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, December 26, 2016

Happy 2017!

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 9:6: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Friday, December 2, 2016

ACFW December New Releases!

December 2016 New Releases

 More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance: Bella Natale! by Marianne Evans -- An aspiring American artist and the widowed, Italian owner of a premier art gallery meet and fall in love in Florence when he champions her work, but there are her American family's expectations and his five-year-old son to consider. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican]) With this Kiss by Marianne Evans -- A kiss stolen in a midnight snow. A jealous colleague at Jonathan's firm is bent on revenge...revenge that puts Isabella's store into legal peril. Will love be enough to see them through? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican]) Mistletoe Daddy by Deb Kastner -- Bubbly Vivian Grainger bids on gruff Nick McKenna at Serendipity Texas's annual Bachelors and Baskets for one reason--to help her build her hair salon; but once Nick finds out she's pregnant, he does his best to build a path to Vivian's heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) A Hero for Heather by Marion Ueckermann -- When a "homeless" man she's been helping rescues social worker Heather Blume from a vicious attack, she's so grateful she violates one of the most important rules in her profession--she takes him home to tend his wounds. But the mysterious Paxton Rathbone is no homeless man…he's a gentleman. When feelings grow, and Paxton's past beckons, both he and Heather discover there's a fine line between gratitude and love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published) A Husband for Holly by Marion Ueckermann -- Holly Blume loves decorating people's homes, but that doesn't mean she's ready to play house. Believing a house is not a home without a woman's touch, Reverend Christopher Stewart is in the market for a wife. What woman would consider him marriage material, though, with an aging widowed father to look after, especially one who suffers from Alzheimer's? Despite their differences, Holly resolves to finish her job of redesigning the Stewart home, while Christopher determines to re-form Holly's heart. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published) Rocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe -- Twelve years after she married another man, Rebecca Anshaw Simpson is back at Joe Gallagher's ranch as his physical therapist. But healing his body is nothing compared to guarding his heart from the woman he never forgot. Becca won't let regret and a surly rancher get in the way of her job and the chance to start over with her little girl. But Becca never expected she'd fall all over again for her first love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

  Cozy Mystery: Christmas Cookie Mystery by Naomi Miller -- With Christmas right around the corner, Katie Chupp and The Sweet Shop get involved in a mystery when a certain dear family finds an unexpected package at their door. (Cozy Mystery from S&G Publishing) Historical: Michel: The Fourth Wise Man by Katheryn Maddox Haddad -- This descendant of Daniel, also a wise man, sacrifices everything - his wife, his father, his home - to do what he is convinced God needs him to do, then finds out he was wrong. (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House) Five Nights with Pharaoh by Kristen Reed -- Shortly after entering Egypt with her husband, Sarai is taken into Pharaoh’s harem as his newest, most favored concubine. The breathtaking, ageless beauty is forced to cling to her faith in God as she prays for the strength to accept her new position and endures a series of mysterious plagues that can only be indicative of a wrathful deity’s divine judgment. Discover a remarkable reimagining of Sarai’s plight in Egypt, where she humbly set aside her own honor to protect the man through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (Historical - Independently Published)

  Historical Romance: Seven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Keli Gwyn, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Lorna Leslie Seilstad, Erica Vetsch -- Meet the seven Hart brothers of the 7-Heart ranch in central Texas. Each man is content in his independent life, without the responsibilities of a wife and children--until their father decides 1874 will be the year his grown sons finally marry, or they will be cut from his will. How will each man who values his freedom respond to the ultimatum? Can love develop on a timeline, or will it be sacrificed for the sake of an inheritance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing) A Pony Express Romance by Misty M. Beller -- Pony Express rider Josiah English and the station master's sister, Mara Reid, fall in love, but when the Express shuts down and Mara's family home is in peril, the danger looming over Mara's life may not be half as destructive as that threatening her heart. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

  Military Suspense: Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig -- A former Green Beret is confronted by past mistakes as he and his team battle a centuries-old plague and the terrorists bent on rewriting history. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

  Romantic Suspense: Hazardous Holiday by Liz Johnson -- Just in time for the holidays, navy SEAL Zach McCloud returns home from deployment--and discovers someone wants his family dead. When he married his cousin's struggling widow, he vowed to help her and her seriously ill son, and now he'll risk everything to protect them. Even if their arrangement is only temporary. Kristi's certain an unhappy client from the law firm where she works is determined to hunt her down. But when a sniper bullet wildly misses its target, they begin to question whether it's really her someone wants dead. Working together, can they figure out why they've been attacked…and keep little Cody from the nefarious forces dead set on making this Christmas their last? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) Christmas Conspiracy by Susan Sleeman -- When Commander Jake Marsh loses control of a hostage situation and Tessa Long is injured, guilt eats at him. He blurs the line between the professional and personal, and visits Tessa at the hospital. But when a man tries to kill her in her hospital room, Jake disregards all of the rules and regulations that have allowed him to control his world and vows to keep her safe no matter what. Trouble is, the situation brings back memories from his childhood of the loss of his entire family, and for the first time in twenty years, he fears he's no longer in charge of his life, and knows when he's out of control bad things happen. Very bad things. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Monday, November 21, 2016

Stir Up Sunday

Ugh, you've skimmed down the post and seen the Plum Pudding, and now you're rolling your eyes. A Christmas post? But it’s not even Thanksgiving!

Yes, I hear you. But trust me. Our friends in England are shopping for yummy things this week because this coming Sunday is “Stir Up” Sunday: the traditional day to concoct the Plum Pudding for one’s Christmas dessert. (Puddings improve with a bit of age, so they are made several weeks in advance.)
Christmas pudding.JPG

When I say "Stir Up" Sunday, do you imagine a wooden spoon mixing flour, raisins (aka plums) and other goodies in a big bowl? Despite the actual stirring accomplished on “Stir Up” Sunday, this custom actually got its name from church!

