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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sneak Peek of One Word From You

Ooh! I'm so excited about the release of Austen in Austin Collection, Volume I, coming in just a few weeks from White Fire Publishing! It comes in paperback with four stories based on Jane Austen's Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. Or, if you prefer, each story is also available individually in  ebook format.

My story, One Word From You, is a project that's dear to my heart. It won the Genesis for Historical Romance in 2013, and was a joy to write alongside my writing buddies from the Inkwell Inspirations blog.

A few fun facts about my novella, One Word From You:
  • My story may be a retelling of Pride & Prejudice with a Texas twist, but it's not just for Austen fans. If you're familiar with P&P, see if you recognize my re-imaginings of Austen's characters...and even bits of dialogue.
  • The Austen Academy mentioned in each novella in the collection is fictional, but other Austin historical landmarks are real.
  • Something else historical that figures into my story? Time zones weren't established in the United States until November, 1883. Prior to that, each city set its own sun time, as did each train station. They hardly ever matched up, which caused a lot of problems.
Curious about the story? Here's a sneak peek!


“My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.” Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice


October, 1883

             “If it is indeed a truth universally acknowledged that a bachelor in possession of a lucrative cattle ranch must be in want of a wife, then Mr. Cray will be swapping vows before calving season.” Merriment pulled at Eliza Branch’s lips as she gazed past her parents at the darkness beyond the carriage window. “He doesn’t need our assistance to find a suitable bride.”

            “This is no time for your odd sense of humor, Eliza.” The carriage bumped over a pothole, and Mother sucked in a hissing breath. “This headache!”

            “I’m sorry, Mother. I didn’t mean to upset you. Are you ill?” Eliza bit the finger-seam of her glove and tugged, baring her arm to the evening cool. She cupped her hand over Mother’s smooth cheek. “You don’t have a fever.”

             Mother’s head jerked back. “Still a hoyden after months of finishing school. Can no one persuade you to stop undressing with your teeth?”

             “I didn’t rip the seam this time.” Eliza patted Mother’s knee. “Let’s turn back home. The Hales will understand if you’re too ill to attend the gala.”

            “You mother’s fine,” Father drawled. “Hot with determination, is all.”

            “No thanks to you, George.” Mother’s eyes flashed glossy as ink in the moonlight. “Now Eliza must wed Hezekiah Cray with too much haste for a proper society wedding.”

            “I—what?” A nauseating sensation coiled in Eliza’s stomach, just as it did during her recurring nightmare of arriving tardy for a French exam at her finishing school, The Jeannette C. Austen Academy for Young Ladies. In those dreams, she couldn’t recognize the conjugations on the chalkboard. But Mother’s perplexing words boded a far worse fate than poor marks.

              “Marry,” Mother reiterated, as if she were about to spell the word. “You’re nineteen. Plenty old enough.”

              Eliza stifled a snort. She’d marry Mr. Cray, with his oily black hair, overlong mustache, and unsavory habits when his cattle sang in the church choir. “He gambles, Mother.”

            “He can afford to. He has the touch of Midas with livestock.”

            “And I do not.” Father sighed and stared out the window at the dark street.

            Eliza’s mouth filled with fearful questions, cold and metallic as coins on her tongue. “What’s happened?”

            “The cattle are diseased.” Mother massaged her temples. “Your father bred good stock with feral cows to produce some new kind of Longhorn. But he failed. The drought hasn’t helped, either. We must sell the ranch to keep the house here in town.”

            Eliza touched Father’s arm, willing him to look at her. “It’s not so bad, is it, Father?”

            He shrugged, but whether his action bespoke apology or resignation, she couldn’t tell.

Meet Will Delacourt, my Texas twist on Mr. Darcy, in the book!


Come back next Monday to learn how to enter to win a copy!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ten Things with Debra E. Marvin...and a Giveaway!

Welcome Debra E. Marvin to Tea and a Good Book! Today we're celebrating Deb's Christmas novella, learning Ten Things about Deb, and she's offering a giveaway!

Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She'd like to live a wee bit closer to her grandchildren, but is thankful that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor.

Other than writing light-hearted romances and gritty gothics, she has rather normal obsessions such as fabric, peanut butter, vacations, British dramas, and whatever mystery series she's currently stuck on.

