writer and she sprinkles just the right amount of Amish detail in to make the reader feel the spirit of their way of life. In this story, marriages are strengthened, families are celebrated, and Jesus is the center of Christmas.

Thanks to Abingdon for providing a copy for my review as part of their December blog tour!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

Enjoy your weekend with your loved ones!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Reluctant Courtship

What a gorgeous cover!

Regency England once again sparkles to life under the pen of inspirational author Laurie Alice Eakes in A Reluctant Courtship.

The third and final installment in the Daughters of Bainbridge House series starts with a cliffhanger--literally. When Honore, an aspiring authoress, is rescued by her handsome neighbor, Meric, Lord Ashmoor, however, the trouble is just beginning.

It doesn't help matters that Honore, whose previous suitors include a traitor and a murderer, has been banished by her family to live in the country estate to keep her out of trouble. Meric, too, has known the touch of scandal, no thanks to his American upbringing and the nasty allegations that he helped prisoners escape from Dartmoor. He needs a wife above reproach. And Honore is definitely not that.

Honore insists on helping Meric prove his innocence, but quickly, it becomes apparent that danger surrounds them at every turn.

Readers who enjoy Regency romance will thrill at the sparkling dialogue and historic references, as well as the way the characters must maneuver within the structures of their society. A Reluctant Courtship is a fitting end to the series, although it stands alone well indeed.

I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Welcome Karen Lange and Homeschool Co-Ops 101!

Welcome Karen Lange to Tea and a Good Book!

I'm thrilled to help Karen celebrate the launch of her book, Homeschool Co-Ops 101. Below, you can read about the book, Karen, enter a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card, and also find other blogs she's visiting on her tour!

homeschool co-ops 101
Essential co-op tools, tips, and options for today’s homeschool families. Thinking about joining or starting a homeschool co-op? Not sure if a co-op is a good fit? Homeschool Co-ops 101 weighs the pros, cons, and creative options available for today’s homeschool family.
  • Section 1 includes essential, digestible info on co-op ingredients such as planning and organization, schedules, teaching, finances, and addressing conflict and burnout.
  • Section 2 shares a sampling of co-op games and activities, and
  • Section 3 contains five hands-on unit studies. These ready to use studies include lessons on Leonardo da Vinci, Birds of Prey, Public Speaking, Tall Tales, and Creative Writing, and are suitable for co-op or home use. This section also includes unit study guidelines that are easily customized to suit any topic.
  • Section 4 offers suggested books, curriculum, and other resources.
Karen Lange has gathered insight from years of co-oping and now shares her own and others’ experiences in this valuable and encouraging handbook.
Homeschool Co-ops 101 is available at:
karen langeAbout the Author Karen Lange, her husband, and three children were active in co-ops during their sixteen-year homeschool journey. Her experience includes serving as a local homeschool support group coordinator and consultant for a state homeschool network in New Jersey. Karen’s children have since graduated, and she is now a freelance writer and online writing instructor for homeschooled teens. You can connect with Karen at her Blog, on Twitter, and Facebook.

A Quick Chat with Karen...

What prompted you to write this book?

Thanks so much for inviting me over to your blog! I’m looking forward to visiting with you and your followers.

About ten years ago, I was encouraged by a good friend in the homeschool community to write a booklet about co-ops. She was the director of a statewide homeschool support network, and she knew people often asked me about how a co-op works. The booklet seemed like a good way to share the info, so I self published it.  In May of 2013, Helping Hands Press offered me a contract to expand it, so here we are! 

What can readers expect to find in the book?

The book offers info on how to start a co-op and weighs the pros, cons, and creative options available for homeschool families. One thing I emphasize is that parents have options when it comes to co-oping. Co-ops come in all sizes and sometimes an existing one is not a good fit for a family. Parents shouldn’t feel bad or be intimidated if this is the case; they need to know that it’s okay to either not participate and even start their own co-op if they wish.

Another thing to note is that HC 101's usefulness is not limited to just homeschoolers. The how to section offers helpful setup and structure tips for other K-12 student groups. The activity segment has lessons, games, and hands on projects that suit these groups as well.                            

Here is a breakdown of each section of the book:

Section 1 includes info on co-op ingredients such as planning and organization, schedules, teaching, finances, and addressing conflict and burnout.  Section 2 has a sampling of co-op games and activities, and Section 3 contains five hands-on unit studies. The topics include lessons on Leonardo da Vinci, Birds of Prey, Public Speaking, Tall Tales, and Creative Writing, and are suitable for co-op or individual home use. Section 3 also includes unit study guidelines that are easily customized to suit any topic. Section 4 offers suggested books, curriculum, and other resources.