In the Anglican tradition, the last Sunday of the liturgical year is the week before Advent (which begins four Sundays before Christmas--this year, the date falls on November 20, hence the timing of this post). For almost four centuries, congregations in countries all over the world that used the Anglican Book of Common Prayer prayed a collect that begins like this:

“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…”

Hence, “Stir Up” Sunday. Nice that it fits with pudding-making, too.

(Fun note: This prayer was included in the Gregorian Sacramentary, which dates from approximately AD 600.)

(Fun note #2:  Since 1970, the last Sunday of the liturgical year in liturgical Protestant traditions has been known as the Feast of Christ the King. On that day, those in the Anglican tradition pray a collect that is more appropriate for that day. However, Anglicans still pray the "stir up" collect on the Third Sunday in Advent!)
1559 Book of Common Prayer--stir up our wills, Lord!
But back to pudding.

In days of yore, English families went to church together on “Stir Up” Sunday, then came home and met up in the kitchen to mix and steam the Christmas pudding. Everyone, from children to servants, took a turn stirring the pudding. The reasons for taking turns were both sentimental and practical: everyone got to make a special wish when they stirred, and the labor was distributed, because the stirring is harder than it sounds. The dough is thick and requires muscle to mix well.

making chistmas pudding.jpg
Stop tormenting your sister, young man or you don't get to make a wish! Found here.
Stirring was supposed to be done east to west, to honor the journey of the Magi to the Christ Child.

Clearly, puddings were a big deal, steeped in tradition and ritual. Not just the stirring, but the whole process. Some recipes include thirteen ingredients, one for Christ and each of the disciples. Families often made two, one to keep and one to share.

After the stirring process, the pudding was steamed and set aside for a few weeks to age. Then, before serving, some families added tokens to the pudding (by pressing them into the squishy dessert and, one imagines, covering the holes with decorative holly). One’s “fortune” was told by the token one received in one's slice: a shoe meant a journey ahead, a ring meant marriage, a wishbone indicated good luck, a thimble foreshadowed thrift, and a coin meant wealth.

Today, most people expect a token placed underneath their slice, a safe place so one need not nibble ever-so-carefully to avoid breaking a tooth or choking on an unexpected surprise. Also, sadly, most people today don't stir their puddings on "Stir Up" Sunday anymore. Not when there are so many puddings ready-to-eat in the market.

We had a Downton Abbey brand plum pudding for dessert a few years ago...and we set it on fire and everything!

Whether or not you craft a plum pudding this coming Sunday, I pray you are “stirred up” by the Holy Spirit to do the good works He intends for you to do! 

Including preparations for Thanksgiving next week. ;)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Herbal Bath Tea

Are you stressed out? Could you use a little break from the hustle and bustle of your schedule, as well as the cold autumn wind?

Why not try a warm, soothing bath with some herbal bath tea?

I don't mean the kind you drink while you soak in the tub, although that's good, too. I was referring, however, to the kind you soak in yourself!

It's easy and inexpensive.

First, compile the "tea" ingredients. The dried herbs are ones you can grow in your garden, or purchase.

2 cups epsom salts
1/4 cup Calendula
1/4 cup Chamomile
1/4 cup Lavender
1/4 up Oats
Optional: essential oil in a favorite scent (like lavender)


Lavender, Nature, Plant, Purple Flower, Meadow, Plants

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine herbs, salt, and if desired, a few drops of essential oil. For each bath "teabag" put 3 Tablespoons into a muslin bag (or tie in a coffee filter). Add hot water to a 4-6 cup mixing bowl with a spout, or kettle, or something else that you can pour from. Steep the "teabag" in the hot water for fifteen minutes. Add the "tea" to your bathwater and enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2016

November Releases by ACFW Authors!

November 2016 New Releases More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical: Slender Reeds: Jochebed's Hope by Texie Susan Gregory -- In a deadly race to save her son, a young slave woman dares defy the most powerful man in the world. (Biblical from Barbour Publishing)

Contemporary Romance: Crazy Woman Christmas by Renee Blare -- A quiet cowboy whisks Bianca to his ranch to ride out the Christmas blizzard where she discovers life is cold but also beautiful in the “Cowboy” state. (Contemporary Romance from Inspired [Prism Book Group]) Other Than a Halo by Valerie Comer -- Even though she’s a new woman in Christ, single mom Bren Haddock was no angel as a teen. Now managing the Hiller Farm for a CSA, life is good until a friend offers to enter her daughter into the Little Miss Snowflake Pageant. Old insecurities flare when she meets the intriguing head of marketing the pageant. Rob Santoro isn’t so sure about handling the pageant portfolio until he meets Bren. Soon he’s fallen for her and her two kids. When a Thanksgiving adventure goes awry, he’s left wondering how to love a woman who refuses to be loved. What will it take for Bren to retire her tarnished halo and move into the future God has for her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published) Do You Know What I Know? by Becky Melby -- What if a phone call from the obstetrician’s office went to the wrong person? Elizabeth Schmidt can’t figure out why her husband doesn’t seem excited about the news she’s sure he heard. Is he unhappy? Or is James cheating on her? Pastor Jay Davidson is in shock. Bethany Schmidt, the woman he’s in love with, is pregnant. Should he walk away, or is God asking him to play the part of Joseph in real life and not just in the church Christmas program? Bethany can’t figure out why Jay is acting so weird. Has he figured out one of the two secrets she’s keeping until after Christmas? Can a ponytailed itinerant carpenter with a pet chicken help unravel the confusion? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published) How to Charm a Beekeeper's Heart by Candice Sue Patterson -- Weddings are the last thing beekeeper Huck Anderson wants to be associated with, considering his past. So when he inherits a building occupied by a bridal boutique, he aims to evict the failing business and open a sporting goods store. That is until his tenant ends up being Arianne Winters, a woman he’s indebted to from a mistake made years ago. When a life-threatening injury derails Huck entirely, Arianne offers to aid in his lengthy recovery if he’ll allow her to remain in his building. But nursing her adversary proves challenging when her adolescent crush resurfaces. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican]) A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay -- After a whirlwind romance and marriage, Emily Price returns home to Italy with her new husband and learns that life at its richest is only found when she accepts its chaotic beauty. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Contemporary Women's Fiction: Forgiveness by Marianne Evans -- Country music bad boy, Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction and transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up-and-comer, Pyper Brock and instantly sparks ignite. Despite her rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation and soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. No way will Pyper repeat the mistake of trusting a man whose done battle with the bottle. Can a sin-damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness? (Women’s Fiction from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical: Beneath a Golden Veil by Melanie Dobson -- As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path. (Historical from Waterfall Press) Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert -- Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.) The Lost Generation by Erica Marie Hogan -- On August 5th 1914, the world changed forever. For John and Beth Young, it meant the happiness they finally achieved was snatched out from under them. For Emma Cote, it meant that her husband Jared would do his duty, despite her feelings. For Christy Simmons it meant an uncertain future with the boy she loved. The lives of six people, spread across the British Empire to America were changed forever. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