Debra E. Marvin

Her first release, Desert Duet, is part of the O Little Town of Christmas Collection! Scroll down for the scoop, but here's a hint: it's a charming Christmas read set in the 1930s, Arizona, full of humor and holiday cheer. And she's giving away a copy of the ebook to one randomly chosen commenter!

But first, Deb's sharing Ten Things with us.

  1. I rarely go to the movies, but if I like the movie enough, I'll go multiple times to see it (Jane Eyre, Austenland...3 times each)
  2. I love to make things and do artsy things (full, zippered fleece snowsuit for my dog, for example)
  3. I drive a truck-- stickshift and barn boots but no rifle.
  4. I visited the area of my Christmas novella, Desert Duet, even though I've been to Arizona at least ten or fifteen times.
  5. I had three children in four years and then waited patiently for grandchildren.
  6. I've never been to Oklahoma but I love the musical
  7. I'm struggling to think of ten things
  8. I had a Welsh pony when I was a kid
  9. I think that when people you love die, you miss them more as time goes by, instead of less.
  10. I worry that I'll want to take naps in Heaven.


Here's the scoop on Deb's book:

Merry Christmas from Humbug. Wish You Were Here! 

It’s 1933 in the good old US of A. In the midst of drought, the Depression, and gangsters on the lam, America finds solace in Hollywood's Golden Age. 

Ex-pilot Eugene Tanner, determined to pen the lyrics for the movie industry's first "Best Song" award, books a rushed December stay at the remote Humbug Creek Guest Ranch (A Gold Mine of a Getaway!) Where better to find inspiration for an epic Western, than amid all that trail dust and burnt coffee? 

Thea Knight gives up her short holiday break from the studio’s costume department to play cowgirl hostess at her family’s struggling guest ranch. But instead of helping their witty and handsome guest, she becomes his biggest distraction. Old flames and past regrets take a backseat when the pair become embroiled in a ghost town mystery marring Humbug, Arizona’s rustic Christmas. Thankfully, the cowgirl is as fast with her Winchester as she is with her comebacks. 

Thank you, Deb!

Don't forget to leave a comment by 11:59 pm PST Dec 18, 2015, to win the e-book of Deb's novella! Please include your email in your comment. Void where prohibited.

Find Deb!

Inkwell Inspirations Blog
Pinterest @debraemarvin
Facebook debra e marvin

Purchase Desert Duet here!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Edible Crafts to Make with Kids During Christmas Break

Christmas is on a Friday this year...which means our kids have a long, nearly-full week of winter break to wait for The Big Day.

Sometimes that waiting can be hard and long. What's a mom to do to help the kids pass the time?

Crafts. I am big on gingerbread houses and ornaments. But my kids are older now and they like to be in the kitchen.

So let's make something yummy and adorable!

Here are a few things I found on Pinterest. For instructions, follow the links in the captions.

Strawberries make great Santa hats. Look how cute these Santa Hat Brownies are!
Brownies with strawberry Santa hats - amazing!:
Look here to make!
These are too cute...skiing snowmen. Marshmallows, candy canes, and pretzels. Can't beat it. These are edible if you use an edible marker to make the face, but you can use a sharpie pen instead...just don't eat them!

Sledding Marshmallow Snowman - What could be more whimsical than a marshmallow snowman speeding down the drifts on a candy-cane sled? Make one for your gingerbread house display!:
click here

I love putting a candy cane in my cocoa. It looks festive and tastes wonderful. But what if you added marshmallows to the mix? Candy Cane Marshmallow Pops! Yowza! And they make great little gifts. Just wrap in cellophane and tie with a red or green ribbon.
Candy cane marshmallows for hot cocoa~ hang them on the side of your mug.:
Recipe here.
Candy canes are pretty versatile for craft-making. These lollipops would be fun at school parties, or wrapped in cellophane and tied to a gift. (And they work for Valentine's Day, too!)

Cute idea for Christmas:
Click here
Talk about fun to make and then eat/display...ornaments made of melted starlight mints. I haven't tried this but plan to this year.

Candy ornaments:
Directions here
This last one is one of my favorites: Elf Donuts. Leave a few on Santa's cookie plate.

Elf donuts--actually cheerios, to leave with Santa's cookies. This is the cutest thing ever! Gotta remember this for Christmas:
So cute! Cheerios with a little extra, served in a pill box!

For more ideas, feel free to check out my Pinterest page, Christmas, here. And let me know if you have some great edible craft ideas of your own!