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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ten Things with Author Mary Ellis--and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Mary Ellis!

 Mary Ellis
Mary grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish community, Geauga County, where her parents often took her to farmer’s markets and woodworking fairs. She loved their peaceful, agrarian lifestyle, their respect for the land, and their strong sense of Christian community. She met her husband in college and they married six days after graduation. She, her husband, dog and cat now live close to the largest population of Amish in the country—a four-county area in central Ohio. They often take weekend trips to purchase produce, research for her best-selling books, and enjoy a simpler way of life. Mary enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught Middle School in Sheffield Lake, Ohio and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate for twenty years—a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits.
Mary has generously offered to giveaway a copy of her most recent Amish release, A Plain Man--so don't forget to leave a comment to enter the drawing!

Ten Things about Mary:

1) As a child I fully intended to marry a Amish famer when I grew up. As an adult, once I realized how hard Amish wives work, I decided to write about their simple culture instead.
2) I used to jump off the high-diving board and find a quarter on the pool bottom in 20 ft. of water. Now I can barely hold my breath a minute.
3) I love lima beans, broccoli, Brussell sprouts and anything green.
4) I prefer maps over my GPS.
5) I studied Spanish in high school, college, and night school. Yet when I visited Mexico, my accent was so appalling, locals didn't recognize their language.
6) One summer I was a volunteer snake handler at the Cleveland Zoo giving programs to summer camps and daycares.
7) My ideal vacation always includes a beach.
8) I have been swimming with giant tortoises, dolphins, sand sharks and unfortunately, sea urchins.
9) I have worked at least 10 jobs during my lifetime, but being an author is my all-time favorite.
10) My latest release, took me back to Winesburg and Shreve, Ohio, where I began my Amish release 7 years ago.
You can visit Mary's website, www.maryellis.net.

A Plain Man:
Though Caleb Beachy lived in the Englisch world for some years, he is a Plain man at heart. When he decides to return to the Amish lifestyle, he moves back home and goes to work for his father. Soon these two strong-willed men find themselves at odds. Caleb discovers there's more to embracing his faith and reconnecting with the community than merely driving a horse and buggy and giving up Levis.
Josie Yoder was just a girl when he left. All grown up now, she gives Caleb hope for the future. She soothes his frayed temper and is determined to remind him that while his faith may have wavered, God never left his side. Caleb is tempted to return Josie's feelings, but the choices he made while away are a heavy burden on his conscience. Will past mistakes end up destroying their fledgling romance? Or will she be able to break through the wall around his heart?
A Plain Man is more than just a sweet romance centered in Amish beliefs. It's the ever-fresh story of a wounded heart finding joy, health, and healing in God's infinite grace.

Don't forget to leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT Thursday, June 12, to be entered into the drawing for A Plain Man. The winner will be announced Friday, June 13!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ten Things with Author Brenda Taylor--and a Giveaway!

Welcome Brenda Taylor!

The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.
Barbara has graciously offered to give a free ebook of her novel, Through the Storm. Be sure to leave a comment to enter the drawing!

Ten Things About Brenda:
Ten Things About Brenda:
1.      Having a desire to write since childhood, I finally put pen to paper and wrote an inspirational historical novel after retirement.
2.      I retired from the position of elementary school principal after serving as a teacher and school administrator in the Texas public schools.
3.      My interest in all things Scottish was stirred when I discovered an ancestor emigrated from Scotland to North Carolina in the early 1800’s. We have no record of where he lived in Scotland, only that he was born there.
4.      My ancestral clan is Clan Munro. My husband and I are traveling to Scotland this summer and attending a Clan Munro gathering. This is my third visit to Scotland.
5.      Scotland is one of my favorite places to visit because I am researching a series of Scottish historical novels. The first, A Highland Pearl, will be released in August.
6.      Texas A&M University maroon is my favorite color.
7.      I favor Texas winters over summer. A cozy fire on the hearth and a cup of hot chocolate with a love story on television are some of my favorite things.
8.      The activity I enjoy most, other than writing, is playing the organ for my church.
9.      My husband and I have traveled throughout the United States and Canada in our RV.
10.  Through the years I have discovered—life is what you make it. Life can be interesting and challenging or boring and uneventful. All depends on the choices you make and your attitude.