Historical Romance: The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Amber Stockton, Niki Turner, Gina Welborn, and Becca Whitham -- Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all—the devoted heart of a godly man? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing) Left at the Altar by Margaret Brownley -- In the wild and untamed West, time is set by the local jeweler...but Two-Time Texas has two: two feuding jewelers and two wildly conflicting time zones. Meg Lockwood's marriage was supposed to unite the families and finally bring peace until she's left at the altar by her no-good fiancé. Hired to defend the groom against a breach of promise lawsuit, Grant Garrison quickly realizes that the only thing worse than small-town trouble is falling for the jilted bride. But there's something about Meg's sweet smile and determined grit that draws him in...even as the whole crazy town seems set on keeping them apart. (Historical Romance from Sourcebooks) Mail Order Mommy by Christine Johnson -- Nursing a broken heart, Amanda Porter had answered a frontier mail-order bride ad placed by Garrett Decker's children—only to find the groom-to-be didn't want a wife. But his adorable children are determined she'll be their mother by Christmas… His wife's betrayal and tragic death demolished Garrett's life. Now he can't even look at another woman, let alone marry Amanda, who resembles his first love. But with his daughter convinced Amanda is the perfect mother, will Garrett realize she's also his perfect match? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) Hope's Design by Dawn Kinzer -- An independent city girl aspiring to be a fashion designer falls for a stubborn artist from the country who wants to keep his talent a secret. (Historical Romance, Independently Published) Brides of Wyoming by S. Dionne Moore -- Roam the Wyoming range alongside three couples who meet under danger from bands of outlaws. Renee escapes a gang of outlaws and lands in the arms of a sheepherder. Olivia’s sleuthing upturns secrets key to solving the murder of a reluctant rancher’s father. Maira is trying to keep her ranch running alone when a drifting cowboy offers a hand. Can love develop where suspicion and greed roam the range? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing) The Negotiated Marriage by Christina Rich -- When the railroad pushes to buy her land, orphaned Cameron Sims will do anything to keep the only home she and her sisters have ever known. Even if she must marry a stranger. Duncan Murray doesn’t want a wife. He wants Sims Creek, a sanctuary that can help him forget a troubled childhood. But his reluctant, and captivating, bride-to-be is key to making his dreams a reality. And despite their business arrangement, Camy and Duncan might be signing on the dotted line for true love… (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) Love in the Seams by Jodie Wolfe -- A little girl on a quest for a new mama has the local seamstress in her sights. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense: His Perfect Love by Sharon K. Connell -- On the run from a hit man, Patricia Campbell is unaware of the FBI’s search for her to learn what information she might hold, so she continues to hide out. Then she meets a persistent computer technician, a charming philanthropist, and a handsome, wealthy businessman who wants to marry her. But her fears resurface, and she wonders if she can trust any of them. Can she survive long enough to find peace…and perfect love? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published) Counter Point by Marji Laine -- Her dad's gone, her diner's closing, and her car's in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose ... except her life. And a madman, bent on revenge, is determined to take that, as well. Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death-threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Write Integrity Press)

Speculative: The Flaming Sword by Heather L.L. FitzGerald -- When evil joins forces in the Tethered World, Sadie Larcen must risk all to protect the Flaming Sword and her family...even if it takes her life. (Speculative Young Adult from Mountain Brook Ink)

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Month of Thanksgiving



November is just about here, and I am inspired to make Thanksgiving a season, not just a day!

Each day in November, I'll be making a note (in my journal and in my prayers) of something I'm thankful for in order to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

I'm looking forward to it helping me stay focused on the Giver of all Blessings!

Have you tried a Month of Thanksgiving before?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! A SALE!

Last week I posted the cover reveal for my February release. Today I have something else exciting to share!

I sold a novel to Barbour Publishing!
My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca's Plight, a mail-order bride mix-up story, will be released in May, 2017, the third book in a new series.

Owyhee Mountains outside Silver City:
The Owyhee Mountains, where the story is set.
Here's the blurb:

Is it possible to marry the wrong man? Rebecca Rice was looking forward to a quiet life and a full stomach by becoming mail-order bride to her shopkeeper intended, Mr. Fordham—until the justice of the peace calls him Thaddeus, not Theodore, proceeded by the title Deputy. Rebecca would never marry a lawman like her father, so an annulment seems in order—and fast, since Rebecca’s true intended is impatient to claim her as his own. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca wonders if Tad Fordham wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . .

In May, I'll throw a big party with giveaways and fun! Sign up for my newsletter (click button on the right) for another chance to win!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cover Reveal! The Reluctant Guardian

Squee! Here's the cover for my debut novel, coming in February from Love Inspired Historical!

I can't wait to fill you in on more about the story, its journey, and the real-life inspiration for the red cloak the heroine is wearing on the cover!

Thanks for celebrating with me!

(The cover's not up on Amazon yet, but here's the link!)

Monday, October 3, 2016

October 2016 New Releases in Christian Fiction!

Here are some new releases by authors who are members of American Christian Fiction Writers! Note The Rails to Love Collection under the Historical Romance category. I'm giving away a copy this week on Heroes, Heroines & History! Come say hi.

