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, February 16, 2015

For Whom the Bluebell Tolls~A Fresh Cozy Mystery!

I loved the first Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery by Beverly Allen, Bloom and Doom, so I've eagerly awaited the second book in the series, For Whom the Bluebell Tolls. (What would happen between our heroine sleuth, Audrey, and Brad the baker? Who in this quaint, fun town would die next?) It was worth the wait! Plot twists, sneaky clues, and delightful characters make for a rich bouquet of reading pleasure.
Find it here!
Here's the back cover blurb:

Deadly thorns lurk among the roses in this Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery

Florist Audrey Bloom, co-owner of the Rose in Bloom, creates fragrant bouquets for brides. But when a wedding goes fatally wrong, it’s up to Audrey to sniff out a killer . . .

Everything is coming up roses for Audrey when her dazzling creations are picked to be featured on a wedding reality show. The hot series is filming an episode about a bride who’s bonkers for bells, and Audrey’s bouquets of campanulas, calla lilies, and Bells-of-Ireland are perfect for the bridal theme.

But Audrey’s debut quickly becomes a hothouse of trouble. Her ex, Brad, shows up as a crew member on the show, threatening her blossoming relationship with Nick the baker. To make matters worse, when one of the show’s hosts is found dead in the bell tower of a historic church, all the evidence points toward Brad.

Now Audrey needs to weed out the real killer before someone else’s chance at stardom is permanently nipped in the bud . . .

***

I recommend this mystery series to anyone who loves cozy mysteries. It's clean, fresh, and well-written. Looking forward to book #3 in the series!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Victorian Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day (or Galentine's Day, or Singles Awareness Day...whichever you like)!

In the spirit of the holiday and in keeping with all the research I'm doing into my latest Victorian-set romance, I thought I'd share a few Victorian Valentines I've found online. And boy, did the Victorians like their Valentines. Just google it and you will find zillions.

These are a few of my favorites.

This post card is sort of what you'd expect Victorians to exchange. Flowers. A dove. A clean, proper sentiment: "I ask this boon in friendship's name. Will you be My Valentine?"
Sure thing, friend!

But I was surprised to see a few Victorian Valentines that get right to the heart of the matter: sex. This Valentine is pretty racy with its nighttime setting and almost-but-not-quite smooch.
Vintage Victorian Valentine Couple in heart ~ "I am tired, Beloved,  of chafing my heart against  the want of you;  of squeezing it into little inkdrops,  And posting it."  ~Amy Lowell, "The Letter"
Watch those hands, mister!
This one from 1915 has the same idea.
To My Valentine, c.1915
found here


For the less, er, married Victorian, there were far more genteel purchase options. Courtly love. Courting love. Flashes back to the past. This Valentine may be Victorian, but the clothes the folks are wearing are Regency-era. It seems then, as now, the past was considered romantic.
With Love Victorian Couple Postcard ~ Silk Fabric
Mr. Darcy had charm then and now.

Another nostalgia piece? Looks like it. The hair and dress are definitely not Victorian. His hat and dress remind me of the Quaker Oats Man, but he is far too suave and young.
Victorian Valentine Cards
Aww.
This one is romantic in its text, but very properly-so, and the image of a child definitely removes one from a romantic frame of mind. It's the sort of thing one's mother would have approved of your receiving from a suitor. Winsome ways and manners fine, indeed!
4284863571 f882d48e60 1880s Victorian Valentines Day Card O
found here

You didn't have to be in love with somebody to send a Valentine. There's nothing gooshy about this one.
Victorian Woman Valentine
Greetings, indeed. If I got this from my husband, I'd say, Greeting back atcha, babe.
 
Children figured prominently in Valentines. I'm guessing from the bicycle that this one was made in the 1890s-through the Edwardian era. I love the boy's socks.
Pretty valentine cards
And the border! Wow!

Nothing says Victorian-era Valentines like Cherubs. Although this 1912 cherub is a bit creepy. I mean, he's crafted a spider web? To trap you? In a web of love?
Victorian Valentine
Found here

I suppose then, as now, the most important thing was telling someone they're important to you. That you're thinking of them. That they are in your heart. That they're worth the extravagance of flowers and cards and tokens of affection.
Victorian Valentine
found here
So here's my greeting to you, friend to friend.

Happy Valentine's Day Greetings!
Clapsaddle Valentine card O
 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Oh My Goodness, I Wrote That?

This week I received the galley edits for my first publication, novella Love's Reward in The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection. The galley is a pdf file of the book as it will appear in print, and these edits are the last chance I have to look for any little typos, tweaks, etc before the book is published.

Exciting times. Seeing the story like this, like a REAL BOOK, is enough to make me cry. It's gorgeous. It's real. It's big time.

And it's also a bit daunting. Because ugh, did I really write that awkward sentence? And oh dear, can I rewrite the whole thing?

The answer to that last question, by the way, is NO. This is the time to find missing apostrophes, not to rewrite anything.

Oh man. All the What If questions are flooding in. What If my story is as bad as I suddenly think it is? I am the worst writer ever. I shouldn't even be allowed to write checks. Blah blah blah.

Time to get a grip, Self. If one of my friends came to me with these sorts of jitter-induced blatherings, I'd tell her this:
  • This story was critiqued by capable people.
  • This story was edited by professional people.
  • You need to take a deep breath, honey. You've got a good case of Pre-Publication Panic.
The bottom line is, no book outside the Bible is perfect. (Well, Pride & Prejudice is pretty close, but you know what I mean.) I have made mistakes in this story, and I will make mistakes again in every story I ever write. That isn't the point. The point is, God saw fit to allow this story to go out into the world.

Which reminds me of what I wanted in the first place:

To write the stories God put on my heart, with the hope that someone out there is blessed, comforted, or encouraged by it. Just one person.

Because I've been that person before whose heart was blessed, comforted, encouraged, and, yep, even changed by a romance novel.

So there you have it. My imperfect offering.

I should note that I received the galley of the entire book and oh my goodness,you all are in for a treat, should you decide to pick up this book. The eight other stories in the collection look fantastic. I haven't read them all because I've been spending time with Daniel and Josie, my characters, but I've peeked at them. And WOW!

**

Do you have an offering you're hesitant to give because it's not perfect?