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, November 30, 2015

I Whisk You a Merry Christmas...Christmas Cookbooks!

It's time to start thinking about Christmas food! Party food, edible gifts, holiday meals, and quick meals (for busy nights) alike...I need help with all of them in December.

Do you own any cookbooks that are particular to Christmas? I love mine--and I'm always open to having more. Below are a few of my favorites and some that look fun to me. Share yours with me!

Susan Branch is one of my all-time favorites--in anything. Cookbooks. Calendars. Happy things. I once tagged her on twitter and she actually responded...She is such a sweet person, and so talented, too. I bought a copy of her Christmas from the Heart of the Home almost 20 years ago at an after-Christmas sale. Pretty enough to leave out as a coffee table type book (well, not my copy, since mine is literally tattered and stained), it contains some delicious recipes. Candied Bacon is a Christmas morning staple around here.
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Branch's Christmas Joy is a small gift book that contains the cookie section from the above book, as well as other sweet things. It's a perfect gift. (Oh, and the cookies? I like making the Florentines.)
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Another sweet book that looks great sitting on the coffee table during December is The Twelve Teas of Christmas, but it's probably only available used. Nevertheless, it contains lot of good ideas for cozy gatherings and yummy recipes inside.

Click here
The Southern Living Ultimate Christmas Cookbook is just what it says: Ultimate, full of lovely photos and fun recipes. Southern Living offers cookbooks annually, I think--this was a gift a few years' back--and newer editions are more readily available than this one pictured. But this is the one I have, and I love it.
Click here
I do not own the Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook, but as a subscriber to the magazine, I've glimpsed some of the recipes and it's on my List. If you're looking for a good, all-around holiday cookbook, check into this one.
Click here

Since we're talking wish lists, did you know some authors have written cookbooks? Oh goodness, the Debbie Macomber fan in my life might like this (looking at you, Mom).
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Macomber's not the only author with a holiday cookbook. Beloved author of Amish novels, Wanda E. Brunsetter, has one, too.
Click here
As for me, I'm curious about Christmas at Downton. It's unofficial, so don't expect photos of the cast or Highclere Castle. But I'm interested in what the book says about Edwardian Christmases and what the recipes are like.
Click here
What about you? Do you have a favorite Christmas cookbook?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

This week as you shop, travel, cook, and enjoy time with family and friends, take a minute to sit and take a breath. Maybe consider the past year and how God has blessed you. I'll be doing the same--running around, baking pies, and mulling over all God has done for me! I'm thankful for you. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

November News

I was recently asked what I've been up to lately (ie, "Do you work on one story at a time?" and "how do you spend your days?"), so I thought I'd share the latest. (Please share in the comments what's new with you!)

(But to answer those questions above, No, I'm not able to work on just one story at a time, unless I am deep in writing a novel *and* no opportunities crop up that require a quick response. Lately, I've worked on as many as four stories simultaneously. It's hard to shift gears like that, but most authors I know are in the same boat. So that's how I spend my days!)
  • As you may have seen in last week's post (scroll down) I signed a contract for a new novella! It's called The Honeymoon Express and it will appear in Barbour's The Rails to Love Collection in autumn of 2017. Each novella centers around a railroad theme.
  • I finished first-round edits for One Word From You, my Pride and Prejudice retelling which will appear in Austen in Austin, coming in January, 2016.
  • Right before I worked on those edits, I finished edits for my novella For a Song, which will appear in The Cowboy's Bride Collection, coming in March, 2016. Looking forward to receiving final edits on both this and the Austen novella soon. Then I will need to hop on those once they arrive in my inbox!
  • I've submitted proposals for a few new stories. Working up those proposals was a lot of fun. I hope to soon be able to announce that one or more of them sells!
  • I was summoned to jury duty, so I wrote blog posts to get me through the holidays in case I was placed on a trial that ran a few weeks. Weekly blogging here and fulfilling my obligations on Inkwell Inspirations is important to me!
  • On the blogging note, I've been invited to join Heroes, Heroines & History, a blog featuring many awesome Christian authors! I'll post the 3rd of every month. My first post is called Christmas Kisses...come read it Dec 3!
  • My Christmas newsletter is just about ready to go. All I need to do last minute is PICK WINNERS of the Austen in Austin book! (To win one, subscribe to the newsletter using the button at the right! I promise not to bug you, just say a cheery hello when I have a release.)
And in my non-writing world?
  • As I mentioned above, jury duty. 
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month--October--may be over, but it's never too late to get a mammogram. I recently had mine. A mammo saved my mom's life, so I'm all for encouraging everyone to get one. Talk to your doctor if you aren't sure about some of the new recommendations, but as for me, with my family history, I get one every year.
  • Busy times with kids. SATs, senior photos, college applications, clubs and activities, church, band...blessings all. But busy blessings.
  • A season of big bills! Car, plumbing, garage door, orthodontia, a weird mustard algae that invaded our pool and required expensive chemicals to treat, those aforementioned college applications... all at once. Everybody has those seasons...thank God for His provision!
  • Holidays are around the corner! Have you started shopping? I have--a little.
Today I blog on Inkwell Inspirations about "Stir Up Sunday" which is this coming weekend. Never heard of it? Come check it out!