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

 Biblical Fiction:

  Providence: Hannah's Journey by Barbara M. Britton -- When the prophet of Israel refuses to heal her, Hannah flees Jerusalem and is captured by an enemy with a curse all his own. (Biblical from Harbourlight [Pelican])

  Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette -- In defiance of her mother, Shira pursues her heart's calling to become an apprentice midwife. When a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself bound to a man who betrayed her, the caretaker of three young children, and the target of a vengeful woman whose husband was killed by Shira's people, the Levites. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira will come face-to-face with the heartbreak of her past that she has kept hidden for so long. How can she let go of all that has defined her to accept the love she's denied herself and embrace who she truly is? (Biblical from Bethany House [Baker])

  Christmas Novella:

  Christmas Lights by Chautona Havig, Vikki Kestell, Cathe Swanson, and April Hayman -- From historical romance to contemporary cozy mysteries and Christmas wonder, these four "light" reads will warm your heart and ignite your Christmas spirit! (Christmas Novella, Mixed Genres, Independently Published)

  Contemporary Romance:

  Risking Love by Brenda S. Anderson -- Can cautious bank employee Lissa Morgan risk falling in love with a former thrill-seeker, a widowed single dad, when she may have to foreclose on his house? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

  A Mom for Christmas by Lorraine Beatty -- Noah's dream of a happy family and Beth's dream of a continuing ballet career are both dashed, but when they come together they discover that the Lord might have a new dream for both of them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 Sleigh Bells Ring by Sandra D. Bricker, Barbara J. Scott, Lynette Sowell, and Lenora Worth -- Santa Claus is coming to town, and so are the Tucker sisters. The girls have inherited their father's run-down horse farm for Christmas. It needs some serious TLC in order to make it sell-ready. Joanna knows that by recruiting her sisters and one handsome ranch hand they can fix up the place and even celebrate one last Christmas while they're at it. However, to Isabella, returning to their home in Kentucky bluegrass country for Christmas seems like an impossible hurdle. Can her Chicago boyfriend make life merry and bright again? One thing's for sure: nothing is peace on earth for Sophia as a new beau brings up old wounds. And when the fate of the horse farm is put in jeopardy because Amy accidentally fraternizes with the enemy, tensions rise. But it's not like the land developer stole Christmas . . . just her heart. Can the Tucker sisters have themselves a merry little Christmas? (Contemporary Romance from Gilead Publishing)

  Do You Hear What I Hear? by Margaret Brownley -- Stranded at the old Star Inn until the road back to his cabin reopens, lumber mill owner Rick Talbot suddenly comes face to face with the past. The only woman he's ever loved is standing in front of the inn's blazing fire trying to get warm. Both Rick and Sally regret what happened between them years ago, but his family lumberyard clashes with her tree-hugging ways and neither is willing to try again. It will take the storm of the century, one stage-struck young boy, a certain meddling "angel"--and even a cranky cat--to convince them that in matters of the heart, sometimes the second time around is best. (Contemporary Romance from St. Martin Press)

  More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer -- Marisa Hiller abandoned her modeling career to nurse a broken heart in Montana, far from the photographer who ruined everything. Her family farm is now part of a CSA program teaching gardening and cooking to single moms, but when the coordinator begs her to represent the program in the Miss Snowflake Pageant, Marisa balks. God has forgiven Jase Mackie but hasn't answered his prayer to bring Marisa back into his life… until Jase finds himself out West as the official photographer for a beauty pageant, face to face with the woman he's never forgotten. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

  Room at the Inn for Christmas by Mary Connealy -- Ambitious hotel executive Amanda Star's has got her sights set on the CEO job at the multi-national Halston hotel chain. But then she inherits the Star Inn, a place her father had always wanted her to run alongside him. With no time to be away from her job, she rushes home to put the inn up for sale. Once there, she's struggles against keen regret, sweet memories, and the longing to return, which grows stronger when she is reunited with an old classmate: Anthony Carter, a handyman with a guarded heart. (Contemporary Romance from St. Martin Press)

  Can't Help Falling by Kara Isaac -- A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

  A Christmas Homecoming by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Interior design assistant Bailey Calderwood suspects the mysterious admirer sending her cards and flowers is none other than the son of her unpleasable, bed-ridden boss. When Stephen Belafonte's mom demands he fire Bailey, can he find a way to heal the rift in his family as well his own heart, or will he be forced to let Bailey go? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

  Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson -- When Caden Holt's boss asks her to show off their own beautiful Prince Edward Island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the Red Door Inn, the reclusive executive chef is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen--and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [A Division of Baker Publishing Group])

  Trust My Heart by Carol J. Post -- Grant McAllister, a jaded big-city lawyer and small-town reporter Jami Carlisle have no hope for finding true love--except for a zany old matchmaker who won't give up. In the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there's healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what's needed to finally guide him home. (Contemporary Romance from Waterfall Press)

  Insight by Deborah Raney -- She's having a baby. It's a blessing that brings comfort to newly widowed Olivia Cline. Yet with no insurance, no job and precious little money, how will Olivia care for herself and her child? The answer is a handsome and brooding artist seeking an assistant. Reed Vincent has recently regained his eyesight thanks to a donor. And through his eyes, Olivia begins to see all the possibilities before her. Before them. Until, in a flash of insight, she knows why his signature is so hauntingly familiar. (Contemporary Romance from Raney Day Press)

  Silver Bells by Deborah Raney -- As Elvis croons from the radio and Christmas descends upon a small Kansas town, two people find the miracle of love. (Contemporary Romance from Raney Day Press)

  A Family Under the Christmas Tree by Terri Reed -- In this heartwarming tale set during the Christmas season, a single father and a fashion photographer are brought together by a young boy and a mischievous Bernese mountain dog--but first they must learn to set aside their differences if they are willing to let their relationship bloom. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

  Third Strand of the Cord by Catherine Richmond -- Caroline will do anything to keep her ex-husband from putting her son with Down syndrome in an institution--even enroll the boy in a class taught by a know-it-all karate instructor. Lee Marivaux is an expert at reading people. He knows his feisty new student will thrive with firm guidance - and he's right. He pegs the boy's mother as a clueless socialite who loafs at the country club - and he's never been so wrong. When Caroline's abusive ex shows up, demanding custody, Lee and Caroline must join forces to keep the boy safe. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

