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, May 25, 2015

Nob Hill~ Love's Reward's Neighborhood

My novella, Love's Reward, released this month in Barbour's The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection! I'm so excited, I thought I'd share a few photos that helped inspire the story's setting.

The novella takes place in the Spring of 1896 among some of San Francisco's wealthiest citizens. And there were indeed very wealthy people living in San Francisco. In the late nineteenth century, many of them clustered on Nob Hill, an exclusive neighborhood with breathtaking views. Because the residents were rich, they were called "nobility" or "nabobs", which was eventually shortened to "nob"--hence Nob Hill.

Take Mark Hopkins, for example. He was one of the Big Four who started the Central Pacific Railroad. Here's his home on Nob Hill in the 1880s.

Mark Hopkins Mansion, Nob Hill, San Francisco, 1880's. Survived only 28 years until the 1906 earthquake.
Mark Hopkins mansion, Nob Hill.

It's so grand, I used it as the home of one of my secondary characters, Theodora Humphries. Get a look at the foyer:
Mark Hopkins Mansion, Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA destroyed in San Francisco earthquake 1906
Hopkins mansion, interior
Too bad I didn't set the entire story here, eh? Alas, none of my main characters are as wealthy as Theodora. Or Mr. Hopkins. (Sadly, the house wasn't entirely finished by his death in 1878.)

Mr. Hopkins' next door neighbor, by the way, was Governor Leland Stanford of Stanford University fame. He was also one of the railroad's Big Four.
Mansion of Gov. Leland Stanford, Nob Hill, c. 1890--quite similar to Congressman Blair's house.

It is just the sort of house my hero's father, Congressman Roger Blair, would find worthy of his high position. Here's a view from one of the windows, which was described as "overlooking both the city and the bay."

[p. 55] "View overlooking the city and bay from bath window of Mr. L. house." Eadweard Muybridge - Leland Stanford’s Residence Photograph Album: ca. 1878 :: San Francisco Public Library ...The panoramic views from Stanford’s windows, reveals Muybridge’s intention to document the dwelling from the point of view of its master. The California Street home was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. - See more at: http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=2000336401#sthash.HuOch7Rg.dpuf

Speaking of the bay, here's a photo of the Golden Gate taken by Ansel Adams in 1933, pre-bridge. Many think the Golden Gate Bridge received its name from its bright orange color, but in truth, it was named for the strait of water beneath it.

Ansel Adams 1933 Photo of Strait before Golden Gate Bridge was built. The Bridge was not named for it's color, but the Golden Gate Strait it traversed.

Unfortunately, every mansion and business on Nob Hill was utterly destroyed by the earthquake and fires of 1906 (except for the granite walls surrounding the homes of the Big Four, including Hopkins and Stanford). The neighborhood maintained (and still maintains) its swanky reputation, but every owner of a great mansion rebuilt elsewhere.

Eadweard Muybridge - Leland Stanford’s Residence Photograph Album: ca. 1878 :: San Francisco Public Library
Stanford's picture gallery. One imagines all these pieces of art were destroyed in 1906. sfpl.org
The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco Hotel now stands where his mansion had been, and The Stanford Court sits atop the site of his home. Here's the InterContinental today.

July #SanFrancisco Trip Idea via @carryon_travel #travelsocial

There are stories upon stories here, both real and imagined, just one of which is in my novella.

It's also a reminder how few things stay the same over time. We need to appreciate one another and what we've been blessed with now.

Look for The Most Eligible Bachelor on Amazon

Monday, May 18, 2015

Undercover Bride

Ready for some Old West Romance? Look no further than Margaret Brownley's Undercover Bride (Undercover Ladies #2), from Shiloh Run Press.
Available on Amazon
Maggie Cartwright is a Pinkerton Agent, assigned the task of proving Garrett Thomas is a notorious train robber, the Whistle-Stop Bandit. Posing as a mail-order bride, she heads to Arizona to play the part of willing fiancée--an easy task, considering her immediate attraction to him and her affection for his kids. Perhaps her feelings cloud her judgment, though, because she begins to think Garrett has nothing to do with the crime...until she discovers evidence that could see him hang.

Author Margaret Brownley is a fan favorite, and it's no wonder. Her characters are likable and her stories are satisfying. The fun premise of this story hooked me, and I found the narrative well-paced and I rooted for everyone's Happily-Ever-After. This may be the second book in a series, but I hadn't read the first and I wasn't lost or confused.

Undercover Bride can be recommended to fans of Inspy old west romances.

Thanks to NetGalley for my copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Congratulations to the Winner!

Thanks to all who entered the Love's Reward Giveaway, my first-ever big contest celebrating my first-ever publication.

Many were gracious enough to enter the contest. You tweeted. You shared. You joined the mailing list and said hi. Thank you!

Rafflecopter randomly chose a winner for me...

Congratulations, Caryl Kane!

I will contact you shortly to get your address.

If you'd still like to enter to win the book, there's another chance to win a book as I visit Hallee Bridgeman's blog. Also, I'll be on Carrie Fancett Pagels' Overcoming with God the week of June 14.