To buy Brenda's books, visit here:

Don't forget to leave a comment by 11:59 PDT Thursday, June 19. A winner will be announced here Friday, June 20.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Ten Things with Shirley Raye Redmond...and a Giveaway!

An award-winning children’s book author, Shirley Raye Redmond holds an M.A. in literature from the University of Illinois. She has been married to her husband Bill for forty years, and is active with Community Bible Study. They have two grown children, one grandson and another grandbaby on the way. Amanda’s Beau is her first inspirational romance.

Shirley has graciously offered a digital copy of Amanda's Beau to one lucky commenter! Please leave a comment by 11:59 PDT Thursday, June 12. The winner will be announced June 13.

Ten Things about Shirley:

(1) I live in the mountains in New Mexico.
(2) We’ve twice had to flee our home due to forest fires.
(3) I grew up on the island of Okinawa.
(4) I have survived earthquakes and typhoons there.
(4) I have been to Iceland and held a puffin.
(5) I laugh out loud when reading Georgette Heyer’s regency novels.
(6) My children’s book Lewis & Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection.
(7) I love homemade caramels and green chile.
(8) I am active in Community Bible Study.
(9) One of my favorite hymns is “Christ Receiveth Sinful Men.”
(10) When traveling through England, I visited with C.S. Lewis’ former secretary, Walter Hooper and got the inside scoop on my favorite author.

Thanks for sharing with us, Shirley! (I'm dying to know more about #10!)

Here's more about Amanda's Beau:

The year is 1905. It is autumn in the village of Aztec in New Mexico territory. Amanda Dale is burdened with the responsibility of caring for her widowed sister—an invalid--and Ella’s two children—one a premature infant. Schoolteacher Gil Gladney is handsome, intelligent, and God-fearing. He is drawn to Amanda, but feels he cannot propose marriage until he is able to purchase the ranch he has been saving for. When Gil and his pupils discover the relics of an ancient culture among the ruins outside the village, Gil contacts an old college friend. The possibility of an archeological excavation excites the community of cash-strapped farmers, eager to earn extra money working on the site. When a rabid skunk reels through the excavation site, threatening the lives of Amanda and her nephew Rex, Gil realizes that life is short and the possibility of true happiness can be fleeting. In the end, Amanda learns to trust God to provide the happily-ever-after ending she’s been praying for.

Visit her website at www.shirleyrayeredmond.com, and don't forget to leave a comment to enter the drawing for a digital copy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Reads 2014

It's officially summer at my house! Hot weather, no school--perfect to sit in the shade with a good book. (And an iced tea, of course.)

I've got a stack of TBR (To Be Read) titles waist high, but here's what I'm reading right now:

Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen

Beverly, aka the fabulous Barbara Early, recently released Book 1 in her Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery series. This cozy mystery series centers around florist Audrey Bloom, who finds herself in the role of amateur sleuth. Just fabulous! I love the characters. Please note that this book isn't published by a CBA publisher, but the content is sweet and I have no objection letting my teenager read it. If you enjoy cozy mysteries, check it out. I can't wait for the next book, For Whom the Bluebell Tolls.

An Amish Miracle by Beth Wiseman, Mary Ellis, and Ruth Reid

Three Amish novellas by some of my favorite authors of Amish romance (and of course, Ruth is one of my critique partners. Despite my unashamed biased, you have to trust me: she's So Good!).  Sometimes, I am in the mood for a good novella: they're short but satisfying, and some days I need just that. Looking forward to cozying up with these.

Cecelia Jackson's Last Stand by Robbie Iobst

This book came onto my radar recently. At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about one of the main characters, but then I got caught up in the story about the three women who'd been mentored as young adults by Cecelia Jackson before their friendship exploded, and now must reunite to make up a huge batch of her famous/secret recipe tuna salad for the funeral. The sin portrayed in the book is realistic, but the book is funny, it's sweet, it's a bit sad, and the journey toward redemption is satisfying. I'm almost at the end!

What about you? What are you reading right now?