  Buying Love by Toni Shiloh -- Impatient for marriage, Nina Warrenton places an ad in the newspaper for a husband--attaching a monetary reward. But when she begins to fall for the small-town chef who answers her add, she realizes how much she wants him to love her and not her money. Dwight Williams needs fast cash to save the family restaurant, but can he let it go to prove his love for Nina? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)

  Moonlight Over Manahttan by Carrie Turansky -- Professional organizer Sarah Montgomery is hired to organize her elderly neighbor's cluttered apartment by Justin Latimer, her neighbor's grandson. Sarah believes free-spirited Justin is a lazy, unemployed poet who is taking advantage of his grandmother's generosity. Though attracted to him, she guards her heart against her growing feelings. As Sarah and Justin work together to help his grandmother and enjoy Christmas events in NYC, romantic sparks fly. When Sarah discovers who Justin really is, she must decide if she will continue to hide behind her protective wall or open her heart and embrace love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

  Love Bears All Things by Beth Wiseman -- Charlotte Dolinsky needs time to recover after breaking up with her boyfriend, Ryan. But when a surprise visitor shows up on her doorstep in Texas, she's forced to put aside her own worries to help her Amish friends in Lancaster County. Daniel Byler struggles each day in his Amish community to heal from his fiancée's betrayal. When he discovers that a member of his family is in danger of being shunned, his pain turns to fear. His only way to help is by partnering with Charlotte, a woman he barely knows who has already deceived them all before. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing) General 

Contemporary (includes Women's Fiction):

  Paint The Storm by Dawn V. Cahill -- When Meg is challenged to love her lesbian daughter as Christ would, she struggles to live out God's command, and when her daughter goes missing, she finds herself joined with the unlikeliest of allies in her search for Linzee, and finally learns of God's unconditional grace for sinners. (Contemporary Women's Fiction from Spring Mountain Publishing)

  Restoration Road by Elise Phillips -- Mallory Andrews's short trip back to Texas for her mother's funeral quickly becomes a move home to help her grieving father with his contracting business. When her old crush, Tres, hires them for a restoration project Mallory falls in love with the crumbling old house. And when feelings bloom between her and Tres, she finds herself on the road to a brand new, unexpected life filled with faith, sweet tea, and fresh paint. (General Contemporary from Desert Breeze Publishing)

  Above All Things by Deborah Raney -- Expecting their first baby, Judd and Evette McGlin are thrilled to become parents. But the couple faces the ultimate test when Judd learns he already has a child: a six-year-old mixed-race girl born amid secrets and lies. Now, Evette must decide if she can accept the child. She thought she was open-minded--until hidden prejudices threaten the future of an innocent little girl, Evette's marriage and the very notion of who she thinks she is. (Contemporary Women's Fiction from Raney Day Press)

  Restoring Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti -- Alexis set out to restore a fieldstone farmhouse in need of repair. She didn't expect to restore a life in the process. (General Contemporary from Worthy Inspired)

  Strings of Faith by Terry Stafford -- Darcy is a classically trained violinist who dreams of playing bluegrass and winning The National Oldtime Fiddle Contest in Weiser, Idaho. When tragedy strikes, Darcy lays her gift aside for her family and faces unimaginable pain and loss, leading to dissension with her husband, disappointing judgment from her church, and anger with God Himself. Can her gift of music survive when her life is turned upside down? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

  Historical: The Lost Generation by Erica Marie Hogan -- On August 5th 1914, the world changed forever. For John and Beth Young, it meant the happiness they finally achieved was snatched out from under them. For Emma Cote, it meant that her husband Jared would do his duty, despite her feelings. For Christy Simmons it meant an uncertain future with the boy she loved. The lives of six people, spread across the British Empire to America were changed forever. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

  Aboard Providence by Keely Brooke Keith -- When an accident forces Jonah Ashton to serve as a ship's physician, he boards the Providence with the plan to escort a group of families to their new settlement in South America and then return to Pennsylvania to finish medical school before rumors of Southern rebellion erupt into all-out war. What he doesn't count on is getting lost at sea... and Marian Foster. When the settlers finally reach land, Jonah makes a startling discovery that changes everything, but will it change his heart? (Historical from Crossriver Media Group)

  Historical Romance: The Rails to Love Romance Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Connie Stevens, and Liz Tolsma -- Journey the Transcontinental Railroad along with nine unlikely couples who encounter all the dangers and disappointments of traveling the rails in the late 1800s. From sight-seeing excursions to transports toward new lives, from orphan trains to circus trains, can romances develop into blazing love in a world of cold, hard steel? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

  Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Julie Lessman, and Anna Schmidt -- For widow June Harper, another cold front is about to hit. Most call him Hugh. She'd call him Scrooge, except as the man ensures her needs are met, June can't help but wonder how to meet the needs of his heart. Netty Lewis can take care of herself, has for a while now. And even if Roy, her hired help for the holidays, does take care of her, that doesn't mean he cares for her or that he'll stay past Christmas. Pastor Colton McCabe is not sure he'll make it through the holidays with his new housekeeper. Grace can't seem to do anything right but love. Perhaps being a homekeeper will earn her a permanent residence in his heart. Connie Lancaster is determined to return to St. Louis, and no cowboy can change her mind. But if Isaac can change her heart, maybe Connie will see the homecoming she's been longing for isn't to a place but a person. (Historical Romance from Gilead Publishing)

  The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep -- Stranded in a strange land, Eleanor Morgan faces starvation or marriage . . . but who wants to marry a murderer? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

  The Rightful Heir by Angel Moore -- Cowboy Jared Ivy must work with stranger Mary Lou Ellison until a judge comes to town and determines which one of them is the rightful heir to his family's Texas newspaper. Intrepid reporter Mary Lou won't lose the Pine Haven Record--the legacy he left her--without a fight. But when she and Jared stop sparring long enough to investigate a story together, they become a force to be reckoned with. Will they let their battle over the Record get in the way of something even more newsworthy: true love? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