Tell us a little about your homeschool experience.

My husband and I homeschooled our three children (two sons and a daughter) in grades K-12. We chose to homeschool because, among other things, we wanted to personalize our children’s education and felt home was the best place to do that. During this time, we were active with our local homeschool support group’s events such as field trips and science and art fairs.  Co-ops played an important role too. These activities helped supplement our studies, provided balanced socialization, fellowship, and fun. They also offered a broader worldview as our children interacted with not just homeschool families, but the surrounding community.

If you happen to be interested in more info about the ups and downs of homeschooling, socialization, higher education, and other related topics, visit this link: http://www.insanitek.net/ink/archives/865

What would you like readers to take away from the book?

No one plan fits everyone, so I encourage families, whether they decide to co-op or not, to find the right balance and fit for them. My hope is that they would find ideas and encouragement for their children’s educational journey. 

Thanks again for sharing your space with me today. It’s been a pleasure!

homeschool co-ops 101
The Giveaway is open to US addresses only. One person will receive a $25 Amazon GC and a copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101. Please use the Rafflecopter below to be entered: a Rafflecopter giveaway The winner will be chosen from those entries and announced December 5, 2013. Good luck!
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as e-mailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Diane at That’s What I’m Here For… and sponsored by the author, Karen Lange. The author provided me with a free copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101 to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a giveaway in return for the free book.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
Blog Tour Schedule
November 4 ~Ruth Schiffman, http://outonalimbshywritergoessocial.blogspot.com/ ~Robyn Campbell, http://robyn-campbell.blogspot.com/
November 5 ~Carol Alexander, http://lessonsfromthehomestead.com/blog/
~Diane Estrella, www.dianeestrella.com
November 6 ~Gena Mayo, ichoosejoy.org
~Marja Meijers, http://sacredsabbath.blogspot.com/
November 7 ~Sandie Crozek, http://chattycrone.blogspot.com/
~Melissa Brander, http://mkbrander.com/
~Cecelia Lester, http://quietspirit-followingmyking.blogspot.com/
November 8 ~Susan Reinhardt, http://www.susanjreinhardt.com/
~Cecelia Lester, http://quietspirit-followingmyking.blogspot.com/
November 10
~Laura V. Hilton, http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/
~Melissa & Tiffany, http://www.homegrownfamilies.net
~Janette Dolores, http://janettedolores.blogspot.com
November 11 ~Susan Sundwall, www.sundwallsays.blogspot.com
~Michelle Isenhoff, http://www.michelleisenhoff.com/wp
November 12 ~Carol Alexander, http://lessonsfromthehomestead.com/blog/
~Jeanette Levellie, http://www.jeanettelevellie.com/
November 13 ~Susanne Dietze, http://susannedietze.blogspot.com/ ~Sherryl Wilson, simplysherryl.com
~Anne Payne, duhpaynes.blogspot.com
November 14 ~Rhonda Schrock, http://www.rhondaschrock.com/rhondas_blog/ ~Abi Buening, http://myheartbelongs2books.blogspot.com/
~Amber Schamel, http://www.amberschamel.com/history-blog.html
~Renee, motherdaughterbookreviews.com
November 15 ~Crystal King, http://asimpleheartforhome.blogspot.com/ ~Barb Winters, inthemidstof.wordpress.com/
~Tyrean Martinson, http://tyreanswritingspot.blogspot.com/
November 16
~Julie, soaringeagle8.blogspot.com
~Sarah, myjoyfilledlife.com
November 17 ~Amada Chavez, ascphotosanddesigns.blogspot.com
~Cindi Clubbs, http://ccclubbs.com/
~Rebecca Boerner, http://ohiohomeschool.blogspot.com/
November 18
~Carlene Havel, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6440085.Carlene_Havel/blog
~Cindy Loven, http://cindylovenreviews.blogspot.com
November 19
~Karen Loethen, http://taytayhser.blogspot.com.au/
~Amy Smith, myseasonsofopportunities.blogspot.com/
November 20
~Darlene Arroyo-Lozada, http://lovebookslozada.blogspot.com/
November 22
~Sarah Bailey, http://growingforchrist.wordpress.com
~Thumb Updown, http://momsthumb.blogspot.com/
December 2
~Jennifer Shirk, http://jennifershirk.blogspot.com/
~Ticia M., http://adventuresinmommydom.org/

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mistletoe Memories--Now a Great Deal on Kindle, too!

