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 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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

May Madness

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May is winding down but the stress in my life is winding up--are you in a similar spot?

The school year is ending, and while May is usually busy with school events, this year I have a graduating senior. That means a whole host of banquets, recognition events, an ice cream social, and fun happenings, plus baccalaureate and graduation themselves.

Add to the mix family illnesses, a move-home from college, church programs and special events, a cat with an abscess (she'll be ok!), a book release in June, and a looming deadline, I'm admitting that I'm having a hard time keeping up. I. Feel. Stress.

In other words, I'm experiencing life in our busy age.

Everybody's life is stressful off and on. All we can do sometimes is hold on to Jesus and go with it.

So that's where I am right now, holding on and asking the Lord to lift my head up. I pray for focus, clarity, strength, endurance, patience, compassion, and the ability to enjoy these milestone moments!

Maybe your May is similar. If so, I pray for you right now and wish you peace. Strength to hold on to the Hand that was wounded for you. Trust in His care. He is the Prince of Peace, and He is with you and in you and for you.

Deep breaths, folks. And enjoy the ride.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Happy Mother's Day

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For our mothers and those who nurtured us
whether they are here or in heaven
whether their arms are full or empty
We are grateful for these women in our lives.

ACFW May New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

When Love Won’t Wait by Roger E. Bruner — Laugh at Pastor Dan’s impulsive efforts to get out of the ministry and marry a woman of his own choosing by going against his domineering widowed mother’s wishes. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
A Perfect Amish Match by Vannetta Chapman — After three failed relationships, Amish bachelor Noah Graber would rather disappoint his parents than try again. But when matchmaker Olivia Mae Miller agrees to provide courting lessons, Noah’s perfect match becomes clear—it’s Olivia Mae herself! With ailing grandparents at home, she hadn’t planned on love or marriage. Might a future with Noah be everything she’s been missing? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Sing a New Song by Candee Fick — Songbird Gloria Houghton has always needed to be the center of attention, but the spotlight has shifted. Seeking fame and a fresh start, she finds a new stage in Branson, Missouri…only to risk being replaced by a manipulative rival. If Gloria can’t be the star, who is she? Jack-of-all-trades Nick Sherwood is just one leaf on a vast family tree that includes a restaurant chef, hotel owners, and even the headline act at a family-owned theater. He’s seen how fame can blind a person with jealousy and is more than content to stay in the background thank you very much. If only he wasn’t so fascinated–and irritated–by the newest addition to the staff. After a disaster of a first impression and financial difficulties land Gloria in the humblest of jobs—with Nick as her boss—it might be time for her to learn to sing a new song. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Pigtails and a Tool Belt by Janetta Fudge-Messmer — The Christian Romance where circumstances seem impossible. But with God – all things are possible. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)
Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner — After four years of dating Will, Cadie questions his love for her and sends him packing. Their breakup only makes Will more determined to become the man Cadie wants him to be. With the help of his work buddies and tactics drawn from Cadie’s favorite romantic comedies, he devises a “foolproof” plan. What could possibly go wrong? (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Over the Waters by Deborah Raney — As “Dr. Botox” to the bored rich women of Chicago, plastic surgeon Max Jordan was shocked by the decision of his son, Joshua, to focus his medical talent on Haitian orphans. Embittered by Joshua’s death, Max searches for resolution in the very place his son called home. The selfless labor of Joshua’s coworkers stuns Max. He is particularly taken by American volunteer Valerie Austin, whose dream of a honeymoon on a tropical beach were crushed, replaced by a stint working in the impoverished orphanage. But Valerie’s view of Joshua’s sacrifice challenges everything Max has lived for. Now Max wonders if he can ever return to his “Max-a-Million” lifestyle, or if the doors to his gilded cage have finally opened. (General Contemporary from Raney Day Press)


True Freedom by Carol Ashby — When a Roman slave rescues his master’s daughter from the kidnapping arranged by her own brother, will his sacrificial service earn the freedom and love he never dreamed possible, or will it only end in death? (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Historical Romance:

The Daughter’s Predicament by Mary Eileen Davis — Can a patient love win her heart? As Isabelle Atwood’s romance prospects are turning in her favor, a family scandal derails her dreams. While making a quilt for her own hope chest, Isabelle’s half-sister becomes pregnant out of wedlock and Isabelle–always the unfavored daughter–becomes the family sacrifice to save face. Isabelle loves her sister, but with three suitors interested, will she really allow herself to be manipulated into a marriage without love? Or will the man leaving her secret love poems sweep her off her feet? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)
Mail-Order Mishaps by Susan Page DavisLinda FordVickie McDonough, and Erica Vetsch — In The Bride’s Dilemma by Susan Page Davis, Eve Martin arrives in Cheyenne to learn that man she came to marry is in jail, accused of a violent murder. But has God brought her here to help save Caleb Blair’s life? In Romancing the Rancher by Linda Ford, Amelia expects a safe home for herself and her niece in Montana as mail-order bride to Zach Taggerty. Only Zach has never heard of her. In The Marriage Sham by Vickie McDonough, Texas mail-order bride Zola Bryant is a widowed newlywed. Worse, they were never truly wed because the officiant was an outlaw not a preacher. What will she do now that her life and reputation are in tatters? In The Galway Girl by Erica Vetsch, a mail-order mix-up sends Irish lass Maeve O’Reilly to the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas. Will Kaspar Sandberg consider it a happy accident or a disaster to be rectified as soon as possible? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Lord of Her Heart by Sherrinda Ketchersid — Lady Jocelyn Ashburne suspects something is amiss at her family’s castle because her father ceases to write to her. When she overhears a plot to force her into vows—either to the church or a husband—she disguises herself and flees the convent in desperation to discover the truth. Malcolm Castillon of Berkham is determined to win the next tournament and be granted a manor of his own. After years of proving his worth on the jousting field, he yearns for a life of peace. Rescuing a scrawny lad who turns out to be a beautiful woman is not what he bargained for. Still, he cannot deny that she stirs his heart like no other, in spite of her conniving ways. Chaos, deception, and treachery threaten their goals, but both are determined to succeed. Learning to trust each other might be the only way either of them survives. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Love’s Belief by Linda Shenton Matchett — When the Third Reich implements mandates that require Jewish babies and other “undesirables” to be killed as part of The Final Solution, is midewife Pia Hertz’s new faith in Christ strong enough to defy the laws of man? Dieter Fertig is relieved he’s no longer part of Hitler’s army, despite the reason–a battle that cost his arm. After he returns to Berlin, only to discover the Nuremburg Laws require his best friend’s baby girl to be killed, he must find a way to spirit the child out of Germany before the Nazis discover her existence. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Shelter Bay by Pamela S. Meyers — Adventurous bicyclist Maureen Quinn and her best friend, Preston Stevens, a member of the U.S. Life Saving Service, find love and face life-altering events on the shores of Lake Michigan. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)


Fallen Leaf by Julie B. Cosgrove — When a DNA kit reveals blond, blue-eyed Jessica Warren is half Cherokee, she confronts her adoptive parents and learns her birth father is in prison…for murder! Now he wants her help in exonerating him. Can Jessica trust the handsome, young Tulsa district attorney to help, or does he have an agenda of his own? (Cozy Mystery from Write Integrity Press)
Bitter Pill by Richard L. Mabry, MD — Things were going along just fine until the miracle fouled them up. (Medical Mystery, Independently Published)
Latter-day Cipher by Latayne C. Scott — Kirsten Young, a well-known and rebellious Utah heiress, is found murdered in Provo Canyon. The strange markings carved into her flesh and the note written in 19th century code seem to cast a shadow on ancient Mormon laws. Journalist Selonnah Zee is assigned to cover the story– and it quickly grows out of control. (Historical Mystery from Moody)

Romantic Suspense:

Running Target by Elizabeth Goddard — A routine patrol turns deadly when marine deputy Bree Carrington’s boat is sunk by men carrying illegal weapons. Fleeing a barrage of bullets, she’s suddenly rescued by DEA agent Quinn Strand—her ex-boyfriend. Quinn’s return threatens more than Bree’s heart…because he’s the one the men are really after. As criminals hunt her to get to him, can Quinn and Bree take down a drug ring? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


The Pages of Her Life by James L. Rubart — Allison Moore’s dad was living a secret life and left her mom in massive debt. As she scrambles to help her mom find a way out, she’s given a journal, anonymously, during a visit to her favorite coffee shop. The pressure to rescue her mom mounts, and Allison pours her fears and heartache into the journal. But then the unexplainable happens. The words in the journal, her words, begin to disappear. And new ones fill the empty spaces—words that force her to look at everything she knows about herself in a new light. Ignoring those words could cost her everything…but so could embracing them. (Speculative from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Gone Writing

I'm working on a project and taking a short break from the blog...I'll be back in a few weeks!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The RITA® Word is Out!!!

A Mother for His Family is a RITA® Finalist!!!

I am still in shock...absolute shock. This is an amazing honor.

Right now, I'm sick. I sounded really hoarse when I got The Call. I gasped and probably sounded like something inhuman over the phone. I still wish I could laugh or cry over this honor but frankly, it hurts my throat too much. Instead I am shaking my head a lot.

It's overwhelming in a lot of ways. Each of my novels has been a Story of My Heart--in other words, they've had a lot of me in them, with subject matters that have been heavy on my spirit, about characters who are so real to me I actually miss them when I'm done writing. This book is no exception, but this story is a little different. It deals with some tough issues, but that makes the ending scene the more sweet to me, when everyone is together and touching everyone else. A family. I cried when I wrote that end and I'm crying a little bit now (but not too much, because like I said, it hurts my throat! Gah! Kick in, antibiotics!).

I also prayed as I wrote: I prayed that one person who had been raped would find support and love here, or one person who felt ugly or insignificant or unloved or shamed or forsaken would see a New Thing about themselves and God; or that one person who felt like their plans withered on the vine would hold on for a new plan. Or if not that, that God would at least give one person a chuckle over something the children did or said. Or that they'd find escape from a frustration in their lives while they read.

This story got one star reviews on Amazon--go on and check them out! But I also got letters from readers. The story meant something to them for a variety of reasons.

Those are the reviews--the responses--I cherish. Although I'm kind of proud of those one stars, too. Seriously.

I am humbled and blown away to be a RITA® nominee. It's like the Oscars of romance writing. The awards ceremony is a fancy night of sequins and champagne and rich desserts and tears and cheers.

I owe everything to the Lord for putting Helena, John, Margaret, Louisa, Callum and Alex in my head. And to Debra E. Marvin who literally read this manuscript multiple times, maybe six? A dozen? I owe Tamela Hancock Murray for supporting and representing me, and for being such a good friend. And I owe Emily Rodmell the moon for taking a chance on me, editing this story and making it so much better.

To see the complete list of RITA® finalists, click here!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Emotional Wound Thesaurus

I have to pass on how helpful this book is to me when it comes to character formation and development!
Click here to purchase
Several months ago, I plotted a novel for a proposal. That proposal was just contracted (yay!) so now I am getting down to business. That means I re-plotted some elements to that initial synopsis and divided it into tentative chapters.

Now I'm layering how my characters develop as the plot goes along. Sometimes this is obvious to me, and sometimes it isn't. This book by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi offers me guidance on where my characters come from and how that might shape their reactions to events.

Characters must have wounds, because frankly, we all have wounds. A perfect character would be boring and impossible to relate to.

My current characters have numerous wounds, just like real people, but their greatest wounds shape how they view the world. The hero, for example, has a learning disability in an age when the concept was unheard of: you were either smart or stupid when it came to book-learning.

The heroine was betrayed by both her father and the hero. She doesn't trust anyone anymore.

Both will struggle with their viewpoints of themselves and grapple with particular fears associated with their wounds.

Both will find their wounds triggered by something that happens in the plot, and both will have opportunities to overcome how they relate to their wounds.

And hopefully, both will find they are stronger together.