  Christmas at Stoney Creek by Martha Rogers -- When newspaper reporter Tom Whiteman befriends a homeless man named Joe, Tom decides to bring him home to Stoney Creek, Texas for Christmas. As Tom and his childhood friend Faith Delmont set out to learn the truth about the mysterious old man with the kind, sad eyes, they discover that God's love can turn tragedy and loss to triumph, and that true love comes to those who wait. (Historical Romance from Realms [Charisma Media])

  Mystery:

  Another Day, Another Dali by Sandra Orchard -- In order to regain her grandmother's favor FBI Special Agent Serena Jones agrees to investigate a missing Salvador Dali painting. But when the evidence points to members of the owner's own household, it becomes clear that Serena won't be winning any popularity contests. Then Serena stumbles upon links to her grandfather's unsolved murder. (Mystery from Revell [A Division of Baker Publishing Group])

  Romantic Suspense:

  Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon -- After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime in the woods. But when someone threatens his neighbor, publishing executive Dana Lewis, Finn and Dana must work together to discover who wants her to leave her lakeside cabin before it costs both their lives. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [A Division of Baker Publishing Group])

  Identity Unknown by Terri Reed -- When a John Doe washes up on the shores of Calico Bay, no one knows who he is—including him. But one thing's instantly clear to deputy sheriff Audrey Martin: the man's marked for murder. And she's the only one who can protect him from the assassins who lurk at every turn. The arrival of a team of men claiming he's Canadian Border Services officer Nathanial Longhorn only further complicates the matter. As his memories slowly start drifting back, Nathanial and Audrey work to uncover who wants him dead and why. If they don't, this Christmas might be their last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

  Speculative:

  A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes -- What more can you sacrifice than your life? Parvin Blackwater is dead. At least that's what the Council and the world thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world? (Speculative Young Adult from Enclave Publishing)

  Unblemished by Sara Ella -- Eliyana can't bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength? (Speculative Young Adult from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

  Beast by Chawna Schroeder -- For as long as Beast can remember, she has lived among her master's dogs. With them she sleeps. With them she eats. With them she fights and struggles to survive. But through hunger and cold she dreams of one day becoming her master's favorite, earning bones with meat and a place beside the fire. When her pack scatters after a surprise raid, Beast must defend herself against slavers, hunting down the loners. They are so strong, and she is only a beast . . . or is she? (Speculative Allegory from Enclave Publishing)

  Accelerant by Ronie Kendig -- He'll destroy the world. But he must save it first. As the only able-bodied heir to the Fire Throne, Haegan, Prince of Seultrie must return to the Nine Kingdoms and fight for his people. But there are insidious forces at work. When reality itself falls into question, Haegan struggles to know where to fight, who to trust. Caught between duty to his country and duty to the world, Haegan must see clearly enough to choose the right path to save his devastated world. (Speculative High Fantasy from Enclave Publishing)

  Thriller/Suspense:

  Death in the Mind's Eye by Rick Acker -- It knows what you're thinking. It knows when you're lying. Does it know how to kill? San Francisco attorney Mike Webster and Dr. Johanna Anderson, a brilliant and beautiful psychologist, must clear Jo's name of a malpractice case before the controversial, technologically-assisted Mind's Eye therapy is seized by a shadowy finance firm and used as a weapon. (Thriller/Suspense from Waterfall Press)

  The Warrior's Seal by Ronie Kendig -- A Special Forces team is thrust into a war with the past to save the president after an artifact unleashes a deadly toxin. Special Forces operative Cole "Tox" Russell and his team are tasked in a search-and-rescue--the U.S. president has been kidnapped during a goodwill tour. The mission nosedives when an ancient biblical artifact and a deadly toxin wipe out villages. Tox must stop the terrorists and the toxin to save the president. This is a free e-novella prequel! (Thriller/Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

  Deadly Infiltration by W. Richard Lawrence -- Infiltrators inside the American government are betraying undercover agents while helping sneak weapons of mass destruction across our borders. To keep their work hidden, they are willing to murder anyone who gets in their way. Sara, a brilliant computer expert working for the FBI, finds herself caught in the middle. Sara's young faith in God is gravely tested when she is framed for the murder of an FBI agent, forcing her to go into hiding. Meanwhile, Sara's fiancé Derry lives up to a promise he made to her, and gives up his future to save her and hopefully the country. (Thriller/Suspense from Boarding House Publishing)

  Western Historical:

  Refining Fire by Carol Cox -- Meet the Arizona Territory Brides. Four strong, independent women--each determined to stand on her own two feet, and not one of them looking for romance. But sometimes love shows up when you least expect it... (Western, Pioneer/Prairie, Independently Published)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Moment of Calm for the Week

It's a crazy time of year, isn't it?

The kids are back in school, church programs are back in full swing, and summer vacation is definitely over. Around here, folks are suffering from allergies, bad colds, and a stomach flu that I do not want to get.

My oven isn't working, my garden needs to be tended, the calendar is full, and I'm on deadline. I don't feel like I will get things done on time and/or well. Sound familiar?

I'm taking a minute to take a deep breath and remember what It's All About.

I love this shade of green, and I love this verse. It takes me right back to the center of my faith, and leads me to quiet reflection on who I am and Who He is.

I hope your week includes a few moments of restful reflection, praise, and thanksgiving.

Image result for scripture meme

Monday, September 19, 2016

Celebrate The Rails to Love Romance Collection with a Giveaway!

All Aboard!

It's almost release day for The Rails to Love Collection!

Journey the Transcontinental Railroad along with nine unlikely couples who encounter all the dangers and disappointments of traveling the rails in the late 1800s. From sight-seeing excursions to transports toward new lives, from orphan trains to circus trains, can romances develop into blazing love in a world of cold, hard steel?



Look at those authors! Wow! Here's the blurb on my story, The Honeymoon Express:

Can a jilted bride and a mysterious frontiersman thrown together on a trip meant for honeymooners  solve a crime--and find love--before the end of the line?

I'm celebrating with giveaways over the next few weeks...and here's the first!