If you love Christmas reads (like I do), you know it's never too early to jump into a warm and cozy novella collection of holiday stories from Barbour. I'm a fan of their novella collections, and their Christmas publications tend to be keepers.

Mistletoe Memoires is no exception.  (And right now, it's on Kindle for only $1.99!)

Disclaimer: three of the authors are collaborators on Inkwell Inspirations with me. They gave me the book. But they didn't tell me to write a review. Well, Gina sorta did. But she didn't spell out the punishment I'd receive if I didn't like it.

Fortunately for us all, I did. Here's the back cover blurb:

Spend a heartfelt Christmas on Schooley’s Mountain as four generations make a house a home. Carpenter Stephan Yost vows to build a precocious spinster a home by Christmas. Civil War widow Mary Ann Plum learns the greatest peace on earth comes from giving and receiving love. Olympia Paris must protect the orphanage she grew up in from a man intending to play Father Christmas to most of the town. Joy Benucci turns to a modern-day Scrooge to save a transitional home for foster kids. Will Christmas be a season of miracles in their lives?

Best of all, there's something for everyone in this collection. The four stories share one common theme: the house in which they're set, over almost a hundred years of history. So if you like historicals or contemporary-set love stories, there's one that is sure to appeal to you.

`TIS THE SEASON by Carla Olson Gade
When Doctor's daughter Annelise Kissing is kissed-at-first-meeting by carpenter Stephen, sparks fly. But there are obstacles between their German and Dutch heritages. Not to mention the fact that he works for her father.

MERCY MILD by Gina Welborn
Sheriff Zeke wants to adopt an orphan, but first he needs a wife, and he's always liked war widow Marianne. Too bad she doesn't want children. Ever.

MIDNIGHT CLEAR by Lisa Karon Richardson
Orphanage manager Olympia is not pleased with resort manager Teddy when he wants to build something new on the property. How can they work together when they're too busy fighting each other?

COMFORT AND JOY by Jennifer AlLee
Group home counselor Amy is amazed to find such a handsome guy waiting for her at the house.  Too bad he's Even, the lawyer, with an eviction notice!

 For the $1.99 price, it's a deal too good to pass up. Happy Christmas reading!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Christmas Goodies--Julie Lessman's A Light in the Window!

Have you ever wanted a character in a book to be named after you?

Here's your chance! In honor of the release of her new Christmas romance, A Light in the Window, author Julie Lessman is giving away a $50 gift card, books, and characters with names of winners! Squee!

I've read Julie's books. Then I got to meet her at ACFW in Indianapolis this year, and she was so sweet to me. She may not remember the encounter, but I will never forget it!

I'm off to download the book. In the meantime, read on.Below, find her info about the contest. Then a run down of the prizes. Then view the book trailer!

Here's what she says about the contest:

♫ ♫ IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS ♫ ♫ ... especially in the brand-new video my hubby created for A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW starring my daughter, so I hope you check it out! And if you do ... you could WIN having a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy of that book and a $50 gift card!! Here's the link with all the details, so GOOD LUCK!! http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/

1st Prize (person with the most points) -- gets a character named after them or a loved one in my next book, a signed copy of that book, and a $50 gift card.

2nd Prize (random drawing where every point  earned is an extra chance to win, but even one point can win) -- gets a character named after them or a loved one in my next book and a signed copy.

3rd Prize (random drawing based on 1 point per name entered) -- gets a signed copy of any of my books.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Talk Like Jane Austen Day!

October 30 is Talk Like Jane Austen Day

Have you ever wished your words would sparkle with wit like Lizzie Bennet's?  Or you could dazzle your own Mr. Darcy with Jane Austen-speak? Today is your day, my friend.

I don't know how official that is (see the website), but oh well. It sounds fun. I'm jumping on the bandwagon--er, I am ascending the coach to join in the revelry.
Dearest Jane

(Here goes!)

The aforementioned web address contains helpful phrases to enhance once's participation of the festivities, but for the uninitiated who find too few listed there, there is no need to pull a Friday Face or succumb to a fit of the megrims. Pray, do not despair. There is hope. I beseech you to visit my web page on Regency cant, that delicious "language of the underworld" of which ladies, of course, have no knowledge. At least as far as their Mamas are aware.

Verily, this is no hum. Pour the bohea and settle in for a comfortable coze with a friend.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jane Austen for Wee Lit-O-Philes

Jane Austen is now for babies.