Thank you to all who entered!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Most Eligible Bachelor Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Erica Vetsch's photo.
Welcome to one of today's stops on The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection Blog Hop! Let me pour you a virtual cup of tea. I'm so glad you're here.

And if you're looking to win something, boy, do I have some opportunities for you!

All nine authors of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection are pleased to offer a Grand Prize to one lucky, randomly-chosen winner! We had a blast putting the prize pack together.

1. Collapsible storage cube.
2. A box of Ghirardelli chocolates
3. A book of MN stories called Bring Warm Clothes
4. A DVD (Nim's Island, Night at the Museum, & Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium)...
5. A Gifts in a Jar recipe book
6. A whimsical little book of Dr. Seuss quotes.
7. A CD of Victorian Love Songs
8. A vintage-dressed lady Christmas ornament
9. A jar of preserves
10. A packet of lovely note cards
11. A little treasure box
12. A stuffed cow.
13. Dangly, sparkly earrings
14. A Starbucks gift card
15. A cotton tea-towel with a vintage typewriter on it
16. A turquoise cotton tea-towel
17. An apron
18. A miniature post office counter
19. In infinity scarf and fingerless gloves (In colors inspired by Egypt.)
20. An autographed copy of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection.
21. A sweet little notebook with a velocipede on the front.

Can you believe these prizes? Each of the authors contributed something related to her story. I pitched in Ghirardelli chocolates and a bicycle notebook.
Bicycle Poster, 1896. Josie loves her "Yellow Fellow" Stearns!
Josie, my heroine, rides a "Yellow Fellow" Stearns around San Francisco...maybe to work off all that Ghirardelli chocolate?
The Rafflecopter entry widget is posted below. So are the details on another place you can win a copy of The Most Eligible Bachelor TODAY ONLY and a Prize Pack celebrating my novella, Love's Reward. But don't scroll down yet!

Since the collection celebrates marrying for all the right reasons, I thought I'd share a bit about the Eligible Bachelor in my 1896-set story, Love's Reward: Daniel Blair.

What makes Daniel Blair the Most Eligible Bachelor in San Francisco?
Well, it's not his good looks (although, at 30, he's handsome). It's not his gentle manners, solid faith or sense of humor (although he's got those, too). It’s not even his wealth (he's an architect, but his father, a congressman, made money on silver ore).

No, what makes him sought-after as husband material is a joke--a want ad placed by his rival, intended to distract him from a career-making architecture competition. He’d rather be loved for himself, preferably by Josie, the girl he’s known so long she doesn’t think of him as a suitor.

But the three girls competing hardest for his heart, Estelle, Olive, and Addie, shouldn't be underestimated.

Heiress Josie Price
Heroine Josie, her heart a-flutterin' at seeing Daniel, perhaps?
Trousers like this are favorites of Josie's.   Ladies Riding Ensemble Trousers Date: ca. 1896 Culture: American #19thcentury #victorian
Get a load of these trousers Josie wears in the first scene! (1896, American, metmuseum.org)
Now, enter to win the amazing Giveaway offered by all Nine Authors of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection! Several will be stopping by today, so be sure to say hi in the comments.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Curious to learn more about the book? Click HERE!

But before you leave...Those other opportunities I mentioned?

I'm the guest poster on Seekerville today. What an honor! Please come by...I'm giving away a copy of the book there~and there's always a fun party going on (click here to join the fun!). The party and giveaway lasts one day only!

Don't forget my personal Prize Pack, either. The contest is still open to win some fun prizes.

Just visit my website to enter on the easy-peasy form. But don't delay! Contest ends 11:59 pm May 10. Start by clicking here!

Thanks for popping by for the Blog Hop! Be sure to say hi in the comments!

Giveaways Galore to Celebrate The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection!

The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection released May 1! And I'm giving away stuff!

Over on my website. And all over the blogosphere!

Come visit to enter all the giveaways!

NOW through May 10 ~ Enter to win a prize pack on my website! (Scroll down for the details.)
May 4 ~ Party at Inkwell Inspirations (2 books given away!)
May 5 ~ It's a Doubly Good Day! First visit Seekerville (book giveaway!) and then come back to Tea and a Good Book for my stop on the Most Eligible Bachelors Collection Blog Hop! (enter to win an awesome prize package put together by all nine Bachelor authors!)
May 6 ~ Interview on Inkwell Inspirations (remember that 2 book giveaway!)
May 7 ~ Gina Welborn and I post on Inkwell Inspirations (giveaway!)
May 13 ~ I'm honored to share on Emilie Hendrix's blog
May 17 ~ I'll be on Carrie Fancett Pagels' Overcoming with God (book giveaway!). Starts in the afternoon and there will be reviews and chitchat about the book all week!
May 27 ~ Another chance to win a book as I visit Hallee Bridgeman's blog
June 3 ~ Sandra Ardoin welcomes me to her blog

To learn more about the book, click here!

Void where prohibited. Drawings limited to USA and Canada.