It runs from Sept 19-11:59 pm EDT Sept 24, so don't delay!

(psst...it's on sale for HALF PRICE on Amazon right now! Here's the link!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Austen in Austin Volume 2 is out and Volume I is on Sale!



Austen in Austin, Volume 2, is out from White Fire Publishing!

All new authors, all new Austen re-tellings with a Texas twist.


Simply Lila by Suzie Johnson, based on Lady Susan

Yearning to find a real-life hero, a wallflower must learn to live outside the pages of an Austen novel.

Fully Persuaded by Niki Turner, based on Persuasion

A brokenhearted artist struggles with the shame of her family s bankruptcy and the return of her first love whose proposal she d spurned because he was poor.

Mansford Ranch by Dina L. Sleiman, based on Mansfield Park

An aspiring novelist with a keen eye for character must determine who is worthy of playing her own leading man.

Sense and Nonsense by Lisa Karon Richardson, based on Sense and Sensibility

A would-be missionary is determined to make it to Ceylon, but when her funds disappear, she has to accept help from the man she most wants to avoid.

Click here to buy!

Volume I, which contains my novella One Word From You, is on sale (click here to buy).


Monday, September 12, 2016

Cover Reveal: Seven Brides for Seven Mail Order Grooms

Last week I revealed the cover of the Of Rags and Riches Collection, coming July 2017. Today I want to share my June 2017 cover...Seven Brides for Seven Mail Order Grooms!

Isn't it a beautiful cover? I love it. These stories all surround the women in a Kansas community that's seen its population of men decimated by the Civil War. The stories are tender, funny, touching, and sweet, all at the same time.

My novella, A Clean Slate, is about the town schoolmarm, and she is absolutely, 100% positive she wants nothing to do with the men coming to town in response to the ad for husbands. But you and I both know things won't stay that way!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Cover Reveal: Of Rags and Riches Collection

A few weeks ago I announced that I was part of an upcoming romance collection from Barbour, Of Rags and Riches. Now I can share the cover and the other authors!

I am so honored to be in a collection with these amazing authors!

My story, The Right Pitch, is one I've wanted to write for a long time. Here's a hint: baseball!

The book will be out in July of 2017. More to come!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Regency-era Mourning


mourning fashion
Belle Assemble morning gown, 1818
Mourning was a big part of life during the Regency era, not just a stage of grief or a period or adjustment, but a literal season set by society which dictated one's clothing and behavior.

The length of one's mourning period depended upon the relationship to the deceased, and customs could vary by social class.

In addition, there were two types of mourning, Full and Half. In Full mourning, one wore matte black, but after a suitable period (about halfway through the mourning period), one could transition to Half mourning and wear subdued colors like lavender.

The guidelines listed here are by no means comprehensive, but they give us an idea of what mourning was like during the Regency.

Lengths of Mourning Period:

Spouse:  1 year
One's child:  6 months – 1 year  (the older the child, the longer the mourning period)
Parent or In-Law:  6 months–1 year
Grandparent:  6 months
Sibling:  6 months
Aunt or Uncle:  3 months
Cousin: 1 month

What did a woman wear and do during mourning?
Image result for regency mourning
Fashion Plate 1810, Wikipedia commons
Full mourning required a black wardrobe. Fabric choices included crepe (lightweight silk), bombazine (heavier silk), velvet, or sarcenet with no shimmer or sheen--fabrics should be matte or dull. Oftentimes a woman would have her current gowns dyed black, because new wardrobes were so expensive. Her accessories would also be black, from gloves to cap, and she would not wear anything shiny or sparkly, like jewels. She also might wear a veil.
Mourning tiara, worn 1818 and thereafter:
Mourning Tiara 
She should not attend social functions during this time. She could, however, receive calls.

If she mourns the death of her husband, she must not marry again for a year. This way, if it was discovered she was expecting, there would be no doubt of the paternity of the baby.
Ackermann, Mourning Dress,, 1819
Ackermann's, 1819
Halfway through the mourning period, her wardrobe could soften to include "sober" colors like lavender, brown, mauve, and gray. Apparently she could also incorporate patterns into her wardrobe, as in the fashion plate below.
Fashion Plate (Half Mourning Walking Dress), London, England, Early 19th century, Los Angeles County Museum of Art:
Fashion Plate, Half Mourning, 
She could wear modest jewelry, and a popular thing to do at the time was to wear a pendant or brooch incorporating the deceased person's hair.
Mourning pendant in memory of Betsy Robinson who died in 1809. With dual hearts, an eternity knot of hair, initials and the sentiment ‘The  union of hearts constitutes our happiness’.:
1809, From the artofmourning.com
She could begin to attend social activities, but should choose wisely and not appear to be having too good of a time.
Mourning Hats, 1805.:
Mourning hats, 1805
Men had mourning rules a little easier.

 Many gentlemen wore black anyway, so they often wore clothes they already had in their closets, like black coats. They could also wear black neckcloths, an armband of black crepe, black ornamentation on their hats, and black gloves.

A widower was expected to take time to grieve, but business or parliamentary obligations necessitated that he did not hide away for long. He could remarry within the year.

In Half Mourning, a gentleman might resume his regular wardrobe but continue to wear a black armband.

Children mourned, too, and wore black, and/or black bows or sashes were sewn onto their clothes and hats.

Considering how many relations one had, and that the life expectancy was not what it is today, a person could possibly spend years wearing mourning attire!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Back Cover Copy--Something to Squeal About

What an emotional weekend! Back to school here at home, but we also moved our oldest into her dorm to start her freshman year at college.

I'm proud of her, but miss her. Last night was our first family dinner with that empty spot at the table. I held it together, but I would be lying if I didn't say I was sad.

Parenting is a lifelong grieving process, according to one person I spoke to. I think he's got a point. Letting our kids go as they grow is a series of goodbyes (to different stages) and much as it is hellos (to new ones). I'm celebrating my kids' growth and achievements, but I think it's ok to be a little sad at a time like this, too.