I'd seen Jennifer Adams' Pride and Prejudice in the form of a board book, suitable for infants, several months back (illustrated by Allison Oliver), and since then I've secretly coveting it for myself. True, I seem to have mastered the challenge of counting to ten, which is the book's primary goal, but can you blame me for wanting it?
It's a baby book. Of Jane Austen. The illustration of the number 2 is Two Rich Gentlemen, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. Come on!

Now, there's a whole play set.
Yes, I will play this with you!
 Here's the description:

With 7 punch-out cards featuring the characters and scenes from Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Counting Primer and a box to use as a stage set, you can turn Jane Austen's classic into hours of fun! Stroll in an English village with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, act out four marriage proposals, march the soldiers in uniform, or set up a lovely English village with Pemberley, Longbourn, and Netherfield. Introduce your little lit-o-phile into the world of drama by setting the stage with Jane Austen's classic storyline. Includes sturdy box for storage and play.

But wait (I say in true infomercial spirit), there's more! Pride and Prejudice isn't the only classic for your toddler. There's a whole line of BabyLit. Sense and Sensibility is about opposites, of course. But there's also Jane Eyre. A Christmas Carol. Dracula. Wuthering Heights. And so much more!

Too cool!

And there are dolls, too. Behold Mr. Darcy.
 Isn't he cuddly?

Personally, I may also have to order the I Heart Mr. Darcy tote. Just like in Austenland.

All product photos were taken from the BabyLit site (click here to shop). And enjoy hugging your Mr. Darcy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Worthy Investment for Writers

Taking a time out from our recent fiction fest! I have to tell you about a rich book for writers. 

The Art & Craft of Fiction: A Practitioners Manual, by Victoria Mixon.
If you're a newbie interesting in writing a novel, or a seasoned author with a handful of books under your belt, this is the book for you. Yes, I'm serious.

Relying on years of experience as an editor and writer, Mixon offers up an intelligent, fun, delightful-to-read book on writing fiction with topics that applicable to every phase in the writing journey, from craft to querying. It’s the type of book you read through and then return to again and again for assistance, or even encouragement as you’re banging your head against your keyboard wondering how to make your story work better.

To add flesh to her points, Mixon’s literary examples to are choice—these are books you’ve actually read. She also makes up her own examples, which are hilarious. Her voice shines through, too, as she adds commentary about her own life. I felt like I was sitting over coffee discussing dialogue and hooks and characterization with a friend, and that made reading a lot more fun.

One of my favorite parts of the books is Everything You Need To Know About Writing a Novel, in 1,000 Words. She made the exercise seem effortless, and I totally wish I’d been able to write this myself!

The Art and Craft of Fiction is deserving of a spot on a writer’s “Writing Shelf.” My copy is already dog-eared and creased, and every time I peek back into it I find a new gem. I highly recommend this book. 

It's available on Amazon for your Kindle or in print format.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Another Keeper from Anne Mateer

Anne Mateer's newest release doesn't disappoint!

Anne Mateer's third work of historical fiction is just as delightful as her previous releases.

Sadie Sillsby works as the assistant to the matron at the Raystown Home for Orphan and Friendless Children and dreams of the day she'll marry her beau, Blaine. But when the matron surprises everyone by announcing her own engagement, Sadie is suddenly next in line for the job. For a young woman who was once an orphan herself, a shot at such an esteemed position is a wish come true.

But the matron of the Home cannot be married. Is Sadie willing to give up her dreams of a life with Blaine and a family of her own? Is she prepared to forgo daily involvement with the children as she instead manages the financial, legal, and logistical aspects of the orphanage? And when it's revealed that the Home is spending a lot more money than it's taking in, can Sadie turn things around before the place is forced to close forever?

I love Mateer's writing style. Her plots, sharp dialogue, and sympathetic characters weave together to create compelling novels, and her early 20th-century settings evoke a familiarity and nostalgia that strike a chord in me.

A Home for My Heart is no different.

Sadie cares deeply for the children at the orphanage. But Blaine, the boy who's loved her since they were kids themselves, can't be part of her life if she takes the job as matron. Sadie therefore faces the difficult choice between the children and her beau--and finds living with that choice isn't as easy as she'd hoped it would be.

Blaine doesn't disappear, of course, although the romance is not the driving force of the story. The focus is on Sadie and her growth. She is sweet, but she can be stubborn, too, and she works hard to "make up" for the ugliness in her past that she feels defines her. She has to learn that it doesn't matter where we come from, God loves us as we are and claims us as His own because He is good, not because we've earned it.

Readers of inspirational fiction will appreciate the spiritual elements and well-crafted story.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for review purposes. A positive review was neither promised nor expected.