So what's new with you?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Announcing...The Rails to Love Collection!

Yipee! I just signed a contract with Barbour Publishing for a novella, The Honeymoon Express, which will be published in the Riding the Rails to Love Collection in  autumn of 2017!

I am thrilled to be in this collection and can't wait to tell you more about it and the other eight contributors sometime soon.

But for now, I can tell you each inspirational romance in the collection involves a train. And I can share a little about The Honeymoon Express.
  • It's set in 1876 on a train headed east to west, from sea to shining sea.
  • The heroine, Ellen, is en route to take a job that was predominantly executed by males. And the hero's job is...well, the heroine isn't sure he even has a job. Nash looks like one of those mountain men she's read about who lives off the land.
  • The hero Nash was loosely inspired by Sully on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, a favorite show of mine from yesteryear.
  • My dad is a rail-fan and rail historian. I loved chatting with him about logistics and train routes!
Thanks for celebrating with me! I'm truly excited about this collection!

Monday, November 2, 2015

It's November...Time for Christmas Books!

'Tis the season for Christmas Books!

These new, inspy-authored holiday romances are out now, and they're on my reading list for the upcoming season. Let me know if you've read, or plan to read, any of them!

One of my critique partners, Ruth Reid, is in a new novella collection: An Amish Christmas Gift. This group of three Amish stories is rounded out with tales by authors Amy Clipston and Kelly Irvin.

Linda Goodnight is a great author, and the cover of her October release, The Christmas Family,  is adorable. A bachelor contractor offers a Christmas home makeover prize to a struggling waitress, but she won't take charity...until her daughter is hurt on the dilapidated porch.

If you like e-book collections, I'm biased toward Christmas Traditions, since some of the authors are good friends of mine! But get a load of this deal: eight novellas in one volume for only 99 cents.  Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Niki Turner, and Gina Welborn all have lovely stories of Christmases past (which are also available individually).

Christmas Mail Order Angels is also out in a 99-cent collection of six or for individual purchase. Authors of these holiday romances include Cynthia Hickey, Darlene Franklin, Susan Page Davis, Brandi Boddie, Jennifer AlLee, and Teresa Ives Lilly.

Snowflakes and Mistletoe is currently a #1 bestseller, and this e-collection is also only 99 cents for 8 contemporary novellas! Authors include Leah Atwood, Lynette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Kimberly Rae Jordan, Lesley Ann McDaniel, Ginger Solomon, Carol Moncado, and Marion Ueckermann.

Another bestseller and great value at 99 cents is Love's Gift: 8 Christian Romances Celebrating the True Meaning of Christmas. Authors include Belle Calhoune, Debra Lynn Collins, Valerie Comer, Christian Coryell, Heather Gray, Lee Tobin McClain, and Krista Phillips.

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The O Little Town of Christmas Collection is coming out one at a time in individual e-book for 99 cents each. So far, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, and Linda Baten Johnson's books are out. Look for more soon from authors like Gina Welborn and Debra E. Marvin!

Happy Holiday Reading!