So it was a nice treat to look up the link for my upcoming Love Inspired Historical, The Reluctant Guardian, and see that the back-cover copy has been written. WOW! The team did an amazing job capturing the story:

Under the Spy's Protection 

When Gemma Lyfield inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she's rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her…

Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he'd be.

***

No cover to share yet, but when I have it I will pop it up here! I can't wait!

The Reluctant Guardian releases Feb 2017!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Announcing the Of Rags and Riches Collection!

I'm excited to tell you I'm in an upcoming Historical Romance collection from Barbour Publishing!

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection, coming June, 2017.

Authors to be announced shortly


But I can say I'm so excited to be in this collection with them!

My story is called The Right Pitch, set in Philadelphia PA in 1876. Here's the blurb:

It’s a fair pitch: a guarded, injured rail-works owner will sponsor the local ladies’ baseball team if they let his capricious sister play ball, but when the team’s pretty pitcher insists he manage the team, it’s a curveball that could prevent him from playing it safe, in life and in love.

I'll let you know when it's available for pre-order and when we have a cover!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Summer Garden: Zucchini with Dill Sauce


Summer gardens tend to overflow with zucchini, and I'm always looking for creative ways to use them. Bread, sauteed, steamed, in salads, on the grill...

Here's a new way we've enjoyed it this year: with a sauce of dill and yogurt. It's refreshing and fun.
  • 1 lb. zucchini, washed, cut into spears or rounds, tossed with olive oil, s&p. Either grill, broil or steam until tender (we grill a lot this time of year, and steaming is fine, but the zucchini won't have a nice little brown crispness that the other methods provide). Time varies by cooking method and size of zucchini pieces, but ten minutes is generally enough. Just check with a fork for tenderness.
  • Combine 1/2 c. plain yogurt, 1 t. lemon juice, s&p to taste, and 1 t. dried dillweed. Add a little fresh garlic and/or chopped chives if desired.
Serve zucchini hot or cold with sauce.

Monday, August 1, 2016

August Frenzy! I Need Chamomile!


Chamomile tea may conjure images of cold weather, being tucked under a blanket before you go to sleep, but the first week of August is the perfect time for me to brew a cup.

I have a deadline looming, summer's almost over and it feels like it hasn't really started yet, and my firstborn is heading off to college in a few weeks. Yep, that last one is the real kicker. I'm the emotional equivalent of a pinball.

So here's what I'm going to do: brew a cup of chamomile. It's a good tea to drink when your body is under some stress. There are others, too, but chamomile is easily accessible and popular.
Chamomile, Chamomile Blossoms, Medicinal Herb
Chamomile blossoms are pretty, too!
Chamomile relaxes muscles, including the smooth muscles in our intestines. It also helps release digestive enzymes, so your body has less work to do. Another benefit? It calms the nerves.

You can make your own tea using dried chamomile, or purchase from just about any retailer that sells tea. Here's my favorite, which contains lavender for extra relaxation and it smells wonderful.

Chamomile can be (dare I say?) boring. Go ahead and add a little of your favorite sweetener, like stevia, if you desire. Or just bust out the calories and dunk a cookie in it. (Did I mention I'm stressed out?)

Take a load off, and spend a few minutes with a soothing cup, no matter the weather.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Sun Tea


It's never too hot for tea!

I love making sun tea on warm, sunny days. Then I can kick back, enjoy a book while I lounge on the chaise. Perfection!

Have you ever made it? If not, it's easy:
Drink, Beverage, Glass, Splash, Ice Cube, Refreshing
Put 8 tea bags (strong English breakfast or any flavor you like, regular or decaf) into a clean gallon glass container or pitcher (but you need a lid). Fill with water and secure the lid. Place outside in full sun for 3-4 hours. That's it!

Discard the tea bags. Serve sun tea over ice, add sweetener if you're inclined, and enjoy. (Sometimes when I'm outside, I reach over and pluck a sprig of peppermint that grows right next to the chaise lounges, and I add it for flavor. Lovely.)

Drink up quickly or refrigerate, though. The taste changes if tea sits out on the counter too long (in my opinion, anyway).

Enjoy your summer reading and tea!

Monday, July 18, 2016

I'm Back from RWA!



I'm back from RWA in San Diego! So Much Fun!

The Harlequin Party...the workshops...the Literacy Signing...but most of all, meeting and hanging out with fellow authors. I learned so much!

I have a brief report up on Inkwell Inspirations today. Come by and say hi!

Monday, July 11, 2016

RWA in San Diego this Week!

I'm so excited to attend the Romance Writers of America Conference in San Diego this week!



I'm looking forward to workshops that will help me improve my writing, time management, and understanding of the industry. There will be new friends to make, old friends to hug, book signings, and the chapter meeting for Faith, Hope & Love, the RWA chapter whose focus is on selling to the Christian Booksellers Association.

Wednesday night!

I won't be signing any books at the Literacy Autographing, but I will be on hand to pass out Bingo sheets where readers can visit the tables of FHL members to win an Amazon gift card. All are welcome to attend the Literacy Autographing Event! Come by and meet some amazing authors and get their books, autographed!

Friday will be a night to remember for me...my first Harlequin Gala! I am so excited!

If you're attending RWA, be sure to say hi! If not, I look forward to chatting about it with you next week.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day, and A Giveaway of Starlight Serenade by Debra E. Marvin!

Happy Independence Day!

From Vintage Holiday Crafts
Ready for a something sweet and All-American to read? It's time to take a summer road trip and get your kicks on Route 66 with Starlight Serenade by Debra E. Marvin!
Starlight Serenade (Get Your Kiss on Route 66) by [Marvin, Debra E.]
Just 2.99 on Amazon or Free on Kindle unlimited!
Take a journey down Rt 66. It’s 1930–the depression, speakeasies, jazz and crooked politicians. Pluto has just been discovered at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona, and Clara Longworth has left Broadway and the Ziegfeld shows behind for a future in Hollywood musicals…until that bus breaks down.

Enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter below! Contest runs from 12 AM, July 4-11:59 pm EST July 8, 2016. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DEBRA'S LINKS:
Group Blog- Inkwell Inspirations: http://www.inkwellinspirations.com/